MLB betting, odds: Our favorite player prop bets, with MVP picks for both leagues
Opening Day is closing in.
After an entertaining World Baseball Classic, MLB teams start their regular season Thursday. That means there isn't much time to get your season-long future bets in before things start.
To get ready for the season, we brought together Yahoo Sports' Nick Bromberg, Scott Pianowski, Zach Crizer and Frank Schwab to share their best bets for the season.
Here are our best player prop bets and best bets for the major awards of the season (we also handled team-based best bets), with odds from BetMGM:
What are your favorite player props?
Nick Bromberg: Corbin Burnes struck out 243 batters in 202 innings in 2022 and is the No. 2 favorite to lead the league in strikeouts for another season. His odds are +800, and that makes him worth the bet to go back-to-back. Burnes has started 61 games the past two seasons and topped 230 strikeouts in each of them. As long as he stays healthy again, he’ll continue to strike out a ton of hitters.
Scott Pianowski: It’s no fun to approach this stuff like an actuary, but when I take the under on Chris Sale’s strikeout prop (160.5, -115), it’s basically saying I don’t trust him to last the full season. And given that Sale has a mere 11 starts the past three seasons and is now entering his age-34 campaign, that under feels like a reasonable lean.
I realize modern baseball scribes aren’t supposed to get hyped over RBIs, but Pete Alonso to grab the RBI crown at +800 feels like a reasonable ticket. Heck, he led all of MLB last year in this category, he’s in the prime of his career (age-28 season), he plays a physically undemanding position (durability isn’t a concern), and he’s surrounded by on-base machines. Sometimes it’s OK to eat a little chalk.
Zach Crizer: The MLB hits leader feels like the easiest field to narrow down. You're looking for high-average hitters who also have a habit of playing every game — really, every game, 155-plus games — and the runway to do so. There are three slam-dunk candidates: Trea Turner (+600), Bo Bichette (+800) and Freddie Freeman (+1300). Take Bichette or Freeman and feel far more confident than trying to get a bead on something more fickle such as home runs or anything relating to pitchers.
Frank Schwab: One player I like this season is Eloy Jiménez. He has to stay healthy one of these years, right? If he does, over 27.5 home runs is a near lock. It’s just health. Speaking of health, I’ll go under Jacob deGrom 193.5 strikeouts. DeGrom is undeniably great, and he’d need to reach about 123 innings pitched to hit the over if he is at his normal strikeout per inning level. I just don’t think, as he turns 35 years old this season, he can turn in a healthy season.
Any picks for the non-MVP awards?
Nick Bromberg: I'll be taking the Guardians to win the division, and Shane Bieber is a good reason for that. Bieber has been very good since he won the Cy Young in the COVID-shortened 2020 season with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77 innings. After throwing 96 innings due to injury in 2021, Bieber threw 200 innings in 2022 and made 31 starts. His ERA was just at 2.88 and matched his FIP as he struck out just short of a batter per inning. Bieber hits 200 innings for the third time in his career and posts a 2.50 ERA to win his second Cy Young. Bet him at +1300.
Scott Pianowski: Shane McClanahan for Cy Young at +1200 feels like an overlay (Carlos Rodón is the same odds, and he’s not even healthy right now). McClanahan steps into his age-26 season, he’s probably ready for a workload bump, he’s a strikeout ace, and he’s dominant against both lefty and righty batters. The Rays should have a winning team and a plus defense, which insulates McClanahan’s expected wins and ratios.
Zach Crizer: I recently made the case for Zac Gallen (+1400 for NL Cy Young) and Zack Wheeler (+1600) being closer to the pinnacle of the game than you realize, and I'd happily jump on their odds.
Meanwhile, in the NL Rookie of the Year race, I think there's a serious contender with astronomical odds. I don't see James Outman as the best prospect or the brightest long-term star, but the powerful Dodgers outfielder already made the Opening Day roster and could easily claim playing time from relatively squishy starters in center or left. He demolished two levels of the minors last year and has turned heads in spring training. Also, you know, Dodgers, these things happen. At +8000, Outman is a longer shot than at least a handful of players who won't get a cup of coffee.
Frank Schwab: The NL Cy Young odds keep coming down on Spencer Strider, but I don’t think +900 is that bad for him. I don’t think the Braves bump him up to 200 innings or anything, but a guy who had 202 strikeouts in 131.2 innings as a rookie (!) can put up some incredible numbers in 160 innings or so. And he plays on a good team, which will help.
I also like Cristian Javier at +1800 to win AL Cy Young. Houston will be good again. He is just 26 years old. Javier took a big leap last season and was awesome in the playoffs without loading up a lot of postseason innings. He’ll be in the Cy Young race all season, and the odds are good.
Who are your best MVP bets?
Nick Bromberg: It really would be fun if Mike Trout (+650) stays healthy for the whole season and makes a run at MVP. Julio Rodríguez should get even better in 2023, and +800 feels like it’s worth a bet there, while Yordan Alvarez at +1100 is also tempting if the Astros run away with the AL West and he keeps mashing home runs. But there’s also a reason Shohei Ohtani is at +200. The dude is the most talented baseball player ever and the No. 5 favorite for AL Cy Young.
In the NL, I wouldn’t be surprised if a member of the St. Louis Cardinals wins it again. After Paul Goldschmidt posted a phenomenal season in 2022, I think Nolan Arenado is poised to do the same in 2023. Arenado has two third-place MVP finishes in his career, and the .891 OPS he posted in 2022 was his highest since 2019. If he gets his OPS up above .900 in 2023 and continues to play stellar defense, he’ll be an MVP candidate again, as the Cardinals have a clear path in the NL Central.
Scott Pianowski: While I like Julio Rodríguez, I’m going to take even longer odds on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at +1200. Winning team — check. A plus offense with home fences moving in — check. Star hitter still on the up escalator — check. And Guerrero is a beloved player, the type of athlete who could easily get a groundswell of support if he’s in the hunt; a legacy player and a joyous performer on the field. Guerrero would also check the novelty box, as he hasn’t won the award. Writers like to spread the hardware around; voting fatigue is real.
We’ll go a little longer in the National League, punching Matt Olson at +2500 (I also encourage you to examine other possible Olson props). He’s now fully comfortable in his new city and league, the pesky shift will no longer chip away at his average, the Atlanta offense is absurdly loaded from top to bottom, and Olson was basically Godzilla all spring (eight homers, 1.542 OPS). He’s ready for a career year. I won’t blame you if you side with one of Olson’s Atlanta teammates, but his juicy odds twisted my arm.
Zach Crizer: MVPs do not usually come out of nowhere, and Guardians third baseman José Ramírez has been on the board a ton. He has logged four top-five AL MVP finishes and plays pretty much exactly the game everyone wants their stars to play. Essentially, his +1600 odds reflect the fact that he’s not going Full Ohtani or breaking any long-standing records a la Aaron Judge. Any health slip-ups for the superhuman crowd, and Ramírez could slide right into his first win.
In the NL race, I like a fully healthy Ronald Acuña Jr. (+900) to rack up homers and steals galore and make an old-fashioned case in a pretty wide-open field.
Frank Schwab: I’m not going to dig too deep here, but two young superstars stand out at their odds. Ronald Acuña Jr. at +900 is my NL MVP pick. Acuña is fully healthy from a torn ACL, and a 40/40 season is fully within reach. And he hits in a great lineup for those counting stats. In the American League, Julio Rodríguez at +800 is my play. It’s always going to be hard to beat Shohei Ohtani, but Ohtani’s +200 odds reflect that. Rodríguez was special as a rookie last season, and a 40/40 season doesn’t feel outrageous for him, either.