3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/4/19
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.
Aaron Judge WILL Hit a Home Run (+270)
On Thursday, the New York Yankees get the distinct pleasure of facing Baltimore Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb. The 31-year-old veteran was set to start the team's Opening Day game against these Bronx Bombers, but he suffered a mild groin strain and headed to the injured list. But there's no escaping Aaron Judge and company today; Cobb was reinstated from the 10-day injured list and will make his first start of the season at Camden Yards.
Last year, Cobb was nowhere near the pitcher he was in his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. According to FanGraphs, his 4.62 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) was the worst of his career, and he allowed 1.42 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9). The latter number marks a third straight year having allowed at least 1.10 HR/9, and if he's going to buck that trend, he'll have to improve on his reverse splits.
Over his career, Cobb's numbers against right- and left-handed hitters are quite similar, but in last year's sample of 28 games, he was hammered for a .359 weight on-base average (wOBA), 32.6% hard-hit rate and 1.70 HR/9 when facing righty bats. In narrowing the scope to his 33-plus innings at home, he allowed 14 dingers and 2.4 HR/9 -- albeit on just average batted-ball stats (28.9% fly-ball rate and 24.6% hard-hit rate) -- to same-sided bats. It's also worth noting that his strikeout rate was a mere 11.9% in that split.
At times, Judge has had his issues with strikeouts, but there's not a big threat of that against a guy like Cobb. And when he's making contact, the Yankees' slugger is as dangerous as anyone, even against right-handed pitching. Going back to his 52-homer season in 2017, he has produced a .415 wOBA and 62 home runs on a 46.2% hard-hit rate and 37.9% fly-ball rate off of righties. Exactly 34.8% of his fly-balls have resulted in home runs, including three jacks in 14 fly balls (62 plate appearances) in road games against the O's.
Our models have the Yankees hitting the most home runs of any team on this slate. In a game in which the Yanks are implied at a Thursday-high 4.63 runs, it's only fitting that Judge is the guy most likely to leave the yard, per our models, at 0.36.
Gleyber Torres WILL Hit a Home Run (+440)
With such an exploitable matchup at our fingertips, why not target two of the Yankees' young sluggers? After all, Camden Yards was the fifth-most homer-friendly park for right-handed hitters in 2018.
According to Baseball Savant, Gleyber Torres tallied 29 barrels last season, which resulted in 21 home runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple and 4 fly out. However, in overlaying those same batted-balls at Baltimore's field, we see that all but two of those would have ended up as home runs. If he would've hit at Camden Yards all season, his 24 total homers would have ballooned to 31, with two others teetering on the edge of the outfield wall.
Beyond that, Torres was solid against righties last season. In the split, he turned an 88.3 mile-per-hour average exit velocity, 35.7% hard-hit rate and 40.2% fly-ball rate into 13 homers and a .338 wOBA.
Because of his slow start to the year (zero homers and a 27.8% fly-ball rate) Torres' betting odds are much longer than those of Judge, but that creates a more worthwhile return -- an additional $170 for every $100 laid over at FanDuel Sportsbook. Our projections have Torres third on the day at 0.32 projected home runs.
Noah Syndergaard UNDER 6.5 Strikeouts (+105)
In yet another afternoon matchup, we get a true pitchers' duel between the Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg and the New York Mets' Noah Syndergaard. Strasburg has the higher over/under for strikeouts, coming in at 7.5, but even 6.5 is a tall task as Thor battles a familiar foe.
Last year alone, Syndergaard made two starts against Washington, tallying just three and four strikeouts with a 14.0% strikeout rate versus the Nats. If we go back to the last three calendar years, giving us a sample of 46 innings and 201 batters faced, the 26-year-old pitcher averages 9.2 strikeouts per 9 with a 24.9% strikeout rate in matchups with Washington; both are substantially lower than his career marks of 9.96 strikeouts per 9 and a 27.1% strikeout rate. And only twice has he had seven-plus strikeouts in a start against the division-rival Nats.
The only thing that points to the over is Washington's bite-sized sample (five games and 189 plate appearances) to start this year. As a club, they are third in strikeout rate (30.7%) and fourth against right-handed pitching (30.8%). But when we look at the active roster's 2018 numbers, it appears that this year's sample is an aberration. Their strikeout rate falls to 19.4% overall (25th) and 18.7% (27th) against right-handed hurlers.
Getting the under at underdog odds (compared to -112 on the over) is a steal. Our models project Syndergaard for 6.43 strikeouts, but the trends tell us that it's unlikely he reaches even that today. Enjoy the pitching matchup, and reap the rewards of a $105 return and $205 payout for every $100 you lay on this one.