- Astros at +200 to lead MLB in hit-by-pitches in 2020
- Bregman an even-money favorite to lead Astros in HBPs
- Astros’ win total prop has dipped from 98 to 94.5
Spring training is officially underway, which means it’s almost baseball season. The regular season gets going in just over a month, and it should be a fascinating one. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees have both made splashy moves this winter with hopes of winning the World Series next fall.
While LA and New York may be the cream of the crop on the field, the story that continues to dominate baseball is the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were both suspended and subsequently fired just over a month ago, which sent a ripple effect through an Astros organization that has been among the most successful in the big leagues over the last half-decade.
While the Astros’ organization was punished as a result of the scandal, the team’s players were able to avoid any repercussions for their actions. In exchange for their testimony during MLB’s investigation, commissioner Rob Manfred granted all players immunity. That means the likes of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer will all be available when the Astros begin their quest for another pennant this spring.
The team lost Gerrit Cole to the Yankees during the offseason, but the roster set to take the field in about a month will look awfully similar to the one we saw get to the brink of another World Series title just a few months ago. The Astros are still a betting favorite to win yet another American League West title, and Houston has the third-best odds to win the World Series behind the Yankees and Dodgers.
Astros’ Declining Win Total Prop
However, bettors have already started to shy away from Houston. The Astros’ win total prop at BetOnline opened at 98, which was the second-best mark in the league behind the Yankees’ 101.5 total. Houston hasn’t attracted much betting attention in the weeks since, though, which has caused the total to drop all the way to 94.5 as of this writing. That is still one of the highest marks in all of baseball, but it’s interesting to see how quickly it has dropped already.
While Houston’s players essentially got away without even a slap on the wrist from Manfred and Major League Baseball as a result of the sign-stealing, some are wondering how other players around the league will react. We have already gotten quotes from a number of high-profile players, including Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout and Gleyber Torres. Needless to say, they’re not pleased with what the Astros did.
It’s safe to assume that some of the Astros’ players will face some on-field retribution from other teams once the games start. All eyes will be on Anaheim when Houston begins regular season play on March 26 against the Los Angeles Angels. Will the Halos’ Opening Day starter throw at Houston’s first hitter in retaliation?
BetOnline is taking bets on it. The site has posted 3 fresh props with regard to some of the physical punishment the Astros may have to endure this season.
Will the Astros Lead the League in Hit Batsmen?
|Will Astros Lead MLB in Hit Batsmen?||Odds at BetOnline|
The Mets led Major League Baseball with an average of 0.59 hit batsmen per game a season ago. Houston, meanwhile, ranked 18th with 0.38. I think it’s safe to assume that the Astros will finish higher in that metric this season if one or more teams decide to do something about Houston’s cheating, but I really doubt they get hit often enough to lead the league by any sort of decent margin.
It’s also worth wondering how long the Astros will face this kind of retribution. Manager Dusty Baker has already pleaded with the league to protect the Astros’ players in the event that teams do start head-hunting, and I doubt a bunch of pitchers are going to want to risk lengthy suspension just for a little justice.
It’s easy to get caught up in the what-ifs in this situation, but the safe bet is to bet against Houston leading the league in hit batters in 2020.
How Many Times Will Astros Charge the Mound?
|How Many Times Will Astros Charge the Mound?||Odds at BetOnline|
Most of the Astros have been contrite when asked about whether they’re sorry about the cheating scandal. However, over the weekend we saw some fight for the first time when Carlos Correa spoke out to defend Jose Altuve and whether the Astros’ 2017 championship is legitimate.
If Houston’s leadoff hitter gets plunked by the Angels’ starter on Opening Day, I imagine the batter will simply accept it and trot to first. However, anything more than that could lead to some antics. I would think the Astros will get sick of getting thrown at if it persists over the course of several games or weeks.
Charging the mound is still basically an automatic suspension, though. Could an opposing pitcher keep throwing at some Houston hitters in an attempt to goad some Astros into getting suspended? Possibly. That said, I think the Astros are well aware that they’ll be under the microscope. I can’t really imagine their hitters charging the mound on multiple occasions in the same campaign.
Which Astro Will Get Hit the Most?
|Player||Odds at BetOnline|
George Springer has been Houston’s everyday leadoff hitter for years. Unless Baker shuffles the lineup, I’d expect Springer to be the first Astro to dig into the batter’s box on Opening Day. That likely means Springer will be first in line to get pegged by a pitch if the Angels’ starter opts for retaliation.
Alex Bregman led the Astros in HBPs last season with 10. Michael Brantley got plunked 7 times, while Springer got hit 6 times. Considering Correa spoke out and called out players like Bellinger over the weekend, it wouldn’t be shocking to think he could have a target on his back. If I were betting on this, I would take a flier on Correa at the favorable +350 odds. Running his mouth the way he did could mean he’s in line for a little bit of payback.