How to bet on MLB
Betting the moneyline and the total line are the two most popular ways to wager on MLB games. However, often times you can find some solid value in the posted run lines and alternative runs lines at your favorite online sportsbook for betting on the games.
The moneyline odds for any MLB game should be thought of as a head-to-head straight-up bet. There is more risk than reward betting on the favorite, but the odds to win are in your favor. Betting underdogs on the moneyline offer the best value, but you still need your team to pull off the upset. The other aspect of MLB betting that makes underdogs attractive is the shear number of games each team plays. Even the worst MLB teams are going to win close to 40 percent of their games over the course of the regular season, so there are always good opportunities to find value in the betting odds on a daily basis.
When it comes to betting MLB runs lines and alternative runs lines, this should be thought as betting baseball with a spread. The standard run line gives the underdog in any matchup an extra run and a half. All this really means is that the favorite has to win that game by two or more runs to become a winning play. The bigger the mismatch on paper, the more the value shifts towards the favorite to ‘cover’ the extra 1.5 runs. The alternative run line usually stretches this spread to 2.5 runs with a very attractive return for betting favorites. The following is an example how the odds are presented for all three bets; moneyline, run line adjusted run line.
Moneyline- Texas Rangers +145 Seattle Mariners -155
In this scenario, you would have to risk losing $155 to win $100 betting Seattle as the clear favorite. The return on a Texas upset on a $100 bet as an underdog would be $145.
Run Line- Texas Rangers (+1.5) -150 Seattle Mariners (-1.5) +130
By adding the 1.5-run spread to the equation, you would now have to risk losing $150 on a $100 bet that Texas either wins this game or loses by just one run. You can earn a $130 return on a $100 bet is Seattle wins this game by two or more runs.
Adjusted Run Line- Texas Rangers (+2.5) -260 Seattle Mariners (-2.5) +200
The risk on taking Texas plus the 2.5 runs in this game is now $260 to with $100. The return on Seattle winning this game by three or more runs would be double your $100 stake.
You can try and calculate the value in the odds for all three options, but keep in mind that the books are big on improving the house edge anytime you start to deviate from the standard moneyline bet. The lower return for betting underdogs on the run line and adjusted run line is generally not worth the added risk. The added return for betting favorites minus the 1.5 runs or the 2.5 runs is lower than it really should be.
In more general terms, betting MLB runs lines and especially adjusted run lines all comes down to your confidence level for how you see any game playing out. Looking at the actual results for any given day of MLB games, you might find tight one-run wins, blowouts by favorites and upsets by underdogs. Every matchup needs to be analyzed at face value starting with which pitchers will be on the mound for each team in the first inning. When your confidence level for the favorite is sky high, this may be a good time to consider a run line or adjusted run line bet.