2013 MLB All Star Game Props Odds and Betting Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/16/2013
With the MLB All-Star Game on tap Tuesday night, here are the most attractive and interesting prop bets offered by Bovada along with odds and predictions.
Team to score first
There is a good chance for some value here. The American League is heavily favored at -140 here, with the National League at +110. The biggest reason for that is that the American League bats first, of course. The NL isn’t getting enough credit here. Matt Harvey gets the start for the NL — just the fourth pitcher to start an All-Star Game at home since 1961. He’s an incredibly confident and consistent pitcher who is at his best at home, and the crowd will be heavily and enthusiastically on his side. I like his chances to start strong and get out of his first inning unscathed. The American League, meanwhile, is starting Max Scherzer. After reeling off 13 wins to start his season, Scherzer finally suffered a loss last time out at home against Texas. He was beaten up in that game, and his confidence could take a big hit as a result. He’s much more likely than Harvey to stumble early on, so the NL has a good chance of scoring first, and the price is attractive as a result.
Total combined hits — “over/under” 16.5
My first instinct when I saw this number was to jump on the over. After all, the All-Star Game always seems to be an exhibition of batting power and offensive excellence, and pitchers are rarely given enough time to settle in and reach their best. A closer look, though, shows that the over isn’t actually that attractive. In the last five years, only the 2008 exceeded 16.5 hits. There were 27 hits in that game, but that was the 15-inning marathon that just wouldn’t end. In the four years since, the average has been just 14.25 hits per game. The forecast is for extreme heat and humidity for the game, so offensive players may not hustle like they normally can. The pitching staffs are both deep and impressive, so that’s another asset for the under, too. All in all, the under is the clear choice.
Will the game go into extra innings?
We could go back as far as we wanted to create a sample size here, but the further back we go the more the passage of time really dulls the effectiveness of our analysis. Looking back 10 years seems like a good balance. In that time only the 2008 game went beyond the ninth. “Yes” only pays +600, so it just isn’t lucrative enough to make it worth a gamble. Unfortunately, at -1000, there is really no point in betting on the “no” side, either. This should be an interesting prop, but it’s one we have to pass on here.
Margin of victory
In five of the last 10 games, the margin of victory was just a single run. The odds available for the National League to win by a single run is 7/2, and it’s 9/2 for the American League. If you don’t have a strong feeling or preference regarding which team will win then you could still bet on both and have a reasonable expectation for long-term profit based on what we have seen over the last decade. That is the most attractive of the possibilities — and the most likely to pay off.
The prop may not offer the best value — in fact it almost certainly doesn’t. Every year, though, it is the most interesting to speculate about. One thing we can be sure of is that we won’t have a repeat winner. Melky Cabrera won it last year, just a month before his fall from grace and subsequent 50-game steroid suspension. The four before that, in order, were Prince Fielder, Brian McCann, Carl Crawford and J.D. Drew. What do those guys have in common? Well, for starters, they are all batters. It would take a miracle for a pitcher to win the award, so we can ignore the few that have odds on offer. They are also guys who have some power, can hit with some frequency, and can get hot at the plate. Unfortunately, that describes pretty much every guy on both rosters. We have to get more creative than that.
My first choice would have been Chris Davis (14/1), because everything he hits goes out of the park these days. He ripped a callous on his hand in the Home Run Derby Monday night, though, so he could be lightly used in the game. Time to look elsewhere. Three of those last five winners were reserves. The advantage they have is that they get a chance to play later in games when they can make a lasting impression. On the American League side two guys stand out. We know Prince Fielder can win the award because he already has. Edwin Encarnacion (25/1) has a ridiculous amount of power and could easily send one or more over the fence. He also thrives in tough spots, so the price is right. For the NL, I’m a fan of Buster Posey (25/1) because he has ice water in his veins and is the king of pressure performance, and longshot Michael Cuddyer (40/1) because he’s an underrated hitter who performed well in the Home Run Derby and is feeling confident.
Since we don’t want to entirely overlook starters, and because I like the National League to win the game, I have to pick Bryce Harper (14/1). The media and the fans love him, so if he has a big game he will get the votes he nee. He was remarkably consistent in the Home Run Derby, and is seemingly not intimidated by any situation. He is in his second All-Star Game, so he has experience on his side despite only being 20 years old. He’ll win more than one MVP award of one sort or another by the time his career is done, so he might as well start now.
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