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Smart money on Hanley Ramirez, Jay Bruce in prop bets

Mar 12, 2014, 5:55 PM EST

Hanley Ramirez Getty Getty Images

Bovada released its player prop bets for the 2014 season on Wednesday, providing odds on the AL and NL MVP and Cy Young races, as well as MLB’s home run leader. Here’s a look at what I consider to be the best bets in each category. Please do note, though, all information here is for entertainment purposes only.

AL MVP

Mike Trout – 5/1
Miguel Cabrera – 6/1
Adrian Beltre – 16/1

This is one spot where I’d seriously think about going with the favorites. I’d say it’s better than 50-50 that Trout or Cabrera will claim the award, and the opportunity is there to bet both and still make some cash. Cabrera, of course, has won two in a row.

Since RBI remains king, Beltre, who has tied for the eighth best odds here, has the best chance to upset them. He’s in position to drive in a ton of runs behind Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Prince Fielder in the Texas order.

My favorite sleeper pick doesn’t get listed by Bovada, which probably means he’d get 50:1 odds. That’s Carlos Santana, who is also in position to drive in a whole bunch of runs behind Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis in the Cleveland lineup.

NL MVP

Hanley Ramirez – 25/1
Paul Goldschmidt – 9/1
Jay Bruce – 33/1

Ramirez was the NL’s best hitter in the half-season he was healthy last year, and his Dodgers are the clear favorites in the NL West. I see him making a run at a batting title and hitting about 30 homers. He’s my pick for MVP, long odds or no.

Goldschmidt has the third best odds here behind Andrew McCutchen (6/1) and Joey Votto (7/1). Because, again, RBI is king, I’d say he’s more likely to win than either of those two. However, for it to happen, he’ll need the Diamondbacks to make the postseason.

Bruce is going to have at least one 40-homer, 120-RBI season before he’s done. I doubt he’ll actually be a better player than Votto, but he’s the one of the two more likely to win an MVP, mostly because he gets to hit behind the guy with the .430 OBP.

AL Cy Young

Alex Cobb – 33/1
Justin Verlander – 12/1
Felix Hernandez – 15/1

Bovada and I agree: AL Cy Young is the most wide open of the four major awards. Their top choice here, Yu Darvish, has the highest odds (8/1) of the favorites. I don’t have a real favorite here, either. My projections call for Verlander, Hernandez, Darvish, David Price, Cobb and Chris Sale to all finish with ERAs in the 3.00-3.20 range, with no one lower than that. I’d be tempted to throw a couple of bucks on Cobb, but I’d probably otherwise shy away.

NL Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw – 13/2
Madison Bumgarner – 15/1
Stephen Strasburg – 8/1

I’d go with the favorite here: Kershaw seems like he should be closer to 4:1 to repeat, in my opinion. If he doesn’t pitch up to his ability, that might open the door for Bumgarner. One sleeper pick who didn’t get odds from Bovada: Homer Bailey. He’d be really nice at 50:1 or 66:1.

MLB home run leader

Jay Bruce: 25/1
Chris Davis: 8/1
Giancarlo Stanton: 10/1
Justin Upton: 75/1

I have nine guys projected to hit at least 34 homers this season:

39 – Davis
38 – Stanton
37 – Bruce, Fielder
35 – Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Trumbo
34 – Pedro Alvarez, Edwin Encarncion

Bovada has Davis as the favorite at 8/1, followed by Cabrera at 9/1 and Stanton at 10/1. So we line up rather closely here. Bruce at 25/1 seems like the best bet to me: very good HR ballpark, very durable, three straight 30-homer seasons. Trumbo at 20/1 isn’t bad, either.

For a long shot, Upton is rather tempting. I have him at 30 homers, but he’s capable of doing better. Last year, he hit 12 in April alone, and he’s just now entering his age-26 season.

  1. ch0psuey - Mar 12, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I say Hanley injures a pinkie toe and is out all season…. Just my bet.

    • davidpom50 - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:09 PM

      Prior to last season, when he hurt his thumb in a freak WBC injury, Hanley averaged 144 games a season… so I will definitely take your bet.

      • ch0psuey - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        Prior to your bet Hanley got a paper cut…

      • ezthinking - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:42 PM

        “Prior to your bet Hanley got a paper cut…”

        Weird thing was, he still played today. Went 1 for 3 with a double.

      • blabidibla - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:20 PM

        Meh, he played 92 games in ’11, 157 games in ’12 and 86 games last year.

        He’s become much more injury prone the past few years, but if you go with the every other year theory, he’s due for a good 150+

  2. jrob23 - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    LOL at Strasburg’s odds. When will you people learn? He is injury prone and just not that good. There are about 10 guys in the NL alone with better stuff than him. Give it a rest. He is a legit number 1 but not a Cy Young caliber guy.

    Jay Bruce? Too much…stop..you are killing me!

    • paperlions - Mar 12, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      Number of NL pitchers with more fWAR than Strasburg over the last 2 years: 6

      Number of NL starters with a higher K rate than Strasburg over the last 2 years: 0

      Number of NL starters with a better ERA than Strasburg over the last 2 years: 4

      Number of NL starters with a better ERA- than Strasburg over the last 2 years: 3

      I think the question is when are you going to learn?

    • sportsfan18 - Mar 13, 2014 at 11:49 PM

      jrob

      you said Stras is “just not that good”.

      that would mean there are only like 4 pitchers in the NL that are good if he’s just not that good.

      only 1 pitcher wins the Cy Young each year, those who finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th in most years ARE Cy Young caliber.

