Run line odds for baseball explained

While the most popular betting options on the MLB is the moneyline, MLB run lines are a viable betting option. However, there is more to consider when betting on MLB run lines such as team records against the spread, home/road splits and how much value are you getting on the run line compared to taking that team straight up. We cover some of the basics of MLB run lines and when are the best times to bet the run line over a moneyline.

MLB Standings

MLB standings are an excellent tool for bettors to reference before wagering on baseball games. See wins, losses and scoring statistics, all of which are important metrics to consider before laying down money on a baseball game. 

StandingsMLB

What is an MLB Run Line?

MLB run lines are always -1.5 for the favourite on the moneyline (unless both teams are -110 on the moneyline, in which case the home team becomes the favourite on the run line).

Example: If the favourite opens at -190 on the run line, their odds on the run line are usually around +120. For the favourite to cover, they need to win the game by two runs or more.

Why Bet on MLB Run Lines?

When you are confident in a team, not only to win but also to win by multiple runs, the MLB run line is a more profitable betting option. As the example above shows, betting on the moneyline favourite on the run line increases your potential winning by a large margin.

Record in One-Run Games

The total number of one-run games in the MLB per season is around 43 per team. However, the history of a team in one-run games is not that important when betting on MLB run lines but the total one-run games a team plays in is more important.

For example, if a team will a .600 winning percentage played in 55 one-run games in a season, you would want to wager against that team when they are the favourite and bet on them as an underdog.

Why? Simply because they are more often than not the favourite but would have a bad record against the spread. Even if they went 45-10 in one-run games, their record against the spread would likely be below their actual winning percentage. 

Of course, there is more to consider than just one-run games. The length of the MLB season is such an important factor, that 43 games barely represents a quarter of it. A team’s record in one-run games is great to consider when you expect a close game with excellent pitching, but a team’s overall performance over the season carries more weight. 

Team Case Study – 2018 New York Yankees

Take the 2018 New York Yankees as an example. The Yankees went 100-62 last season straight up. However, they were only 85-77 against the spread. If this were the NFL, then betting on the Yankees against the spread would net a small profit. However, the MLB run line works differently than NFL point spreads.

Over the course of the entire season, the Yankees were on average a -170 favourite in every game. If you bet $100 on the Yankees every game, you would have lost $318.

However, on the run line, the Yankees averaged odds of +130. Since they were 85-77 against the spread, at odds of +130, you would profit $3350.

To maximize profits, it is better to bet on the run line on road teams than home teams. The Yankees were 53-28 at home in 2018, but only 39-42 against the spread. On the road in 2018, the Yankees were straight up 47-34 and 45-36 against the spread.

One reason why road teams are more profitable on the run line is guaranteed at-bats in the ninth. If an underdog team is trailing ninth but cuts to the lead to one before losing they cover the spread. Also, in the event of a tie in the bottom of the ninth, only a multi-run home run will cover the spread for the favourite. Every other run-scoring option results in a one-run win. 

Not every team is as profitable as the Yankees, who were an underdog 13 times over the 2018 MLB regular season. However, if you can spot the right matchups, and play them to your advantage, you can net substantial gains by mixing in MLB run lines with MLB moneylines.

Live Betting the MLB Run Line

One of the best times to wager on an MLB run line is during the game. If one team has a moderate cushion after a few innings (say three to five runs), but their bullpen is shaky, and the opponent has historical success against their bullpen, you could bet on the losing team to cut the deficit and cover the spread.  

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:

Bonus