What Does Runline Mean In Baseball Wagering and Sports Betting?

Winning a game in a professional sports league of any kind can be difficult for even the best teams. Very few teams have gone through a season undefeated (only NFL Teams) and even then, not every win is as easy as teams hoped they would be – even the margin of victory is sometimes too close for comfort. Unfortunately for bettors, teams don’t care how they win or by how many runs, goals or points, as long as they win the game. Baseball is no different and the betting options on a baseball game are limited to a certain extent. Sure, there are a bunch of prop bets that you can wager on, but prop bets usually burn your bankroll. The popular ways to bet on baseball include the money line, the total or something called the runline.

What Is the Runline in Baseball?

When you hear the term “runline” being discussed it is referring to an alternative but popular way of betting on baseball. A runline is the combination of both the money line and point spread for any one particular baseball game. The standard runline is set at 1.5 runs, with the odd 2.0 mixed in once in a while. This means that if you bet the favorite team on the runline, they would have to win by two or more runs in order to cash your ticket. If you bet the underdog on the runline, an outright win or a loss by one run would be enough for you to win your bet.

How Does the Runline Work?

The runline will almost always stay at 1.5, with the 2.0 or 2.5 lines reserved for the biggest mismatches – think 2016 Chicago Cubs versus the last place San Diego Padres. The problem with the runline is that despite betting on the favorite and avoiding the massive -220 price tag, the runline is often time priced at even-money or worse. Baseball is the kind of sport where teams tend to score runs in bunches and a win by more than two runs is very common. If you are an underdog bettor, it is not all that uncommon for the underdog to offer a return well under even money.

Example of the Runline

If the Toronto Blue Jays were hosting the Boston Red Sox, the moneyline would probably look something like this:

Boston (-200), Toronto (+170)

If you wanted to avoid laying the -220 price with the Red Sox, many bettors would take them on the runline which would offer up a price tag of +110.

Boston -1.5 (+110), Toronto +1.5 (-140)

The dramatic difference in odds makes the runline betting option attractive to bettors who have put in the time to study the history between the two teams, the trends and stats.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Betting the Runline

The runline can be an attractive option in situations where the bettor feels the favorite has a significant edge. The runline allows you to avoid laying the high price tag and getting a small return on your investment. By taking on the additional risk of the runline, the value is prominent and the return on your investment is much better. The runline bet can also be an attractive bet as a way to exploit a starting pitcher or a weaker lineup that has some injuries to it’s key players.

The problem when betting the runline on the favorite, is the home field disadvantage. The home team is not obligated to bat in the bottom of the ninth, so that one less at bat often time leads to a one-run win after the away team bats in the top of the ninth inning. There are cases where the home team is trailing by one heading into the bottom of the ninth, and they proceed to hit a three-run home run and win the game by two runs, thus covering the -1.5-spread. These are rare cases, but they do happen from time to time.

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