Daily Free Picks


Subscribe to Jimmy Boyd's Free Picks

The best free picks delivered to your email every single day!


If you are going to bet on baseball then it’s vital that you know all of the different options.  Run line betting is a popular alternative to straight money lines and an important option to have in your MLB wagering toolbox.  This article will cover the means and basics of run line betting so you can win more money on the diamond this season.

Understanding What the Run Line Means in Baseball Betting

It essentially boils down to run lines being baseball’s version of a point spread.  The favorite is saddled with covering a -1.5 line, which means they have to win by two or more runs for bettors to cover.

On the other hand, underdogs are gifted a +1.5 spread which means you can win your wager by that team either winning the game outright or losing by a single run.

This introduction will explore the dynamics of runline betting and help you with some strategies that will hopefully help line your pockets with cash this summer.

Let’s take a look at an example from the MLB Vegas odds:

TeamMoneylineRun Line
Boston+120+1.5 (-160)
New York-140-1.5 (+140)

In this example, New York is a slight favorite over Boston.  At -140 the books are saying that they will win about 56% of the time (note if you want to understand money lines better find that here.). That means you have to bet $140 to win $100.

But if you choose the run line you can get +140 odds and a $100 wager will return you $140 in profit.

Backing Boston on the moneyline will profit you $120 for every $100 you bet if they are successful, but if you take the cushion of the run line it will take a $160 bet to make a tidy $100 in profits.

Different Runline Options Explained: First 5 Innings, Alternate, and Reverse

Once you start to dive deeper into the options, you’ll find some advanced bets the books have come up with to entice you into taking action.  We’ll go over some of the most popular ones here:

First 5 Inning Bets

This betting option allows you to focus on the outcome of the first five innings of the game, instead of the entire affair.  If you are concentrating on the early performance of the teams you can weigh the starting pitchers and lineups more without having to worry about bullpens or pinch hitters.  It’s also quicker action so you’ll have a decision in a quicker time frame.

Alternate Run Lines

Instead of laying just -1.5, you can choose to lay -2.5 with alternates.  This is a strategy that really helps if you like favorites in high-scoring games or you think an offense is going to light up the opposing pitchers one day.

On the other hand, if you want to take more runs on the underdog you are going to pay a hefty price.  It can be worth it if you think the game is going to be low-scoring and runs will be at more of a premium.

Reverse RunLine

The same +1.5 and -1.5 are offered with reverses, but it’s the favorite that gets the extra cushion and the underdog that has to win by two or more.

This strategy can secure a much higher payout on the underdog but does increase the risk of losing.

You might like a starting pitcher to really shut down the opposition but aren’t confident in the hitters.  You can take the extra +1.5 with the favorite and eliminate the risk of a fluke run getting scored against you to cost you the game.  The price you’ll pay for this is pretty steep though.

Understanding and leveraging the right situations to take the reverse lines can give you a clear edge in baseball.

Diversifying your wagers and incorporating these options into your strategies will only help you find more avenues for success.

Why Choose Run Lines over Moneylines in MLB Betting

One betting strategy that a lot of the top MLB handicappers use is to opt for run lines over the money line.  Moneylines are straightforward, if your team wins then you cash the bet.

When you introduce a point spread as a handicap, you will adjust the payouts.  This means that with a favorite you can get a better price if you are willing to give up a little of your edge.

For the underdog, gaining the advantage of the extra cushion will cost you some value.  But, it could be worth it in the right situations.

When to Take the Run Line: MLB Strategy & Baseball Betting Advice

The decision to take the runline or the money line always comes down to price.  If you think a team is going to win straight up at a higher rate than is reflected in the odds, then you should take the money line.  You can look at our moneyline calculator to see if the implied probability matches the line.

If you think the money line is pretty tight but the chances of a one-run game aren’t being properly reflected in the odds, then the run line is the right choice.

A couple of things to think about. It can be frustrating to take favorites at home.  They are cozying along with a lead going into the top of the 9th inning, and they might not care if they give up a run to get an out.  This can turn a two-run game into a one-run decision pretty quickly because the team’s motivations to win the game don’t align with yours to win by a certain number.

You also get one less at bat if the home team is winning after the top half of the 9th, so you lose three extra outs for your team to expand on their lead.

Sometimes the books automatically adjust based on the sides and totals of a game, but sometimes they have to do it manually.  If you shop around you can find sportsbooks that might have moved the moneyline on a game but left the run line at the old numbers.  You can pick up some value if you expand your horizons and shop around for all of the wagers related to a single game, and not just have a laser-like focus on one.

Additional Guides Explaining Sports Betting: