One of the most exciting aspects of this time of the year is that we have a clean slate with a chance to predict what will happen in the upcoming MLB season. Whether it’s deciding between Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and J.D. Martinez as this year’s home run champion, or Luis Severino, Justin Verlander and Trevor Bauer for this year’s wins leader, there are a lot of lines to sift through and make some predictions.
Let’s take a closer look at the MLB props categories and see who are the best bets:
Home Runs Leader: Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees
One of the most exciting futures bets is wagering on this year’s home run champion and there are some intriguing options on the board. The smart money seems to be on New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who hit 38 home runs a year ago despite a 16-game stretch in which he failed to hit a single bomb. Stanton is healthy and in the prime of his career right now. More importantly, that pressure that he dealt with early on last season shouldn’t be as much of a factor in year two.
He might not match his 59-home run season from 2017 but he should hit upwards of 45 with the Yankees this season if all goes well.
RBI Leader: Khris Davis, Oakland Athletics
It’s easy to forget this now but just one year ago Oakland Athletics outfielder Khris Davis finished second in the majors with 123 RBIs. Only Boston Red Sox outfielder J.D. Martinez finished with more. Martinez is an absolute stud but he has had trouble staying healthy in recent years, playing in just 57 games in 2017 and 120 in 2016.
Davis is going to be among the home run and RBI leaders this season – especially with good protection in the lineup. Colorado Rockies third basemen Nolan Arenado is another intriguing pick to win this futures bet but we’ll ride with Davis at 16/1.
Hits Leader: Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
In 2018, Kansas City Royals infielder Whit Merrifield led the majors with 192 hits. At +2500, the odds are too tempting to pass up.
Merrifield, who just turned 30 in the offseason, is going to be doubted by a lot of people as he’s kind of late bloomer but he’s no fluke. He had 169 hits in 2017. So far in spring, through 26 at-bats, he’s posted an OPS of 1.137. At 25/1, he’s worth a flier to duplicate his success.
Runs Lead: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor tied for the most runs in the majors last season with 129 each. It seems that Betts has the better chance at repeating this season.
The Red Sox offense is again fully-loaded heading into 2019 and Betts is right at the top of their order. There’s a lot of power behind him, so as long as his batting average or on-base percentage don’t fall off the table, he’ll be among the league-leaders in runs. Most FanGraphs projections have him finishing in the 115-125 range, which is a good sign if you’re betting him with this prop.
Pitcher Wins Leader: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander posted 16 wins in his first full season with the Houston Astros a year ago when he recorded a career-best 290 strikeouts and finished second in AL Cy Young award voting. Believe it or not, there’s still room for improvement. Verlander is expected to be just as good this upcoming season and an absolutely loaded roster in Houston could help him contend for the most wins in the Majors. Remember, he suffered from awful run support last season as four of his nine losses came in games where he allowed just three runs or less. If the Astros bats help him out, he could push for 20 wins.
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