How Is Return of Dead-Ball Era Affecting MLB Odds?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on May 4, 2022
MLB Betting

On Monday, there was an average of 4.75 runs per game (RPG) across eight MLB games. In the last 35 years, there has only been one day with a lower average run total and a minimum of eight contests — 3.88 on Aug. 21, 2014. How is this low-scoring trend impacting MLB odds?

Although colder weather certainly plays a role, Wednesday’s slate delivers 10 totals set at 7.5 runs or fewer, which is unusual in early May. Additionally, the home-run-to-fly-ball rate (HR/FB) has dipped 3.5 percentage points from the 2021 campaign. Granted, that’s a small sample size to compare last season with, yet it continues to back up what we’ve witnessed thus far.

Below is my chat with Randy Blum, the MLB oddsmaker for the Westgate SuperBook, to share his perspective.

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MLB Odds: Q&A With Oddsmaker Randy Blum

As an oddsmaker, how surprised were you to see a large sample size of minimal runs per game?

There was always talk of using different kinds of baseballs. We read that teams were planning on using humidors in all 30 ballparks to some extent this season. I didn’t really think much of it at the time to start. But it has had a much bigger effect than the effect they were looking for.

Betting aside, when you’re trying to build your (overall) fan base, home runs are a driving force. The steroid era was what brought baseball back for the casual fans  — with Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa  — as much as MLB would rather not admit it.

Over the first two weeks of the season, it was obviously drastic in relation to all the scoring in general. At that point, you have to start adjusting your totals. I mean, the entire market saw what was going on. I don’t know if there’s a lack of confidence that it won’t reverse course eventually, but time will tell.

Have you seen “sharp bettors” come in on the over with lower totals because of the adjustment?

We haven’t seen much of that yet, which tells me that we haven’t adjusted too much, which is good. It wouldn’t shock me if it started at some point because like I said, I personally don’t think it’ll last this whole season. Obviously the weather’s going to get nicer, and the balls are going to start to carry and things like that. But we’ve just been adjusting to what we’re seeing right now.

Lower-scoring games as a whole is definitely something that’s being taken into consideration from public bettors, though. Granted, it’s not going to stop them from betting an over that they want to bet — in comparison to sharps. It’s just interesting to see them taking it into account inside the ‘book.

How have you reacted as a bettor — not as an oddsmaker?

I’ve kept my volume of bets down the first couple of weeks for sure. I’m just trying to wait and see and get a better feel for it, and then I’ll just go on from there. I just try to adjust how I make my numbers. Taking a moderate approach if I’m on the fence for one game in particular. This is definitely a unique situation (in terms of my handicapping strategy).

Has there been a recent variable that’s produced an adjustment like this?

That’s a good question. The steroid era was a little before my time in the business (after becoming an MLB oddsmaker at the Westgate a little less than a decade ago), and that impacted betting odds. COVID-19 and a shortened season caused bettors to look at games differently. But I think it was a little bit of a different situation overall.

Continue the discussion in our MLB Discord betting chat, where bettors discuss all of their favorite MLB futures bets and daily wagers. You can also follow TheLines on Twitter.

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Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich