Major League Baseball futures can be tough bets to make because only one team can win its division or win the World Series. An alternative way to look at the MLB futures market is to evaluate player props. Most books offer these player prop bets, but we will focus on BetOnline just to keep things simple. Make sure to shop around for the best odds and the best prices.
In our preseason MLB coverage, we will separate the player props by hitting and pitching. This look at the MLB player props for hitters won’t cover all of the betting options available, but it will be a good starting point for some of the highest value plays on the board.
Without further adieu, let’s look at the MLB batter prop bets courtesy of BetOnline:
Most Home Runs
There are a few candidates to look at here. There’s no reason to list all of the players and their odds, but there are some that merit a lot of consideration. The favorite is Giancarlo Stanton at 7/1, with Mike Trout next in line at 9/1. Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion are both at 10/1.
Paul Goldschmidt (+2000) – The Arizona Diamondbacks slugger spent the final 57 days of the season on the disabled list with a fractured hand. When he was in the lineup, however, Goldschmidt led all hitters in batted ball distance and hit 19 home runs in 479 plate appearances. Extrapolated to the 700 plate appearances he had in 2013, Goldschmidt would have hit 28 home runs. He hit 36 in 2013. New Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale should create a better culture in the clubhouse in Arizona and Goldschmidt is a huge bounce back candidate.
Josh Donaldson (+2200) – Josh Donaldson won’t get the preseason accolades of teammates Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion from a home run standpoint, but Donaldson goes from the cavernous O.co Coliseum in Oakland to Rogers Centre in Toronto. Donaldson hit 53 home runs over the last two seasons with the A’s and he hit just 11 of his 29 home runs at home last season. Donaldson’s true odds are likely lower than this, but he’s a good value play with 35 home run upside.
Anthony Rizzo (+1600) – The Cubs offense is going to be a force to be reckoned with, possibly as early as this season, and Anthony Rizzo is a big part of that. Rizzo hit 32 bombs in 616 plate appearances last season over 140 games. He’s only 25 and that was only his second full season in the Major Leagues. That means that he is entering the prime of his career. He’s certainly worth a shot in the second-tier of players with higher odds.
George Springer (+2500) – The Houston Astros are a fascinating team this season. They have tons of power and tons of strikeouts in their lineup. George Springer bashed 20 home runs in just 345 plate appearances. He has a tremendous amount of raw power and will get a chance to play almost every day for the Astros. That’s 35 home runs for Springer if extrapolated to 600 plate appearances. If he gets more, this is an excellent value.
Oswaldo Arcia (+15000) – You could do worse with a long shot than Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia has major contact problems, but he also has a lot of power. He hit 20 home runs in just 410 plate appearances last season. Part of the problem for Arcia is finding playing time, but his bat is a weapon. Arcia hit 17 home runs in just 268 plate appearances against right-handed pitching last season. With a platoon split approximately 70 percent of the time, Arcia could make this very interesting at 150/1.
Prince Fielder (+6600) – Prince Fielder will be back in the Texas Rangers lineup and is supposedly healthy this season. Health is a big deal in these prop bets, which is why Fielder appears so far down the list. But, Fielder hit 25 or more home runs in eight straight seasons before taking most of 2014 off with nagging injuries. He’s back in a good hitter’s park and he had seasons of 50, 46, and 38 home runs at Miller Park when he was with the Brewers. Once again, you could do worse than a guy with Fielder’s power at a 66/1 price.
American League MVP
Mike Trout is an enormous favorite in this category and with good reason. Trout is +125 and Miguel Cabrera is the next closest at +500. Jose Abreu is next at +550 and everybody else is at +1000 or higher. That means that there’s some value somewhere on this list.
Jose Bautista (+2500) – Opposing pitchers are going to hate facing the Toronto Blue Jays this season with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson in the heart of the order. Russell Martin is another good offensive piece. That should give Bautista plenty of opportunities to drive in runs and post a good slash line. Bautista was a six-win player last season with a 159 wRC+. A similar campaign and a Blue Jays playoff appearance would give this pick some excellent odds.
