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MLB Bets on the Moneyline and Run Line

By Mike Hayes

As we approach the mid-point of the MLB season the Tigers continue their reign as the most profitable wager both on the moneyline and run line. They have been a cash machine, producing $2,038 up to this point on the moneyline and $1,897 on the run line.

But the Tigers appear to be the exception to the rule as trends indicate that profitability on the moneyline has little bearing on how a given team will fare when being bet on the run line.

Betting the run line can be an enticing proposition, especially when laying the required 1.5 run. If you think a team is capable of winning by a single run it is only logical to think they can win by two, so why not take the extra dough? In fact, the odds are with you, as the majority of games are not decided by a single run.

The problem is that some teams, regardless of how good they might be, are bad run-line bets and others, regardless of how bad they might be, fair pretty well on the run line.

The Mets, the second most profitable moneyline team at $1,143, have been a disaster on the run line. They are 31-37 for a deficit of $519, a figure that has come down significantly of late thanks to an eight-game win streak that included a number of blowout wins.

What makes the Mets a bad run line bet is that they lead the league with an 18-8 mark in one-run games. As a favorite most nights that means a lot of half-run loses for the run line player backing the Mets.

The Red Sox and Twins are the only other teams that show a profit on the moneyline and a significant loss on the run line. The Sox are up $567 on the moneyline and down $657 on the run line. The Twins are up $150 on the moneyline and down $800 as a run-line proposition.

The Pirates, on the other hand, have been the second-biggest money burner in all of baseball on the moneyline at minus-$1666. But they are the third most profitable team in MLB on the run line where they are an astonishing plus-$1,016. The reason for the Bucs 42-29 record is the opposite of the Mets; they have a woeful 7-21 mark in one-run games. Because the Bucs find themselves as dogs most days this translates to a lot of half-run wins for the run line player who backs them.

Like the Pirates, the Yankees, Phillies and Mariners are also teams that have been losers on the moneyline but winners as a run-line bet. In the case of the Yankees, who are at minus-$388 but about $50 ahead on the run line, it is because they tend to be solid favorites and when they lose it hits the wallet a bit harder. Because of their potent offense, however, they are more likely to win by a margin of better than a single run so it makes sense to lay runs when betting the Bombers. The Phillies, who have lost a lot of games as favorites thanks to an 18-23 home record, are minus-$900 on the moneyline and are showing a very modest $40 profit on the run line. The Mariners are down $400 on the moneyline but up $230 on the run line. Those differences are negligible and do not really constitute a meaningful trend at this point.

Among the most profitable run-line wagers have been the Rangers, who have posted a $1,307 profit, second to the Tigers. Thanks to their recent monster winning streak, the Athletics are now up $1,158. The Rangers' success on the run line can be attributed to their 8-14 record in one run games, but perhaps more so to an offense that is capable of overcoming their own lousy pitching. The A's have a nice balance of pitching and offense that results in winning margins of better than a single run.

The White Sox, third in terms of moneyline profitability at $1,072, have also been solid for run line players, earning $799.

The Astros, although just a couple of games over .500 on the season, are a major league worst minus-$1,673 on the run line, a trend attributable to a 14-6 record in one-run games and one of the weaker offensive teams in the league. The Angels are right behind them, losing backers $1,494 due in large part because they have disappointed as favorites often early in the season. That results in losing a fair number of games in which they were laying runs.

The Orioles are a shade behind the Angles at minus-$1,483 followed by the Royals, who are minus-$1,250 on the moneyline as well as the run line.

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