How to Bet on MLB Win Totals

After a lengthy offseason, opening day of baseball season is always a massive highlight for fans and bettors alike. You don’t have to wait for the first pitch that matters to get your bets in on the season, either. The MLB futures market is incredibly active and features a variety of options, including win totals.

Sportsbooks will put out projected win totals for all 30 MLB teams. Bettors then can choose over or under on that number. It works just like as over/under bet that you’ll find in many sports. However, MLB win total bets require a long-term eye, as sportsbooks won’t settle bets until the season has played out.

You can stick to the local favorite and bet on the New York Yankees or NY Mets, or expand your options to include all of their longtime rivals and other clubs you feel familiar with. There are plenty of bettors who scan the whole market to pick their spots. Either way, wagering on MLB win totals can provide entertainment for a full season.

When getting set to bet on MLB win totals, one of your first stops should be checking out the latest odds and lines. It’s an active market, so the numbers can and will move in response to baseball betting action. Staying on top of where things stand is no trouble with our customizable live odds feed. You can check it out using our link and put it through its paces.

What are MLB win totals?

During the lengthy MLB offseason, sportsbooks will release projected win totals for all 30 teams in the league. You’ll find them in the MLB futures market at all NY sportsbooks. A listing will look something like this.

New York Yankees regular-season wins

  • Over 95.5  -110
  • Under 95.5  -110

The bet functions like a totals wager in that all you have to do is pick the over or under on the projected number. There are MLB win total odds for both choices, typically starting at -110 on both sides and adjusting from there based on how the bets come in.

The wager covers the entire season from start to finish, so tickets will remain live from the time you place them until the bet can be settled. Be sure to keep that in mind and budget accordingly.

MLB win totals are based on a full 162-game season, unless it has been condensed beforehand like what we saw in 2020 when clubs played 60 games each. In the unlikely event of a complete cancellation of the season, bets on win totals will be considered void and refunded.

To win your bet, you simply have to choose correctly. In our example, the Yankees have a benchmark of 95.5 wins. If they win 96 games or more, over bettors have winning tickets, while under bettors will have struck out. For 95 wins or fewer, the opposite would be true.

Betting the MLB futures market 

Win totals are part of the broader MLB futures market. You can find what’s available by clicking on the MLB tab at a sportsbook, followed by choosing futures. There are a number of markets to consider, including:

  • World Series
  • American and National League pennant winners.
  • Division champions.
  • Teams to make or miss playoffs.
  • Player award winners — MVP, rookie of the year, etc.
  • Stat leaders — home runs, strikeouts, etc.

Odds for the top futures will come out early in the offseason, oftentimes as soon as the current World Series is in the books. Others will come out as the season approaches, including for win totals. The futures market is entertaining and potentially profitable, and it can also serve as a great research tool to lean on for the upcoming season.

How odds are calculated for win totals

When sportsbooks release their odds for win totals, they will have odds for the over and under on projected team victories. At many of the books, the default for these wagers starts at -110 on both sides, just like with a point spread or totals bet. After bets begin coming in, the numbers may shift in response to which way the money is flowing.

For example, let’s say early action comes in heavily on the over for the Mets. Oddsmakers respond by making that side less appealing while enhancing potential returns on the under.

New York Mets regular-season wins

  • Over  92.5   -120
  • Under  92.5   -105

Once the numbers are adjusted, betting action begins to start favoring the opposite direction. The book may now adjust the numbers closer to where they started, naturally depending on overall wagering amounts.

Mets regular-season wins

  • Over  92.5  -117
  • Under  92.5  -108

A glance at the odds can help you figure potential returns for winning bets. When the odds are negative, that’s the amount you’d have to wager to get back $100 for a winner, such as $120 at odds of -120. If the odds are ever positive, the number is equal to the potential return for a winning $100 bet, such as $105 at odds of +105.

How the MLB season works

A normal regular season calls for 162 games. As we saw in 2020, adjustments can happen due to outside circumstances. Moving ahead, plans call for MLB to stick to tradition, meaning something that should resemble the following:

  • Spring training: Teams come to camp to get ready for games that matter, and they’ll play a series of exhibition contests along the way.
  • Regular season: A 162-game marathon in which teams battle to win their division or snag a wild card spot.
  • Postseason: Begins with the wild card games and culminates in a best-of-seven World Series to crown a champ.

In general, the regular-season schedule will have a set number of games against certain opponents, as follows.

  • Division games — 76 total, 19 each against the other four teams in the division.
  • League games — 66 total, six to seven games each against teams from other divisions.
  • Interleague — 20 total games against teams from the opposite league.

The 2020 postseason was expanded to 16 teams on a one-off basis, and there have been calls to expand the field to 14 total. For now, it remains at 10 teams: three division winners plus two wild card teams in each league. The wild card clubs square off first, with the winner advancing, followed by rounds that ultimately result in pennant winners heading to the World Series.

How to analyze an MLB team from top to bottom

When looking at MLB win totals, it’s not uncommon for those familiar with the game to spot numbers that appear to be off. While you should certainly listen to your instincts, it’s important to go beyond that. For starters, ask yourself this: Is there something that the oddsmakers are seeing that I’m missing?

Since they’re quite good at what they do, there may very well be a factor you haven’t considered. An exercise that can be helpful is to assess the team in full detail, focusing on the following aspects along the way.

