What is prop betting?
Intro to prop betting
Proposition (prop) bets are event-based wagers that occur within a game or match itself. They are often yes or no propositions – or multiple choice type questions – enabling a bettor to choose from a group of predetermined selections regarding a game or a team’s performance within a game. Prop bets are most popular during the World Series and the Super Bowl, as they can add some extra entertainment to big playoff games for bettors.
Examples of some game or team-related prop bets include the following:
- Team to score the first run
- Will the game go to extra innings? – Yes/No
Prop bets can also revolve around player performance and results. Every major player in a contest will have player props offered on all major statistical categories at most sportsbooks. Other types of prop bets include more lighthearted wagers that are offered on most games but are at their most popular during the Super Bowl. These offerings include predicting the coin toss, the length of the National Anthem, and which company will air the first commercial during the broadcast.
Also of note is that prop bets are rarely able to be wagered on as part of a parlay bet. Online sportsbooks, as well as brick and mortar sportsbooks, will normally restrict bettors from placing parlay wagers on prop bets that correlate in any fashion.
How prop betting applies to MLB
Prop betting on Major League Baseball (MLB) fits like a glove. Baseball is an event-based game that inherently lends itself to appetizing prop betting opportunities. The MLB season offers the highest volume of games of all of the major American sports, with regular season baseball games on the schedule every day from late March through October. This provides bettors with a constant stream of opportunities to place prop bet wagers, as they are offered on every game, every day.
Baseball betting is enhanced when attending games in person. For most people, placing prop bet wagers while at an MLB game greatly boosts the viewer experience. Having a vested interest not just on the final score of the game, but also on individual player performances or other results, can only be viewed as a positive for both the MLB and its fans.
By adding another element (player performance) to capture the attention of both fans and bettors, the MLB becomes more relevant to more eyeballs. Player prop bets are often most beneficial for fans of bad teams. Many fans will check out – with viewership decreasing rapidly – as teams fall in the standings and are no longer competing for the postseason or a pennant. While perennial contenders like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox don’t need a viewership boost, player props give fans and bettors incentive to continue watching the poor quality teams all season long.
Types of MLB prop bets
MLB betting: player props
MLB player props consist of all prop bets that involve the hitters and pitchers from each team involved in the game. These prop bets include stats like hits and home runs for the hitters, number of strikeouts for the starting pitchers, and many more. MLB bettors can select any player within the game and choose a player prop associated with that player.
Here is a list of player props commonly found at any sportsbook:
- Will Player X record a hit in today’s game? – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to make a yes/no wager on whether or not the player will record a hit during the game.
- Will Player X record a home run in today’s game? – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to make a yes/no wager on whether or not the player will hit a home run during the game.
- Will Player X record an XBH in today’s game? – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to make a yes/no wager on whether or not the player will record an extra-base hit during the game. Doubles, triples, and home runs count toward this wager.
- Will Player X record a stolen base in today’s game? – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to make a yes/no wager on whether or not the player will steal a base during the game.
- Will Player X record an RBI in today’s game? – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to make a yes/no wager on whether or not the player will record an RBI during the game.
- Total Hits + Runs + RBIs for Player X in today’s game – A bettor can choose any hitter in the game to wager on their total number of Hits+Runs+RBIs, with an over/under line set by the oddsmakers.
- Total Hits + Runs + RBIs, Player X vs Player Y in today’s game – This prop bet allows the bettor to pit two players against each other, with the winner posting a higher total of Hits+Runs+RBIs in the game.
- Total Strikeouts for Starting Pitcher X – This will be an over/under wager with the strikeout line set by the oddsmakers.
- First Home Run – The bettor chooses who will hit the first home run of the game from the active players on each roster. Bettors can also choose the option that no home run will be hit during the game.
MLB betting: game/team prop bets
MLB game and team prop bets are quite varied in the options that are offered. These prop bets can be fascinating to follow while watching a game live in person or on television, as they require the bettor to pay close attention to matchups as the game action unfolds.
Below is a list of commonly found game/team prop bets at any sportsbook:
- Team to Score First – Bettor picks which team will score first in the game.
