What is a Run Line in Sports Betting? How to Bet the Run Line in Baseball

<p>AP Photos</p>

AP Photos

author favicon
OddsJam StaffJune 1, 2022, 06:43 PM

The run line is one of the three standard options when betting on a baseball game. The other two are the moneyline and the total.

Essentially, the run line is the point spread of baseball. In Major League Baseball, teams are so evenly matched and the games are so unpredictable that the run line is almost always set at +1.5 for the underdog and -1.5 for the favorite.

If it was 0.5 it would just be the same as a moneyline (there are no ties in baseball), and there is almost never a mismatch great enough for the run line to be set at -2.5 or above.

Run Lines & Point Spreads

Like point spreads in football or basketball, the run line offers another way for bettors to wager with different MLB odds and potential outcomes than the moneyline, which is just betting on who will win the game outright.

Are there Alternate Run Lines?

Even though the standard lines are almost always -1.5 or +1.5, many books offer alternate run lines with different odds. If you’re confident that one team will blow the other team out that day, a run line like -3.5 will be at a great price.

Another way to take advantage of alternate lines is to introduce the potential of a push and take -1 instead of -1.5. That way if they win the game by a single run it will be a push instead of a loss, and the amount you’ll have to lay to win a unit will be significantly less. 

How To Read Run Lines

Since the run line is almost always 1.5, the favorite has to win by 2 or more runs to cover the line, while the underdog can lose by 1 run and still leave their backers with a winning ticket.

Should You Bet The Run Line Or Moneyline?

The books are generally pretty good at setting lines to ensure that it’s not significantly more or less profitable than taking the moneyline, so it’s really a matter of personal preference.

The run line sometimes has slightly more juice, but it depends on the book. Most baseball bets are purely moneyline, but it can be beneficial at times to have better odds or that extra run on the line.

Run Line Betting Strategies

As with any bet, the most important strategy is to get the best odds possible, so be sure to check out the OddsJam MLB odds page to compare lines at the various sportsbooks you have an account at. 

In terms of actual specific strategies, road teams can be valuable because no matter the outcome they will get nine innings at the plate. If the home team is up by a run after eight-and-a-half innings, there is no need for the bottom of the ninth and the +1.5 bet wins.

People tend to think games are decided by exactly 1 run less often than they actually are, so many casual bettors will take the heavy favorite at -1.5 for better odds without thinking twice about it. In this case, +1.5 on the underdog can still have better than +100 odds especially if the opponent’s starting pitcher is someone like Jacob deGrom, Gerrit Cole or Walker Buehler.