MLB Prop Betting: 2014 Home Run Champion

People are always talking about how pitching wins championships, but perhaps more importantly, chicks dig the long ball. The home run is arguably the most exciting moment in baseball and most of the league’s most popular players are powerful sluggers. But can bettors profit from these top sluggers?

Every year sportsbooks release a number of prop bets, and one of the most popular is often based on who will hit the most regular season home runs. Last season Orioles first baseman Chris Davis made the jump from a middle of the pack power bat to one of the league’s preeminent sluggers by smashing a league-leading 53 home runs. His breakthrough season was not only a pleasant surprise to the baseball world, but also a lucrative endeavor who bet on Davis (+4000 pre-season odds) to win the home run crown.

The table below compares the current home run futures at Sportsbook.com with pre-season ZiPS projections from FanGraphs. If you’re not familiar with ZiPS, it is the prediction model of Dan Szymborski from the Baseball Think Factory.

Using weighted averages from the past four years and taking into account player progression (or regression in some cases), ZiPS uses “a player’s past statistics, age, home ballpark, and other variables to estimate how well a player will perform in the upcoming season. Since projections cannot account for luck and random variation, they are never 100% accurate. Instead, these systems are best viewed as an estimate of a player’s current, underlying true talent level.”

Player
Odds
ZiPS Projection
Mark Trumbo +500 35
Jose Bautista +500 28
Chris Davis +700 41
Miguel Cabrera +700 38
Giancarlo Stanton +700 33
Paul Goldschmidt +2000 32
Pedro Alvarez +2500 32
Carlos Gonzalez +3000 28
Edwin Encarnacion +3000 30
Prince Fielder +3000 30
Jose Abreu +3000 26
Jay Bruce +3000 32
Mike Trout +3000 29
Albert Pujols +4000 24
Bryce Harper +4000 28
Matt Kemp +4000 21
Freddie Freeman +5000 25
Nelson Cruz +5000 27
Josh Hamilton +5000 23
Ryan Braun +5000 33
Wil Myers +6000 23
Troy Tulowitzki +6000 25
Hanley Ramirez +6000 21
Adam Jones +6000 28
Adam Dunn +7500 28
Robinson Cano +10000 22
Jason Heyward +10000 22
Justin Upton +10000 24
Evan Longoria +10000 26
Ryan Howard +10000 18
Carlos Beltran +10000 26
Ryan Zimmerman +10000 23
Alfonso Soriano +10000 32
David Ortiz +10000 25
Eric Hosmer +10000 20
Adrian Beltre +10000 27
Joey Votto +10000 25
Andrew McCutchen +10000 24
Anthony Rizzo +10000 27
Matt Adams +10000 22
Adrian Gonzalez +10000 22
Yoenis Cespedes +10000 25
Matt Holliday +20000 21
Domonic Brown +20000 24
Yasiel Puig +20000 21
Pablo Sandoval +20000 17
David Wright +20000 19
Curtis Granderson +20000 20
Mark Teixeira +50000 17
Field +500 N/A

Mark Trumbo, who is off to a red-hot start with five homers in his first 13 games, is currently the co-favorite alongside Toronto’s Jose Bautista (4 HR in 11 games this season). ZiPS projections indicate that Chris Davis, who has yet to go yard this season, will lead baseball in home runs again this season with 41 round trippers.

It’s also interesting to note that Josh Hamilton, who will be sidelined 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb, has the same odds to win the home run crown as Brewers OF Ryan Braun who has already launched three home runs this season and hit 41 long balls just two years ago.

If you’re looking for an interesting value bet, make sure to take a look at Yankees OF Alfonso Soriano. Considered a long shot at 100/1, Soriano is projected to hit 32 home runs this season after hitting 34 in 2013.

This prop bet can fluctuate greatly throughout the season and will often times see major changes when a player goes on a hot streak, so make sure to check back over the course of the season for the latest updates.

Who do you think will be the 2014 Home Run champion? Which sluggers are being undervalued by oddsmakers? Make sure to leave your pick in the comment section below.

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