3 MLB Prop Bets to Target on 4/16/19
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.
Max Muncy WILL Hit a Home Run (+300)
Last night, we opted for Joc Pederson at +500 odds in an OK matchup against the Cincinnati Reds' Luis Castillo. Well, it wasn't off Castillo, but Pederson fulfilled our bet with a walk-off homer in the Los Angeles Dodgers' win. On Tuesday, we are going back to the well with one of the Dodgers' strong lefty bats, but this time we are looking for a more probable, lower return play in Max Muncy.
After coming on to the scene with 35 home runs and a .319 isolated slugging (ISO) a year ago, the big lefty has four home runs with just a .264 ISO to date. While his 40.5% hard-hit rate is down from a year ago, his 51.4% fly-ball rate has jumped by 6.5% and ranks 12th in the Majors in 2019. His contact numbers are also up, while he's continued to pound fastballs, doing so to the tune of a .442 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and .710 slugging percentage, according to Baseball Savant.
Tonight, Muncy draws right-handed Tyler Mahle, who has thrown his fastball 68.9% of the time this season, the sixth-highest rate among all starters. Last year, in 23 starts, the 24-year-old allowed 1.77 home runs per 9 innings (HR/9) with a 4.57 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) and a 41.5% hard-hit rate against. Early on, he's cut down the home runs and improved his overall metrics, but his hard-hit rate is up to 46.2% with a fly-ball rate of 34.2%. His 93.8 mile-per-hour average exit velocity is the 18th-worst mark in the Majors among those with 10 batted-ball events.
Accounting for both seasons, Mahle has given up a 44.0% hard-hit rate and 44.0% fly-ball rate to left-handed hitters, resulting in 2.3 HR/9 and a .414 wOBA. Muncy, going back to the beginning of last year, boats a .310 ISO with a ridiculous 46.5% hard-hit rate and 45.4% fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching. Of his 39 homers, 29 have come against those throwing from the right side.
Of any hitter in tonight's game, Muncy is tied with Pederson for the highest implied probability (25.00%) to go yard. There is obviously no added value in betting on Pederson, as his early-season tear has shortened his odds. Plus, we have Muncy at 0.29 projected homers and Mahle at 1.14 against, which rank first and second on the 15-game slate.
Brandon Lowe WILL Hit a Home Run (+550)
In Tampa Bay, we get another lefty-versus-righty clash as Tampa Bay slugger Brandon Lowe battles Baltimore Orioles starter Dylan Bundy. Lowe's odds are much longer, giving him an implied probability of 15.38% to take one deep, but also providing bettors with a return of $550 for every $100 laid.
By our numbers, Lowe is tied for fourth on the slate at 0.27 projected homers, trailing only Muncy and two others (one named Mike Trout). His odds are nearly double those of Rhys Hoskins (+290), who is at 0.27 expected dingers in his own matchup.
Lowe is no Hoskins, but the young utility man has only one fewer homer through 15 games, having hit for a .283 ISO on a 50.0% (yes, 50!) hard-hit rate and 27.8% fly-ball rate. He has an unsustainable home-run-to-fly-ball rate (40.0%) -- at least given his fly-ball rate to this point -- though he's shown off his power for most of his time across all levels. Since 2017, he has had only one stop where his ISO was lower than .200, and in limited time last year his 34.8% fly-ball rate was much more promising.
With the platoon advantage, Lowe possesses a .237 ISO and a .364 wOBA, stemming from a 43.4% and 31.7% fly-ball rate for his brief career. His high strikeout rate is much lower (23.0%) against righties as well, which bodes well for him making hard contact against Bundy.
Bundy's strikeout rate (29.3%) has reached an all-time high to this point in the season, and his 4.19 SIERA is an improvement over two of his last three seasons. However, he's still allowing 4.38 HR/9 and a dangerous 51.5% fly-ball rate. Against a guy like Lowe, that only improves the youngster's chances of cranking one at The Trop.
Chris Sale UNDER 6.5 Strikeouts (+120)
Just last year, we saw Chris Sale dominate the New York Yankees for a 0.69 ERA and 2.22 xFIP, with a 38.0% strikeout rate in 13 innings pitched. Over his first two years with the Boston Red Sox, he sports a 2.41 xFIP and 36.5% strikeout rate in 47 innings against the Sox' bitter rivals. And that's been but a small chunk of Sale's overall dominance. Since 2017, his 2.61 xFIP and 36.2% strikeout rate are both first of all starters in that span.
But this isn't the same Sale we've come to know and admire. Coming off a shoulder injury suffered late last season, the southpaw has seen his velocity drop across the board. His fastball is averaging a mere 91.6 miles per hour, compared to 95.7 in 2018 and 95.0 in 2017. As a result, his opponents' contact rate is up to 77.7% overall, while his 10.5% swinging-strike rate is his lowest since 2012.
Sale has managed to strike out just 13.1% of batters in 2019 -- 25.3% short of last year's rate and nearly 17% off of his career average of 30.0%. He doesn't have more than four Ks in a game this season, and he's averaging 4.3 innings a start. Against the Toronto Blue Jays, he lasted only four innings as he struck out three and was touched up for five earned runs in his most recent outing.
Unless Sale's velocity magically reappears, don't expect many strikeouts on the road against the Yankees. While the Bombers are first in strikeout rate against lefties this season, they are 16th overall and are facing a pitcher without the same strikeout repertoire he's shown in years past. Getting the under at plus odds is a downright steal.