Out of all of the different aspects you can bet on for the upcoming baseball season, one of my favorite things is predicting who will lead the MLB in homeruns. Vegas lists about 50 different players that they think can win the title with different payouts based on how many HRs they are expected to hit. Many of the players listed have about as much of a shot of winning the HR title as Tiger and Elin getting back together, Vegas is just banking on people betting on players on their favorite teams because they “have great odds”.
Today, I’m going to stay unbiased and go over which players I think have the best chance to win, then we’ll talk about some players that Vegas considers long-shots but I think have a realistic chance to win with great payouts.
*All odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag
1) Miguel Cabrera (+800) – The reigning HR champ, Cabrera has the second-best odds to win it again this year. Pitchers have known what he is capable of for a few years now and have continued to pitch to him so I don’t see anything changing. At +800, it’s not a great value pick but he has a real shot to repeat.
2) Giancarlo Stanton (+500) – Stanton has phenomenal power and is the favorite to hit the most homeruns, but at 5:1 odds I wouldn’t bet on him. He has a couple of things working against him too: For one, the Marlins home stadium is monstrous. A ton of deep fly balls he hits in Miami that are caught for outs would be HRs in other stadiums. The other thing he has working against him is the division he plays in. The NL East has quite a few good pitchers and they know that Stanton is pretty much the only power threat in the now-devoid Marlins lineup so I expect he is walked a lot.
3) Edwin Encarnacion (+2500) – He was only 2 HRs behind Cabrera last season so I’m not really sure why his odds are so low. His lineup improved a ton in the offseason and is full of potential threats at the plate so pitchers are going to have to pitch to him, and at only 30 years old, he is entering his power-prime. I expect another big season out of Encarnacion.
4) Jose Bautista (+600) – He plays alongside Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto and I like Bautista for all of the reasons I like Encarnacion, plus he has more of a track record after leading the bigs in HRs in 2010 and 2011. I like the payout opportunity for Encarnacion more than Bautista (obviously) because I give them similar odds to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bautista regained the crown.
5) Ryan Braun (+2000) – Braun led the National League in HRs last season and was only 3 behind Cabrera’s 44 for the overall title so he is looking to produce similar statistics this season. At 20:1, I think the payout-to-realistic ratio is good, the only thing that worries me is the steroid allegations. If the MLB goes hard after Braun and he ends up suspended for 50 games then it’s just money down the toilet. I’d stay away just to be safe.
Now for the value picks:
6) Ryan Zimmerman (+10000) – If he can stay healthy, I think Zimmerman has a realistic shot to lead the league in HRs. He is protected in the lineup with LaRoche and Harper flanking either side of him so pitchers have to pitch to him and at 100:1, I think it’s totally worth putting a little money on it. I don’t expect him to win, but it wouldn’t shock me if he pulls it off.
7) Yoenis Cespedes (+5000) – A Cuban defector, nobody was sure how he would fare in his first sea son of MLB baseball. Well, it didn’t take long to figure out that he would be a star and help lead the A’s to an AL West title. If he played in a little more hitter-friendly of a ballpark instead of the cavernous Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum, his odds would be a lot lower. Even so, his power is definitely the real deal but it will be interesting to see how he fares now that everyone knows what he is capable of.
8) David Wright (+10000) – If you had asked me pre-World Baseball Classic if I thought Wright had any shot to win the HR title, I would have laughed in you face and said you were wasting your money even at 100:1. After watching him stroke in the WBC though, my outlook has changed. I think Wright is going to have a huge season in the power department if he can stay healthy, and I really like his chances with 100:1 odds.