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.
Wins can be difficult to project due to the nature of the statistic being volatile from pitcher to pitcher and/or team to team. For a perfect real life example of this, look no further than Jacob deGrom and his mere 10 wins in 2018, despite posting a 1.70 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. The way the wins totals are projected here in order to identify which props to like pertains to the pitcher’s team’s runs totals projected as an average from multiple projection systems, and also incorporating the pitcher’s projected ERA based off my own projections.
So let’s get caught looking at these props!
Max Scherzer: Over 15.5 wins (-140) – The line is high. The juice is high. But Max is the Scher-thing. Yes, as I pointed out in the introduction, wins can be fluky (either in a good way or bad way). But an elite pitcher is going to put himself in position to win a lot of games, and good fortune with run support and bullpen support will help. Scherzer has gone over 15.5 wins in six of the last seven seasons. There is not much else needed to be said. The Backwards K projection: 18 wins
Trevor Bauer: Over 13.5 wins (-130) – I was on Bauer’s wins overs at 12.5 last year, which looked golden as he logged his 12th win on August 11. However, in his 12th win, he also sustained a fractured fibula on a comebacker. He worked hard to return before the end of the regular season, but was unable to record the elusive 13th victory in his final three appearances — he did manage to get a 4-inning save though. With that being said, I believe that Bauer is going to be a mighty force this season and he will be well positioned to hit his overs this time around. All he needs to do is avoid another freak injury. The Backwards K projection: 18 wins
Mike Clevinger: Over 12.5 wins (+100) – Clevinger should be able to build off a strong 2018 campaign where he showed even better results in the second half than the first half. Being only one of eight pitchers from last season to log at least 200 innings with at least 200 strikeouts, Clevinger seems well positioned for yet another step forward as he mixes in two different breaking pitches with near 20% whiff rates. I think the next improvement that we see out of him is a drop in his walk rate, which should contribute to him staying in games a bit longer for extra probability of win eligibility. The Backwards K projection: 15 wins
Miles Mikolas: Over 12.5 wins (-130) – After flopping stateside in the Majors in the Rangers organization, Mikolas went over to Asia and reinvented himself to garner himself enough attention to earn another shot in the Majors. His return was very applaudable and he is lauded for his command and control, and he pitched his way to an 18-4 record in 2018. Mikolas worked into the 7th inning in 17 of his 32 starts and completed 7 or more innings in 12 of those. He did so averaging an elite 15.0 pitches per inning, but only 93.9 pitches per start under the watch of Mike Matheny for a little more than a half season before he was fired and replaced by interim manager Mike Shildt. With David Bell now managing the Cardinals, it’s hard to tell what the first-time MLB manager’s tendencies will be when it comes to the type of pitch leash he gives for his rotation, but just the fact that we know that the previous managerial regime did not let Mikolas (or other rotation members) reach the 100-pitch mark very often, that at least opens the door that he could eclipse that mark more than the 7 times he did last season. If he does, then the deeper he goes into games, in theory that should provide him even better opportunities to log wins. Also, it certainly cannot be seen as a bad thing that seemingly both the Cardinals offense and bullpen improved on paper with the additions of Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller. The Backwards K projection: 16 wins
German Marquez: Over 11.5 wins (-120) – Marquez was easily one of the top 3 starting pitchers in the league (along with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer) from June 30, 2018 through the end of the season. In that time, he compiled 113 innings with a 2.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 33.3% K%, and 5.0% BB%, all while pitching his home games at Coors Field, which we know is a run-inflating environment. The naysayers will brush off this incredible run from Marquez due to small sample size and contend that this level of performance isn’t sustainable while pitching his home games in Colorado. To an extent, this is true — we cannot project him to duplicate this over the course of a full season. But when trying to decipher, for Marquez, whether there was actually something that can be attributed to his big turning point, there indeed is something tangible. And with some sort of explanation behind it all, that lends to more of a belief that he’s not just going to revert to being the mid-4’s ERA pitcher he previously was. This tangible difference was in his increased usage of his slider that nearly perfectly coincided with his positive performance spike. Overall for 2018, his slider proved to be his best swing and miss pitch, barely beating his curveball, as both breaking pitches had elite whiff rates of greater than 21%. As long as he continues to incorporate the slider at a similar rate in order to have two amazing offerings that can play well off one another, then I see Marquez being able to pitch his way to a low to mid 3’s ERA, which should be good enough to tally 12+ wins being backed by that Rockies offense. The Backwards K projection: 14 wins
Jameson Taillon: Over 11.5 wins (-125) – Taillon is another pitcher who reaped the benefits of mixing in a slider more during the middle of the season. For this Pirate pitcher, the slider was a non-existent pitch for him in his previous Major League seasons and it was not until late May that he introduced it to his in-game repertoire. With the Pirates as an organization in recent years having had a philosophy more focused on sinkerballs and getting groundball outs and not promoting heavy slider usage, that really seemed to curb some of the upside on their pitchers. But it does appear that they are shifting way from that philosophy, which should only continue to benefit a talented pitcher like Taillon. After he began to use his slider last season, his strikeout rate did not improve, but his overall output sure did. With a full four months of using the slider in games last year plus a whole offseason to become even more comfortable with it, more strikeouts may begin to tally and a career best season should be in line all around. The Backwards K projection: 14 wins
Luis Severino: Under 14.5 wins (-115) – I am not sure what the MyBookie policy is on these player props. All bets may be canceled if Severino begins the year on the IL, but I was on this upon the first word of his achy shoulder this Spring Training. For any pitcher, any shoulder woes obviously induces heightened concern. But with a pitcher with as big of velocity as Severino, I think the possible effects of an achy shoulder get amplified. The Backwards K projection: 12 wins
Zack Greinke: Under 13.5 wins (-145) – With Greinke’s continually declining velocity, he should be bound to experience some struggles. He pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 2017 and then a 3.21 ERA in 2018. I will give him the 2017 mark as an earned effort, but he didn’t deserve that mark in 2018. If he continues to pitch with a sub-90 MPH average fastball velocity, his ERA should be closer to 4.00 to decrease his win potential. The Backwards K projection: 11 wins