Baseball Betting and Sports Guide

baseballFew sports are so closely linked with the psyche and pastime of the country that they are played in as baseball and America. Children start playing ‘Little League’ games when they are as young as four-years-old, for example. Interestingly, the exact origins of the sport are unknown, though there was a reference to it having been played as early as 1791.

The National League features 15 teams and is split into three sections: the National League East, National League Central and the National League West. Teams go into the different leagues according to their geographical location. The other main governing body is the American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, which is also split into three parts (The AL East, The AL Central and The AL West).

The winning teams from the National League and the American League at the end of the season play against each other in the World Series, which has been happening since 1903.

Best Site For Betting On Baseball


It is easy to find places to bet on Baseball, it is not however that easy to find good value and expansive markets.  888 Sport have this covered on both counts.

The brand is more global than many other operators and we think they have an appreciation for baseball, and other US sports, that other betting brands do not.

888 are particularly good for offering deep markets and ante-post lines in advance of others.  They are also one of only a handful of UK sites that run permanent Baseball offers, especially for accas.

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Baseball Betting

Phrase Meaning
Betting On The Money Line This is basically a bet on which team will win the match, but it can look confusing because of how it’s expressed. The team that is favoured to win will usually be seen as minus something, like -260, whilst the outsider will be + something, say +220.
Run Line Betting If you’d rather bet on something a bit more interesting then this might be for you. It’s similar in nature to the Asian Handicap market.
Game Totals How many runs will there be in a game? This is basically an Over / Under bet on those sorts of markets you see within a game.

If you’ve barely even watched a baseball game before then it’s understandable that you might be somewhat reluctant to get too heavily involved on betting on the sport. If that’s the case then you’re in the right place, as this section should help you figure out what you need to know to feel safe placing a wager or 2.

baseball icons multiple play positions

As with other American sports, the key thing to do is to get used to the lingo. Here’s a look at some of the key phrases you’ll see and what they mean:

Let’s be absolutely clear, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to betting on baseball matches. As with any sport, though, the more research you do and the more you know your numbers the more chance you’re going to give yourself.

This History Of Baseball

Knickerbocker Rules

 baseball pitcher ready to throw

Generally speaking, it is widely accepted that the game we know today was created in 1845 when the Knickerbocker Rules were codified by Alexander Cartwright of the Knickerbocker Club, making it a more organised sport than the stickball game that it originated out of.

It gained its first organising body when the National Association of Base Ball Players was formed in 1857, gradually refining the Knickerbocker Rules until the eventually formation of the National League in 1876.

The game developed out of bat-and-ball games that came over to North America with English immigrants in the middle of the 18th century, with a French manuscript showing clerics playing a game with a bat and ball as long ago as 1344. That was likely to be be ‘la soule’, a game that bears some similarities with the sport that would eventually become baseball.

One argument, put forward by David Block in his book ‘A Search for the Roots of the Game’, is that baseball and the English game rounders are actually little more than regional variations of the same sport.

What we do know is that the first discovered reference to baseball came about in a British publication called ‘A Little Pretty Pocket-Book’, written by John Newbury and released in 1744. It even had a woodcut within it that showed a field for the game set-up in a similar manner to how baseball games are set-up today, with the major difference being that it has a triangular formation rather than the now famous diamond one.

The first game known to be played took place in 1749 in Surrey and had a rather famous player in the form of the Prince of Wales.

The Game Moves To America

baseball with US flag painted onThe first reference to baseball being played in America occurred in 1791 when the town bylaws for Pittsfield, Massachusetts prohibited it from being played close to the town’s meeting house. The game began to spread in the years that followed and by the 1830s there were numerous games played with a bat and ball throughout North America.

They were not codified, of course, and held names as diverse as ‘town ball’ and ‘round ball’. The games bore plenty of similarities to the game of baseball that we know today and plenty of differences too.

It was the production of a list of rules of baseball by Alexander Cartwright of the Knickerbocker Club, known today as the ‘Knickerbocker Rules’, that saw the sport truly begin to take shape. One of the biggest changes came in the form of the right to get a player out by hitting them with the ball as they were running being outlawed. This meant that smaller, harder balls could be used, which in turn saw more people keen to play this most challenging of games.

Professional Leagues Are Formed

baseball match at citi field with plane landingIt was the sport’s proliferation in New York City that saw it truly begin to take off, with some local journalists even going so far as to label it as the ‘national pastime’. By 1857 16 local clubs had joined together to form the National Association of Base Ball Players, which is considered to be the first governing body for the burgeoning sport.

It can’t be said that the organisation was always on the right side of history, however, banning African Americans from participating in its games in 1867. Two years later and the potential for commercial exploitation of the game was beginning to be discovered, with the Cincinnati Red Stockings becoming the game’s first completely professional club.

It didn’t take long for the country’s first professional league to be formed, with the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players running from 1871 until 1875. The National League followed suit in 1876, remaining the oldest major league to have survived the rigours of the passage of time. Baseball’s somewhat tricky dealing with race relations continued, with the ‘baseball colour line’ essentially meaning that black players were not allowed to play in white-owned professional leagues.

The Leagues Find Peace

baseball game relfected in sunglassesA rival to the National League developed out of the Western League and bore the title of the American League. Each of the leagues had 8 teams each and found themselves fighting to attract the best players. Bitter legal disputes followed as the leagues simply ignored the contracts put in place by the other.

This led to the National Agreement of 1903, which saw a more formal agreement put in place between the two leagues and the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues.

Arguably the most important part of the agreement was the organisation of the World Series, which pitted the champions of the top 2 leagues against each other in a one-off match every fall. In the first outing of the new competition the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League lost to the American League’s Boston Americans, but more importantly it saw a new American tradition born.

