Hot Trend: Baseball First Inning Wagering – How To Jump In

Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels catches a fly ball. Ron Jenkins/Getty Images/AFP

If you are looking at any social media sports or baseball betting sites, you probably noticed something you have not seen before. The acronym NRFI stands for – No Run First Inning.

For those making MLB picks who don’t want to wait for a whole nine innings for a result, yet, don’t have the ability to do in-game wagering, this is about as close to nirvana for today’s increasingly impatient sports bettors.

This wager could not be any more cut and dry and can end after a single pitch or a 20-minute opening frame. For this wager, there is the flip side alternative, YRFI, which means – Yes Run First Inning.

Now that you know this is available at many sportsbooks and is a unique bet that offers a quick result, how do you win at it by placing bets?

There is Way More Than Meets the Eye

Ask even experienced bettors what they think about placing such a bet and the typical response is, “seems like a coin flip”. That’s understandable because they don’t understand the nuances of placing such a wager and trying to stack the odds in your favor to win.

There are several factors to consider along with elements that will trigger an eyebrow rising “Ah-Ha” from most regular baseball bettors.

Understanding The Pitchers and The Odds

If the starting pitchers have an ERA and WHIP in the Top 30, a game total for such a matchup that is backed with good bullpens would be 7 or lower. A typical first-inning line could look something like this.

  • Yes there will be a run: +120
  • No there won’t be a run: -150

If the matchup of starters features two 5th starters and each has a bullpen poor, the total could be 9.5 or higher and the 1st inning line would more resemble this.

  • Yes there will be a run: -115
  • No there won’t be a run: -105

While this looks simple from a pitching perspective about what would be Yes or No based on the extremes of the matchup, neither scenario happens necessarily daily and you need more information.

Understanding the Batters

On a game-by-game basis, the first four hitters at the top of the lineup card are thought to be the four best no matter what their current average, on-base percentage, and home run rates are.

The opposing hurler has to navigate this group and depending on how aggressive the opposing pitcher is in trying to establish Strike 1 with his first pitch to each batter, that could dictate exactly how aggressive each player holding the wood is.

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If a team has a collection of sluggers facing a weak pitcher, one or two swings of the lumber from either squad could make this a Yes or YRFI. However, if this same contingent is slumping as a group, is known for striking out frequently, and is going through a brutal on-base percentage period, that could alter a thought process.

Then you add in this hurler starts having problems after 50 pitches, yet is solid when first starting, this changes how one could look at a bet with the same exact players.

Finding the Right Scenarios

For an NRFI selection, you want a starting pitching that allows a low home run average, strikes out a lot of batters and doesn’t walk many hitters. For a YRFI, you want a pitcher that does exactly the opposite.

In considering a YRFI for batting, the lineup card should have consistent power, the ability to draw walks, and have a quality OBPS (on-base percentage + slugging) which is hitters who also have lots of extra-base hits to drive in runners.

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Again, for the NRFI wager, you want a top of the order that lacks power, is impatient and swings early in the count, and has meager OBPS numbers.

Properly Handicapping This Prop

As always, information is king. The website TeamRankings has runs scored in the first inning for all teams, which is a real benefit. And FanGraphs allows you to find how well a team is hitting over the last seven days, so you can hone in on the best number.

As you know, betting is about the value, and knowing where to locate it matters. Besides useful websites, check out the injury reports or team pages. I say a Mike Trout is out or given the day off, that changes the Angels’ potential ability to score in the first inning, particularly against a top hurler.

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Among the best handicapping scenarios to find are these based on MLB odds. For an NRFI, seek to find a high-scoring team that is slumping facing a strikeout pitcher. Conversely, look for a hot low-scoring club facing pitch to contact hurlers that have a high WHIP.

This should be more than enough information to get you started on a new betting challenge. Good Luck!

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