MLB Home Run Leader Odds and Predictions
by Matt Severance - 3/23/2010
Chicks dig the long ball (OK, that’s probably out of style), and so do many prop bettors. Thus, it’s that time of year to take a look ahead to who might be the 2010 regular-season home run leader in baseball with some odds and predictions. BetUS has odds out on the top competitors, and here’s my advice on a few to take a shot on and a few to avoid.
Let’s start with Albert Pujols, because there can be no home run list without the Cardinals’ superstar on it. He hit 47 bombs last year to edge out the Brewers’ Prince Fielder by one for the MLB lead. Hitting 47 isn’t far off what Pujols’ career yearly average is: 40.7. So you have to pencil him in for 40 this year as well. Thus, he is the third-favorite on BetUS at +700. But one word of caution on Pujols this year: He has been having some back issues this spring. Pujols was given a pain-killing shot and an MRI on his bothersome lower back this week. The Cards say it’s nothing, and it probably is. But if that lingers, then Pujols would obviously lose some power. Thus I would not bet on him this year at such low odds.
The Phillies’ Ryan Howard, the 2006 and 2008 HR champ, is the betting favorite at +400. Howard had “only” 45 homers last year after three previous seasons of 48, 47 and 58. With the lineup he has around him, plus playing in a hitter’s park (although Citizens Bank Park surprisingly ranked only 16th in average homers page game last year), Howard should be the favorite. But at +400, that’s not great value.
Milwaukee’s Fielder is the BetUS second-favorite at +500, and I really like Prince’s chances. He has the benefit of being left-handed like Howard (I still say that helps because there are still many more righty pitchers than lefties in the bigs) and plays in Miller Park, which was 10th in average homers allowed last year. I’m just not sure how much protection Fielder will get with Casey McGehee hitting behind him.
The Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is at +1000. By all accounts A-Rod is healthy again, and he still swatted 30 last year despite playing in just 124 games. Plus the Yankee lineup is a joke – no pitching around A-Rod – and Yankee Stadium is an even bigger joke in terms of allowing dingers: 1.261 per game last year to lead baseball. The last time Rodriguez played at least 150 games he hit 54 dingers. Of course, he may have been on the juice then. Still, A-Rod at +1000 is great value. The guy hitting in front of him, Mark Teixeira, might be even better value at +1200. Tex hit 39 last year despite doing squat in April, which is usually his problem (a slow starter). If he can start fast for once, look out.
If you want to take a longer shot, consider two guys who are playing for contracts in 2011: Washington’s Adam Dunn (+1500) and Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena (+2000). Nothing makes guys hit the long ball like a contract drive. Dunn is probably a lock for 40 even though he’s not in a great hitter’s park and doesn’t have much protection behind him. Pena might actually benefit from hitting behind Evan Longoria, who is considered more dangerous. But Pena has still averaged 39 dingers a year with the Rays.
If you want a real long-shot possibility, consider the White Sox’s Carlos Quentin at +6000. He was well on his way to winning AL MVP in 2008 when he had 36 homers before missing the final 30 games or so. Last year, he was injury-plagued and hit 21 in 99 games. But Quentin will be heavily counted on to go deep because the Sox lost both Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome. Plus U.S. Cellular Field is a launching pad.
And boy what a difference a year makes. After a lousy season and that 50-game drug suspension, the Manny Ramirez bandwagon has emptied completely. The Dodgers’ outfielder is a whopping +10000 to win the HR crown. I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot syringe. If I’m betting on this prop, I am taking one of the two Yankees.
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