The National League champions in 1904, the New York Giants, refused to take part in the World Series because they didn’t recognise the legitimacy of the American League, but when they won the Northern League again the following season they relented.

Player Power & A Change In Rules To Help Attacking Play

baseball new york mets citi field

The more popular baseball became as a sport, the more money began to flow into it. This consequently led to disagreements between players and team owners over matters such as control and equity distribution. Players often attempted to strike in the more formative years of the professional leagues but they rarely led to anything, with owners simply threatening their jobs sufficiently.

Eventually this led to the decision of the Chicago White Sox to throw the Word Series in 1919, which in turn led to the National Commission of baseball being formed.

The commission’s formation coincided with the formation of the Negro National League, which continued operating until 1931, being joined as a league to represent black players by the Eastern Colored League in 1923. Regardless of the leagues you looked towards in the early part of baseball’s existence as a major sport, the games were usually quite low-scoring and pitchers were the dominant players.

This began to change with alterations to the rules that made things more advantageous to the batters. When Ray Champman died after being hit in the head by a ball in 1920, rules started to change on what could and couldn’t be done to the ball to ‘rough it up’.

A Superstar Rises

baseball signed by babe ruthWhilst the sport was certainly beloved by American audiences, what it needed to take it into the stratosphere was a true superstar player. The changes to rules on how the ball could be used and what it could be made of turned it into a piece of equipment that could suddenly be hit further than ever before, with the game’s increasing popularity meaning that more seating was being built that saw seating come closer to the playing area and the ability to hit home runs getting easier.

These events conspired to mean that a new powerful hitter of the ball began to be seen as one of the best players the game had ever seen and his name was Babe Ruth.

Ruth helped his team, the New York Yankees, become one of the top teams in the sport, which in turn led to other teams trying to figure out what they could do to rival them. The St. Louis Cardinals had the idea of investing money in minor league clubs in order to see players developed lower down the leagues and join them when they’d gained experience, creating the first ‘farm system’ the sport had seen.

Two more leagues for black players were created, whilst in 1939 something happened that saw baseball become one of the country’s most-loved sports of all ages: the foundation of Little League Baseball in Pennsylvania.

The Second World War & What Came After

baseball match at citi field from top standThe biggest impact on the success of baseball came in the form of the Second World War, with countless players from the professional leagues departing their teams to join the war effort. This resulted in minor teams being disbanded and the major leagues begin to come under threat.

The owner of the Chicago Cubs, Philip K. Wrigley, had an idea to keep the sport in the public eye and in 1943 he formed the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. It continued until 1954 and more changes were afoot for the sport. In 1946 the Brooklyn Dodgers of the National League signed the first African American player, Jackie Robinson. He made his full debut for the Dodgers in 1947, becoming the first black player to do so.

The other big threat to baseball came in the form of threats from American football and television for the attention of the watching public. The major leagues survived and even bounced back in the 1950s, but the smaller leagues saw players leave and teams dissolved.

Integration didn’t occur as quickly as Robinson would have hoped, with just 6 of the 16 sides in the major leagues having black players by 1953. By 1959, though, even the Boston Red Sox, the last team to have a black player in its squad, had integrated some. The season was extended from 154 games to 162 in 1961 with the Los Angeles Angels seeing the game finally reach the West Coast.

The Modern Game Develops

baseball field outlineIn the decades that followed, the game saw numerous changes to allow it develop into the behemoth that it is today. From changes to the game that reduced the power of the pitcher and increased the batter’s chances of high-scoring through to the increase in the amount of power that players had in general, the game started to become one of the most popular for both sportsmen and audiences alike.

By the middle of the 1990s the major leagues were setting all-time records for attendances. 2 more teams were added to the leagues in 1993 and that resulted in it being split into 3 divisions and in 2000 the National and American Leagues were dissolved leading to the formation of Major League Baseball.

In 2001 Barry Bonds set the record of home runs in a single season at 73, but it came at a time when there was no penalty for the use of performance-enhancing drugs and steroid use was a major problem. Numerous other players were caught up in the steroid abuse scandal of the years that followed, but their achievements remain in place.

The only major concern for the sport was the decline in attendance of Little League players, with fewer and fewer signing up from 1996 onwards. Major League Baseball has worked hard to regain its place in the American sporting psyche in the years since, including the introduction of a wild-card play-off in each league.

Rules And How To Play Baseball

baseball icons various play positions

Each team in a baseball game has nine players for a total of eighteen involved in it, with the two teams taking it in turn to be either the fielding side or the batting one. The two teams have nine innings in which they’ll try to score runs, with the one scoring the most winning the match.

The game takes place on a pitch that is shaped a little like a diamond, with four bases laid out 90 feet apart. In the middle of the infield is the pitcher’s plate, from which the bowler throws the ball in such a manner that the batter can’t hit it and it lands in the hand of the catcher. Batters can miss the ball twice but if they get a ‘strike’ for a third time then they’re out and a new batter replaces them. They are attempting to hit the ball from the Home Plate, which is opposite to the pitching mound.

baseball field graphic

If the batter hits the ball then they can attempt to run around the field, stopping at one of the bases if they don’t think they’ll make it all of the way. If the ball is thrown to a fielding team member before the batter can make it to the base then the batter will be out. Any time a batter makes it back to the home pitch they score a run. Teams can ‘load the bases’ by having a batter on each one who can attempt to make it home with a big hit.

  • Length: No upper limit
  • Intervals: 9 innings
  • Players: 18 (9 / Team)
  • Draws Possible: Yes but rarely

The Biggest Tournaments

baseball bat on glove resting on a US flagEvery sport has its fair share of major events and baseball is no exception. Here’s a look at some of the best-known ones:

  • Major League Baseball
  • World Series
  • Premier12 World Championship
  • World Baseball Classic