I understand why so many millennials are turned off to watching or wagering on baseball. The MLB is not for those with a short attention-span looking for quick thrills. The season is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s reasonable for folks to want to avoid watching a hurler on a last-place team throw to 1st base 17 straight times on a Tuesday afternoon in August.
But there’s good news. Many sports books are offering “1st inning” betting odds, a rapid-payoff style of gambling that is growing in popularity. But remember, with an opening-frame-only play you can lose cash just as quickly as winning it. Here’s a few pointers for getting paid out after only 6 outs.
Placing this wager involves determining whether or not a run will be scored in the 1st inning of a game. Odds-makers will assign a money line value for each side. The “ML” is based largely on the starting pitchers. For example, betting that a run will be scored with two sub-par hurlers will require you to lay more cash down than if you were to make the same play with 2 All-Stars taking the mound.
Because the chances of nothing, compared to something, happening in the opening frame are more likely, more times than not you are going to have to “lay juice” if you bet that no runs will occur. On the other hand, you can really find some great value when betting on at least a player or 2 crossing the plate.
For example, let’s say Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is up against Max Scherzer of the Nationals. The odds that a run won’t be scored is set at (-145) while the opposing line (paid off if there is scoring) is set at +115. That means you would have to bet $145 to win $100 on neither team scoring, and $100 to win $115 on there being at least a run on the board with 8 inning left.
While the results are quick, you have to take some time to research if you want this play to pay off consistently. There are certain clubs that tend to come out strong on offense, and also ace starters who have a history of struggling to begin a ballgame. And remember, clubs manufacture a batting order so that their lineup has the best chance of opening the day (or night) with a few RBIs.
While you don’t want to make your bet solely on run total lines, they can be a useful tool to get a feel for what the professional touts are expecting. If the books set the total for a game at 9.5, they are indicating that they expect a lot of scoring, and chances are at least some of that action could light up the scoreboard early.
If the total is set as low as 6 or 6.5, it becomes less likely. But the reason you don’t want to only use this as your main indicator for the 1st is because there will be starting pitchers who come out and give up hits right off the bat (excuse the pun), only to follow it up with 5 shut-out innings.
On the other hand, some starting pitchers are great during their first time through the order, but struggle late in the game once the opposing hitters have a better feel for their pitches and fatigue sets in. You can find stat sheets online or in print that give a starting hurler’s splits by innings.
I like to look at how strong or weak a lineup is at the top o’ the order. Games in which both clubs have great lead-off hitters are more likely to see early fireworks, especially if the batters have a high OBP. I don’t like betting the “over” in 1st innings with clubs who are stacked in the middle of the lineup, but lack a true lead-off hitter.
Pitching-wise, I like to look at the WHIP of the 2 scheduled starters. This gives a good indication of how many runners on average a pitcher allows on base per inning. Pitchers who have a high WHIP tend to be more wild, and there is a better chance that they will come out with no command of their pitches – which will lead to more walks and a better chance that a run crosses the plate.
Just like with every other bet you make, it really pays to have multiple accounts – at a number of sports-books – when betting on baseball. Saving a few dollars here and there by finding the more advantageous money lines will greatly increase your chances of finishing the season with a profit.