MLB Season Props Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 03/12/2009
Sportsbook.com has a dizzying number of baseball statistic totals available this year. You can bet on what the leader will accomplish in more than a dozen major statistical categories. What I particularly like about these is that you don't have to pick which player is going to be the best - that's too much of a crapshoot. Instead, you just have to decide how well the leader is going to do. There are so many factors that go into that that it is endlessly interesting to think about. Here's a look at nine of the most interesting props in my mind along with some predictions:
Most regular season home runs by one player - 47.5 - The over seems to be the way to go. Just once since 2001 has the leading slugger had less than 48 homers, and Jim Thome still had 47 in 2003. Five times in those eight years the leader has hit more than 50. The elephant in the room is that we can't know how much impact steroids had in any of those races, but it still seems reasonable to take the over. Ryan Howard was the leader last year with 48, so this number is slightly pessimistic compared to last year.
Most regular season RBI by any player - 146.5 - Howard also led the way here with 146 last year, so the oddsmakers are again assuming pretty much the status quo. The past is less clear-cut here as well - the leader was over 146 in the fur years before last year, but were under 146 in the four years before that. Howard led the way last year, so if he were to falter then someone else would have to improve significantly to get over this number. I'd probably lean to the under, but I'm not particularly enthusiastic about it.
Most regular season runs by any player - 130.5 - Hanley Ramirez led the way with 125 runs last year, but that was the lowest total of the decade. No other hitter scored more than 118 times. The year before, Ramirez had the same 125 total, but he was eclipsed by Jimmy Rollins with 139 and Alex Rodriguez with 143. That all means that this total is probably pretty tight. Given that Rodriguez won't be a factor here I might favor the under, but only barely.
Most regular season hits by one player - 217.5 - This is basically just asking how many hits Ichiro Suzuki is going to get this year - he has been first or second in hits for each of the last eight seasons. Last year he tied for first with Dustin Pedroia at 213, with Jose Reyes back in third. Given that Ichiro is getting older and Pedroia might not be able to replicate his ridiculously good season from last year, the cautious approach seems best here, and I would take the under.
Most regular season stolen bases by one player - 63.5 - This one is so hard to read because the top performers aren't consistent and so many factors can affect how well players do. The leader has gone over this total in three of the last five years, though, so I would lean towards the over.
Most regular season wins by any pitcher - 20.5 - Each league had a 22-game winner last year - Cliff Lee for the Indians and Brandon Webb for the Diamondbacks. Four other guys in the last five years have registered 21 or more wins, though two of them - Dontrelle Willis and Curt Schilling - are very unlikely to do it again this year. Call me an optimist, but there are so many good pitchers in good situations out there this year that I can't help but be bullish and take the over.
Most regular season losses by any pitcher - 17.5 - These are the poor guys I really for sorry for, because often times huge loss totals aren't entirely their fault. Just two guys in the last five years have gone over, and both had just 18 losses. There are undoubtedly some very bad teams out there, but I still think this number is too high, and I would take the under - if only so that no guy has to live with losing more than this.
Most regular season saves by any pitcher - 49.5 - This number is optimistic. Francisco Rodriguez has 62 saves last year, but Jose Valverde in second place only had 44, and K-Rod is the only guy in the last four years to go over this number. That would make you lean to the under. On the other hand, K-Rod is on a pretty solid team this year and should get lots of opportunities, Joakim Soria is on an improved team, and some others are set for solid years. I would still lean under, but the argument for the over could be strong, too. This one is tough.
Most regular season strikeouts by any pitcher - 253.5 - At first glance, the under is the way to go here. Tim Lincecum, with 265 last year, is the only guy to go over this number in the last four years. On the other hand, Lincecum looks good and healthy in spring, Johan Santana should have a better year this year as long as his elbow troubles clear up, Edinson Volquez could get a few more innings, and C.C. Sabathia has a chance to stay comfortable in one place for the whole year. I'd probably take the over, but then I'm a sucker for the K.