Also known as the over/under, the total in an MLB game is the betting odds for the combined number of runs that the two teams will score in that game. Totals are set based on the offenses, the starting pitchers, the bullpens, and the ballpark.
Some ballparks are known for higher-scoring games and those totals are going to be higher.
For example, two starting pitchers at Oakland Coliseum might have a total at 8. The same two starting pitchers might have a total at Coors Field of 11.5.
Factors Affecting MLB Totals Odds
Weather plays a big factor in betting MLB totals. If the wind is blowing out, oddsmakers may set the total a little bit higher or those that are betting the game may push the total higher.
Similarly, the date of the game may have an impact. Baseballs travel better in the summer months, so total will be higher in June and July than they are in April and May.
Where MLB Totals Come From
Most MLB totals are going to be in the 7.5 to 9 range.
- For the game to go over a total of 7.5, the teams must combine to score at least eight runs.
- Something like a 5-2 score would be an under, but a 5-3 score would be an over.
- A total of 8.5 would require the two teams to score at least nine runs to go over.
Like all other forms of betting odds, totals also have what is called the “vig” or “juice”.
Sometimes you will see a total of 8 with -110 on the over and -110 on the under. That means that you will have to bet $110 on the over to win $100 or $110 on the under to win $100.
A lot of times, totals will be shaded, which means that the sportsbooks will attempt to balance their risk by moving the juice on a total.
In a game with two below average starting pitchers and two above average offenses, a total of 9 may be -120 on the over and +100 on the under. That would mean betting $120 to win $100 on the over or betting $100 to win $100 on the under.
Final Thoughts on Betting MLB Totals
Games with very good starting pitchers will have lower totals. It is important to remember that starting pitchers are only part of the equation.
- If the bullpens are good, but the starters are not, you can bet the over for the first five innings.
- Usually the first five innings will have a total that is half of the full game total plus half a run.
As an example, a game with a total of 8 is likely to be 4.5 for the first five innings. Sometimes oddsmakers will have the total at 4, but increase the vig on the over to -120 or -125.
That is how they attempt to manage risk and balance their books on that game.