on Monday, August 20, 2018
When sports bettors turn to baseball, point spreads, or a "run line," are available just as they are in football or basketball. If the Reds are playing the Cardinals in St. Louis, with the Reds listed at +1.5, then Cardinals bettors need them to win by two runs or more, while Reds bettors win if Cincinnati wins the game or loses by only one run.
More commonly, though, baseball bettors focus on the money line. The run line isn't as popular as point spreads in football and basketball.
You might see the Cardinals listed at -130 and the Reds at +110. As mentioned in an earlier explanation of money lines, that means it takes a $130 bet to win $100 -- or $13 to win $10 -- on the Cardinals, while a $100 bet on Cincinnati will win $110 if the Reds win.
One fairly recent innovation in baseball betting is the five-inning bets. Longtime sports bettors will get the concept -- it's not far off betting on halftime scores in football, an option that's long been available.
Regardless of whether you're looking at a run line or money line, "F5" on the sports book board signifies a line on the first five innings of a game. Some bettors like the five-inning bet because the pitching is less predictable over a full game in this age when starters pitch fewer innings than they once did.
In 2017, major-league starters averaged 5.5 innings per game, according to data at Baseball-Reference.com. To look back a few decades, starting pitchers averaged 5.8 innings in 2007, 6.0 in 1997, 6.1 in 1987, 6.3 in 1977 and 6.4 in 1967.
Turning a larger portion of the game over to relief pitchers is an enduring, long-term trend. F5 wagers put the focus on the portion of the game where the bulk of the innings are pitched by starters who are named before the game.