How to Bet on MLB Run Lines
3 June 2019
Many moons ago, bookmakers in America only offered moneyline markets for Major League Baseball games and therefore failed to garner enough interest among bettors. The match result odds offered in moneyline markets were either too short or didn’t offer enough value.
By looking at what was popular among bettors of other sports, such as the NFL or NBA, bookmakers soon realised that introducing something akin to a points spread betting market would help increase popularity and interest for people betting on MLB.
So, the MLB Run Lines market was created.
What is a “Run Line” Bet?
The Run Lines in Major League Baseball are a handicap market where one team will start with a minus (-) handicap and the other with a plus (+). This is to try and bring the teams closer together. It also creates a market where the favourite is available at better odds, or the outsider has a better chance of returning a winning bet.
The run line is usually set at -/+ 1, although some bookmakers do offer alternative run line markets with the odds altered to reflect the chances of a bettor winning their bet.
Basically, the favourite in the moneyline market will be available at a run line of -1. This means they have to win by two runs or more to return a winning bet. The outsider in the moneyline market, the team available at longest odds, will be available at a run line of +1.
Lets look at an example from a real life match between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.
In the moneyline market at one bookmaker, the favourites Boston Red Sox were priced at -225. The outsiders, Cleveland Indians were +188. This means that bettors would need to bet $225 on the favourites to win $100 or they would win $188 for a $100 bet on the outsider.
The run line market has both teams priced at -110, with Boston Red Sox on -1 and Cleveland Indians on +1. So, betting $110 on either team would return you $100. You would need Boston Red Sox to win by two runs if you backed them, or Cleveland Indians to either win or lose by just one run if you bet on them.
How to Bet on MLB Run Lines
Bookmakers didn’t introduce run line markets as a way of giving bettors more chances of taking their money. They created them as a way of increasing their profit margin.
So, you must be careful when betting on MLB run lines otherwise you will end up giving your money away to the bookmaker.
Here are a few tips to help prevent you making too many mistakes when betting on MLB run lines.
Be Careful Betting Favourites
One-run victories in Major League Baseball are a more common occurrence than many bettors would be led to believe.
So, backing the favourite in the run line market to get better odds than the short price available in the moneyline market isn’t the value bet it sounds like.
You must study form, win margins, etc. before deciding to back a favourite in the run line market. Just because they’re a short priced favourite in the moneyline market doesn’t mean they are going to dominate the game and win by a big margin.
Only by being analytical and intelligent about your betting strategy will you give yourself the best chance of winning in the MLB run line market.
Do Not Ignore the Outsider
Most people, especially those who always back favourites, will ignore the outsider. This is because they believe they will lose anyway, so backing them in the run line market will be hoping that they lose by exactly one run. The percentages game shows a low probability of that happening, so the outsider gets ignored.
But, that outsider may actually be good enough to win the game. Betting on them in the run line market is betting on them to either win or lose by less than 1.5 runs. This is where many casual bettors go wrong, because they write the outsider off before studying all of the available statistics.
Do Not Use Run Lines Too Much
Many casual bettors will make the mistake of over-betting on run line markets, because they think they are getting more value on the favourites. In truth, all they are doing is giving most of their money to the bookmaker.
As already mentioned, one-run victories are more common than many people believe and the bookmakers know this. They also know that most people will ignore statistics and factual information because they are swayed by a price.
We recommend that bettors carry out full research and only bet the run lines in games they truly believe will give them a potential of profit.
Pay Attention to Park Effects
Different ball parks have different influences on the rate of scoring in a MLB game. Most bettors, especially those casual bettors who largely forget about facts and stats, will ignore this.
Before betting a run line, it is important to look at ball park statistics and pay close attention to them. It’s pointless betting a favourite to win in the run line market if the majority of matches finish 3-2 or 4-3.
Find a Strategy That Works
Finding a betting strategy and sticking to it can be the difference between profit and loss when betting on MLB run lines.
Some bettors will bet on the favourite in the run line market when the game is at a ball park that usually sees high scoring games. Even the closest and most competitive of games can end up having a two or three run margin at the end.
However, it is always dangerous to bet the favourite when the game is at a low-scoring ball park. This is because there is a bigger chance they just out scrape a victory by one run.
This isn’t a fool-proof strategy but it works for some people. Find your own strategy and stick to it.
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