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.
***I will be referencing a stat called R/TOB. This is “runs scored per time on base” and measures the rate at which a player scores a run from the times they put themselves on base (this excludes home runs).
So let’s get caught looking at these props!
Andrew Benintendi: Over 99.5 runs (-115) – Red Sox manager Alex Cora has stated his intentions to have reigning AL MVP be the club’s primary #2 hitter after having all but 6 of his 614 plate appearances last year come from the leadoff spot. This means that Benintendi now becomes the primary leadoff man for the defending champions. The move makes sense given that at each of their respective stages in their careers, Betts has the better hit tool to be driving guys in and putting the ball in play to create that action, and Benintendi does have the ability to post an above average OBP mark that would be desired out of a leadoff man. In a lineup as potent as the Red Sox, the switch from 2nd to leadoff for Benintendi may seem negligible, but having both Betts and J.D. Martinez behind him has to be seen as an on paper upgrade for his runs scored potential where his R/TOB could hit 40%. The Backwards K projection: 110 runs
Matt Carpenter: Over 97.5 runs (-115) – With the Cardinals trading for Paul Goldschmidt this off-season, that serves as a double benefit to Carpenter’s projected runs total. First, it pretty much solidifies that Carpenter will reprise his role as the team’s primary leadoff hitter. He spent 20.5% of his time in the 2-3 spots last year, but with a full season of Goldschmidt, Carpenter would probably be locked in to the leadoff spot >90% of the time. Secondly, Goldschmidt has been a great run producer in his career and should continue to do so in this position to help Carpenter cross home plate many a time. From the leadoff spot last year, Carpenter had a R/TOB of 38.1%. His career mark out of the leadoff spot is 36.7%. So I have him projected at 36.5% for R/TOB, and pairing that with my belief that he will be able to mostly keep up his home run barrage (see Betting: 2019 MLB Season Player Props – Home Runs (Part One)), we have a guy who is going to be scoring a lot of runs. The Backwards K projection: 112 runs
Trea Turner: Over 96.5 runs (-115) – Turner split his time between leading off and hitting from the 2-hole last year, with slightly more time out of the 2-hole. His manager Dave Martinez made some noise this off-season by stating he wanted his young shortstop to attempt 75-80 stolen bases. While it would be a bit foolish to expect that to actually come to fruition, especially in today’s game (though it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility), that comment could be interpreted to mean that he wants Turner to be his primary leadoff hitter this year. The leadoff spot is the place in the batting order that is most conducive for stolen bases, so it only stands to reason if he is going to have Turner be the stolen base churner with 75-80 attempts, then he would be leading off mostly, which would of course enhance his runs scored outlook. In his career leading off, Turner has a R/TOB rate of 39.5%, which would fall right in line with a player of his speed caliber leading off. I have him projected at 38.5% to account for some possible time out of the 2-hole, plus I have him adding some home runs. This all culminates in a runs projection that blows by the over/under line as long as he can avoid the IL for the second year in a row. The Backwards K projection: 106 runs
Freddie Freeman: Over 92.5 runs (-115) – As I alluded to in the player props posts on both home runs and RBI, Freeman has a level of inconsistency with his stats that makes it hard to project. For instance, in 2016, he had a career high in home runs but an RBI total that wasn’t reflective of all the home runs he hit. Or in 2018, he had his lowest home run total in a few seasons, but his highest RBI total in the last five seasons. But with Freeman, I think his runs are easier to project. With strong walk totals and the seemingly likely outcome of Ronald Acuna hitting cleanup behind him followed by some other decent bats, Freeman does not have to post a R/TOB rate over 30% in order to hit the overs on his runs. It will also depend on which home run version of Freeman we see this year (the low-mid 20’s, the upper 20’s, or the 30+), but either way I think he finds the way to get to this mark. The Backwards K projection: 98 runs
