MLB Predictions: 2013 RBI Head-To-Head Props Odds
by Alan Matthews - 3/5/2013
We all know that Roger Maris' home-run record was shattered by Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. We also pretty much know all three of those guys were juicing because, hey, "chicks dig the long ball." What is a bit surprising to me is that a player from baseball's steroid era didn't more seriously threaten the major-league single-season RBI record of 191 set by Hack Wilson in 1930 (155 games).
The closest a player in the past 20 years has come to Wilson was Manny Ramirez knocking in 165 in 1999 (147 games). He's the only player from the past two decades in the Top 20, with Sosa at No. 21 with 160 in 2001. Maybe it's because players don't get on base ahead of sluggers these days like they did in the past -- current major-leaguers strike out a bunch more, for example. Maybe it's because there is more specialized pitching. Or maybe hurlers simply would prefer to pitch around the best hitter when possible and put them on first when it's an open base (this certainly was the case for Bonds).
Whatever the reason, Wilson's record seems almost as safe as Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Last season, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera lead the league in RBI with 139, the most for the MLB leader since Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard had 141 in 2009. It was a career high for Cabrera and the second time he won the MLB RBI crown, also doing so in 2010 with 126. Cabrera has been an RBI machine, knocking in at least 105 every year since becoming a full-time player in 2004 with the Marlins.
As I did with home runs, let's look at my top nine 2013 MLB predictions on BookMaker's head-to-head RBI prop.
Bryce Harper -10.5 (+120) vs. Mike Trout +10.5 (-160): The site also paired the two Rookies of the Year on the home runs prop, and I liked Harper there. Trout had 83 RBI and Harper 59 last season. The reason Harper is favored is that he's hitting second. While not a great RBI spot, it's better than leadoff, where Trout is. Still, I lean Trout here simply because of those 10.5 RBI added. It if was somewhere around five, I'd probably go Harper.
Albert Pujols -2.5 (-220) vs. Buster Posey +2.5 (+170): I am really starting to wonder about Pujols. His numbers have declined each of the past few seasons, and he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee in October. His contract is going to be a major albatross in a couple of years for the Halos. Pujols still knocked in 105 last year and should be good for at least that many again with the Angels' loaded lineup. Posey finished with 103 RBI last year, but injury concerns always will be there with Posey playing catcher. Look for him to play first base a bit more than his 29 games there in 2012. I don't really see Posey getting much to hit, however, in that weak Giants lineup, so I love Pujols here.
Prince Fielder -10.5 (even) vs. Adrian Gonzalez +10.5 (-140): Fielder's 754 RBI since 2006 rank No. 5 in the majors, and he finished with 108 last season in Detroit. One thing you have to love about the guy is his durability: Fielder has played at least 157 games every season since becoming a full-time player. Gonzalez also finished with 108 RBI last year in splitting time between the Red Sox and Dodgers. He's also been very durable. I lean Fielder here because I believe he has way more power than Gonzo, and that power could translate to around 20 more RBI simply on 10 or more home runs.
Jay Bruce -9.5 (-145) vs. Yoenis Cespedes +9.5 (+105): Bruce is still looking for his first triple-digit RBI season, finishing with a career-high 99 in 2012. The Cuban Cespedes was great as a rookie last year and knocked in 82. I also think the A's vastly overachieved and that Cespedes could have a bit of a sophomore slump with pitchers now having been able to study him. Plus, Bruce plays in the much better hitters' park and lineup. He's the pick.
Adam Jones +2 (-120) vs. Justin Upton -2 (-120): Jones is a very good player who knocked in 82 last year, but I am not high on the Orioles at all this season -- I 100 percent believe last season was a fluke. And it's not like that lineup was all that good in 2012. Upton knocked in just 67 last year, but I think he will be an MVP candidate now that he's out of Arizona and playing alongside his brother with the Braves. He's the pick.
Chase Headley -10.5 (+105) vs. Brett Lowrie +10.5 (-145): Headley has quietly become one of the best third basemen in the league and had a career-high 115 RBI last year. That seems flukish considering his previous high was 64. Plus, he plays in a pitchers' park. Lowrie knocked in 148 in 125 games in his first full year with the Blue Jays. I lean toward Lowrie in that very good Jays lineup.
Adrian Beltre -1 (-150) vs. David Wright +1 (+110): Beltre has knocked in at least 102 runs the past three seasons, while Wright has just one 100-RBI season in the past four. That Mets lineup looks putrid, so I love Beltre. His RBI could actually go up with Josh Hamilton now gone.
Miguel Cabrera -24.5 (-135) vs. Ryan Zimmerman +24.5 (-105): If Zimmerman stays healthy, I lean toward him here -- the Nats adding Denard Span at leadoff will increase his and Bryce Harper's RBI opportunities -- as I would guess he's good for about 110 RBI, and I can't see Cabrera with more than 130.
Robinson Cano -15.5 (-120) vs. Dan Uggla +15.5 (-120): Cano's RBI total dropped from 118 in 2011 to 94 last year, and that Yankees lineup is as weak as it's been in years, especially with Curtis Granderson out the first month or two. I might take Uggla on a home runs prop vs. Cano, but not on RBIs, because the Braves' second baseman simply doesn't put the ball in play enough. He hit just .220 with 168 strikeouts while knocking in 78 a year ago. Cano should have a monster season as he plays for a new contract. He's the pick.
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