The 2019 MLB season is quickly nearing and that means it is season long player prop time! For the 2018 season, I logged winners on 44 out of 67 (66%) season long player prop bets on their over/under marks in statistical categories. Those bets are undocumented outside of my own records, but those who know me well know I am an honest gentleman, and they also know I have a bit of a knack on this baseball thing.
Laying down some of that hard-earned cheddar to have to wait over six months to see any potential return on these season long props can be quite a drawn out process, but hey, baseball is a drawn out sport that is not for the impatient or for the thrill seeking adrenaline junkies. So if you are one that can truly appreciate the thought, deliberation, skill, and strategy that goes into this game that most grown men can only dream of playing for a living, then you should have no problem waiting the six plus months to see your bankroll additions! But if you are one that thinks baseball is “boring,” a.) I don’t necessarily blame you and b.) then you can still read the analysis below, bet it and forget it, don’t watch a single at-bat all season, then login to your account on September 30 for a pleasant monetary surprise.
These picks are based off my personal hand-crafted statistical player projections. ***Unless noted otherwise, all lines are from MyBookie.
The largest percentage of my player prop picks are on home runs, so the home runs category is going to be broken up into two parts. This post will focus on all picks that have a home run over/under of 23.5 or less.
So let’s get caught looking at these props!
Anthony Rendon: Over 23.5 home runs (-115) – Sir Anthony Rendon is a doubles machine, producing a double every 12.20 at-bats over the last two seasons combined. I posit that this season he will translate some of those doubles into home runs. From 2013-2015, Rendon posted sub-40% flyball rates, but has been at 43.6% or greater in each season from 2016-2018, peaking at 47.2% in 2017. So clearly, whether consciously or not, he’s become a part of the flyball revolution, but he just has yet to see that elusive 30 home run season thanks to never exceeding a 12.3% HR/flyball%. However, given his batted ball profile, I see a very realistic pathway for Rendon to post a HR/flyball% north of 15%. Couple that with his strong ability to put the ball in play and this is a potential jackpot for an unsuspected easy win. The Backwards K projection: 32 home runs
Michael Conforto: Over 23.5 home runs (-135) – Given what we can easily see out of Conforto’s basic stats, this is a curiously low line. The left-handed swinging Met posted 27 home runs in 2017 in only 109 games and then slugged another 28 home runs last year, albeit in a much higher 153 games. Going deeper than the surface though, we can see that Conforto had shoulder surgery after the 2017 season and then struggled to hit for the whole first month of 2018 because likely, he still was not fully recovered from the surgery. Through May 6 of 2018, he had 1 home run. So that means in the final 128 games he played he hit 27 home runs. He probably didn’t deserve all those home runs with a slightly inflated HR/flyball%, but still, I think there is enough here to definitely say that based on what we know this is an easy wager to log because only a lengthy injury will stop him. The Backwards K projection: 28 home runs
Eddie Rosario: Over 23.5 home runs (-135) – Maybe I will end up being a bit off base on this and my projection that you will soon read at the end of this blurb is going to turn some heads, but here’s the lowdown. Rosario’s first 68 games of 2018 were outstanding with a .320 AVG and 16 HR, and it was led by three very distinct measures: an increase in pull% and an increase in flyball% — which naturally led to an increase in pulled flyball%, and if it wasn’t inherent, pulled flyballs are the type of batted ball that have the greatest chance of being told “SEE…YOU…LATER.” So for those first 68 games, here are Rosario’s numbers: 46.7% pull%, 45.4% flyball%, 35.9% pulled flyball%. Then on June 21, Rosario got labeled as day-to-day with a shoulder injury. He was able to return to the lineup the next day, but his numbers from that point onward were atrocious and here are his rest of season numbers on those same previously mentioned metrics: 40.2% pull%, 42.7% flyball%, 22.7% pulled flyball%. Quite the decline all around after getting slapped with the day-to-day (shoulder) tag, and I would conclude that he was playing through that shoulder injury and it really sapped his power. With those early season gains and if he can have full health, I dare to say that there is a non-zero chance that Rosario could be the best version of this year’s Jose Ramirez. The Backwards K projection: 35 home runs
Yasiel Puig: Over 23.5 home runs (-130) – There’s really not much more to this besides the fact that I just feel it is going to be a career best season for Puig now that he’s out of Los Angeles. The metrics are there, the playing time should be there, and while I have never been to Cincinnati, something tells me that Puig, who claimed he never really tried that hard as a Dodger, will have less distraction there so that he can focus on baseball. And I suppose we cannot forget the “contract year” factor. The Backwards K projection: 29 home runs
