When it comes to wagering on money lines and run lines for Major League Baseball, the basic premise of the bet is similar to a money line or point spread for football or basketball.
In the betting industry, run lines are becoming very popular as people begin to familiarize themselves with the concept. The most common way to bet on baseball games is on the money line, but lately, sportsbooks started offering something the run line to their customers.
If you bet on football or basketball, the run line is most easily understood as a point spread for baseball games. The biggest difference being that the run line is always set with the favorite at -1.5 runs and the underdog set at +1.5 runs. Bettors normally look to run lines when they are faced with taking huge favorites. Your average bettor simply doesn’t want to lay -200 or -300 on a favorite because the risk is so large, so they lay the extra -1.5, which gives them better odds in terms of how much they have to risk, but also lowers their chances of winning. Here are some hypothetical MLB lines compared to money line:
Detroit Tigers -1.5 (-135)
Detroit Tigers -250
Obviously the -1.5 (-135) is more attractive to your average bettor, after all, if the Tigers are so heavily favored, they should win by at least 2 runs, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case because a significant amount of MLB games are decided by just one run. In fact, over the past several years, one-run games have occurred in about ¼ of all baseball games and the team winning by one run doesn’t always end up as the favorite.
Another thing to consider when betting on the run line is that the home team is most often going to be the heavy favorites in these matchups. This can hurt bettors because, if up by just one run, the home team won’t bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving you one less half-inning for them to score runs. Not only that, but if the home team comes from behind in the bottom of the 9th or extra innings, they are almost always going to win by just the one run, leaving run line bettors out in the cold.
You can also take the run line on the underdog at +1.5 in MLB games, but you will pay a pretty steep price for it. Here is an example of what the odds would look like for an underdog at +1.5:
Detroit Tigers +1.5 (-190)
Detroit Tigers +115
As you can see, you pay a hefty price for that extra 1.5 runs. There are plenty of handicappers that will take these types of run lines on occasion, but it is definitely not a regular bet.
Always remember to check the total (over/under) before taking a team on the run line. Just think about it, if a total is set for just 7 runs, the sportsbook is expecting a low-scoring game, which is not a good situation for taking a favorite on the run line. On the flip side, if you see at total at 11.5, and have a good read on a heavily favored team, you might be wise to take them on the run line at the discounted
Betting the run like makes sense when you like a big favorite and can get them at reduced odds by giving the 1.5 runs.
It's also wise to consider the predicted amount of runs scored in a game when looking at the run line. Obviously, 1.5 runs is more meaningful in a contest where the oddsmaker is predicting a total of 7 runs to be scored than it is in a game where the predicted total is 14 runs.
Understanding MLB Money Lines is critical if you want to be successful betting on baseball. The margin of victory is so small in many baseball games that it’s impossible to have a point spread. While the point spread is concerned with who wins and by how much, the money line is solely interested in who wins.
The best way to learn how to read MLB money lines is to see an example of it in action, so let’s look at the money line in the National League for two famous rivals:
Chicago Cubs +135
St. Louis Cardinals -145
In this example, the Cards are the favored team, as signified by the minus sign in front of the 145. The Cubs are the underdogs, as designated by the plus sign in front of the 135.
The above baseball betting lines indicates that those wishing to bet on the Cardinals (fave) will have to risk $145 to win $100, while those wanting to wager on the Cubs (underdog) will risk $100 to win $135.
Please note that even though baseball betting lines are expressed in units of $100, you can bet as little as $5 or $10.
Sports books traditionally offer a 20-cent money line and more recently, dime-lines when it comes to wagering on Major League Baseball.
The 20-cent line creates a spread between a money line on a favorite and a money line on an underdog to create a $20 dollar profit for the house if the underdog wins.
For example, if Minnesota is playing Toronto, and open as a -150 favorite, the money line on Toronto would be +130. This way if Minnesota wins, they pay out $100 and collect $100 for every Toronto bet. If Toronto wins, they collect $150 for every Minnesota bet and pay out $130 for every Twins bet. The dime line works the same way, but the spread is only $10.
When reading MLB money lines, make sure that the odds difference between the favorite and the underdog is only 10 cents. 10-cent lines, also known as Dime Lines, offer sports bettors the most value for their baseball gambling dollar. This “10 cent” difference, or actually $10 ($145 - $135) is the sportsbook’s 10% betting fee called the vig.
Money and runs lines add intrigue and excitement to wagering on baseball, but you should always be aware of the risk you are assuming with each bet. If you were to consistently wager on the favorite with a -150 money line, you would have to win at least 60 percent of the time to just break even. Wagering on underdogs require a much lower winning percentage, but your risk actually increases given the frequency of how often they are able to pull off the upset. The best strategy is to stick with teams that consistently win and look for value in the money line when it carries less risk.