MLB Player Props: 3 Long Shots Who Could Lead the League in Hits
This MLB season is going to be crazy.
Sometimes we get some really random occurrences over 162 games -- like when the Baltimore Orioles won 93 games in 2012 despite just a +7 run differential -- so there's no telling what wonky stuff is going to happen over a 60-game season.
We can take advantage of that volatility by placing some bets on FanDuel Sportsbook, where they're offering everything from team futures to player props.
One of the bets that caught my eye was the prop for the most regular season hits. The favorite, Nolan Arenado, is at just +1200, so that tells us that oddsmakers lack some confidence here, and it makes sense. Steamer has both Francisco Lindor and Mike Trout atop its hits projection with 65, but it has 49 players within 10 hits of that. So, yeah, things could get weird, and I think there are some long shots worth betting on.
Here are three long-shot hitters I like.
Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Charlie Blackmon has been in the top 10 in hits in each of the last three seasons, including a hits title in 2017. It makes perfect sense, too. Blackmon is a really good hitter, obviously, but he also has the advantages of playing in a good offense and gets to play his home games in Coors Field. That'll help a dude out.
At +2400, Blackmon is priced as the 12th-most likely guy to league the league in hits. There could be some value here. The reason Blackmon isn't closer to the favorites is that he tested positive for COVID-19 last month, and as of July 6th, he still wasn't with the team, per reports.
So Blackmon could end up not playing at all this season, or he could end up being cleared for Opening Day, which is July 21st for the Rockies. Who knows. But if we got a news report saying Blackmon wasn't expected to miss any games, I think we'd see his odds jump up near those of the favorites.
I like taking a chance on him.
Over the last three years, the league leader in hits has averaged roughly 204 hits. If we assume 160 games played (give or take for days off), it's about 1.3 hits per game. Blackmon has averaged at least 1.3 hits per game in three of the last four years.
Another thing working in his favor is that he's played at least 154 games in five of the past six seasons, with a low-water mark of 143 games in that span. And he's still got plenty of juice left in the stick, too, as he's coming off a 2019 season in which he posted a career-best 40.3% hard-hit rate.
Steamer factors in Blackmon's current iffy status as they have him with just 57 hits. But there's two things to note. We're talking about fine, fine margins as that's just eight hits fewer than the projected leaders. And steamer also has Blackmon playing only 48 games. It has just one other player (DJ LeMahieu +1300) projected for as many as 57 hits in fewer than 50 games. If Blackmon beats that games projection, he can beat the hits projection and be right up there with the leaders.
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Jorge Polanco broke out in a big way in 2019, racking up a .352 wOBA on his way to 186 hits in 153 games. The 186 hits were the eighth-most in baseball, though at 1.21 hits per game, it was a touch shy of 1.3 clip we're looking for.
In addition to Polanco being good at baseball, there are two reasons I like him at this price -- he's a switch-hitter and he's projected to hit second in a loaded Minnesota Twins lineup. Polanco being a switch-hitter gives him a great chance to stay in the lineup every day, and hitting second should allow him to amass plenty of plate appearances for an offense that is projected to score the third-most runs per game (5.3), per Fangraphs.
There's also a chance Polanco continues to improve, which is something he's done each of the past three campaigns.
|Year||Plate Appearances||Hard-Hit Rate||wOBA|
Steamer has Polanco with 61 hits, just four away from the leaders, and I love the value on him at +2400.
Marcus Semien seems oddly mispriced.
Steamer projects him for 58 hits, the same number as Manny Machado (+3700), and Anthony Rendon (+2700) and one fewer than the aforementioned LeMahieu (+1300), players with much better odds than Semien's.
In 2019, Semien had 187 hits, tied for the sixth-most in baseball, and he did it while playing 162 games. So he, too, misses the 1.3 hits-per-game cutoff, but he compensates for it by playing nearly every single game. He played 159 games in 2018, so he's missed just three games over the last two seasons.
Playing almost every day and hitting leadoff for an Oakland Athletics team that scored the eighth-most runs per game in 2019 gives him a great chance to be an accumulator. Steamer has him playing just 54 games, which could be selling him short seeing as that's twice as many missed games this shortened year as he's had over the last two full seasons.
If he plays a few more games, that could be a few more hits, which might thrust him up with the leaders. But even at that games projection, I think Semien at +5500 is a nice value.