Randal Grichuk: Over 23.5 home runs (-140) – Back, elbow, and knee injuries have been the main culprits to why Grichuk has never crossed the 500 plate appearance mark in a Major League season. I suppose the sub-.300 career OBP may also have something to do with it, but mainly the injuries. Grichuk has the ability to really smoke the ball and by my calculations he could have easily had a HR/flyball% over 20% last year instead of the 17.6% he got stuck with, which led to 25 home runs. We can’t assume a healthier season from Grichuk given the history, but I do project a career best HR/flyball% while factoring in some missed time and I still get to a projection of 30+ home runs. The Backwards K projection: 31 home runs
Didi Gregorius: Under 21.5 home runs (-130) – Why is this even a prop bet? Gregorius had Tommy John surgery in October, this is no secret. It was publicized then and there’s certainly zero indication that he is expected back any earlier than June at the absolute earliest, but more likely we will see him sometime in July. I mean sure, Gregorius was essentially Barry Bonds in the first month of the 2018 season when he triple slashed .368/.459/.858 with 10 HR and 11 K/17 BB in the first 25 games. But there is no way that Gregorius is going to return from Tommy John surgery to hit 22 home runs in half a season or less. The MLB player prop oddsmaker for MyBookie almost certainly posted this bet not knowing about Gregorius’ injury. If there were no betting limits, this is as close to an all-in bet that you’ll see. The Backwards K projection: 10 home runs
Nick Castellanos: Over 20.5 home runs (-145) – This line is incredibly peculiar and is underselling Castellanos as a hitter quite a bit. Sure there is a lot of juice on this, but I feel this line should be 3 home runs higher. Last season, Castellanos saw his pull% jump to 44.9%, up from 38.6% the previous year. Then his hard% also was at a career best at 47.9%, up from 43.4% the previous year. And unsurprisingly, his pulled flyball% soared to 20.7% after being at 13.7% the previous year. His “downfall” was that he had a career low flyball% at 35.8% because he was too busy hitting frozen ropes with a 28.8% line drive%! All of this added up to a little bit of an underwhelming home run total of 23. I believe that Castellanos is bound to get some extra lift on his batted balls this season and as long as he maintains at least half of the gains he made in those other batted ball areas, then he will be breaking out. The Backwards K projection: 33 home runs
Max Kepler: Over 19.5 home runs (-125) – Kepler has been a work in progress for a few years now and his season by season numbers are very yawn inducing, but he’s now looking as good of a bet as he ever has to experience a meaningful statistical breakout. He became much more selective at the dish last year with the exacta combination of chasing pitches outsize of the zone less while also swinging and missing less, which are certainly signs of maturation. Kepler was able to get more loft on his batted balls, but he was just unable to barrel up enough of those to get them over the fence. He has kind of just been on an annual plan of one one small step for Max, but this season I am expecting one giant leap for Max kind. The Backwards K projection: 26 home runs
J.T. Realmuto: Over 18.5 home runs (-135) – Just like how when Christian Yelich was traded from the Marlins to the Brewers, Realmuto’s arrival in Philly I think could be just as impactful based off the supporting cast, desire to win, and of course probably most importantly, the extremely good home run park for his handedness. Don’t go expecting Realmuto to win the MVP or anything, but with the power improvements he has made over the last couple of years to pull the ball in the air more and hit the ball harder more often, he is going to be loving life in Philly surrounded by a slew of other new Phillies that should only help to elevate his game (and his home run total) even further. The Backwards K projection: 26 home runs
Justin Bour: Over 18.5 home runs (-105) – This could very well end up being a smash spot for Bour. With Shohei Ohtani estimated to be sidelined for a little over a month, Bour should be locked in to an everyday role during that time (as should Albert Pujols), even probably getting his shot against his share of lefties despite his bad splits against the same-handedness foes. Once Ohtani comes back and assuming all three are healthy, Bour and Pujols will probably move in towards a loose platoon situation. I say “loose” because there are going to be days that Ohtani will rest from DH-ing because of his pitching rehab schedule, which would then lead to Bour and Pujols to both get additional starts outside of their first base platoon. Then also consider that outside of his 1-month stint with the Phillies to conclude last season, Bour had played in a bad hitters’ park as a Marlin his whole career, while last year Angel Stadium became much more friendly to left-handed home runs as they lowered the home run line throughout right field. Bour is going to be able to just poke at some pitches and they will squeeze over that yellow line. Plus, with a career flyball% of 34.6% and a single-season high of only 36.3%, those are very lackluster marks and not what one might expect from a burly man such as he. If he is able to push his flyball% up to 40% then forget 18.5 home runs — at that point we would be looking for him to cover 28.5 home runs. The Backwards K projection: 24 home runs
Xander Bogaerts: Over 17.5 home runs (-140) – I was very much into the overs on Bogaerts’ home runs last year when the line was set at 16.5 because he had played through much of 2017 with an injury that really sucked out all his power. So just as planned, he smashed that number with 23 bombs and there is nothing at all to suggest that he won’t continue to be a 20-25 home run hitter for his age 26 season. The Backwards K projection: 22 home runs
LEANS – None in this range