What Does Run Line Betting Mean In Baseball?

The run line is baseball’s version of the point spread, and understanding it is crucial to improving your betting strategy.

We explain more about the run line concept, giving you all the information you need to make informed decisions when placing run line bets in baseball.

Run Line Betting In Baseball Explained?

The run line is a type of spread betting in baseball. It’s not meant to give one team an advantage in an even-money bet. Instead, it changes the odds for bettors, usually switching the favorite and the underdog.

The run line in baseball is like hockey’s puck line. Depending on your bet, it adds 1.5 fictitious runs to the underdog’s score or subtracts 1.5 runs from the favorite’s score, significantly changing the game odds. 

To win a run line bet on the moneyline favorite, the team would have to win by 2 or more runs or “cover” the 1.5 run line.

In the same game, the underdogs might be shown at +1.5, indicating that they need to either lose by one run or less or win the game outright. 

While the MLB run line is typically set at 1.5, certain betting sites let you bet on alternate lines like 2.5 or sometimes even 3.5 runs, each with different odds, of course.

Examples Of Run Line Betting in Baseball

In this matchup, we’ve got the Tampa Bay Rays facing off against the New York Yankees. Looking at the image below, you’ll find the moneyline odds and the run line odds with the US sportsbooks.

run line betting example

Here, the Yankees are favorites with -205 moneyline odds (meaning a $205 bet would bring in a $100 profit), while the Rays are underdogs at +175 (a $100 bet for a $175 profit).

A moneyline bet is the simplest wager you can make. It’s all about picking the team you believe will win the game.

It’s All About The Spread With The Run Line

Now, with a run line bet, the focus shifts from the game-winner to the spread. When you bet the run line, you’re wagering on the game + or – those extra 1.5 runs, offering an alternative set of odds.

In the example above, the Yankees, the moneyline favorite at -205, become the same run line odds as the Rays at -110. This means that a $110 bet on the Yankees to cover the run line could earn you a profit of $100.

Conversely, the Rays start as the moneyline underdog at +175. However, when you bet on the run line, their odds shorten to -110. So again, you’d need to risk $110 for a potential profit of $100.

The odds change significantly when betting on the run line because it’s not solely about picking the in-game winner. Notice that the run line is -1.5 for the Yankees and +1.5 for the Rays.

To win a run line bet on the Yankees, they must cover the spread by winning the game by more than 1.5 runs (or two runs, as there are no half runs). This is because the run line subtracts 1.5 runs from their final ‘real’ score.

Similarly, if you bet the run line on the Rays, you’re hoping they either win outright or lose by less than two runs since the run line adds 1.5 to their final score.

How Much Does This Bet Cost and How Much Can You Win?

A run line bet follows the same principle as any other bet. The odds indicate how much you’ll win for every $100 you wager.

For instance, consider a game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox with a run line set at -1.5 runs. This means the Yankees are 1.5-run favorites, while the Red Sox are 1.5-run underdogs.

If you bet $100 on the Yankees to win, and they do by two runs or more, you win your bet. However, if the Yankees only win by one run, you lose your bet, like if the final score is 3-2 or 4-3.

The same goes for betting on the Red Sox. You win if they lose by two runs or fewer or win outright, but you lose if they lose by three runs or more.

Sometimes, oddsmakers set the run line at +1.5 runs. In this case, the first team listed is a 1.5-run underdog, and the second is a 1.5-run favorite. The standard run line rules apply, but the odds are different. For example, when the run line is set at +1.5, the payouts are usually even money or -110.

If you bet $110 on the Yankees as 1.5-run underdogs, you’d win $100 if they won outright or lost by one run.

Similarly, betting on the Red Sox as 1.5-run favorites and them winning by two runs or more would earn you $100 on your money bet.

Is It Better To Bet The Run Line or Moneyline?

Another common bet in baseball is the moneyline bet. Now that you’ve learned about the run line, let’s explore the difference between it and the moneyline bet.

The moneyline bet in baseball is a straightforward wager—you pick the team you think will win. The beauty of a moneyline bet is that it doesn’t matter how many runs a team scores or wins by; they just need to secure the victory.

Following the moneyline pick, you’ll see the odds represented by three numbers with either a + or – sign. The number with a – sign indicates the favored team, and the number with a + represents the underdog.

For instance, if the moneyline shows Team A +117 and Team B -140, Team B is the favored one. You’d need to bet $140 on Team B to win $100. If they win, you get back your $140 plus an additional $100, resulting in a total payout of $240. If they lose, you’re $140 out of pocket.

The Stake Is Always Up The The Bettor

Your stake can be whatever you want; however, the less you wager, the lower the return, and the more you bet, the higher the winnings.

Now, if you bet on Team A as the underdog with a wager of $100 at +117, and Team A wins, you collect $117 plus $100, making your total payout $217.

However, if they lose, you’re out $100. As evident, betting on the underdog involves more risk, but it also pays more if you emerge victorious.

In terms of which is better to bet on, there’s really no right or wrong answer. People tend to bet on the run line for favorites more frequently than underdogs. This is because bettors think a stronger team can easily defeat a weaker one, and they prefer not to pay the higher moneyline price for the favorite.

They lock in more value on the favorite by allowing the underdog to start the game with a fictitious points headstart.

Are There Calculators To Use?

Using a run line calculator allows you to transform a significantly favored line into a plus money line by placing two bets between the money line and the -1.5.

You can create your own ‘-1 Run Line’ calculator by placing a specific amount on both sides and merging the odds of the two distinct propositions, generating unique odds.

For instance, if you were placing a $100 bet on the New York Yankees, who are favored against the Tampa Bay Rays, and let’s say the Yankees have odds of +145 on the -1.5 run line and -120 on the moneyline.

To form your own ‘-1 Run Line’, you’d bet on the moneyline to win the same amount that you stake on the -1.5 Run line.

In simpler terms, to establish the -1 line with these assumed odds, you’d bet $54 to win $45 on the moneyline at -120 and also place a $45 bet on the -1.5 run line to win $65. After completing this conversion, you’d end up with a +111 line for the Yankees at -1.

Why Use Run Line Betting For Baseball?

The run line brings a fresh twist to betting by offering a different set of odds and injecting more excitement into the game. 

If there is a game that the oddsmakers see as nearly a toss-up, betting on either team’s moneyline is almost an even-money bet.

With the run line, you can spice things up. Instead of simply backing the favorite to win, you can bet that they’ll secure victory by at least two runs, which changes the odds. Essentially, the run line allows confident bettors to potentially earn more.

Alternatively, you might not believe the underdog will win, but you’re pretty sure the game will be close. In such a scenario, betting the run line on the original underdog can be a smart strategy.

If you are looking for more details about baseball betting, take a look at our guide on how to bet on baseball.

Run Line Betting FAQ’s

Does the Run Line include baseball extra innings?

How Can I Read Run Line odds?

What does Run Line betting mean?

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