While both the ongoing postseason in both the NBA and NHL are probably at the top of the list for online sports bettors right now, it will not be all that long before betting on Major League Baseball will be the only game in town once we hit the dog days of summer.
Fortunately, just about every one of the top offshore sportsbooks operating online does an excellent job at providing a wide array of betting options when it comes to MLB games including one bet that sometimes gets overlooked; the Run Line. There is both a science and an art to cashing in on MLB run line bets, but when the situation is just right, they can offer some of the best betting value on the board.
The run line in baseball is similar to the pointspread in both football and basketball with one main exception. While the spread in a football or basketball game can range from one point all the way to double digits, the spread in a baseball game is normally set at -1.5 runs. Oddsmakers will then use an adjusted moneyline to further handicap the difference between the two opposing teams.
For example, a regular moneyline bet for MLB matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants might read:
Los Angeles -164 vs. San Francisco +154. In this betting scenario, the Dodgers are the straight-up favorites.
The MLB run line for that same game might read:
Los Angeles (1.5) -105 vs. San Francisco (+1.5) -115
While there are different schools of thought when it comes to betting a MLB run line at your online sportsbook of choice, but I believe that the best value with this type of bet is when your confidence level is sky high that the favorite will win by two or more runs. Using the example above, a run line bet on the Dodgers minimizes the risk of losing $164 on a $100 bet if they actually lose this game outright. You would now be risking just $105 to win $100 as long as Los Angeles covers the 1.5-run spread.
The other school of thought is to take the underdog plus the 1.5 runs despite the added risk in the adjusted moneyline. Maybe you have come across a team that has lost quite a few one-run games over the course of their schedule or they are facing a rival opponent where the last few meetings have been one-run affairs either way. While I would subscribe to this theory when it comes to betting the similar 1.5-goal puck line in hockey, trying to predict a one-run game in baseball is very hard to do. If you like an underdog to keep a game closer than two runs, why not go with the full value in their straight-up moneyline by betting on that team to win the game outright.
There can be some solid clues in MLB moneyline odds that could tip you off to making a high-valued play on the run line. The moneyline odds offer a solid gauge as to just how tight a matchup should actually be. This could also be said of the total line for a MLB game. Total lines of less than 7.5 runs signal a possible pitcher’s duel which should work to keep the matchup tight and the scoring low.
Riding hot teams as favorites on the run line is one betting strategy that has some traction, but so can betting on a team that is mired in a four or five game losing streak as an underdog. Seeing how even the worst teams in the Majors usually manage to win more than 60 games a year, you might want take a flyer on that losing team in hopes that it is actually due to finally squeeze out a win.