’s Adam Thompson’s Tips For Betting On Baseball In 2022

Adam Thompson, senior handicapper and analyst for, chatted with PressBox about betting on baseball, from World Series futures bets to the daily grind of betting on games and more.

This has been edited for content and clarity.

PressBox: How early is too early to start laying down money on the outright winner of the World Series?
Adam Thompson: I actually looked [for the 2021 season] about 48 hours after the 2020 World Series ended. I actually put down a bet on the Braves to win the 2021 World Series as well as the White Sox and the Angels, but only one of them has to hit. You can look at the base of a team right away and get a head start on stuff like that during the offseason. If you’re a team like the Yankees — teams that can kind of reload whenever they want by throwing as much money at people as they want — there are exceptions to that. But the majority of teams have their base already set. They have guys that everyone knows are going to get called up. So I think it’s never too early to really get into it. Once the season starts, there isn’t a great time to jump on board as far as value goes. Anytime in the offseason is a great time to start looking.

PB: What are your tips for betting over-under win totals before the season? How do you know what’s a good bet?
AT: Pitching is where you can find, “This team has an edge, this team may not have an edge,” as far as that goes. You have to look at injury history, especially with pitching. It’s a long season. You see guys like Jacob deGrom go down. You see star pitchers get mystery injuries, just so basically they can go on the 10-day IL, just a mini-break in the middle of a season. Those are the kinds of things that can affect win totals when you’re looking at it. I think you’ve got to rely on pitching and managers. How successful have they been handling bullpens? That’s really the X factor for all of MLB betting, for win totals especially.

PB: What are your favorite bets before a season? What are the most popular?
AT: The World Series [winner] is obviously the most popular. You can look at every team. Everybody wants to bet on the championship. My favorite that I find value in is the divisional futures. Picking one team out of 30 or even one team out of 15 to win a pennant can be a challenge. There’s a lot of luck involved as far as a 162-game season. But division, suddenly you’re just looking at five teams. Obviously the odds aren’t as big, but you can break down pretty quick, “OK, which team is more likely to hit the ground running? Which one has the depth to last for a full season? And which team maybe has the veteran leadership to finish strong?” You can put those three things together and make a pretty educated pick on a five-team race as opposed to 15 or 30.

PB: How should bettors navigate the grind of a baseball season so they don’t get burned out?
AT: It is relentless. There are a lot of games, seven days a week for six months. It’s worse than basketball. At least basketball has a couple days where they highlight the national [games]. You might have two games on a Thursday or three games on a Tuesday. There’s nothing much like that in baseball. It’s a grind. I take one day off a week and stick to it. It’s usually Saturday because there are a lot of day games. Sunday’s a little tricky, but I like Sundays because it’s all day games. Saturday, it’s just a mix and match. It just seems like a good day. You’ve got to give yourself a break because it’s such a stat-based, research-heavy sport to bet on. It can be overwhelming. You can do everything right and still get it wrong because the manager put the wrong reliever in at the wrong time, and everything went right except that guy gave up a walk and a three-run homer and you lose. It’s taxing. There are ways to make money on it, but you don’t want to get burned out. That’s why players take 10-day breaks in the middle of the season with a slightly sprained ankle, because you just need a break during this long season.

PB: What do you look for when deciding to bet on a team in a game? Is it all about starting pitching matchups?
AT: Pitching is the key, but it’s become harder lately these last few years because bullpens are being used more than ever. Bullpens are the X factor, always. [With starting pitchers], you can look at the first five innings. That’s not bad, but you can’t rely on a starting pitcher, even if he’s throwing well, to go seven innings anymore. They can be throwing a no-hitter and get pulled after five because of matchups and analytics. As far as batting goes, I like OPS. I think you have to look at some trends like last two weeks or last 30 days. WHIP for pitching I think is an important one, and trends as well as far as last week, last 14 days, stuff like that. It’s just such a long season and momentum can carry on from game to game in baseball, probably more than in other sports because you’re playing every day and once you get hot you can stay hot. More than any other sport, stuff like that is more important.

PB: What bets do you love before the season begins?
AT: I was looking at the World Series odds. I went back to 2010, so I went back a ways. That’s 12 seasons, and only once in those 12 years has the preseason favorite won the World Series. The Dodgers are the favorite right now, rightfully so, but there’s no value in the Dodgers, and there’s not a ton of value in the Yankees and the Astros, who are right behind them. But you get into that +1000 to +1500 range, there’s a lot of value. The Mets, White Sox, Blue Jays, Padres, Braves — [+1400], defending champs — are the teams I look at.

Photo Credit: Colin Murphy/PressBox

Issue 273: February/March 2022

Luke Jackson

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