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 SBA/TOB. This is “stolen base attempts per time on base.” It is (stolen bases + caught stealing) / (singles + doubles + walks + hit by pitches). It is not an exact measurement due to the fact that players will also reach via fielder’s choice or fielding errors, and also a player may reach base but the base in front of them may be occupied, which would prevent them from even attempting a stolen base unless it was a double steal.
So let’s get caught looking at these props!
Trea Turner: Over 43.5 stolen bases (-125) – As referenced in Betting: 2019 MLB Season Player Props – Runs, Trea’s manager, Dave Martinez, wants him to attempt 75-80 stolen bases. Obviously for this player prop, that would be extremely ideal, but just the mere mention of it by Martinez may mean he views or wants Turner as his regular leadoff hitter this year after logging a greater number of plate appearances from the 2-hole. Out of the leadoff spot last year, Turner had a SBA/TOB mark of 26.1%, which is a good but not elite mark, but it also was still considerably higher than his 19.5% mark out of the 2-hole. From the 2-hole, in front of Bryce Harper, Turner just seemed much more hesitant to attempt to steal as that would lead to Harper being intentionally walked or pitched around. Overall as a leadoff hitter in his career, Turner has a SBA/TOB mark of 38.0% — now that’s more of an elite mark. And actually, if he gets back to that rate, he probably would get 75 attempts if avoiding the IL. But more conservatively, I have him projected at a 29.0% mark with a success rate right in line with his career rate of 83.2%. The Backwards K projection: 51 stolen bases
Mallex Smith: Over 38.5 stolen bases (-125) – Smith finally got the playing time with the Rays last season to collect enough time to make a meaningful impact with 40 stolen bases on 52 attempts. He did so with a SBA/TOB of 31.5% from the leadoff spot while posting a 26.9% combined from any other spot in the order. He was traded to the Mariners in the off-season and is likely to be the team’s regular leadoff hitter, supplanting Dee Gordon and his inability to take a walk. Smith surprised with a .337 AVG against left-handed pitching last season, which should help him maintain the leadoff role against any handed pitchers as long as he can retain that skill. The caution is that Smith has been dealing with an elbow injury this spring, so he could begin the season on the IL. But even so, as long as he leads off regularly and stays healthy enough to accumulate 550 plate appearances, this mark is well within reach. The Backwards K projection: 44 stolen bases
Dee Gordon: Under 37.5 stolen bases (-115) – From the top of the Mariners order to the bottom, we go right from Mallex Smith to Dee Gordon. Gordon’s skills at the plate have seem to really eroded. Never one to really be patient enough to take walks, his BB% fell straight through the pavement at 1.5% last year. His O-swing% (chase rate) rocketed to 41.4%, which was much higher than ever before. This led to him eventually losing his leadoff role and being relegated to the #9 spot and I do not see him hitting his way out of there. A full season in the #9 spot would really limit his plate appearances, but also he is going to face the possibility of being placed in a platoon of sorts with Tim Beckham and J.P. Crawford, if not sent to the bench altogether. I also suppose there’s alway the possibility he gets popped for PED’s again too. The Backwards K projection: 29 stolen bases
Jonathan Villar: Over 33.5 stolen bases (-115) – While Villar being traded from the Brewers to the Orioles mid-season last year was probably a disappointment to him to no longer be in a pennant race, he should be taking solace in the fact that at least he has a clear path to full playing time. Let’s not forget that the last time that Villar had a full season’s worth of plate appearances back in 2016, he attempted 80 stolen bases. Let’s not go expecting him to get to 80 attempts again, but he should be given some free reign to run on an offense that is going to need to do anything it can to try and win games. He probably will bat 2nd in the batting order, but could also slide into the leadoff spot on occasion. The Backwards K projection: 40 stolen bases
Whit Merrifield: Over 33.5 stolen bases (-115) – Not really considered a top prospect coming through the Minors, Merrifield was a late bloomer in the Majors but has really established himself with a solid hit tool and success on the basepaths over the course of two and a half seasons. Merrifield’s SBA/TOB rates have remained steady in his two full seasons with 23.5% in 2017 and 22.5% in 2018, but his increased patience at the plate helped him to increase his stolen base total from 34 in 2017 to 45 in 2018. If the walks stick, then this is probably a foregone conclusion that he hits the overs with good health. The Royals offense is going to be a bad one and they are going to need their leader and spark plug to do all that he can, which means run Whit, run! The Backwards K projection: 39 stolen bases
Delino DeShields Jr.: Over 23.5 stolen bases (-115) – There’s not really any question to DeShields’ stolen bases upside, but some injuries and playing time issues have interfered with him being able to experience any sort of a breakout season. Luckily for him, it appears that on the current projected Major League roster for the Rangers, DeShields looks like the only player truly capable of playing center field, which should help keep him in the lineup if he’s healthy. The downside is that he will be slated to hit 9th in the order unless there’s a teammate injury or he can starting showing signs of a breakout at the plate, but he actually has had a higher SBA/TOB rate from the #9 spot than leadoff. I think a SBA/TOB projection right in line with his career rate of 22.8% is appropriate to go along with a 78.0% success rate that also matches his career rate. With those rates, he may only need 400 plate appearances to hit his overs here. The Backwards K projection: 31 stolen bases
Ender Inciarte: Over 23.5 stolen bases (-115) – For another good example of how the spot in the batting order can influence the rate of a player’s stolen base attempts, last year Inciarte had 254 plate appearances out of the leadoff spot with a SBA/TOB mark of 26.4%. From the 2-hole, he had 103 plate appearances and a SBA/TOB mark of 21.1%. With 303 plate appearances combined from any other spot in the order, his SBA/TOB was 17.2%. For 2019, it appears that Inciarte will leadoff, at least against righties, to start the season. I have him projected for a modest SBA/TOB mark of 18.2%, which is much lower than his mark from the leadoff spot last year, so he could potentially have even more stolen bases upside here. Plus, his BABIP last year was oddly low for his standards at .293. The previous three seasons he had BABIP’s of .339, .329, and .329. A rebound in BABIP will ensure he is on base even more to steal. The Backwards K projection: 28 stolen bases
Byron Buxton: Over 21.5 stolen bases (-115) – This line for Buxton last year was 29.5, but what has really changed for the line to have dropped by so much? He had a couple of DL stints last year, once with migraines and then once with a fractured toe, but that’s really about it. He still possesses very athletic talent and don’t look now but he’s been raking in Spring Training, albeit against some lower quality pitching, but still a good sign nonetheless. He may only require less than 500 plate appearances or less to get this mark given his hyper efficiency of a 90.2% career stolen base success rate. The Backwards K projection: 28 stolen bases
Adalberto Mondesi: Over 44.5 stolen bases – Mondesi really came on last year to leave a fiery trail behind him, stealing 24 bases on 28 attempts in the final two months. His fierce finish is leaving him as one pretty hyped up player going into 2019, but he has some faults that will have the naysayers bellowing, such as his 54.9% swing rate, which ultimately contributed to his 3.8% BB%, which is not what you want to see from someone hitting at or near the top of the order. The Royals will probably let him run all he wants given that the lineup as a whole is pretty horrific and they are going to want to manufacture runs, but it is very possible that in his first season as a full-time starter that his free-swinging ways get exploited and exposed to a greater degree. So with that in mind, this is just a LEAN. The Backwards K projection: 49 stolen bases