3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/8/19
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.
Edwin Encarnacion WILL Hit a Home Run (+390)
Homer Bailey is a pitcher we usually like to go after with stacks in daily fantasy baseball. And that carries over to betting home run props in matchups against him -- in this case with the Seattle Mariners' Edwin Encarnacion.
Homer is his name, and unfortunately for him, it's been a big part of his game. While with the Cincinnati Reds, the now Kansas City Royals starter was hit up for 1.09 and 1.95 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9) in 2017 and 2018, according to FanGraphs. In the last three calendar years, the right-hander has surrendered a 30.7% fly-ball rate and 35.8% hard-hit rate, both of which were up -- 33.0% and 40.9% -- in last year's campaign.
Against righties alone, Bailey was touched up for 10 of his 23 home runs allowed, all on a 31.1% fly-ball rate, 45.8%(!) hard-hit rate and 16.4% home-run-to-fly-ball (HR/FB) rate. That comes to 1.6 HR/9.
This evening, our models have Bailey projected to give up exactly 1.0 dingers and the Mariners projected for 1.28 home runs at Kauffman Stadium. Encarnacion and his right-handed bat are among the best options to go deep. For his career, the 36-year-old boasts reverse splits against right-handed pitching, turning a 43.6% fly-ball rate and 33.3% hard-hit rate into a .234 isolated slugging (ISO) and .362 weighted on-base average (wOBA). He has a .250 ISO on a 38.9% hard-hit rate in that split over the past two calendar years.
At 0.27 projected homers, Encarnacion is 10th on the day and 7th on the main DFS slate. That's above the projected total for KC's Ryan O'Hearn, who is at +250 odds in this same game.
Stephen Piscotty WILL Hit a Home Run (+480)
No one could fault you for targeting Khris Davis at +240, but his teammate Stephen Piscotty, provides double the return in the same matchup and hitting environment. Up against Baltimore Orioles starter Andrew Cashner, the Oakland Athletics have an implied total of 5.04 runs, trailing only the two teams playing at Coors Field.
Early on, Cashner been downright awful, pitching to a 6.13 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) -- fifth-worst among all starters this season. Opposing hitters have put up a 45.2% hard-hit rate and 38.7% fly-ball rate, both of which are up from already exploitable numbers a year ago. That's only resulted in one home run to date, but an unsustainable 8.3% HR/FB rate is to blame, so we can expect him to give up more long balls with time.
That will likely be the case tonight, as Cashner and the O's return to Camden Yards, one of the league's five most hitter-friendly parks for right-handed power bats. Last year in Baltimore, the veteran right-hander watched a 37.6% fly-ball rate turn into 10 home runs at a rate of 1.1 per 9 innings.
Meanwhile, Piscotty gets a big park upgrade from his home park (25th for righty bats) in Oakland, and as he showed last year that's a big deal. When on the road, the righty slugger posted a higher ISO (.239 to .209) with 17 of his 27 home runs on a 21.5% HR/FB rate. Against righties, his .271 ISO was the highest of any split, while he notched a 39.7% hard-hit rate, 37.7% fly-ball rate and 25.5% HR/FB rate.
We have Piscotty down for 0.21 homers, just 0.03 short of Davis' projection, and at a return of $480 for every $100 you can't go wrong with that kind of value.
Blake Snell OVER 8.5 Strikeouts (+100)
Blake Snell was last season's AL Cy Young winner for a reason. In 31 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays, he went 21-5 with a 31.6% strikeout rate and 11.01 strikeout per 9 innings (K/9). Per FanGraphs, those strikeout numbers ranked fifth and seventh among Major League starters, while his 15.1% swinging-strike rate also checked in fifth.
So far this year, the lefty hurler has upped his strikeout rate to 34.0%, ranking in the top 10 in that category and 21st with 11.08 K/9. Those increases stem from an even higher 17.1% swinging-strike rate -- tied for fifth in the Majors with one Max Scherzer.
His opponent tonight, the Chicago White Sox, is particularly vulnerable to swings and misses. Overall, they are 12th in swinging-strike rate (11.5%) and 16th strikeout rate to date, however, they've been performing well above last year's numbers. In sorting by their active roster's combined numbers from 2018, we see that they had a 12.7% swinging-strike rate, which tied for first among all teams. That led to a 26.1% strikeout rate against all pitchers, but more importantly, a league-worst 28.0% rate versus southpaws.
Our models project Snell for the second-most strikeouts on the day, behind only Justin Verlander.