Tips for MLB Runline Betting: Pick Your Spots
by Aaron Smith - 4/29/2011
The Major League Baseball season is unique in that it’s far longer than any other sport. As a baseball bettor, you will definitely find that hot streaks as well as slumps are inevitable during the course of the season. The single biggest key to having a successful season is making sure you find value in the MLB odds at all times. Unlike NFL betting, there are occasionally some soft lines during the long and drawn out baseball season.
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The runline is a bit of a newer concept that some bettors use often, but others very rarely use. The MLB runline allows bettors to either get an extra run or lay an extra run to reduce the juice of a heavy favorite. Alternate runlines are also becoming widely available, but in this article we are going to stick to exploring for value in the traditional +1.5 or -1.5 runline.
MLB Betting: Important Runline Statistics
Did you realize that approximately 28 percent of games in the past five years have finished with a one-run differential? This number has not changed much over the course of the last few years; rather, it has been extremely stable at between 27 percent and 29 percent. Remember to be cautious laying the -1.5 runline on the home team. Statistics show that the home team covers the -1.5 line only about seven percent of the time in a game that is tied after nine innings.
Tips for MLB Betting: When There is Value on the -1.5 Runline
When betting on baseball, the first thing you should examine is the pitching matchup in the game. There are some pitchers who are extremely predictable and reliable, and then there are others who are tough to get a read on from start to start. The unpredictable group that might either pitch a shutout or get pulled after the second inning provides much more of an opportunity on the -1.5 runline. Because of their unpredictability and pension for allowing a big inning, these pitchers don’t have close games as often as their peers. What kind of pitcher fits well into this category? One of my favorite ways to play the -1.5 runline is to bet against a rookie pitcher. These youngsters have a higher likelihood of giving up that big inning, which often leads to more blowout victories for their opponent.
MLB Betting: When There Is Value on the +1.5 Runline
In every sport, there are always some “public” teams. In baseball, the public generally inflates the lines on teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs. The +1.5 runline often becomes a solid value after you wait for the money to pour in on these heavy public favorites. Since many amateur public bettors blindly play the -1.5 runline on those favorites, the price for the +1.5 runline becomes attractive as the first pitch draws near. Sharp bettors have been able to do well with the +1.5 runline over the last few years, as long as they are careful in picking their spots.
MLB Betting: Runline Value Traps
When the oddsmakers set the runline, the most important factors they look at are the moneyline and the posted total on that particular game. Many bettors like to think they have an edge by grabbing the +1.5 on games with a low total, but don’t think for a minute that the books don’t realize that the total is crucial to the overall value of the runline. Expect to pay some extremely heavy juice if you are playing the +1.5 runline on a game with a low posted total. In addition, the oddsmakers definitely adjust the number for mismatches in the starting pitching matchups. If Roy Halladay is pitching against a rookie, expect to pay up in a big way for the -1.5 runline. More often than not, the moneyline is a better value than -1.5 in this case, because the public is all over the runline.
Finally, you should realize that in recent years the books have really cleaned up when it comes to runline betting. When the runline was first introduced, many bettors believed this was going to be a way to get the edge on the books, but in most cases it has just turned out to be another way for the books to make money.
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