Matt Chapman: Over 89.5 runs (-115) – It is seeming likely that Chapman is going to slot in to the 2-hole on Bob Melvin’s lineup cards on most days after occupying that role permanently from July 27 through the end of the season last year. As the #2 hitter, Chapman had a R/TOB rate of 39%, and collectively from all spots in the lineup he ended up scoring 100 runs. Now, that R/TOB rate is probably a bit high for someone out of the 2-hole, especially if the player is not a burner, which Chapman is most certainly not, but a mark somewhere in the range of 33-34% could be reasonable to expect. I have Chapman regressing in BABIP but I also have him adding some extra home runs, so those things essentially cancel each other out for the runs projection. A full season as the #2 hitter, Chapman should once again flirt with the 100 run mark. The Backwards K projection: 97 runs
Mike Trout: Over 115.5 runs (-115) – As mentioned in the post Betting: 2019 MLB Season Player Props – RBI, some things are just out of Trout’s control, no matter how beastly he is. So even though the margin between my projection and the line is probably big enough, I can’t bring this to be a LIKE, especially considering that 115.5 is extremely high. The Backwards K projection: 122 runs
Christian Yelich: Over 102.5 runs (-115) – I think that Yelich is a great hitter and should keep some of his gains from last year, much in thanks to the amazing home park for left-handed hitting, but on the chance he does revert back to more of the pre-2018 version of himself, then he is not going to be hitting as many home runs to drive himself in. There was a difference of 18 between his 2018 and 2017 home run totals. If he had hit 18 less home runs in 2018, that would have brought his runs total down from 118 to 100, which would have put him under this line. So while I do have him projected to beat this line and my projection borderline indicates a LIKE instead of a LEAN, this line is too high for a non-leadoff hitter who is iffy to count on for 30+ home runs. The Backwards K projection: 108 runs
Alex Bregman: Over 100.5 runs (-115) – Bregman’s .394 OBP last year was a result of a big jump in his BB% to 13.6%, up from 8.8% in the previous year. Bregman certainly has the plate skills and discipline to merit a double digit walk rate, but I would hesitate to believe he will maintain it as high as last year. On the plus side, Bregman actually inexplicably spent a few weeks’ worth batting 5th and 6th where his R/TOB cratered at 18.4%, but now firmly established as the #2 hitter (he may spend some time batting 3rd as well), his career 33.8% R/TOB from that spot is much more palatable and posting a mark around there would help to make up for any loss in walks. As long as he is healthy all season, Bregman should crack this mark, but the margin between my projection and the line suggests to only LEAN on this. The Backwards K projection: 105 runs
Bryce Harper: Over 100.5 runs (-115) – I imagine that Harper should get to this mark, but for as much as he is talked about as one of the better players in the game, he shows almost zero consistency from year to year in many facets. So unless my projection on Harper is blowing away the line, it is only going to be a LEAN for me. The Backwards K projection: 105 runs
Nolan Arenado: Over 100.5 runs (-115) – My projection for Arenado is largely based on the fact that I think he is going to be collecting a decent amount of time in the 2-hole for the Rockies (as opposed to customarily batting 3rd or 4th) in order to provide some lefty/righty alternation as they essentially replaced righty DJ LeMahieu with lefty Daniel Murphy. By doing this, manager Bud Black could have a completely alternating “regular” lineup from 1-8: Charlie Blackmon (L), Nolan Arenado (R), Daniel Murphy (L), Trevor Story (R), David Dahl (L), Ian Desmond (R), Ryan McMahon (L), Chris Iannetta (R). The Backwards K projection: 106 runs
Anthony Rendon: Over 87.5 runs (-115) – I am already on the overs for Rendon in home runs and RBI, so I don’t necessarily want to put too many eggs in the Rendon basket, especially with his slight injury history. I apparently love Rendon for this year, but I will try not to go overboard and I will keep this as a LEAN. The Backwards K projection: 94 runs
Trevor Story: Over 85.5 runs (-115) – Like with Rendon, I am already on the home runs and RBI overs for Story, so we’ll keep it at that for now. The Backwards K projection: 90 runs
Nelson Cruz: Under 85.5 runs (-115) – Cruz takes his ageless talent over to the Twin Cities this year, but could this be the year that he experiences a notable decline? Cruz only crossed home plate 70 times last year, but what exactly was that a result of? He didn’t exactly have a great supporting cast hitting behind him (I am looking at you, Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy). And it is also possible that he was pinch ran for a lot late in games. Well, with the Twins, he should probably have some better hitters behind him, but will it be enough to get him to 86 runs? The projection says no, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he does, so this is just a LEAN. The Backwards K projection: 81 runs