Adam Jones (+5000) – If the Baltimore Orioles are going to make another run at the postseason, Adam Jones has to be a big part of it. Jones doesn’t rate as well as he could in sabermetric stats because he does not walk and is a free swinger, but he has hit at least 25 home runs each of the last four seasons and had his best defensive season in 2014. If he can return to stealing 15 bases with 30 home runs and find a way to reach that .290 mark with a .500 SLG, he’s got a shot here at 50/1.
National League MVP
“Any pitcher” is listed at +550 with Clayton Kershaw the most likely winner of the award on the pitching side of things. Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton are the favorites at +400 and +450, respectively. Paul Goldschmidt is the only other player under 10/1 at +800.
Troy Tulowitzki (+2000) – This bet ends one of two ways. Troy Tulowitzki is a finalist for the NL MVP or you would have been better off setting your money on fire. Tulo has played more than 125 games twice in the last four seasons. When he was in the lineup last season, he posted an absurd slash line of .340/.432/.603 with a wRC+ of 171. That was MVP-worthy in the 91 games that he played. Tulo hit 21 home runs and drove in 71 runs. Voters will look down on him for the Coors Field factor, but if he can manage the majority of a season, he’s one of the game’s best hitters.
Anthony Rizzo (+2000) – This isn’t my favorite bet, but it’s hard to find value in the NL MVP race. If the Cubs make the playoffs, Anthony Rizzo has an excellent shot at winning the MVP. If they don’t, he has no chance. This all depends on how high you are on the Cubs. Their perception has exceeded their expected results in a big way right now, but Rizzo would be the main reason the Cubs make an appearance in October, so this may be a better way to bet Cubs futures.
Carlos Santana Over 22.5 Home Runs (-125)
This number opened -115 and has inched up slightly. Santana suffered through a streaky 2014 campaign to hit 27 home runs. All the signs are there for this to be Santana’s breakout season in the heart of a strong Cleveland Indians batting order. Playing first base as opposed to catching is going to save Santana’s legs for the duration of the season and he hit 27 home runs last year while attempting to transition to third base. Take this over with confidence.
Andrew McCutchen Under 23.5 Home Runs (-115)
It’s easy to root for Andrew McCutchen, one of the game’s flashiest and most exciting players. He’s been hampered by some nagging muscular injuries throughout Spring Training and those things have a tendency to linger. Cutch hit 25 home runs last season and 21 the season before, but one has to wonder if the Pirates will make it a point to give him some more days off. Up until last season, he had played at least 154 games in each of the previous four seasons. The Pirates have great outfield depth and the luxury to rest McCutchen periodically.
Brian McCann Under 22.5 Home Runs (-115)
Brian McCann under? At Yankee Stadium? Yes. McCann had one of the worst slash lines of his career last season en route to hitting 20 home runs in an injury-riddled 140 games. McCann has been shifted extensively of late, as most left-handed hitters are, and that has taken away his ability to get on base by putting the ball in play. McCann has hinted at changing his approach to use the whole field and that’s going to zap his power. Also, he’s a 31-year-old catcher, which naturally zaps power as well.
Nelson Cruz Over 25.5 Home Runs (-115)
The move to Safeco Field is undoubtedly going to hurt Nelson Cruz’s power production. Will it drop by 15 home runs? Maybe not. Safeco Field was actually almost neutral for right-handed home run hitters. It’s only about seven percent worse than Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This is a massive overreaction to Cruz’s change in geography. He’s in a pretty decent lineup with a couple of good road parks in Houston and Texas to hit in. He may not fly over it, but it’s hard to see his power dropping off that precipitously.
Dustin Pedroia Over 161.5 Hits (-120)
Dustin Pedroia was hampered by a wrist injury most of last season that completely eradicated his power and limited him to 135 games. Pedroia’s BABIP was in its normal career range and he fell short of this line by just nine hits while missing a handful of games. With better health and something to prove this season, Pedroia will be a key part of a much-improved Red Sox lineup. Pedroia also set a career high in strikeout percentage that should regress. This one should cash comfortably.
Stay tuned to BangTheBook.com for more baseball analysis to get you ready for the MLB season and for our coverage through the 2015 campaign.