Updated: May 2019

Betting on MLB Run Totals

22 May 2019

There are three main betting markets when it comes to placing a bet on a Major League Baseball match.

Analysing these three markets we can see why some bettors concentrate solely on the Run Totals (Over/Under) market. The moneyline (match result) market may put bettors off due to extremely short priced favourites and an outsider not providing enough value to bet on, whilst the Run Line (Handicap) market may be a little over-complicated to someone who is new to betting on MLB.

So, the Run Totals market is the obvious choice and provides plenty of potential for profit with so many games played during a regular season. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to correctly predict an outcome in this market.

Problems With MLB Run Totals Betting

The main problem with betting on Run Totals in Major League Baseball today are that it’s difficult to predict an outcome.

There are less runs scored in modern Baseball games as there used to be, which makes it difficult for someone to confidently predict a game will have over a certain amount of runs scored.

Which would make it sound like the simple solution would be to look for games where one team has a great starting pitcher and bet under. However, the starting pitcher doesn’t pitch deep into games like they used to so it’s difficult to confidently bet lower.

There are ways to increase your potential for profit, and make this market incredibly appealing to yourself and other bettors.

Betting on MLB Run Totals

The main way to bet on Major League Baseball Run Totals is to predict whether a game will have over or under a certain number of runs, with the bookmaker setting odds based on the probability of each outcome.

For example, a match between Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees had odds at one bookmaker of:

• Under 7.5 Runs – 15/8 (2.88 Decimal and +188 Moneyline)
• Over 7.5 Runs – 4/9 (1.44 Decimal and -225 Moneyline)

So, in American odds a bettor would have to place $100 on Under 7.5 Runs to win $188 and would need to place $225 on Over 7.5 Runs to win $100. It’s clear that over is the favourite here and looking at the pre-match stats show why.

Looking at season stats showed us that, in 47 games, Baltimore Orioles had scored a total of 183 runs and conceded a total of 281. This is an average of 3.89 scored and 5.97 conceded. New York Yankees had scored 236 (average of 5.1) and conceded 185 (4.02) in 46 games.

So, adding the amount of runs scored and conceded for each team tells us that Baltimore should score an average of 3.955 and New York should score an average of 5.535. This is a total of over nine, hence the odds being so short for the Over 7.5 betting market.
Alternative Run Totals Markets

As well as the main Run Totals markets, there are alternative markets to bet over/under on for a game. These can be either by betting on over or under how many runs each team will score or by betting over/under an alternative set number of runs.

• Run Totals Per Team – This market allows you to bet on how many runs you think each team will score. Using our above example shows us that New York Yankees would be expected to score an average of 5.535 runs during the game. So, you can go online and find a bookmaker who offers several Run Totals markets. For example, Sky Bet offer 2/7 (-350) for them to score Over 3.5, or if you’re feeling extremely confident you could go Over 5.5 (20/23 or -115) or Over 6.5 (13/10 or +130). This is a solid market if you have done your research and are confident of one team taking full control.
• Alternative Run Totals – The alternative set number allows bettors the chance to use their knowledge to try and win a bet at improved odds. As we see above, the odds for Over 7.5 total runs in the game were 4/9 (-225). But, looking at the average expected runs in the game gives us over 9. So, bettors may want to wager in an alternative market by betting on Over 8.5 at odds of 4/6 (-150) or Over 9.5 at odds of evens or +100.

How to Bet on MLB Run Totals

In order to give yourself the best chance of making a profit on MLB Run Totals betting markets you must ensure you do your homework and follow our tips to make a more informed betting decision.

Work Out Average Expected Runs

As we have done above using widely available statistics, potential bettors should work out the average expected runs for each team in a game.

To do this you simply write down the total number of runs scored and conceded in the current season, as well as the number of games played. You then divide each number by the number of games to give you an average for each. So, using the information that Baltimore Orioles scored 183 and conceded 281 in 47 games we do the following equations.

• 183 / 47 = 3.89 runs scored
• 281 / 47 = 5.97 runs conceded

We then do the same for the opposition, then add the runs scored for one team to the runs conceded for the other team to get an average expected runs scored for each team. We can then add the two averages together to get a total expected runs scored for the game.

This can be done for every game played throughout a season, obviously using stats from the previous season if betting on matches at the beginning of a regular season. You can also look at previous head to head statistics to work out an average number of runs scored from the last ten or twenty games played between the teams.

Study Pitching Stats

Another tip for whether to bet Over or Under in a game is to study the pitching statistics for each team. This means looking at the depth of quality available in the bullpen and not just focusing on the starting pitcher.

If a starting pitcher doesn’t concede many runs, it may tempt a bettor to wager on under a certain number being scored. But, you need to remember that this is just the starting pitcher and they will not pitch for more than say six overs in a game. So, you need to look at the bullpen stats and manager usage to either strengthen your betting selection or convince you to not bet on the game at all.

There’s no point betting under a certain number of runs being scored based on a solid starting pitcher if their back up is poor. The same way it’s a risky business betting over a certain number if at least one team has solid pitching depth.

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