For Major League Baseball, spring training ushers in the new year. Players report early to get back in playing shape. Managers decide who stays on the big league roster and who heads to the minors. Fans are in the stands. Hot dogs are sold.
Bettors can get in on the action, too. For both Cactus League games in Arizona and Florida’s Grapefruit League, sportsbooks will often offer odds on preseason games.
With Arizona sports betting now legal and online sportsbooks accepting bets in Arizona, now is the time to learn the ins and outs of betting on MLB spring training.
Best MLB Spring Training betting sites in AZ
The most efficient way to make your spring training wagers is via a sportsbook app or website. There are a variety of outstanding options out there, but we have a couple of favorites:
Can you bet on preseason baseball?
Major League Baseball spring training is not what you would call the most popular when it comes to sportsbooks. In fact, when you compare it to NFL betting, NBA betting, or even MLB regular season wagering, it is a very small percentage of bettors who are placing bets.
In 2019, however, MLB attempted to turn that small number into zero by sending letters to several state gambling commissions and control boards asking them to ban spring training betting. Most legal states at the time declined this request, though Pennsylvania did pause its approval of spring training bets while it looked into the issue, but spring training betting remains an option in many states with legal sports betting.
Betting on spring training vs. regular season games
Preseason games pose a challenge for bettors for the simple reason that they don’t really count for the Major League clubs playing in them. The spring training schedule was designed as a bit of a proving ground for young players. Sure, veteran players are going to get their time on the field, swing a bat a couple of times, and wave to the crowd, but they won’t play the entire game and sometimes don’t even make an appearance at all.
Instead, spring training allows young players to try to win a roster spot and veterans to get their timing and maybe work on a new pitch. For managers and coaches, it’s a chance to test those younger players, to evaluate them, and to see how things are looking from a very loose standpoint.
Players and coaches don’t care about the game like you might think they would. The wins don’t count toward the regular season in any way. The big stars in the clubs aren’t going to give their all. It’s an exhibition game, after all.
Keep that in mind if you’re placing spring training wagers. It may help you decide what kind of wagers to place before you put your money down.
Spring training betting tips & strategy
Here are a few things to consider before placing a spring training bet:
- Research: We can’t stress enough the importance of doing your own research before making any kind of bets. It’s not as easy to get good information as it will be when the regular season rolls around, but you can’t just go in blind and start guessing, either. If you can’t find enough information to make a valuable decision with, then don’t bet. There will be other opportunities.
- Don’t rush in: Preseason games are notoriously difficult to nail down because of the various factors that could come into play. Managers need to see as many players on their roster as possible so they can make informed decisions as to who will make the final cut. Even though you might have dug up some great intel, you’ve got to keep in mind that the lineup, the pitchers, and more can change in an instant and turn all of your research right on its head. Take your entry into MLB spring training slowly, watch and learn, and keep your bankroll intact.
- Pitchers, pitchers, pitchers: While we stand by what we said about all of your research potentially being torn to shreds thanks to the whims of managers and coaches, it still is important to know the schedule of starting pitchers and look for the best matchups. The greater the discrepancy in talent, the more likely you are to see the more dominant pitcher win.
- Good teams are the way to go: The best teams are still going to be the ones with the better chance of winning, even in the preseason. You’ve got perennial favorites that seem to reload each year, no matter whom they lose to free agency. That’s because their farm systems are often stacked, as well. When a good team is going up against a struggling club, you can expect that there is going to be a solid chance the better team is going to win. Do your homework, check things out and see if it all adds up to a solid wager.
- Keep your bankroll intact: Sure, it’s exciting that baseball is back, but you don’t want to go out and spend a huge part of your bankroll wagering on very unpredictable preseason games. Instead, greatly limit how much you’re willing to wager on spring training and save that bankroll for the regular season, when the games matter, the rotations are pretty solid and you get to see what each team is actually capable of doing.
Cactus League spring training
Teams that play their spring training games in Arizona make up the Cactus League. There are 15 teams that train in the Grand Canyon State, and most of them play in the Phoenix area.
The Arizona Republic has reported that the Cactus League boosts the area’s economy by around $300 million per year. Fans do enjoy the league as well, with 2011 setting a record for cactus league attendance at 1.59 million.
Here are the teams that form the Cactus League:
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers
Spring training fields in Arizona
Several of the teams that play in the Cactus League share stadiums, but there are still quite a few in total. Below is a list of all of the spring training stadiums in Arizona.
|Salt Rivers Fields
|7555 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale
|2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa
|10712 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix
|1933 S. Ballpark Way, Goodyear
|15930 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise
|Tempe Diablo Stadium
|2200 W. Alameda Drive, Tempe
|American Family Fields
|3805 N. 53rd Ave., Phoenix
|1235 N. Center St., Mesa
|Peoria Sports Complex
|16101 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria
|7408 E. Osborn Road, Scottsdale
History of the Cactus League
The Cactus League began in 1947 with just the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians and owner Bill Veeck, who pushed for the state as a spring training location. In 1951, the Cubs joined them, and it all came together when the Baltimore Orioles also began attending in 1954 (that’s the official start of the Cactus League).
By 1989, there were eight teams enjoying the Arizona weather. Since then, the number has nearly doubled with 15 clubs attending since 2018.
Grapefruit League spring training
The Cactus League and Arizona aren’t the only home to MLB spring training. The Grapefruit League was the original home for almost every team, with the warm Florida weather being a nice way for the players to get themselves back in the groove of playing baseball. Some teams have been traveling there since the late 1800s, but spring training as it is known today didn’t begin until 1913.
Below are the 15 teams that play in the Grapefruit League, as well as what stadiums they call home while in Florida.
- Atlanta Braves (CoolToday Park)
- Baltimore Orioles (Ed Smith Stadium)
- Boston Red Sox (JetBlue Park)
- Detroit Tigers (Publix Field)
- Houston Astros (FITTEAM Ballpark)
- Miami Marlins (Roger Dean Stadium)
- Minnesota Twins (Hammond Stadium)
- New York Mets (Clover Park)
- New York Yankees (George M. Steinbrenner Field)
- Philadelphia Phillies (BayCare Ballpark)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (LECOM Park)
- St. Louis Cardinals (Roger Dean Stadium)
- Tampa Bay Rays (Charlotte Sports Park)
- Toronto Blue Jays (TD Ballpark)
- Washington Nationals (FITTEAM Ballpark)
MLB Spring Training FAQ
Is spring training open to fans in 2022?
If 2021 was any indication, yes, fans will be able to attend spring training games. For the 2021 preseason, attendance was limited, with the Chicago Cubs allowing the most fans in their stadium at 3,630 per game, and the San Francisco Giants the fewest at 1,000 per game.
Does the term “spring training” mean anything?
The name of the MLB preseason is exactly what it sounds like. Major League Baseball teams gather their players in the spring, before the start of the regular season, and begin training for the year. This is a chance for unproven players to showcase their abilities and earn a roster spot.
How long is spring training?
Spring training lasts 30 days for MLB teams, during which time they typically play 24 games.