MLB Wagering: Finding An Edge On The Runlines

Thursday, April 11, 2019 12:28 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019 12:28 PM UTC

Baseball can be very difficult to bet successfully, so here's a trick to identifying valuable games

<p>I saw a statistic the other day that was very interesting, even if it wasn't very surprising: out of all the sports -- take your pick, college basketball, college football, NBA, NHL, etc. -- it is <a href="" target="_blank" title="Dog of the Day (mlb 2019)">baseball that contains the highest number of underdog upsets</a>. Surprised? Don't be, because baseball is easily the most volatile sport to wager on and try to turn a profit. Starting pitchers fall apart for seemingly no reason, hot hitters go on unexpected cold streaks, bullpens implode at exactly the wrong time.</p><p>As I often say in situations like this, it's best to forget the individual teams you're betting on and focus on the numbers instead. Put another way: don't bet on teams, bet on lines, on payouts, on value.</p><p>Which brings us to runline betting, where you either bet the favorite at -1.5 runs, or you bet the underdog at +1.5 runs. This is similar to spread betting in other sports, with one important difference: in other sports, it's the spread that changes and the payout stays constant (usually -110), but in baseball it's the spread that stays constant at 1.5 runs, and the payout changes depending on how the sportsbook is valuing each team.</p><p>There's an interesting truth being communicated here, if we look closely. A difference of 1.5 runs is a slim margin, and if a team is going to come within 1.5 runs of the other team's score, they're as likely as not to simply win the game outright.</p><p>So is there a correlation between runline payouts and moneyline (outright) wins? It seems that there is.</p><p style="text-align:center"><img alt onerror="this.onerror=null;this.src='';" src="" /></p><p>The first thing you need to know is that runline underdogs (teams getting +1.5 runs) typically cover and cash about 60 percent of the time, so if you're going to bet on the runline, go with the underdog and not the favorite. (Remember what I said about the high number of underdog upsets in baseball? That plays out in these numbers.)</p><p>The second thing you need to know is that <a href="" target="_blank" title="Live MLB Odds Board">underdog runlines at -140 through -105 mirror this overall number of 60 percent success</a>. Betting underdogs at those prices so far this year in baseball has yielded +3.5 units already.</p><p>The third thing you need to know is that those same runline prices correspond to a 46 percent win rate on the moneyline -- meaning that 46 percent of the time in these cases, at these prices, the underdogs have won the game outright and cashed on the moneyline bet. That's a great deal of profit when you consider that, as underdogs, the moneyline prices are nearly always well over +100, <a href="" target="_blank" title="More MLB Picks">so you're getting better than even money for your wager</a>.</p><p>Moneyline bets on runline underdogs where the runline price is between -105 and -140 has yielded +8.9 units in profit this season. Combined with the returns on the runline wagers themselves, the grand total is nearly +12.5 units. Not bad for only two weeks worth of games.</p><p>Good luck on your bets, and be sure to check out my other sports analysis on Twitter at @HooksPicks and on Patreon at!</p>
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