3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/3/19
Player props can be useful in a variety of ways, from taking advantage of them straight up (to the tune of cold hard cash) to measuring a player's potential to produce in daily fantasy baseball. High odds for a hitter bombing a home run or a pitcher tallying several strikeouts is something worth considering in building your FanDuel lineups. And that's a two-way street.
While you can use those odds in fantasy, you can also utilize our fantasy projections and a variety of other tools to help make money on betting everyday player props.
For the purposes of this article, we are using the odds provided at FanDuel Sportsbook to pinpoint three spots where value can be had on those players likely to go yard and over- or under-perform their expected strikeout total.
Please note that betting lines and our game projections may change throughout the day after this article is published.
Mookie Betts WILL Hit a Home Run (+340)
This is a game full of power bats, from Oakland's Khris Davis and Matt Chapman to Boston's J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts. Based on that, a nine-run over/under makes sense as the AL foes clash for the third straight time out in Oakland.
What doesn't make sense, though, is Betts' +340 odds for a dinger. That's an implied probability of 22.73%, but it's third in this game behind Martinez and Davis, both of whom are at +250. Those two sluggers are one and two in our home run projections today, but Betts isn't far off with a projected 0.27 homers -- fifth of all hitters. For reference, that's the same number as Aaron Judge, who is at +270 for his matchup.
By game script, Betts isn't in the most obvious of spots. His Bo Sox are getting a respectable 4.77 implied total against Marco Estrada, but that pales in comparison to the five-plus totals of the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. Plus, Betts is hitting just .138 with no home runs in his 29 career at-bats against the A's starter.
Still, Estrada's reverse splits are well-documented. For his career, he allows a .327 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and 33.4% hard-hit rate to right-handed bats, compared to marks of .297 and 28.6% in the left side of the split, according to FanGraphs. Last year alone, he was tuned up for a .389 wOBA, 32.0% hard-hit rate and 2.04 home runs per 9 (HR/9) against those hitting from the right side. Betts cranked 23 of his 32 homers with a 44.0% hard-hit rate and 45.3% fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching in 2018.
George Springer WILL Hit a Home Run (+490)
If we are looking at a game for home run potential, we can't ignore the Astros against lefty Mike Minor. By our math, Minor checks in second in projected home runs among today's starters, and he already gave up one to the Cubs in his first start of the year. Add to that a five-run total against him and the most hitter-friendly park factor on the slate, not to mention 65-degree weather, and we have a recipe for long-balls at Globe Life Park.
Again, we have a number of candidates to choose from on both sides, but George Springer is fifth in odds, behind two teammates and two Texas bats. Our projections aren't super-high on him hitting one out, yet his early-season metrics jump off the page and point to him as a big value, netting $490 for every $100.
Through only six games, a healthy Springer has turned in two home runs with a .261 isolated slugging (ISO), but his batted-ball stats are even more bonkers. To date, he's put together a hard-hit rate of 50.0% and a fly-ball rate of 50.0%. Per Baseball Savant, Springer's average launch angle is 17.4 degrees, an eight-degree increase from 2018, when he sent 22 over the outfield fence.
Against lefties alone, Springer is particularly deadly. Since the 2017 season, he has 18 home runs and .232 ISO on a 37.7% hard-hit rate and 34.7% fly-ball rate. Five of those dingers have come on a .536 ISO and 70.0% fly-ball rate in Arlington.
Gerrit Cole OVER 7.5 Strikeouts (-120)
Springer's teammate, Gerrit Cole, will aim to keep the Rangers' bats from keeping up with those of the Astros'. One of many ways he'll look to accomplish that is simply by missing their barrels entirely, like he did for the majority of his first start.
Last week, Cole kicked off his 2019 campaign with a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, but it wasn't anything to do with his performance. Over six innings, he gave up one run and struck out 10 of the 25 batters he faced. That's a pace of 15 strikeouts every 9 innings and a strikeout rate of 40.0%. He had a swinging-strike rate of 13.9% and watched hitters swing and miss on 35.2% of pitches out of the zone. The double-digit strikeouts gave Cole his 24th game with eight-plus in 33 starts dating back to last year -- a rate of 72.7%.
Speaking of 2018, in his first year as an Astro, the right-hander did nothing but average 12.4 strikeouts per 9 with a 34.5% strikeout rate. His swinging-strike rate was an elite 14.1%, behind only six of the best pitchers in all of baseball. But not many dominated the Rangers like he did.
In four starts against his in-state foes, Cole averaged 10 strikeouts a game and 14.4 per 9. He had no fewer than seven in any one game, and in the three road starts he averaged 8.7 with a 35.1% strikeout rate. That's 11% higher than the Rangers' season-long rate, which ranked fourth-worst.
At -104 odds, the under is not worth the slightly higher return. Cole's an elite strikeout pitcher and one that has absolutely owned the Rangers. He is fourth in projected strikeouts on Wednesday's full slate of games.