What is a Runline?
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Sportsbooks do not offer spreads on Major League Baseball games like bettors are used too seeing in the NFL and NBA. Most matchups are close enough that a spread wouldn’t get much bigger than a single run.
Instead, books list moneylines. A big favorite may be as big as -300, or even higher. ‘Books also list the runline, which gives the underdog +1.5 runs. Typically, bettors have to pay to get the +1.5 but in some lopsided matchups the team laying the 1.5 remains the higher priced of the two.
When to bet the Runline
It’s more common for a bettor to lay the 1.5 with a favorite either because he/she believes that team will win in a blowout or because it is just too expensive on the moneyline.
A bettor keen on an underdog might hedge some of the bet with a +1.5 runline play, which protects against the one-run loss, which is so common late or even in extra-innings (more on that below).
Considerations Betting the Runline
Be aware that the home favorite is at a distinct disadvantage on the runline because it may only come to bat eight times. If the home team leads by one after eight innings and holds that lead in the top of the ninth, the game is over; it cashes on the moneyline but loses the runline by the half-run hook.
Consider a high-scoring game in which both teams are scoring more often than they are not. The home favorite may take a two-run lead into the ninth. If it gives up a run to win by one, it loses the runline. It would have been better to have given up two runs, or even three, and have a chance to come up to bat in the bottom of the ninth.
Same rule applies to extra-innings. Whereas the road team may score as many runs as it can in the top of an inning in extras, if the home team gets up by just one, the game ends and the losing team still covers the runline.
Consider the same scenario above. Let’s say the home favorite gave up three in the top of the ninth and came to bat in the bottom trailing by one. The leadoff man hits a home run to tie the game and the next three batters reach to load the bases with no outs. If the next batter walked to score the winning run, the +1.5 side would still cash, even though there were almost surely addition runs coming in for the home team.
Synthesizing a -1 line
Bettors keen on the favorite but unwilling to suffer a bad beat like the one mentioned above may use the runline and the moneyline to manufacture a -1 line.
The advantage of the -1 runs is a more affordable favorite that won’t lose if it wins by a single run but rather push.
Let’s take an example of a -200 moneyline favorite that’s +110 when it lays 1.5 on the runline. A bettor can play two to win one on the moneyline and then one to win 1.1 on the runline. If the favorite loses the game, he/she loses both bets for a total loss of -3. If the favorite wins by more than a run, he/she wins both bets for a total win of 2.1. If the favorite wins by exactly one, he/she pushes (winning a unit on the moneyline and losing it back on the runline).
Risking 3 to win 2.1 calculates to a decimal price of 1.7. By combining the moneyline and the runline, the bettor has reduced the price on the favorite and avoided a bad beat in a one-run game. In order to cash, however, the favorite still must win by multiple runs.
What do you think of our article MLB Betting Tips: Betting the Runline? Comments are welcome below.
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