Believe it or not, Spring Training baseball is just around the corner.
Sportsbooks are starting to turn their attention to Major League Baseball, including PinnacleSports, who have released some interesting stats prop totals for the upcoming baseball season.
We take a look at the odds and provide our two cents on each prop.
Highest home run total from a MLB batter - Over/Under 44.5
Last year, Toronto’s Jose Bautista sent 43 balls over the fence, following a 54-home run effort in 2010. In this era of outstanding pitchers (and less steroids), the big fly just isn’t as prominent.
The two other top home run threats, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, are on different teams in different leagues, facing foreign American League pitchers for the first time. Ryan Howard is coming off an Achilles injury, and pitchers are well aware of what Bautista brings to the plate now.
With a lot of question marks surrounding baseball's best sluggers, the under seems the sharper play.
Pick: Under 44.5
Highest win total for a MLB pitcher – Over/Under 21.5
Remember the immortal words of Crash Davis in Bull Durham,
“If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press will think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you're a slob.”
Under those conditions, we had only three “colorful” pitchers in the show last season and a league full of slobs.
Justin Verlander posted one of the most memorable seasons by a pitcher ever, not only winning 24 games, but the AL Cy Young and the AL MVP – something that hasn’t been done since Roger Clemens 25 years ago.
Verlander was the first pitcher to top 21 wins since Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb back in 2008. Clemens followed his 24 wins in 1986 with 20 in 1987 and never passed the 21-win mark for the remainder of his career.
Pick: Under 21.5
Highest total of RBI for a MLB batter – Over/Under 133.5
Matt Kemp finished tops in the majors with 126 RBIs last season, with Fielder finishing in second at 120.
But now, Fielder is in Detroit and hitting around Miguel Cabrera, who led baseball in RBIs in 2010 with 126. Depending on where those two are hitting, it could be a RBI race between the two new Tigers teammates.
Pick: Over 133.5
Will the top batting average exceed .348 (must win batting title)? – Yes/No
Cabrera posted a stellar .344 BA last summer, edging Adrian Gonzalez and Michael Young, who both hit .338.
Young’s Texas teammate Josh Hamilton blew that out of the water with a .359 BA two years ago, but his off-field issues seem to be piling up. Joe Mauer did even better than that in 2008 with a .365 average but injuries are taking their toll on the Twins catcher.
Cabrera looks like he has the best shot, since adding Fielder to Detroit’s lineup, and Jose Reyes might threaten that total at some point this season if you buy the hype in South Beach. But there is a drought of great hit-for-average bats out there right now.
Highest strikeout total for a MLB pitcher – Over/Under 251.5
Verlander and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw were K machines last season, posting 250 and 248 strikeouts respectively. But are oddsmakers getting a little carried away with this total?
Verlander is capable of even bigger numbers, fanning 269 batters in 2009, but will likely be limited with the Tigers trying to save his best stuff for a late-season/postseason push. Kershaw came out of nowhere, catching many hitters off guard. There is more tape out there on him, so we expect his strikeout numbers to drop.
Perhaps the biggest wild card when betting this prop is the performance of Tim Lincecum, who suffered a bit of a World Series hangover last summer. Lincecum has a new deal in place for this year and will be pitching a bit more pressure free.
Even in this era of big-swingers and fire-ballers, the under seems the safer wager.
Pick: Under 251.5