What Does Run Line Mean in Baseball? – Run Line Betting Explained

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Written by Dan Fitch

Updated: 03:50 am EST, 09/07/2024

The run line refers to a form of spread betting in baseball. It is a popular wager that bettors use on MLB games, the World Series and even college sports. We are going to explore the question of what does run line mean, so that you fully understand how it works and can easily place such bets yourself.

How Does Run Line Work in Baseball?

You may already be familiar with how a spread works in betting. For those of you that are not, it’s a market in which online sportsbooks give a points advantage to the underdog team and a points handicap to the favored team, in order to even up the game odds.

The run line is the baseball version of ‘the spread’ in football or basketball. It works in exactly the same way, but just has a different name.

You’ll find that the standardized points spread on the run line set at +1.5 and -1.5. The favorite is given a handicap of -1.5 runs, while the underdog is given the advantage of +1.5.

So if you bet on the favorite with -1.5 runs, they need to have at least a two run margin of victory for the wager to win. A win for that team with a margin of one run would result in that bet being a loser.

Alternatively, if you bet on the underdog with +1.5 runs, your bet would win if they won the game, or only lost by a margin of a single run. If the team won by a margin of two runs or more, then the bet would lose.

That’s basically how the run line in sports betting works. There are of course, greater complexities, which we will explore during this article.

Example of a Run Line Bet

Let’s give you an example which will help you to better understand the run line bet meaning. Take a look at the market below.

what does run line mean in betting

This is how most offshore sportsbooks display the main three markets for any baseball game. You have the moneyline, totals and the market that we are interested in, the run line.

This is the first market displayed in this game between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals. The odds look like this:

  • New York Mets with -1.5 runs @ +120
  • Washington Nationals with +1.5 runs @ -140

Now, take at look at the odds on the moneyline:

  • New York Mets @ -137
  • Washington Nationals @ +126

You’ll note that on the moneyline, the Mets were the favorites, with the Nationals being the underdog.

As that’s the case, on the run line it was the Mets that got given the handicap of -1.5, with the Nationals receiving a 1.5 runs advantage.

That spread swung the baseball odds in the Nationals favor, with the Mets becoming the underdogs and the Nationals being priced as the favorites.

If you place a $100 bet on the New York Mets with -1.5 runs at +120 and they win the game by a margin of two runs or more, you would win $120.

Meanwhile, if you bet on the Washington Nationals with +1.5 runs, the bet would win if they either won the game, or if they lost it by just a one run margin. A $140 bet would win you $100.

How to Bet The Run Line in Baseball

Now it’s time to show you how to place a run line baseball bet. We’re going to take you through the process step-by-step.

Step 1 – Pick a Sportsbook

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Take a look at our rankings of recommended sportsbooks, choose the one that suits you best and click through.

Step 2 – Register

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Once on the sportsbook website, click to join and you will start the registration process. Add your personal details and set a password.

Step 3 – Deposit Funds

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Once your account is set up you will need to add some money. Go to the banking section, choose a payment method, select how much you want to deposit and confirm the transaction.

Step 4 – Find an MLB Run Line bet

run line betting

With money in your account it’s time to place your first bet. Look through the A-Z of sports, find the baseball section and then click on it. From the baseball betting options, you can look at the games available and pick a run line wager that you want to place.

Step 5 -Place Wager

placing a run line bet

Once you have found a bet that you want to back, click on the betting odds. This will add the wager to a bet slip. Select a stake and confirm the bet.

What Does Run Line Mean in Baseball Leagues & Competitions?

There are various baseball betting run line options available to you. Here are some of the competitions where you can place such a bet.

College Sports

Some of the MLB stars of tomorrow can be found in the college baseball game. Ran by the NCAA, the Division I Baseball Championship features 64 teams in the first round and is whittled down to just eight.

They compete in the College World Series, held in Ohama, with a tournament deciding which two teams will fight it out in a best-of-three championship series.

Run Line MLB Betting

Each of the 30 MLB team plays 162 games in a regular season, which adds up to 2430 games. As you might imagine, that creates a lot of opportunities for baseball wagers.

In terms of run line baseball betting, that means that there is a lot of data generated throughout the season, to help you to predict which teams are consistently able to overcome a handicap.

World Series

At the end of the regular MLB season there are playoffs, building to the World Series that crowns an outright winner. The respective winners of the American League and the National League face off in a best-of-seven contest.

This is a huge event in the global sporting calendar, with lots of betting bonuses and promotions available, which can help you to take advantage of run line opportunities.

Standard vs Alternate Run Line Betting

One key difference between the run line in baseball and the spread in football or basketball, is a standardized points spread of set at 1.5.

With football and basketball, the points spread differs from game to game. They are high-scoring sports, so it makes sense that the spread differs, depending on the potential win margin.

Baseball is a relatively low-scoring sport, so setting the main run line at 1.5 works. Hockey is another low-scoring sport. Their version of the spread, the puck line, has similar mechanics for oddsmakers and bettors.

If there is a drawback of this, then it is that sometimes a strong baseball team will be expected to win by a margin much greater than 1.5.

Fortunately, alternate run lines exist. So, if the regular run line doesn’t fit your betting plans, there will always be an alternative.

What Does Alternate Run Line Mean?

alternate run line

In the last section, we mentioned that you have the option of alternate run lines. You might now be wondering what they might look like.

Alternate run lines in baseball start at 2.5. The team with -2.5 runs have to win by three runs or more, while the team with +2.5 runs can either win the game, or lose by no more than two runs.

As well as a 2.5 line, there will be lines available at 3.5, 4.5 and so on.

Sportsbooks will also present the reverse options of the run line. So, for example, if one team is -1.5 on the main run line, there is also an alternate line where that team has +1.5 runs and their opponent has -1.5.

Then there are the markets based around the innings in baseball, where a run line is available. So with five inning bets for example, you are betting on the result after five innings and you can do so on a moneyline basis, or with a run line.

Pros & Cons of Run Line Betting

No explanation of run line meaning would be complete without us examining both the advantages and disadvantages. In our opinion, here are the pros and cons of this type of bet.

Pros:

  • Great option if moneyline odds are unappealing
  • Alternate run lines available alongside main ones
  • Can reverse who is the favorite/underdog from the moneyline
  • Statistical info available to aid your baseball predictions

Cons:

  • Moneyline payouts easier to land with just result to predict

What is Run Line Baseball Strategy That Works?

By now you may be feeling ready to place some bets of your own. Before you do, here are some run line strategies that successful baseball bettors swear by.

Pick and Choose

As we’ve touched upon, there are plenty of different options available when it comes to betting on the result of a single game. You can wager on the moneyline, a run line bet or an alternate one.

Mix it up, rather than sticking to one of these wagers. Pick and choose which market you bet on, based on the facts regarding the game in question.

Do Your Research

So how do you understand the vital facts? Baseball is a sport rich in stats and they are widely available online. Do your research and check out the key statistics for the game in question.

There’s none bigger than the run line stats, which show you how often a team overturn a handicap. Also make sure that you keep up with news and information, such as if there’s any injuries, the starting pitchers, batting lineup, umpire, weather and home/away form.

Pay Attention to Experts

There are many baseball handicappers who have winning tipping records. Sportsbooks use these people for betting tips and predictions, including for run line wagers, teaser bet and parlays.

If you can find a reliable one it can pay to follow their advice and not just in the most obvious way. Paying attention to the reasoning that they give for their tips can be invaluable and boost your potential profit.

FAQs

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