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Size Matters: How Larger MLB Bases Can Affect Running Game

Love or hate them, MLB’s new rules will result in a significant uptick in scoring across the league. We’re already seeing the evidence of this in Spring Training. But what about when the regular season starts? More importantly, how can we use these rule changes to our advantage in making MLB predictions?

With an expected higher average score in games, should our MLB picks focus on total betting, or are player props a better avenue to profit? With larger bases, can we expect more steals? And how can we exploit that?

Max Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets
Max Scherzer #21 of the New York Mets - Sarah Stier/Getty Images/afp

SB rate update: 1.16 SB Att/G, .93 SB/G, .22 CS/G, 81% success rate

2022 spring: .77 SB Att/G .56 SB/G, .21 CS/G 73% success rate.

— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) March 8, 2023

To get specific, the bases went from 15 to 18 square inches, resulting in a 4.5-inch reduction in the distance between each base. In a game decided by millimeters, 4.5 inches might as well be a mile. This is big MLB news and will have noticeable effects leaguewide.

Spring Training Stats

Using Spring Training results to predict how the regular season will go is hard. Players who slump in the preseason often wake up on Opening Day. Likewise, many youngsters will impress in the Spring, gain roster spots, and fail once the regular season starts.

Having said that, the early numbers are in, and they suggest we are in for an exciting 2023 MLB betting Season.

As of March 19, the runs per game average is up from 10.6 to 11, while stolen base attempts rose from 1.6 to 2.4 per contest. So, scoring is up 0.4 runs per game, while steals are up 0.8. As small as this may seem, those are significant changes regarding betting online.

The question is whether the sportsbooks will come out of the gate ready to significantly adjust the MLB lines. The preseason is a small sample size notorious for misleading bettors early in the regular season.

Focus on Player Props

I suspect the sportsbooks will take a wait-and-see approach to how the regular season goes. The preseason does not indicate what will happen after Opening Day, and the sportsbooks know this. Take Max Scherzer, for example. Instead of trying to win during his first start of Spring Training, he spent most of his time on the mound testing the limits of the new pitch clock and balk rules. Spring Training is a time for fiddling.

Based on this, expect the books to make minor adjustments, maybe some big moves on certain matchups, but won’t rock the boat too hard.

While much of the focus will be on total betting, I will be honing in on base-stealing player props. The lines for stolen bases are harder to adjust, and I’m willing to bet that will result in early-season value on some of the MLB’s fastest speedsters.

For reference, Double-A and Triple-A saw a stolen base increase of 32% once the new rules were implemented. Let’s not forget that pitchers are not limited to how many pickoffs attempts they can make few guys to watch are Ronald Acuna Jr, Trea Turner, Jazz Chisholm Jr, Bobby Witt Jr, and Tim Anderson. Do some research and find when they play a catcher who is bad at throwing out baserunners or a pitcher with a languid delivery in the stretch. Once you’ve identified an exploitable matchup, bet online on the over and watch the profits roll in.

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