By: Matt Watkins
MLB Home Run Leader Odds: Who is Going Deep, Baby!
So baseball is just a handful of weeks away, in theory, which means it’s time to look at actual stats and who might do what. Baseball is now all about launch angles, exit velocities, and taking pitches to get into advantageous counts, so where better to start than with who will lead in homers, an area that combines all three.
The MLB Home Run Leader Odds: The Big Bomber Boys
Joey Gallo (+1000): Gallo hit 22 homers in 70 games last season, setting career highs last season in walk percentage, isolated power, and BABIP (batting average on balls in play). It’s that last stat that’s both cause for optimism, as well as concern. While he hit a career best .253… Again… it’s a career best… at .253. His strikeout rate also went up to 38.4.
For those who need a little refresher (or intro) to analytics, that basically means that every five times he came to the plate, he struck out twice, but that’s nothing remarkably new for him. The trend that’s good is the walk rate is up, which means he’s being patient enough to wait out a first pitch breaking ball out of the zone. His projections run him between 14-16 homers depending on how many games he plays. If he can recapture what he had last year before his injury, that’s a pretty safe assessment.
Mike Trout (+1000): I could give you a ton of analysis here, go through his history, analytics, comparable players and seasons, but let’s face it, all the info you need can be summed up with simply this: He. Is. Mike. Trout! If you need more than that to make a decision on whether or not it’s a good bet, you probably shouldn’t be wagering on baseball (Editor’s Note: the truest thing every written on OddsUSA.com).
That all said, there is ONE caveat to throw out there. Trout’s wife, Jessica Cox, is due with the couple’s first child in August. Trout has said he is concerned about playing under the current conditions with his wife pregnant, but hasn’t said he’ll skip the season. If he leaves two weeks in to be with her during birth, he could miss significant time (a week? 10 days?) based on return to play protocols.
Recommendation: Buy now
Giancarlo Stanton (+1100): There are few in baseball who get hotter than Stanton when he gets hot. See, well, all of 2017. There are also few in baseball who get colder than Stanton when he gets cold. See April 2018. He’s coming off a season lost to injury. Projections have him between 14-16 homers. Stanton is tough to gauge because even if he gets off to a terrible start, he could hit 10 in 15 games in late September and finish with 16-18. Or his bat doesn’t catch up at all and he hits .174 with six homers.
Pete Alonso (+1100): Ok, I’ll say it up front – I hate the Mets, but I LOVE this kid. He’s mature beyond his years as a hitter and as a human, but hasn’t lost his kid like fervor to play the game. He doesn’t court attention, but doesn’t shy from the spotlight or the stage and is willing to self-promote as needed. Basically, he’s exactly what MLB needs Mike Trout to be. Alonso’s projections are running pretty consistent at 16 with a top out at 18. If anyone is going to top 20, it’s him. Something else in Alonso’s favor: 50 of his 60 games will either come at home or in hitter-friendly NL East stadiums.
Recommendation: Buy now!!!
Other Players to Keep an Eye on with the MLB Home Run Odds
Cody Bellinger (+1800): He’s the reining NL MVP. He had stretches last season where he could not be stopped and has a flare for the moment.
Bryce Harper (+2200): Love him or hate him, second halves of seasons are his time. The question is does he start the year with his traditional post All-Star break push (.286/.390/.512, HR every 18.79 AB for his career in August/September) or does he start strong like his Aprils usually are then fizzle into a second-month slump as he tends to do in May.
Christian Yelich (+2500): See Harper above. Yelich dominates August and September and often with power. Does he start the 60-game sprint that way or does he have a good, but not spectacular go.
MLB Home Run Odds Longshot?
Anthony Rendon (+10000): I was shocked to find Rendon as part of the “field” in this category. Historically during his career, his power shows up late in seasons and he has a knack for clutch play. He’s going to be sandwiched in the lineup by Trout and Shohei Ohtani with Justin Upton and (albeit a declining) Albert Pujols to follow. Therefore, you can’t pitch around him and he’s going to hit and be very productive. Will the move going from a very hitter-friendly park in Washington to an even stadium in Anaheim make a difference between homers and doubles? That’s the prorated $26,071,429 question.