  • Pitching: Whether it’s the rotation or bullpen, pitching is a key to success in MLB. You need to realistically assess the full staff and potential performance for the coming season.
  • Offense: Is this a team that leans on power? Are there plenty of players who can get on base and create opportunities or a bunch of strikeout kings? You can do the same on the offensive side as you do with pitching by examining strengths and weaknesses.
  • Defense: There are teams that just can’t seem to get it together on this front season after season. Games can turn quite easily on sloppy fielding, so be sure to note the current state of affairs on the defensive front.
  • Depth: A solid array of backups and those who can come off the bench and get a clutch hit are huge benefits. If a club looks as if it may be in peril due to a key injury or two, consider that a caution flag.
  • Management: From the approach on the field to the front office, you want to have a good sense of the overall state of affairs. Is this a team that appears focused or one that looks poised for unnecessary drama?
  • Mode: As the season approaches, there are teams that are clearly pushing for the postseason, and others that are in rebuilding mode. Be sure to know what’s what for each and every club on which you may bet.

By taking the time to go through this exercise, you’ll have a much clearer picture of where things stand. Teams you thought to be in line to make noise may appear different afterward, and the opposite can happen for clubs you expected to be among the also-rans of the league. The complete assessment approach gives you a much better perspective on the situation at hand.

MLB win total trends

As mentioned, a team’s approach to the season can be a huge clue for what may be to come. If it’s a squad that has been aggressive in the offseason while looking to bolster chances, there could be a renewed focus on that side. Meanwhile, those who have offloaded key assets with an eye toward the future could be in for a tough road.

Naturally, there are no guarantees in either direction, but these are solid clues to use as you build your case. The same can be said for historical trends by team. For example, let’s look back at five years (2015-19) of win-loss records for the Yankees and Mets.

SeasonYankeesMets
2019103-5986-76
2018100-6277-85
201791-7170-92
201684-7887-75
201587-7590-72

The Yankees are a team that’s regularly in contention. For the last two full 162-game seasons, the club banked over 100 wins. It’s expected to be among the top squads once again in 2021.

As for the Mets, the club has missed the postseason in each of the last three full campaigns. The team has certainly made some big moves recently, though, so it remains to be seen if those can reverse recent history.

Handicapping MLB win totals

Successfully betting on MLB win totals requires some in-depth research. We covered how you can analyze the individual teams up above, but you can take a bit of a quicker approach when scanning the entire field for opportunities. Once sportsbooks release the projected win totals, you can go through a simple three-point checklist for each team.

1. How’d they do last season?

The starting point is where the clubs finished last season. Did they make the postseason or at least remain in the chase down the stretch? What was the overall winning percentage? While each season is a separate event, you can find potential building blocks and pitfalls by taking a look back at how clubs fared last time out.

2. What happened in the off-season?

The MLB offseason can be an active time with trades and free agency moving players from one team to another. Some clubs take an active approach and load up for a run at glory, while others take the opposite tact and hold a fire sale. In the middle, there are clubs that stand pat or make a few strategic moves. By viewing the club’s activity in the offseason, you can get a glimpse into its overall future plans: chase for a playoff spot or rebuild for tomorrow.

3. What’s the general consensus?

As one of the most popular sports in the US, MLB will have plenty of coverage all year round. Season previews aren’t tough to find, so you can get a sense of the overall perception of each team pretty quickly. Think of it as a wisdom-of-the-crowds approach in which you’re researching the opinions of sources you trust. The call ultimately falls on you, but taking the temperature of the room can be helpful.

If you run through those three steps for all 30 teams and compare them with their projected win totals, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a handful or so of intriguing prospects to research further. Once you have your list, do the recommended deep dive for each squad and you should have at least a few potential wagers on win totals.

2021 MLB futures favorites  

Before win totals are released, odds for other MLB futures will come out. Think of them as your first look at the upcoming season through the eyes of the oddsmakers. It’s basically a free research tool you can lean on again and again to get the overall lay of the land. Heading into 2021, here are the top three favorites for three major bets on the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

  • World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres
  • AL Pennant: New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins
  • NL Pennant: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves

Based on this, we have six clubs that are looking like serious contenders, at least as far as DraftKings sees it. Naturally, you’ll want to compare with other books to form a consensus, but there’s a good chance you’ll see the same clubs hovering around the top.

Also, take things a step further by looking at the individual divisions. If we do that on the MGM Sportsbook app, here are the top two contenders for all six divisions.

  • NL East: Atlanta Braves, New York Mets
  • NL Central: Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds
  • NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres
  • AL East: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
  • AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins
  • AL West: Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros

In both leagues, just five teams make it to the postseason, so chances are the chase will come down to the top contenders in all divisions. By doing this quick overview once futures odds come out, you’ll have a great sense of which clubs should be pushing for the playoffs.

These squads could potentially be solid over bets, naturally depending on where sportsbooks have set the benchmark. For the remaining clubs, begin with an eye toward the under, and then build your case based on their win total projections.

Is betting on MLB win totals worth it?  

MLB win total bets can give you some extra rooting interest all season long. They’re also a great way to preview an upcoming campaign. If you make the right call, you’ll be cashing in a ticket down the road. To that end, it’s important to remember that these and other futures wagers require a long-term perspective.

Futures bets can’t be settled until the outcome has been determined, so your funds will remain tied up. In the end, it comes down to your perspective. The extra rooting interest and chances for a return down the road can make them worth it, but that comes with the caveat that this style of wagering may not work for everyone.

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