MLB Run Lines

One of the most common wager types offered by MLB betting sites is the run line. MLB run lines work the same way that point spreads do in other sports, giving the perceived lesser team a “head start” on the scoreboard. In this way, the favorite – typically represented by a -1.5 run line – “loses” 1.5 runs off their final score for betting purposes, while the underdog – shown with a +1.5 run line – “gains” 1.5 runs tacked onto their total.

This is called handicapping, and sportsbooks typically use run lines to get an equal amount of money wagered on both sides of a given bet. The following example of an MLB run line should help give you an idea of exactly how they work:

In this matchup, the Royals are underdogs to the Diamondbacks, so they “get” an extra 1.5 runs added to their final score, while the Diamondbacks “lose” 1.5 runs from theirs. In other words, in order to win the bet, Arizona must win the game by at least 2 runs, while the Royals can lose by an entire run and still win the wager.

Note that both of the above bet selections come with a -110 moneyline (in parentheses). On run line and point spread bets, this is common practice, and MLB betting sites do this to balance the money being wagered on both outcomes of the bet. Since bettors on both sides have to wager $110 to win $100 (which is a ratio, not a minimum), sportsbooks can guarantee a house take – or “vigorish” – of roughly 9%.

That said, MLB betting sites will often adjust the attached moneylines to promote more or less action on a particular side of a given wager, as changing the run line itself is far too drastic a measure in a low-scoring game like baseball and would cause massively lopsided betting, which is financially unsound for sportsbook businesses.

When To Make MLB Run Line Bets

Run lines can be attractive to bettors for a number of reasons, but there is a time when to make MLB run line bets and a time to risk your money elsewhere on the betting boards at your favorite sportsbooks. As a general rule, run line bets are better for the bettor when they themselves favor the favorite to win by more than one run. Since run lines pay out at a rate of -110, this is typically a significant jump in winnings compared to the taking the favorite on a straight moneyline.

It’s also useful to play the run line when you think an underdog will keep things tight across all nine innings. However, if you actually believe the dog will win outright, you’ll definitely get a far larger payout going with a straight bet on that club. And no matter what, it’s always a good idea to join multiple MLB betting sites to shop around for the best run lines available, albeit these typically won’t vary as much between books as other wager types will.

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