3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/10/19
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.
Bryce Harper WILL Hit a Home Run (+310)
This isn't really going off the radar with Bryce Harper, one of the best and most expensive hitters in all of baseball. But tonight, he provides some really nice value. Projected for 0.28 homers, Harper's odds are longer than a guy like Aaron Judge (+250) and they trail teammate Rhys Hoskins, who has the shortest odds (+290) of any hitter in this game.
From a platoon perspective alone, that doesn't make much sense. Harper, the lefty, is taking on right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who has allowed a higher weighted on-base average (wOBA), slugging percentage and fly-ball rate to lefty bats as opposed to righty bats. His numbers were worse against righties in 2018, but he still allowed 1.09 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9), along with a 31.5% fly-ball rate to those hitting from the left side of the batter's box.
Those numbers alone aren't all that exploitable, but as you probably know, Harper isn't your average lefty. In his first year with his new team, he has already hit four home runs with a .455 isolated slugging (ISO) and a 33.3% hard-hit rate to go with a 33.3% fly-ball rate. He's knocked out three of his homers against righties, coming on a .458 ISO, 38.5% hard-hit rate and 46.2% fly-ball rate. Going back to the beginning of last year, he has put together a monster .296 ISO and .578 slugging percentage in the split; he has a 39.3% hard-hit rate and 39.2% fly-ball rate in nearly 850 plate appearances.
Also working in Harper's favor is the homer-friendly place that is Citizens Bank Park. Last year, it ranked 12th in FanGraphs' park factor but third in home runs overall and in a tie for sixth for lefty sluggers. That, along with a 5.20 implied run total, bodes well for Harper's chances of going deep tonight.
Javier Baez WILL Hit a Home Run (+370)
Tonight, the Chicago Cubs will for the first time this season play under the lights of Wrigley Field, and as they do so take on Jordan Lyles and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-handed hurler didn't give up a single run in his first start of the year, but he went just three innings, and a larger sample shows that he's vulnerable against Javier Baez and company.
Last year, in his time spent between two teams, the 28-year-old allowed 1.23 home runs per 9 (HR/9) on a 39.1% hard-hit rate and 37.3% fly-ball rate. In the year prior, he allowed 2.07 HR/9 with a slightly lower fly-ball rate (31.5%) but an equally poor 37.0% hard-hit rate. And when we narrow the scope to right-handed hitters, he has allowed 1.7 HR/9, a 38.5% hard-hit rate and 33.7% fly-ball rate to them over the past two calendar years.
Meanwhile, the right-sided Baez has found success against both lefties and righties. His career .364 weighted on-base average is higher with the platoon advantage, however, he maintains a .196 isolated slugging against right-handed pitching, and with an elevated fly-ball rate -- 36.2% to 33.6% -- to boot. Last year alone, the infielder mashed 26 of his 34 home runs against righties, resulting in a much improved .263 ISO via a 35.0% hard-hit rate and 34.2% fly-ball rate.
His team's 3.92 implied total isn't all that spicy, but our models have Baez third on the day at a projected 0.29 home runs. He trails only Khris Davis and Judge, both at much shorter odds, and ranks ahead of Mike Moustakas, who is at +350. That's some serious value.
Robbie Ray OVER 7.5 Strikeouts (+100)
Arizona Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray has become well-known for his strikeout chops, having averaged at least 11 strikeouts per 9 (K/9) in each of his last three seasons. And it seems that early on he's going to keep it that way, averaging 10.45 per 9 on a 26.7% strikeout rate and 11.5% swinging-strike rate. Now, those numbers are down a bit, but that could be attributed to his first two opponents -- the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres -- ranking 29th and 16th in strikeout rate to this point in the season.
With time, Ray should inch closer to that 11-strikeout plateau, a process that could start tonight against a Texas Rangers team that boasts three of its top bats from the left side. Their projected lineup includes Rougned Odor, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo, a trio that's a combined 1-for-9 with five strikeouts against Ray for their careers (Mazara hasn't faced him yet). Shin-Soo Choo could also hit atop the order, and while he has two homers against Ray, he too has struck out twice in his seven at-bats from the left side.
Overall, the Rangers strike out at a rate of 26.7% and 22.9% against southpaws, ranking 3rd and 16th among all clubs. When we include the numbers from last year and the beginning of this year for those on the active roster, they are 7th at 23.3% against all pitchers and 10th at 22.7% versus left-handed pitching. In that sample, they have a 10.6% swinging rate, putting them in the middle of the pack in that category.
Ray averaged 6.9 strikeouts an outing last year and hit eight-plus in 10 of his 24 (41.7%) starts. It's a close call, but given plus odds on the over -- as opposed to -125 on the under -- that's the way to go tonight at Chase Field. Our models also like the over hitting in this one, projecting Ray for 7.7 strikeouts.