Following MLB's long-awaited return to play announcement, bettors are thirsty for baseball action and sportsbooks are rushing to post futures bets. Because of the shortened 60-game schedule, oddsmakers have a new and unique opportunity to get creative with their offerings. In the span of just 24 hours, we're starting to see books post interesting prop bets that would otherwise be unheard of for a full 162-game schedule.
The first prop bet to hit the market is whether or not a player will hit .400 during the 2020 season. No player has finished with a batting average of .400 or better since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941 for the Boston Red Sox. Normally, hitting .400 would be virtually inconceivable, but with the shortened season, the chances are much higher this year. Why? Because a player could get hot and stay hot over a short 60-game stretch, but surely fade below .400 over the course of a 162-game marathon.
Since 1941, only seven players have hit at least .400 through the first 60 games of a season. This includes Williams a second time (.412 in 1948), Hank Aaron (.402 in 1959), Rod Carew (.411 in 1983), Paul O'Neill (.417 in 1994), Larry Walker (.417 in 1997), Tony Gwynn (.403 in 1997) and, most recently, Chipper Jones (.409 in 1998).
Over the past decade, the highest batting average by any player through the first 60 games of a season was Cody Bellinger hitting .376 last season.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only five active players have hit .400 over a 60-game span in a single season: Jose Altuve in 2017, Joey Votto in 2016, Andrew McCutchen in 2012, Hanley Ramirez in 2009 and Albert Pujols in 2003.
So what do the oddsmakers think about a player hitting .400 in 2020?
On Wednesday, the Westgate posted "Yes" as a + 800 longshot and "No" as a -1400 favorite. "No" amounts to an implied probability of 93.3%. One stipulation with the Westgate prop: players must register a minimum of 186 plate appearances. The limit on the prop is $2,000.
Here are the top 10 hitters from last season
1. Tim Anderson .335
2. Christian Yelich .329
3. Ketel Marte .329
4. DJ Lemahieu .327
5. Anthony Rendon .319
6. Jeff McNeil .318
7. Yoan Moncada .315
8. Nolan Arenado .315
9. Charlie Blackmon .314
10. Michael Brantley .311
The second interesting prop bet released yesterday came from Stations Casino: Most home runs by any player during the regular season.
The over/under is set at 20 homers with -110 juice on both sides. The limit is $2,000.
Hitting 20 home runs in 60 games would be the equivalent of hitting 54 home runs over the course of 162 games.
Here are the top 10 home runs hitters from last season
1. Pete Alonso 53
2. Eugenio Suarez 49
3. Jorge Soler 48
4. Cold Bellinger 47
5. Mike Trout 45
6. Christian Yelich 44
7. Nelson Cruz 41
8. Nolan Arenado 41
9. Alex Bregman 41
10. Ronald Acuna Jr 41
Over the past four seasons, five players have hit at least 20 homers in the first 60 games of a season: Yelich, Bellinger, Alonso, Aaron Judge and Mark Trumbo.
One advantage home run hitters will enjoy this season: The weather. The season will begin on July 23 or 24, smack dab in the heat of the summer. Batters won't have to deal with the bitter cold Spring months of April and early May. Heat and humidity benefit hitters because the air is less dense and the ball travels further.