This article examines the characteristics of betting on baseball. Baseball is very different to Basketball. the games have much lower scores and sports bettors need to adjust their bet types and strategy to the game.


The most popular baseball bet by far is the moneyline bet. All you have to do is pick the winner of a game. For example:

  • New York Yankees -150
  • Boston Red Sox +140

You have to bet $100 to win $140 on the Red Sox, but you have to bet $150 to win $100 on the Yankees. The Yankees are big favorites.

Most money goes on the favorites which means that the odds are often a little easier on the underdogs. Backing the underdog is a significant risk, but the payoff can more than compensate if the sportsbook is shading its bets — see Bet Shading article.

5-Inning Lines

A 5-Inning line is a moneyline used to predict the winner after five innings rather than at the end of a full game. The odds are usually relatively similar to odds for a full match even though the bet is shortened.


A total wager a bet placed on the combined score of each team. It doesn’t matter who wins the game, the only thing that matters is how many points are scored by both teams added together.
The bookmaker sets  number and you bet on whether the combined score will be over or under that number.

The bet is often asymmetric, with the over perhaps quoted at -105 and the under at -115. This does not necessarily mean that one bet is more likely to win out over another, and often presents a good value opportunity.  Totals bets are the second most popular bet in baseball.


A runline is like a spread bet in football or basketball, although they are almost always standardized at -1.5 or -2.5. To cover the bet the favorite must win the game by either 2 or 3. The runline wager offer a bet where the odds are very close to evens.


  • New York Yankees -150 -1.5 (-110)
  • Boston Red Sox +140 +1.5 (+100)

In this example, the Yankees have a moneyline of -150, meaning you have to wager $150 to win $100, and a runline of -1.5 with -110 odds. If you et the runline you only need to bet $110 to win $100; but you only win if the Yankees win by at least two runs. 

If you believe that the Yankees will win and are confident that they will win by at least 2 runs, then the runline bet offers a better return on your bet.

Alternate Runlines

Alternate runlines are bets where the runline is inverted. The favorite becomes the underdog and vice versa.


  • New York Yankees -150 -1.5 (-110) +1.5 (-250)
  • Boston Red Sox +140 +1.5 (+100) -1.5 (+220)

Here, the alternate runline is quoted at +220 for the Red Sox, so a bet of $100 on the Red Sox will pay out $220 if they beat the Yankees by 2 runs.

Futures and Season Wins

Futures and season wins are popular pre-season bets. There are not many options to lay these bets. Operators find that bettors often don’t want to bet that will pay off so far in the future.

However, when they are offered, the odds can be very attractive. Operators often put strict betting limits in place to mitigate the risk they run of having to pay out on the bet.

Betting on seasons wins is essentially taking a total over/under bet on the amount of wins a baseball team will acquire over the course of a season.

Choosing a sportsbook for baseball betting

One thing we know at ExpertPicks is that “all sportsbooks are not created equal.” 

The odds that are quoted on any specific bet ca vary significantly from sportsbook to sportsbook even in a small crowded market like New Jersey.

Never settle on using just one sportsbook to place all of your wagers. By having accounts at several sportsbooks you can quickly check out the different prices for the bets you want to place and choose the one that offers the best odds.

The difference that better odds can provide is staggering over the long run. Perhaps more importantly it is important to find the sportsbooks that offer the type of bets you want to place. Not all of the betting types listed above are available at all sportsbooks, so if baseball is your game of choice, select the book that gives the widest range of options for baseball betting. Then check the odds by referring to your other accounts, just in case there is a better bet available.
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