Betting Barry Bonds Home Run Props
by Trevor Whenham - 07/26/2007
Either you love Barry Bonds or you hate everything about him, and I suspect that how you feel has a lot to do with whether you live in San Francisco right now. I live a long way from the city by the Bay, so my disgust and contempt for this waste of oxygen really has no bounds. Sure, his swing is a pleasure to watch, but you can hardly notice it when you look at it because you get so transfixed by his freakishly overgrown head. Just writing about the guy makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.
Since the record is pretty much a foregone conclusion (though I will continue to hope that something happens before he sets it), the one thing that might make those of us who aren't overjoyed by this little march to history a little happier is if we could make some money off of it. Fortunately, sportsbooks are out there to help by offering a wide range of prop bets on the home run. They are, of course, truly terrible bets if we were being subjective and looking for the best value. If we want to try and make the best of a bad situation and take a shot at having some fun, though, then they are ideal. Here's a look (odds are from sportsbook.com):
Home (-250) or away (+190) - You could probably make a case that the bet that home run number 756 will happen at home is a bit of an overlay, because it would probably have to be a bit of a mistake for Bonds to get the record outside of the only stadium that might not try to kill him as he runs around the bases. Bud Selig might not be thrilled by this record, but he and the league marketing folks will not want the video of the momentous occasion filled with deafening boos. Bonds has been having a lot of 'leg injuries' on the road recently, and I strongly suspect that that will continue for as long as needed.
Right hander (-185) or left hander (+145) - The odds, and Bonds' career record, would suggest that it is likely to be a righty that has to live with being the one to throw the fateful pitch. It's questionable if there is much value, though, and there are certainly more interesting places to stick your money.
Date to hit the record home run - This is where it gets interesting, though potentially not profitable. If we assume, as I do, that he is going to try to get the record at home, then the schedule comes into play here. The Giants finish a series at home against Atlanta, host Florida for three and then go on the road to Southern California for a week. Unless he gets three homers in the next four games, then, it would seem likely that it won't happen until the second week of August at the earliest. This seems especially likely given his pace of home runs this year (about one for every eight at bats), the current slump he is in (5-38, .132), the chances he will get a lot of hittable pitches as he gets close (low), the number of games he is taking off (a lot, including one at home last night) and the way he has been handling the increasing pressure recently (badly). The longest time frame you can choose right now is after Aug. 3. That seems very safe, but the odds are just 1/25, so it is hardly worth a look.
If you want to gamble, a case could be made for it happening earlier if the price were right.. As he showed when he hit his last two home runs in the same game in Chicago, Bonds can get hot at any time. He only needs three more home runs, which is really nothing for him - even in the chaos of this year he has still managed 19. He also has 71 multi-homer games, which is the second most in history. His team clearly isn't enjoying the process, so manager Bruce Bochy may try to put Bonds in position to get the record over with as quickly as possible so that the team can go back to getting as much attention as a 42-57 team deserves. You could also argue that Bonds is depraved and sadistic enough to get great pleasure out of hitting the record shot in the stadium of his most hated rivals, the Dodgers. You can get odds of 15/1, 8/1 and 5/1 that he will hit for the record in the three games of the Dodgers' series. Probably not a lot of value there, but way more attractive than 1/25.
Pitch count - This is a bit of a crapshoot. You could argue that Bonds is most likely to get a hittable pitch early in the count, as he did when he took Ted Lilly deep on the first pitch last week. On the other hand, the count was full for his second home run in that game. Bonds is a master at working the count, and pitchers aren't likely to throw him a lot of obvious strikes, so it would probably be more likely that there would be more balls than strikes when it happens. You can probably rule out 3-0 as a sound bet, because he would likely be taking unless it was a very meaty pitch, and if a pitcher gets to that point he is more likely to just walk him. The problem is that there are 12 different possible counts, so making a sound bet is very hard. The favorites are 1-0 and 1-1 at 7/2, followed by 2-1 at 9/2. 3-0 is seen as the least likely at 10/1.