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Include MLB Props

   by Scott Spreitzer - 07/23/2006

I've become a firm believer that winning bettors have to include major league baseball props in their arsenal.

I'm hesitant to encourage casual wagerers to get involved with these. But honestly, the best way to transition from casual to serious is to start looking at the various proposition bets that are available and trying to find edges. Not only will you find those edges, but you'll learn a lot more about baseball in the process.

If you're not familiar with props, here's a quick brush-up of some of the props offered:

*Team with most home runs in a game.

*Team striking out the most in a game.

*Over/Unders for starting pitcher strikeouts in a game.

*Whether or not a run will be scored in the first inning.

*Total of combined runs, hits, and errors in a game.

There are many others, but that gives you a sampling of some of the things that are out there. Here are the key reasons you should get involved:

*The lines are softer. Since these are all relatively new, the oddsmakers don't have years or decades of experience posting accurate numbers. They put up their best guess. If you're an avid baseball fan, you're best guess is as good as theirs.

*The lines are more vulnerable to sharp action. If you see a line move on a prop bet, it's invariably from the smart money. The general public doesn't bet these things. That means any one-sided action is probably signaling a mistake. You can take advantage on the props that just move the vigorish rather than a number. When you see strong action on an 'Over', you can be pretty sure it's going over! I know people who don't handicap the props, persay. They just look for line moves and ride the sharp bandwagon.

*The sheer act of handicapping the props teaches you more about baseball, and helps your regular team side and over/under attacks as well.

When you start looking at strikeout props, you start to see which starting pitchers are very strong in this area and which need help from their defense. You start to see which offenses whiff constantly, and which are able to work deep into counts and turn potential strikeouts into walks. All of a sudden, you start to see matchup possibilities you didn't see before. You'll find great strikeout pitchers against horrible strikeout offenses at underdog prices! You'll find guys who put the ball in play who are likely to get drilled because the wind is blowing out in a hitter's park. Within a few days, just pondering strikeouts will add depth and dimension to your efforts.

When you start looking at home runs, mismatches will jump off the page at you. Maybe the prop itself isn't worth betting, but the team at the regular money line is. I run into this constantly, where a prop is suggesting that one team has a clear edge in a key factor, but the game itself is relatively close to pick-em. The oddsmakers aren't idiots, and they often have both numbers in the right place. But once or twice a day, you'll find some situations that don't really make sense. If the home run prop is off, you can take advantage that way. If the home run prop is right, you can take the power team to win the game straight up. If both teams are likely to go deep, bet the 'Over' on the regular game total.

I can't emphasize this enough. Looking at props will make you a better handicapper even if you never place a single bet. The more research you do, the smarter you get. Do you know which young pitchers are excellent strikeout pitchers? I mean beyond Liriano and Santana of the Twins! I know of a dozen who are overachieving expectations because of strength in this area. Do you know which American League offense is the most strikeout prone? Would you believe it's the powerful Detroit Tigers?!

If you haven’t considered MLB prop bets before, the time to start is right now. You'll be glad you did by October!

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