      Mike Trout is MVP caliber even though Miggy won it the past two yrs.

      Stras doesn’t have to win the Cy Young to be Cy Young caliber.

  3. proudlycanadian - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    Interesting juxtaposition. Just after the Pete Rose thread, there is a thread about betting odds.

  4. Marty McKee - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    “(Bruce is) the one of the two more likely to win an MVP…”

    Somebody tell Pouliot that Votto already has an MVP award.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Did I really need to write “win an MVP in 2014″ being that 2014 was the basis of the entire article?

      • Marty McKee - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        But why would Bruce be more likely to win an MVP batting behind Votto in 2014 when Votto already won an MVP with Bruce batting behind him?

  5. mikhelb - Mar 12, 2014 at 7:57 PM

    “RBI remains king…”.

    So Philips (Reds) was right when he argued that his productivity was not going south because he had a lot of RBI? or RBI being king only fits the narrative in turn?

    • Reflex - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      His point is that voters overvalue it, not that he does.

  6. moogro - Mar 12, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Put some mythical money on José Fernández.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:06 PM

      He’s certainly talented enough, but of the prime contenders, he’s the least likely to throw 210-220 innings.

      • moogro - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:04 PM

        :(

    • spudchukar - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:09 PM

      So let’s see Matthew, sleeper MVP, Santana (Ohio), NL MVP sleeper, Bruce (Ohio), sleeper Cy Young NL, Bailey (Ohio), and NL HR leader, Bruce (Ohio). And no Cardinal players mentioned anywhere.

      I honestly don’t know where you come from or who you root for, but I have a clue. Please prove me wrong.

      • thomas844 - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:55 PM

        They are called sleeper picks for a reason. He wouldn’t put anyone like Adam Wainwright or Matt Carpenter in that category because they have already had serious consideration for those awards in recent history. It wouldn’t exactly be surprising if they won.

      • spudchukar - Mar 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM

        Sorry, not buyin’ it. Bruce has had similar considerations. And “sleeper” here refers to the upcoming year, not like “sleeper” picks in fantasy, of unknowns.

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 13, 2014 at 9:28 AM

        The “Dipwad” is a Boston Red Sox fan.

  7. crnvic847 - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    Don’t count out Adam Dunn as the home run leader this year. He is in a contract year and would look for him to kick it up a notch this season as he tries for one more long term contract for his career. As far as his batting average is concerned? I would still expect that to hover around the .200-.220 range.

  8. keltictim - Mar 12, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Kind of amazing how none of the defending champs get even a slightest thought when it comes to individual awards. I guess that’s why it’s a team sport.

  9. nymets4ever - Mar 12, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Don’t sleep on Zack Wheeler as a darkhorse Cy Young Contender

  10. 461deep - Mar 13, 2014 at 2:55 AM

    Don’t count out Bryce Harper. If he continues to mature, stays away from walls, and hits balls in the air more, with his power we could see amazing things from him. May need another year or two before his breakout years though. One feels Harper and Stanton have most power in baseball. Ballpark size could determine close HR races so Davis and Bautista benefit here. Bruce to a lessor extent as he is not as consistent a HR hitter. Miggy and Stanton suffer in big home parks since long CF and gap doubles or fly outs are homers elsewhere.

  11. spg3081 - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    @jrob

    That’s a fairly narrow view. I agree that Strasburg should be listed with somewhat longer odds to with the NL Cy Young.

    That said, I’d first ask you to name 10 guys better than Strasburg. You could name 10 that have outperformed him the last two seasons, assuming we’re heavily weighing IP and the higher counting stat totals that come with them. IP are very important, yes. However, let’s not forget that 2012 was his first full season since Tommy John. In 2013, the previous restrictions were lifted, however the Nationals had loose restrictions in place, part of a long view plan to let his arm build up so he coud enjoy a decade of 200+ IP (they hope) starting in 2014. Neither season saw him injured significantly. So I’m not sure how you justify stating he’s injury prone.

    Back to your list of 10 NL starting pitchers better than him. Given that he didn’t lose significant innings to injury (well, at least to an injury that happened after 2010) in 2012 or 2013, it’s hard to dock him too much for the lower inning totals. It’s not as if he didn’t pitch 200 innings because he was constantly gassed or because he was getting hit hard after five and a third every start. Beyond IP, have a look at his rate stats. There weren’t many MLB pitchers significantly better in 2013 alone. They’re good enough to posit that he’d be a Cy Young contender if he was unrestricted on innings (and, sadly, if he had better run support).

    He’s not Clayton Kershaw. He’s developed along more of an average curve, with the caveat that he’d be further ahead than average if his UCL held up. Not everyone flies out of the gate like Kershaw AND sustains it (wait and see on Harvey, Fernandez, etc.).

    There are some fantastic SPs in the NL. Many of them are young. The Cy Young race this year and beyond will be highly contested…well, the Cy Young runner up, anyways. There is no usurping Kershaw unless he returns to Earth or someone has a supernatural season. Strasburg is one of several NL pitchers who could go supernova and outpitch Kershaw for one season. Even using completely subjective standards as to who is a Cy Young contender, it’s hard to sweep Strasburg aside in such a flippant manner.

    Besides, you even concede he’s real #1 starter ace material. There are only 15 teams in the NL – even if you stretch “ace,” there are only 15 (if that!!) in the NL who could be considered such. A real ace is one of the most rare and sought after commodities in baseball. The NL must be pretty lucky to have so many at one time!

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