- Score in 1st Inning – Bettor is given a yes/no choice as to whether or not either team will score in the 1st inning of the game.
- Margin of Victory – The number of runs by which the winning team will win.
- Odd or Even Total Runs – Added up, will the final for both teams be an odd or even number?
- Total Runs, Hits, and Errors – This prop bet adds up the total runs, hits, and errors for both teams for the entire game.
- Total Runs, Hits, and Errors – 1st Inning – The same prop bet as above but for the first inning only (both teams).
- Total Home Runs – Bettors select one side of an over/under wager, with oddsmakers providing a line for each game.
- Will Extra Innings be Required? – Yes or No prop bet on if the game will be tied after nine innings.
- First Team to Reach X Amount of Runs – This prop bet is normally offered at 3 and 5 runs for each team.
- Highest Scoring Inning – This prop bet allows the bettor to wager on the highest-scoring inning, combining the two teams’ runs scored.
MLB prop betting strategy
MLB prop betting is inherently tougher to predict than other sports, because of the event-based nature of the sport. Assessing batter/pitcher matchups, analyzing statistical splits, and building player projections are three major keys to successful MLB player prop betting.
Baseball betting is backed by many informational websites that provide all relevant statistics in an easily digestible manner. Monitoring injuries is also a major factor in prop betting, as staying abreast of breaking player news will allow sports bettors to take advantage of weaker betting lines.
As a side note, in the current environment the country is dealing with due to the COVID-19 virus, sports will be adapting to different parameters than we have seen before. Players will miss games with short notice due to positive COVID tests, and some sports such as the NBA and NHL will operate in the short term without any home-court advantages. The ability of sports bettors to digest information rapidly – and react accordingly – in a new and changing environment, will help bettors find increased success and profitability.
Statistics to consider
Baseball statistics websites like Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference are vital resources for any MLB prop bettor. Analyzing hitter/pitcher matchup and advanced statistical splits data can be an excellent way to find an edge in player prop betting. Frequently with MLB hitter/pitcher matchups, there is a distinct advantage on one side or the other based on historical data found at these websites. Hitters and pitchers excel or struggle based on certain parameters within the game that can be much more easily identified by the advanced data.
Let’s take a real-life look at what we’re talking about here. Take a Nationals/Cubs matchup for example, with Patrick Corbin (Nationals) facing off against Yu Darvish (Cubs). A slew of player props will be posted for Kyle Schwarber – a hitter for the Cubs.
Savvy bettors will be able to uncover that Schwarber – if he appears in the starting lineup for the game – is statistically a much weaker hitter against left-handed pitchers than against right-handed pitchers. Patrick Corbin is a lefty. In addition, trends tell us that Schwarber tends to be pinch-hit for during the game more often than other players in the Cubs’ lineup. Knowing these two pieces of information can inform a bettor that Schwarber is an extremely matchup-dependent hitter, and betting player prop overs on him will likely not be profitable in the long term. Knowledge of how real-life matchups work – and how they might play out within a game – can provide leverage against the odds for player prop wagering.
When wagering on prop bets, make sure to shop between different sportsbooks to always find the best betting lines offered. Different sportsbooks can post widely variant betting lines for the same player and game props.
A fantastic way to augment daily fantasy sports (DFS) projections and play is by adding prop betting action. The hard work of creating player projections has already been done, so adding prop bets where projections stand out in comparison to betting lines is a logical extension of DFS play. Player prop wagers allow for an intriguing way to leverage player projections in order to capitalize on what are often soft proposition numbers offered by the sportsbooks on players in certain games.
Lower limits on prop bets
As the prop betting market is softer in comparison to other types of wagers, sportsbooks often place lower maximum bet limits on the prop wagers made by sports bettors, in order to limit their monetary payout exposure on any single player prop.
This is especially true in the player prop market, as the ability for the oddsmakers to react to news and alter player projection betting lines can lag behind the bettors who specialize in player prop betting. Because the betting public is often ahead of the curve when it comes to prop betting, sportsbooks can lose money overall on prop wagers. This is another reason why the maximum bet limits are lower than on other types of sports betting.