3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/5/19
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.
Alex Bregman WILL Hit a Home Run (+370)
It's no secret that Alex Bregman -- one of this year's top MVP candidates -- is off to a slow start in 2019. After accounting for a .396 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and .246 isolated slugging (ISO) a year ago, he has -- through seven games -- hit to just a .315 wOBA and .167 ISO, according to FanGraphs. While his strikeout rate is up a bit, his hard-hit rate and fly-ball rate are both down, with the former at a career-low in this small sample.
But a bounce back is certainly in the cards as Bregman and the Astros will play their first home game of the year tonight. In looking at his home/road splits from last year, we see that the third baseman turned in noticeably higher numbers at Minute Maid Park, where he hit 16 of his 31 homers with a .255 ISO, compared to a .237 mark on the road. His 14.8% home-run-to-fly-ball (HR/FB) rate is also the better number, and it balloons to 16.0% against right-handed pitchers. His 36.4% hard-hit rate and 41.0% fly-ball rate should play well in that split tonight.
Opposite Bregman, the Oakland Athletics will deploy righty Frankie Montas, who has just 14 Major League starts under his belt, having spent a lot of time in a relief role in 2017. The 26-year-old allowed only one earned run in six innings last time out, however, he allowed one long-ball in 27 batters faced. His HR/FB rate is a respectable 13.5% for his career, but a 41.6% hard-hit rate could get him into trouble, especially against a guy like Bregman in this hitting environment.
Last season, Houston was an average park for right-handed homers, but a 4.50 implied total bodes well for some dingers and runs. Our models have Bregman projected for 0.24 of Montas' 0.80 projected home runs against, putting him eighth among all players on the main DFS slate.
A.J. Pollock WILL Hit a Home Run (+550)
Now, the season really gets underway, right? For the first time, we get a game in the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, with the Colorado Rockies playing host to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Almost by default, this game is projected for a healthy amount of home runs (2.21), by our numbers, but the visitors draw 1.31 of those, trailing only one active team on Thursday.
The reason for that goes beyond the Denver air. For Colorado, lefty Tyler Anderson will take the mound, and that's a plus for L.A.'s right-handed sluggers. While the 29-year-old ended the year with some reverse splits, when we venture back to 2017 he has allowed 1.5 home runs per 9 (HR/9) on a 32.8% hard-hit rate and 36.5% fly-ball rate to right-handed bats. Somehow, those numbers are slightly down at home, yet Anderson gives up 1.3 dingers per 9 on a 35.3% fly-ball rate.
There are a bunch of home run candidates for the Dodgers, including Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner, and even Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy (from the left side). But don't forget about A.J. Pollock, who has equal odds to Hernandez and longer odds than Turner (+500), Bellinger (+450) and Muncy (+360). Among those names, though, the first-year Dodger is first in projected homers at 0.26, third on the early-only slate.
Pollock has squared off with Anderson 13 times before, notching a single, a double and a triple. He has low strikeout and whiff rates against him, and though his head-to-head numbers don't jump off the page, he owns a career .224 ISO with a 36.3% hard-hit rate and 35.2% fly-ball rate against southpaws. At Coors, he has notched a .260 ISO in 169 plate appearances, so don't discount Pollock's home run potential in this spot.
Shane Bieber OVER 5.5 Strikeouts (-180)
The hype is real with the 23-year-old Shane Bieber. Among FanGraphs' top 120 pitchers, the Cleveland Indians' starter checks in 52nd despite his youth and somewhat unproven pitching record to date. And it's all quite justified, as he put up 2.7 wins above replacement with an 11-5 record and a 3.45 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) in 20 appearances (19 starts).
He wasn't the biggest strikeout pitcher in his first year, averaging 9.26 per 9 innings at a rate 24.3%, but Bieber was in the top 50 among pitchers with 100-plus innings. He posted a high of 11 punchouts in one game, and he totaled six or more in 12 of his 19 starts (63.2%). One of those was a six-strikeout game on the road against Toronto, which isn't the exact same team this year but is still prone to high strikeout numbers.
By narrowing the scope to the team's active roster and their numbers going back to 2017, the Blue Jays' 23.9% strikeout rate is fifth in the Majors, while it jumps to 24.4% against righties (also fifth). They sit seventh in swinging-strike rate (11.6%) over that span, and that's up to 12.0% in a limited sample this season.
While the over is the favorite here, it's not as obvious because of Bieber's limited reps. Yet he's already shown a willingness to work in the changeup (he threw it 5.9% of the time in his first start) that was lacking last year, and when it's on it's nasty. Expect him to go for six or more strikeouts, as our projections have him down for 6.34, returning over $55 on a wining bet of $100.