What is a Run Line in Baseball

What is a Run Line in Baseball? Read This First!

We are reader supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Also, as an Amazon affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

In recent years, gambling has become a more and more important part of American professional baseball. MLB now has partnerships with many betting services, and it is getting easier to bet at the ballpark or on your cell phone. To place a wager on a baseball game, one of the most important concepts to understand is the run line.

The run line (sometimes written as “runline”) is the baseball equivalent of a point spread. It is used for sports betting purposes. It refers to the minimum number of runs by which a team must win a game for the bettor to win, or the maximum number of runs by which a team can lose a game for the bettor to win.

When a bettor makes a wager on the run line, they will pick one of the two teams in a game on which to place their bet. If that team is the favorite, the bettor is counting on them to win by a higher total than the run line. If that team is the underdog, the bettor is counting on them to win by any score or to lose by no more than the run line.

It’s a bit of a complicated system for first-time bettors to understand, but it’s rather simple once you’ve caught on. Read further for a complete and extensive explanation of how a run line works in baseball betting.

How Does the Run Line Work?

A run line for Major League Baseball could be written out as such:

Yankees at Red Sox

Yankees -1.5 (-105)

Red Sox +1.5 (+105)

In this example, the New York Yankees are the favorites and the Boston Red Sox are the underdogs. If someone bets on the Yankees, they are betting on them to win the game by two or more runs. The negative number next to their name (in this case, -1.5) means the team must win by that many runs or more for the bet to be successful. Thus, if the Yankees lost the game, or if they won but only by one run, the bettor would lose the bet.

Alternatively, if someone picks the Boston Red Sox, they are betting on them to lose by fewer than two runs. The positive number (in this case, +1.5) means the team can lose by up to that many runs and the bettor will still win the bet. In other words, if the Red Sox lose by one run, the bettor will win, but if they lose by two runs the bettor will lose. The bettor will also win the wager if the Red Sox win the game by any score.

The number in parentheses after the run line refers to the odds of the team covering the run line. A positive number means the bet will return more money than the original wager, while a negative number means the bet will return less money than the original wager. Thus, this means bets with positive odds are less likely to win, but they will also return a higher profit if they are successful.

Why Are Run Lines in Baseball Usually 1.5?

Baseball tends to be lower scoring than other major professional sports, such as basketball and football. In fact, many baseball games are decided by only one run. Therefore, it is most common to see a run line of -1.5 and +1.5 in MLB betting. It is possible to bet on a run line with a wider spread, but such a run line is much less common.

The decimal point may confuse some first-time bettors because it is not possible to score half a run. The purpose of the decimal point is to avoid a situation in which the final score equals the run line (this is called a “push”). In such a case, there would be no winner. Thus, the decimal number is used so that the final score is always higher or lower than the run line.

What Is the Difference Between a Positive and a Negative Run Line?

A team with a negative run line must win the game in order to cover the bet, and they must win by a total greater than the run line. A bet on the Los Angeles Dodgers -1.5 means the Dodgers must win by two or more runs for the bet to be successful.

A team with a positive run line, however, can lose the game and still cover the bet as long as they lose by a smaller total than the run line. A bet on the San Francisco Giants +1.5 means the Giants can lose by no more than one run for the bet to be a success.

The team that is favored to win will have a negative run line, while the underdog team will have a positive run line. This is because the favored team is, of course, more likely to win.

What Is the Difference Between a Run Line and a Money Line?

A money line bet is simpler than a run line bet. While the run line is concerned with the final score, the money line is only concerned with which team won and which team lost. In other words, to bet on the money line means to bet on which team you think will win the game regardless of the score.

Why Doesn’t Baseball Have a Point Spread?


Many other sports, including basketball and football, use a point spread system for betting purposes. A point spread is almost the exact same thing as a run line, except the values tend to be bigger because football and basketball are significantly higher-scoring sports.

Baseball uses the term “run” instead of “point” to denote scoring, so the term “run line” is used instead of “point spread.”

Why Should You Bet the Run Line in Baseball?

There are several benefits to betting on the run line instead of the money line. For one thing, if you bet on the favored team to win the run line, you will win more money than if you bet on them to win the money line. In addition, the run line provides some security if you bet on the underdog team. Even if the underdog wins the game, you will still win the run line, but you would not have won the money line.

Why You Should Not Bet the Run Line in Baseball

There are, however, some downsides to betting the run line too. For instance, while you would win more money if you successfully bet on the favorite, you are also less likely to win at all. Not only does the favored team need to win, but they need to win by a certain number of runs in order for your bet to be successful.

What’s more, while you have some security betting on the underdog, you will also win less money than you would if you bet using the money line. Sports betting, like any form of gambling, is always a matter of balancing risk and reward.

What is a First Five Innings Run Line?

A first five innings run line, also called an F5, is just like any other run line except it is not concerned with the score at the end of the game. Instead, as the name implies, it is only concerned with the score after the first five innings of the game have been played.

Thus, an F5 bet on the New York Mets at -1.5 means the Mets must be winning by two or more runs at the end of the fifth inning in order for you to win the bet.

Related Questions

What Are Other Ways to Bet on Baseball?

While run lines and money lines are two of the most popular ways to bet on baseball, there are many more options out there. For instance, fans can bet on “totals,” which refers to the total number of runs scored in a game by both teams combined. Another way to bet is on a parlay, which means making several smaller bets that are all tied together and which must all be successful in order for the bettor to win.

“Futures” refers to betting on future events, such as which team will win the World Series or which player will win the MVP award. Meanwhile, a prop bet is a wager on an aspect of an individual game that is not tied to the final score. Many prop bets are performed live throughout the course of a game – this is called live betting.

What Is the Difference Between a Run Line and a Puck Line?

A puck line is the equivalent of a run line for hockey betting. Similar to a run line, most puck lines are set at -1.5 to +1.5. This is because many NHL games are decided by one or two goals, much like how many baseball games are decided by one or two runs.