If you hope to win consistently betting on baseball, you can’t afford to ignore anything that can help you gain even the smallest edge. But you also only have so much time to evaluate the upcoming games, so you have to focus on the most important stats and information first.

This post will help you decide where stolen bases fit into your overall betting strategy.

Billy Hamilton, Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock

Depending on how old you are and how long you have been following baseball, you may or may not be familiar with Billy Hamilton, Rickey Henderson, and Lou Brock. They all completely changed a baseball game when they were able to get on base.

Billy Hamilton is the only one of the three that is currently on a MLB roster, but all three players had outstanding speed and the ability to steal a large number of bases. Though Hamilton is not a great hitter, any time he is able to get on base he is a threat to steal.

This threat and a player’s overall speed put an additional layer of stress on the entire defense. Even when a player like this doesn’t end up stealing a base he can still lead to more runs.

Pitchers are forced to hurry their delivery to the plate and make more throws to first base than they usually do. They also throw fewer off speed pitches, giving the hitter an advantage. Catchers are forced to hurry their throws and always be aware of where the runner is. These things take away from the concentration on the current hitter, which leads to the hitter having a better chance to reach base.

The rest of the defense is also under a higher rate of stress because if the ball is hit to them they have to hurry to combat the speed.

All of these things lead to a clear picture of how the fastest baseball players can change who wins and loses any baseball game.

What about Teams That Don’t Steal Bases?

Many teams don’t steal many bases. Knowing who these teams are is just as important to know as a baseball bettor as knowing the teams and players who are base stealing threats.

When a team isn’t a danger to steal bases you don’t have to worry how good the opposing team’s catcher is at throwing out runners or how good the starting pitcher is at holding on runners. You can usually just ignore anything to do with stolen bases in these cases.

Just How Important Are Stolen Bases in Predicting Outcomes?

It’s hard to place stolen bases at a particular spot on a list of important factors to consider when placing baseball bets. But I can give you some general guidelines. If two teams are playing that don’t steal many bases it is basically a non-factor and can be ignored.

Generally it’s one of the last offensive categories I consider when predicting games, but I do always look at it. It’s not as important as on base percentage, home runs, and other power indicators like slugging percentage, team batting average and who is in the lineup and who isn’t. It also isn’t as important as the starting pitching match ups and defensive ratings of the teams and players.

Where it is important is when a player like Billy Hamilton is or isn’t in the lineup. When he does play it counts in the favor of his team, and when he doesn’t, it’s a large mark against his team. I go so far as to not bet on his team when he isn’t playing unless just about every other factor is in their favor. For example, they need to be playing at home with one of their best starting pitchers against a weaker starting pitcher for me to even consider it.

I realize that you may feel like I am giving you conflicting advice by stating how many other factors are more important than stolen bases and then turning around and saying I won’t bet on a team when a speedster isn’t playing. But what you need to fully grasp is a truly great base stealer and speed demon can change an entire game. And the ways they change games don’t always show up in the box score.

You read a list of ways they put pressure on defenses and pitchers, but they also can take an extra base on hits, score from second more often than other players on hits and generally just disrupt everything.

What it boils down to is often the individual player is more important than the overall consideration of stolen bases.


The short answer to the opening question is yes. Ignoring any statistical information you have access to that can help you find lines that offer value costs you money in the long run.

Stolen bases are not as important as they were at one point in baseball history, but they can and do change the outcomes of games so you need to consider them when predicting who will win baseball games.

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