MLB Run Lines Explained | Successful Betting Strategies

Jorge Lopez #48 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches in the first inning. Greg Fiume/Getty Images/AFP

The baseball season is in full throttle and it won’t be long before the playoffs arrive. And the only thing better than watching the Boys of Summer is betting on them. Below we explain what run lines are and how to bet them in your MLB picks.

How to Bet Baseball

There’s an old saying, “If you’ve got a hunch, bet a bunch”. That just goes to prove that not all old sayings are wise and it is best to bet with your head and not over it. And speaking of betting, let’s talk about wagering on baseball. There are two ways to bet on the team that you believe will win the game. The first is a moneyline and the second is a run line. Let’s talk about both of them.

The MLB odds expressed as a moneyline is simply choosing one team to win the game. There is no point spread and no handicap, other than the money being risked, which means all your team needs to do is win. Moneylines are always expressed with the minus (-) sign while underdogs are represented by the plus (+) sign. The unit size is always predicated on $100 but you can bet any amount and the risk, as well as the payout, will be derivative of that. An example of a moneyline is:

Dodgers -160/Braves +140

Simply put, if you want to bet the favored Dodgers you would have to risk $160 to win $100 but if you wanted to bet the Braves then you would risk $100 to win $140.

A run line is predicated on 1 ½ runs with the favorite laying 1 ½ while the underdog gets 1 ½ runs. Therefore, if the favorite won the game by only one run, then the underdog getting the 1 ½ runs would get the cover – or the win for the bettor in that instance. If the line shows the Yankees -1 ½ vs. the Red Sox (+1 ½) and New York won the game 7-6 then Boston would get the cover because 6+1 ½ = 7 ½ which is greater than 7.

There are various permutations of the run line that include -1/+1, -2/+2, -2 ½ /+2 ½ which are called alternate lines and you will find that the vig associated with them changes markedly based on the number of runs the bettor is giving up or receiving.

Run Line Strategies

Sticking to the traditional run line of -1 ½ + 1 ½ we can offer several insights. First and foremost, if betting the run line with the favorite and laying 1 ½ runs, understand that if the favorite is the home team, then they will not have the bottom of the ninth to score any runs.

That’s a real problem if their opponent finishes the top of the ninth down by one run because there will be no bottom of the ninth inning as the game will end with the home team winning by one run. Good for them but not so good for those who bet them -1 ½ runs, getting edged by that half run.

This happens more than you can imagine, especially if you are partial to betting heavy favorites but don’t want to lay the juice being asked when using the moneyline. It’s the reason some bettors eschew the run line and prefer to risk the additional money when using the moneyline. However, those who bet the underdogs can find the run line advantageous in those same situations where they would normally lose on the moneyline but wind up winning because of the 1 ½ run advantage.

You should also note that betting the underdog on the run line can have notable advantages considering that approximately 30 percent of all games are one-run games. So, whether the favorite or the underdog wins by one run (yes, the underdog can win), those betting the underdog +1 ½ runs will cover in all of those instances.

And you should also consider that when betting the home underdog on the run line there is that additional half-inning in the bottom of the ninth if tied or trailing in the game to score more runs. Don’t discount the run line when making your MLB wagers because the underdog with the additional 1 ½ runs can prove to be a good bet in the long run!

Don’t forget to do your homework, study the odds and make sure to follow top sportsbooks, like the ones at Oddstrader.

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