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What MLB Rule Changes Mean for Baseball Bettors

America’s favorite pastime is going to look very different when spring training jumps off this weekend. Major League Baseball initiated a whole host of rule changes that are designed to improve the on-field product and home viewing experience. All major leagues tweak their rules every so often in the off season.

Whenever they do, it creates opportunities for bettors. Rules impact the play on the field and the runs scored. If you can predict what type of impact rule changes will have, then you can get an edge early in the season before it's priced into the odds. MyWager has got you covered on all the sharp angles for betting MLB rule changes.

Betting Angles for MLB Rule Changes

The MLB’s goal with these rule changes, with the exception of one of them, is all about improving fan experience. In order to boost ratings and get more eyes on the games, they want to reduce game length and increase offense. Altogether, these rules might get them close to their goals. The MLB rule changes that matter the most to how the game will be played are the establishment of a pitch clock and a ban on defensive shifts. These rule changes are important for baseball bettors to stay on top of because they will factor into all odds for sides and totals.

MLB Rule Change: The Pitch Clock

Television partners and fans all over the world are begging for games to finish a little quicker. MLB’s answer is a new pitch clock that will be unveiled during spring training. The pitch clock requires that a pitcher must pitch the ball within 15 seconds of getting the baseball from the catcher. If there are men on base, then the pitch count is 20 seconds. If you are a fan who is tired of it taking five minutes per batter, then this rule change is a godsend. If you’re part of the 20% of pitchers who typically take longer than the new pitch count allows, then you might feel different.

The team at Baseball Savant have an incredible tool that will help you know which pitchers will have to change their routine based on the pitch count. Their Pitch Tempo Leaderboard which pitchers liked to work quickly in 2022 and which pitchers will need to pick up the pace in 2022. If you don’t want to go digging through the data yourselves, the team at FiveThirtyEight did it for you when the rule changes were announced in October. They provide you with a handy cheat sheet so that you know who to watch during spring training. From there you can see which pitchers handle the quicker pitch tempo better than others. Any pitchers having trouble adjusting will be great opportunities to bet against early in the season before their troubles are priced into the odds.

This particular rule change will have a greater degree of impact over some pitchers compared to others. However, it might also contribute toward a slightly over trend early in the season. Especially in games where pitchers are getting used to a faster tempo and might miss a few pitches. This might give you a chance for some extra runs not currently priced into a total, which sometimes is all the value you need to make a wager.

MLB Rule Change: Pickoff Limits

In another attempt to speed up the pace of play, pitchers are now limited to two pickoff attempts per batter. Any attempt after two is treated as a balk. Additionally, stepping off the plate is counted as an attempt. Between this rule and the pitch clock, pitchers will be spending a lot more time on their routines than they will be on runners on base. Less attention to runners on base should open up opportunities for stolen bases. These rule changes are not coming out of thin air. All of them were tried during the 2022 Minor League Baseball season. As a result, we have some data and what this means for stolen bases, and it is positive. Last year in the minor leagues stolen bases were up by 26%. For a league looking to keep fans entertained, this is a godsend! For bettors, it provides opportunities.

More stolen bases will put more runners in scoring position, which should help boost totals. It should also help teams that have good speed around the bases. Finding a lineup or two that is particularly fleet of foot might be an early season opportunity for MLB bettors. Team totals, game totals, and even taking them as a side might have some inherent value that didn’t exist in previous years. Many baseball pundits have been lamenting that steals have been on the decline. Getting ahead of public perceptions and anticipating which teams will take advantage of these new rules might lead to some early season boosts to the bankroll.

MLB Rule Change: End of the Infield Shift

Perhaps the rule change that will change baseball the most is the decision to get rid of the infield shift. The new rule requires that two infielders must be on either side of second base. It also requires that all infielders have their feet on the dirt. The infield shift isn’t new. Its first use of this defensive strategy dates back to 1941. However, as baseball teams were overtaken by analytics masterminds, its use became widespread.

As a defensive strategy, the infield shift makes sense, and it’s easy to see why it has been adopted. It allows you to put your players in the best position to deny other teams hits and extra bases. Defensive shifts allow you to play the probabilities and take away the parts of the park where hitters like to hit. Teams have had to adapt to opting for power over contact when crafting lineups. There is no defensive shift to worry about if you knock the cover off the ball. Singles, doubles, and triples are all down, but strikeouts and home runs are up. Each trip to the plate became a boom or bust event. Either a strikeout or a homerun.

Its effectiveness at reducing anything short of a home run is exactly why MLB is getting rid of it. MLB wants more singles, more baserunners, and more action other than a strikeout or homerun. More baserunners and more hits should be a recipe for more runs in the short term. In the long term, it will change how baseball teams construct their rosters. The infield shift has been particularly effective at shutting down left handed hitters on anything in the infield. Will left handed speedsters become a new moneyball obsession for GMs looking to get the most out of these rule changes? It’s not clear. Some teams will be more aggressive to take advantage of these changes to varying results. Once signs of success emerge, others will follow suit. MLB bettors looking to get an edge will be paying attention to these changes, and see which trends develop.

How MLB Bettors Can Benefit from MLB Rule Changes

The biggest single piece of advice for any MLB bettor who wants to cash tickets based on MLB rule changes is to shop around. Rule changes create uncertainty in outcomes. Different sportsbooks will vary in how much of an impact they think these rule changes will make. Baseball bettors will be set up for success by having clear opinions on how you think rule changes will impact totals and team results. Do you think there will be dramatically more runs overall than last year or do you think the difference will be minimal? Do you believe that some teams will be harmed by these changes or helped? From there, you can shop around the various online sportsbooks to see where you can find the most value.

Once there is a large enough sample size of games, oddsmakers will have enough data to set really sharp lines for every aspect of the MLB season. Teams will be priced appropriately. Pitchers will be priced appropriately. Run totals will be priced appropriately. However, until there are enough games to have a good picture, there will be more variance in available odds. Take advantage of this variance. Trust your takes. Get the best price for all of your online wagers.

We are living in the golden age of sports gambling. Sports gambling is legal in 30 states, and more states are looking to do the same. There has been an explosion in online casinos that offer internet sports betting. Each of these online sportsbooks have incredible deals to try and entice new bettors. Take advantage of these offers which sometimes offer reduced juice, cash bonuses, or even no-loss wagers. Getting access to a number of online sportsbooks will not only give you access to great deals, but will also give you access to the best odds. Both of these advantages can help build and sustain your bankroll.

-MyWager Staff


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