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The Major League Baseball season is supposed to start in two weeks with a 60-game scramble to the postseason. If a season is played, it will be chaotic and unpredictable, since 60 games is usually the length of time from the start of the season through the first week to 10 days of June. Imagine a season-ending in early June and going straight to the playoffs. That’s essentially what we are looking at here with Major League Baseball’s attempt to start in late July and move through late September with an October postseason.
On top of that, every bettor should exercise a degree of caution here because we also have the COVID-19 pandemic still going. That means that players could get knocked out for a couple of weeks and then have their whole season thrown off with these props. At any rate, here’s a look at the home run race with a pick. And check out our consensus odds for 2020 home run leader.
Pete Alonso (NYM)
The young sensation who came out of nowhere to hit more than 50 home runs last season will naturally enter this season with a lot of buzz. The basic question surrounding Alonso is if major league pitchers will have fundamentally adjusted to him. The shortened season introduces a unique dynamic, because in a normal 162-game season, Alonso might have had a chance to start quickly, after which pitchers might have figured him out over six months. In a shorter season, it is harder to grasp. Maybe pitchers will come out with more urgency at the start of this season and make life more difficult for Alonso. On the other hand, maybe Alonso will retain the instincts and form he displayed last season, and by the time pitchers fully adjust to his habits, it might be too late – he might have already sealed the home run title. This is a great choice if you want to pick a favorite.
Mike Trout (LAA)
Trout is the best player in baseball, but in the middle of a pandemic, with his wife about to give birth, Trout’s mind might not be fully focused on baseball. Trout has publicly spoken about his uncertainties about playing this season. Manager Joe Maddon made a statement which was less than fully supportive of Trout, which only adds to the tensions and question marks in the Angels’ clubhouse. Trout’s talent and skill are unquestioned, but this season – with his wife about to have a child – it just doesn’t seem as though this is the year to bet on Mike Trout as the MLB home run champion. In 2021, though, with a new kid safely born into the world, Trout might destroy big-league pitching.
Nolan Arenado (COL)
The Coors Field factor, in a shortened season, could enable Arenado – a five-point player (hitting, hitting for power, running, throwing, fielding) – to rise to the very top of the National League and the majors across the board. He is a stealth candidate for the home run title and the MVP. If the Colorado Rockies do win the National League West in a shortened season, Arenado could be looking at a lot of hardware. The home run championship could be part of a platter of trophies if everything lines up. It’s not likely, but it’s more possible than many people might first consider.
Christian Yelich (MIL)
The Milwaukee Brewers’ superstar will be limited by the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of protection in the Brewers’ batting order. He will be walked a lot. However, if Yelich gets a lot of at-bats with men on base and if pitchers have nowhere to put him, he is a gifted hitter in a home-run-friendly ballpark (Miller Park). If, in the shortened season, pitchers struggle, Yelich could still bust out and grab the home run crown.
Best Bet: Bryce Harper (PHI)
Here are my thoughts: at the end of the day, we’re really just throwing darts. This is a tough enough prop as is and now we have to throw a shortened season and a pandemic in here. If I’m throwing darts, I want a huge payoff because you never know what will happen. If you decided to bet players at 30/1 or longer and limit your bets to just a few bucks, I wouldn’t blame you.
I looked at guys like Khris Davis (30/1), Gleyber Torres (30/1) and even someone like Matt Chapman (50/1). At the end of the day, I settled on Harper. I think he’ll be far more comfortable in Philly in his second season. Hopefully he starts hot and stays healthy as that will be the big key.