Japan’s first experience with baseball began in 1872 when it was first introduced to the country. Since then, the sport has been the country’s most popular spectator and participatory sport. The country has the Nippon Professional Baseball which has two leagues including the Pacific League and Central League, composed of six teams each. Aside from professional baseball, high school baseball in Japan also has a huge following so you can just imagine how big baseball in Japan is.
Expats who want to bet on baseball in Japan must realize that the country has great potential for sports betting, particularly for value bettors. Before beginning the topic on betting, bettors must first understand Japanese baseball.
The Nippon Professional Baseball
Japan holds the title for having the second biggest professional baseball league – the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB), which is home to 12 franchises competing for the ultra-prestigious Japan Series title.
Each of the team in the NPB plays in the 143 regular-season games, giving bettors ample opportunity to look for value bets, particularly the ones who are more analytical when it comes to their betting.
The 12 NPB teams are divided into two divisions:
Chiba Lotte Marins
Fukuoka Softbank Hawks
Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Yokohama DeNA Baystars
Saitama Seibu Lions
Tohoku Rakuten Eagles
League Schedule and Postseason
To effectively time bets, knowing the league schedule and postseason is crucial. In NPB, each of the team has to play in 143 regular-season games. Afterward, the top three teams to emerge will compete with each other in a two-stage playoff.
Runners-up of the regular season will play for the third place in a best-of-three series, with the winners to play in the regular season league championships in the Final Stage. The Final Stage is made up of six games, with the regular season champions beginning with a one-game advantage.
The winners of the Climax Series coming from the Pacific League and the Central League will play in a best-of-seven Japan Series to define the overall champion.
Nippon Professional Baseball vs Major League Baseball
In general, betting on NPB is fairly similar to betting on Major League Baseball (MLB). Still, there are some notable differences such as:
- NPB games can end in a tie. If an NPB game remains level after 12 innings, then it is a tie. So in betting, all wagers on the moneyline automatically result in a push. Spread and totals bets, on the other hand, should be settled as usual.
- Starting pitchers can have longer shifts in NPB. NPB teams operate on a six-man rotation whilst in MLB, there are only five. Thus, NPB managers have the option of leaving out their starting pitchers longer since they can play weekly as opposed to every five days commonly practiced in MLB. Due to this, it is not unusual to see opening pitchers to have more than 100 pitches in a game. When it comes to betting, knowledge about the starting pitchers for each matchup is crucial as it has a great impact on the game outcome.
- NPB games have lower totals in comparison with the MLB. Since scoring varies per season it is important to monitor trends. For instance, per game totals in the NPB significantly dropped in 2015 since the ball was changed from a more difficult one but the run totals eventually increased as the teams have adjusted to the new ball. When compared with MLB, NPB totals are lower due to several factors such as change of ball and fresher pitchers. When looking at the average between Pacific and Central League, the former racks in higher runs.
Available Betting Types for NPB
When you place a wager on online bookies, some of the available betting types include:
- Money Line – bettors will have to choose which team will win. In case of a tie, bettors will receive their money back.
- Run Line Betting – this type of bet allows the bettor to place a wager on the spread or handicap. Note that for betting on the NPB, each team will have an assigned total number of runs which will be added or subtracted from their final total. When it comes to baseball, the run line is more than often set to 1.5 runs, which means that the game favourite must win by at the very least two runs to cover the bet, if not, wagers on the underdog automatically win.
- Totals – this type of bet allows the bettor to guess the total number of runs scored during the game.
- Team Totals – this type of bet allows the bettor to guess the total number of runs scored during the game by a specific team.
- Team to Score First – this type of bet allows the bettor to guess which of the two teams will score the first run of the game.
- Hits + Runs + Errors – this type of bet allows the bettor to guess the combined runs, hits, and errors committed in a game. Punters can bet either over or under a set total.
- Futures – this type of bet allows the bettors to guess which team will win a particular league or the Japan Series. Some online bookies will post odds on teams to win the Pacific League at the beginning of the season. Punters must take note that since they are betting on the futures, these are long term bets and payouts occur at the end of the season. Thus, playing a bet means that you are locked into it until it is resolved. So it is typical to change odds depending on how the teams are performing or whether there will be injuries or any unfortunate event for the team.
NPB Betting Tips
Now that you have learned how to bet on baseball in Japan, it is time for some useful tips to help you maximize your bets. When it comes to betting on baseball, many are hooked because it is wildly entertaining and can be extremely lucrative. However, doing extensive research before betting is always the best tip especially if you really want to win big.
- Betting on baseball means you have to maximize tons of statistics available at your disposal. Read on all of these statistics on teams and players.
- Understand that each game in baseball is unique. Simply looking at the overall records of all the teams playing is never going to be enough to predict how they will perform during the season. For instance, it is important to look at which pitcher will start for each team to truly understand what each team can give each game.
- There is high variance in baseball, especially during the early part of the season. In fact, a team’s record is often highly misleading that it would be much better to look at a specific team’s run differential to have a grasp of how they are performing. Note that teams outscoring their opponents often win more games over the course of the season compared with teams that can barely make out one-run victories and yet lose by huge margins.
- Sports betting are subject to external factors. For baseball, one factor that should be considered yet often overlooked by newbie bettors is the weather. In baseball, two weather factors must be taken into account. During warmer weather, the ball can travel further away through the air and this can be a strong factor in increasing run scores. Outdoor stadiums are also subject to wind impact. Winds blowing in will cause hitters to struggle, whilst winds blowing out can cause hitters to score more home runs.
- Consider stadiums played on. Smaller stadiums often account for high scoring games. You must also consider the size of foul territory as it can impact the scoring as well. Nagoya Dome favours pitchers whilst Yokohama Stadium often results to high scoring games.
- Open an account with at least two online sportsbooks. If you want to maximize your bets, it is always good practice to have more than one account. This is to allow you to make the most of the different odds offered by each bookie. Oftentimes, opening an account is free of charge so it does no harm to have several accounts so you can check first which of the websites will give you the best odds for a particular bet that you want to put your money on.
- Take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Winning on baseball is sometimes more than just the game. Experienced bettors know that they can win even before they make their first bet since a number of online sportsbooks nowadays offer their users loads of extra money to bet with as soon as they make their initial deposit. Even if the money should be used to bet several times before you can actually withdraw it, it is still a win-win situation since it gives you additional betting money.