Interpreting Vegas: Batters
There are many tools that we can use in daily fantasy sports to get an edge on our competition, but one of the most underrated is the Vegas lines. The oddsmakers know the sport as well as anyone in the world and it is their job to be as accurate with the lines as possible. The sportsbooks have millions and millions of dollars wrapped in these games every day and they need the line to be accurate. Today, we will look at how you can use the Vegas odds each day to target batters in daily fantasy baseball.
Baseball lines are a little bit different than football or basketball. While you can bet on the run line, there really isn’t a point spread in baseball. Instead, we have a moneyline and a run total. The moneyline is similar to that if you were betting on a boxer. It gives you the odds for each team to win. Favorites in baseball typically range from -105 to -300. The higher the moneyline, the bigger the favorite. The run total is similar to the totals in the other major sports. It shows the total number of runs that are projected to be scored between both teams.
Scanning the MLB moneylines for the day is a quick and easy way to get an idea of who the favorites are going to be for that day. The big favorites are more important to target for starting pitching than they are for batters, but we will cover that in another lesson.
One of the easiest routes to take in daily fantasy baseball is to target hitters on the team that is a large favorite that night. The run total will come into play here as well, but targeting batters on teams that are expected to win by multiple runs is a step in the right direction.
The run total is probably the best piece of information in the Vegas line in terms of fantasy potential for batters. There are so many different factors that come into play when setting a run total, and Vegas does all of the work for you. You can study ballpark factors, daily weather, starting pitchers, and even batting lineups, yet still have a tough time predicting how many runs a certain team is going to score that night. Not only that, but it would take you hours to research all of that for every single team.
The MLB run total is a great tool to see which games are expected to be high-scoring. The oddsmakers factor in all of the things mentioned above and wrap it all up for us in a single number that can be used to compare across the schedule that night. Basically, the Vegas lines simplify the process for us. Using them to target batters on teams that are either favored, expected to score a lot of runs, or both, is a great starting point in daily fantasy baseball. The run totals can also point out things that you might have missed in your daily research, such as a strong wind blowing out or even ballpark factors that you overlooked.
Player Prop Bets
One of the more popular tools in DFS is to research the daily player proposition bets. Prop bets basically give you a prediction of what Vegas thinks a certain player’s output is going to be on any given night. There are a lot of different prop bets for baseball, but the most important ones to batters are over/unders on their hits and RBIs, as well as their odds of hitting a home run or stealing a base.
The oddsmakers have already factored in the pitcher, the ballpark, and the batter’s splits. A quick glance at the player prop bets is a great way to get inside the heads of some of the best baseball minds in the world. These prop bets can tip you off to potential DFS plays.
Movement of the Lines
The final topic in this lesson is how Vegas lines move and what they mean in terms of fantasy output. The lines typically move for two reasons. First, they can move when something major happens that changes the expected outcome of the game, meaning Vegas has to move the line so that they don’t get crushed. A new starting pitcher will shift the line, for example. Second, if a large chunk of money comes in on one side of a bet, that forces Vegas to adjust the line to try to get equal action on both sides.
We can use these to our advantage whether we are talking about the moneyline, run total, or player prop bets. If you see a team that was barely favored move up to huge favorites, you might want to target that team more heavily than before because chances are “smart” money is on them. If the wind starts blowing out to left at Wrigley and the run total moves up by three runs, get some batters in that game into your lineup. The same goes for the player props as well.