More money is placed on baseball favorites than underdogs. That's because the casual bettor who is in it for fun prefers backing favorites. Favorites, also known as "chalk," will have some combination of a better starting pitcher, home field, or stronger overall offensive numbers. Parlays by unsophisticated sports bettors will often feature two or three favorites. The oddsmaker have to adjust for incoming money, making the MLB odds on the favorite go even higher. All of which means MLB underdogs offer great sports betting value. So how does one identify MLB false favorites and live underdogs with a solid chance of winning the game?

Standout Bullpens   

There are many Major League Baseball or MLB betting strategies to find baseball underdogs with sound reasoning behind them. One is to look for teams that have impressive bullpens. Even mediocre baseball teams or ones with losing records can have good bullpen depth and several standout arms. They will often be underdog picks as oddsmakers post the opening baseball odds based on the starting pitchers. But starters are only going 5, 6, or 7 innings. Aren't any baseball games decided in the late innings? Of course! Historically, around 10 percent of regular baseball season games go into extra innings. For one out of every 10 MLB games, it won't even matter who the starters were - and who was favored - only who closes it out in the extra frames.

MLB Underdog Situational Handicapping

Situations such as home fields are also a part of the handicapping game. Even MLB teams having losing seasons want to perform well in front of their hometown fans. There is a comfort level for professional athletes playing at home, knowing the nuances of the park, and traveling short distances to go to work. Road teams deal with many things that can work against them, such as a long trek, airplane rides, staying at different hotels, unfamiliar surroundings, and changing time zones. Underdogs at home can have many betting edges on their side even before the first pitch is thrown.

One situational handicapping factor that can work against home teams is coming home from a long road trip. Those teams can be worn out a bit, dealing with jetlag. They're often slight favorites in their first game back, but should they be? One betting angle is to look at going against favorites off a long road trip, with the visiting underdog offering potential wagering value.

Divisional Underdogs

In addition, divisional underdogs are worth taking a second look at. Divisional games mean more to the players, managers, and even the fans with rivalries. Divisional games comprise about half of a baseball team's schedule, around 76 games per year. That's a lot of divisional underdogs each month. Underdogs facing a divisional rival have the advantage of familiarity. Pitchers know the tendencies of hitters. Outfielders and infielders can position themselves better against batters they've seen more. Catchers have experience knowing what players are likely to steal and in what situations. Managers can better anticipate opponents' strategies, such as pinch hitters, relievers, and lefty/righty matchups. These subtle edges can add up and aid divisional dogs to pull an upset.

Baseball Betting Strategy: Play On or Against Streaks? 

Finally, baseball is a streaky game, so be cautious about going against streaks. A last-place team may have many bad overall stats, but if they've won eight of the last 11, that doesn't mean they're likely to lose eight in a row. Examine why a bad team is suddenly playing better. Perhaps they've brought up some young arms that have improved the bullpen, or several hitters are hot. Maybe a better defensive shortstop has been put in that has helped the pitching staff turn more double plays and allowed fewer unearned runs. There are often reasons for streaks beyond luck. A smart handicapper must dig deep to unearth the reasons why an underdog is undervalued by fans and the oddsmakers.

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