Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts
- The 2018 MLB Playoffs begin on Tuesday with the NL wild-card game.
- Gamblers looking to profit on the baseball postseason should follow these four betting tips.
Monday features a pair of division tiebreaker games for the first time in baseball history. The Chicago Cubs host the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Colorado Rockies.
The winners advance to the NL Division Series, and the losers will meet Tuesday in the NL wild-card game. Each matchup will have a playoff atmosphere, but technically these are considered regular-season games.
The 2018 MLB playoffs officially start Tuesday, and to get you ready for October baseball, here are four betting tips for wagering on postseason games:
No Home-Field Advantage
Playing at home matters in baseball. It has to, as the reward for having the best record over a 162-game schedule is home-field advantage.
However, of the four major sports, MLB home teams enjoy the least amount of success in the regular season, and the win rate isn’t much better in the playoffs.
From 2005 to 2016, home favorites in the MLB playoffs were 165-131 (55.6%) straight up, but a $100 bettor would have lost $1,458 wagering on the chalk (per Bet Labs).
Rest vs. Rust
Every year in the MLB playoffs, a team will quickly win its series and then have to wait for the next opponent. With extra time between games, the conversation inevitably turns to “Rest vs. Rust.”
The argument goes that teams with extra time off will benefit because their players will have time to recover and the team can set its optimal pitching rotation. Nevertheless, some would contend that too much time between games kills a team’s momentum.
Is it better to be rested in the playoffs or do teams suffer from rust? According to our historical data, neither. The table below looks at all playoffs teams since 2005:
There is no clear edge with having more days between games. You might be wondering what happens when a rested team plays an opponent on a quick turnaround? Again, there isn’t an edge.
Teams with four or more days between games facing an opponent playing with two or fewer days between games have gone 13-10 (-0.92 units) in the postseason since 2005.
A well-known betting strategy is the Zig-Zag Theory, which simply takes a team that lost its previous game. The reasoning behind this system is that teams will try harder to avoid elimination after a loss. Does this work in the MLB playoffs?
No. Teams that lost the previous game have gone 180-193 (48.3%) straight up since 2005. Gamblers following the Zig-Zag Theory would be down -21.22 units over that span.
Betting Against the Public
A basic strategy in sports wagering is betting against the public. Whichever team casual bettors load up on, bet the other side. Recreational gamblers love favorites and winning squads; oddsmakers know this and will shade the lines toward these teams.
As such, it has been valuable to bet against the public. Since 2005, MLB playoff teams getting fewer than 50% of moneyline tickets have returned more than +60 units of profit for contrarian bettors.
Identify the team getting 50% or more of moneyline bets and wager on the other side. It’s that easy. Of course, we can improve this system with additional filters and have already done the heavy lifting for you.