Terrible Hitting Does Wonders for MLB Under Betting

Updated: April 25, 2021

Pitchers are dominating this season and New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is leading the charge, sporting a 0.31 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts through four starts and 29 innings.

Photo By – USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball teams are recording record lows in hits and record highs in strikeouts to start the 2021 season, all to the benefit of MLB Under bettors.

As of April 24, MLB clubs are averaging only 7.68 hits per game and batting a collective .232 at the plate – both all-time lows for those league-wide stats – with games averaging a combined 8.86 runs a contest. 

Mix in an all-time high in average strikeouts per game at 9.14 and MLB’s new “dead balls” (teams are averaging 1.15 home runs per game, down from 1.28 in 2020 and 1.39 in 2019) and it’s easy to see why 2021 MLB Over/Under totals sit at 137-152-12 – a 52.5 percent winning edge for Unders.

Season Hits/Game Ks/Game Runs/Game
2021 (as of 4/24) 7.68 9.14 4.34
2020 8.04 8.68 4.65
2019 8.65 8.81 4.83
2018 8.44 8.48 4.45
2017 8.69 8.25 4.65

This season’s current Over/Under count isn’t an overwhelming lean toward the Under and any extra value going below the total is drying up quickly, as oddsmakers adjust. In contrast to the last three springs, however, April 2021 is a significant drop in gears for the opening month of the schedule. 

The previous three Aprils (2017-2019, as the 2020 COVID-shortened season didn’t start until July 23) have all leaned toward the Over and have a collective count of 552-537-44 Over/Under, paying out for Over bettors at a 50.7 percent clip. 

April Over Under Push O/U %
2021 (as 4/24) 137 152 12 52.5% Unders
2019 187 184 12 50.4% Overs
2018 186 178 17 51.1% Overs
2017 179 175 15 50.6% Overs

The “swing big in case you hit it” approach that has taken over baseball the past few seasons (with 2019, 2020, and 2017 as the three most dinger-friendly campaigns in baseball history) just isn’t getting the job done this year. That’s leading to some impressive pitching metrics out of the gate in 2021.

There are three pitchers with 50 or more strikeouts in fewer than 37 innings pitched this month (Shane Bieber, Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom) and three more with 40 or more Ks in that same amount of work. Not only are pitchers recording highs in strikeouts, but league-wide ERA is the lowest it’s been in eight years (3.92 ERA) and WHIP is 1.25 across the board – the lowest this metric has stood since 1966. 

As mentioned, these trends don’t go unnoticed and are quickly worked into the everyday power rankings and formulas used by oddsmakers to cook up their MLB betting totals. But despite these adjustments, Unders are still paying out more often than not.

Looking at the Over/Under numbers for the first 24 days of April 2021, there have been 26 games with double-digit totals (going 8-14 O/U or 63.6 percent Unders) but just six of those have occurred in the past week (April 18-24), and only one of those went Over the number. Going back to April 2019, there were 33 games with double-digit totals in those first 24 days of April and those produced a 19-14 Over/Under count – 57.6 percent Overs.

On the flip side, there have been 19 sub-7 run totals on the board as of April 24 and even those diminutive numbers have watched final scores stay Under the total 11 times (58% Unders). Six of those were totals of six runs or fewer (2-4 O/U) and two were at 5.5 runs (0-2 O/U). There were only seven sub-7 run totals from April 1 to April 24 in 2019 and none were smaller than 6.5 runs (4-3 Over/Under).

Nine of those sub-7 totals this April have occurred in the past week (April 18-24), so it’s plain to see that bookies are bringing the Over/Under numbers down. To add to this Under trend, there are currently a dozen teams staying below the number in 61.1 percent or more of their games so far this season. 

As the bolts are tightened on lineups and batters work their way into form, along with the warmer weather giving the bats a bit more pop, there could be a jolt in scoring come May and June. But until then, these are the best Under bets in baseball as of April 24 :

Team (as of 4/24) Over/Under Under %
Toronto Blue Jays  6-14-0 70%
Colorado Rockies  6-13-1 68.4% 
San Diego Padres 8-15-0 65.2%
New York Yankees 7-13-0 65%
Detroit Tigers 7-13-1 65%
San Francisco Giants 7-13-1 65%
Washington Nationals 6-11-1 64.7%
Kansas City Royals 6-11-2 64.7%
Cleveland Indians 7-12-0 63.2%

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