Spring training has been underway for weeks in the sunny enclaves of Arizona and Florida, which means the century-old rite of passage known as Opening Day is right around the corner.
Sunday, April 2 marks the official start of Major League Baseball’s marathon regular season, with a trio of nationally televised divisional tilts starting things off in style. The rest of the league’s rank and file begins play the following day, and from there the summer will be spent tracking 30 teams over 162 contests, complete with pennant races and statistical chases.
Seasoned baseball fans live and die with every inning by default, but for the average sports enthusiast, the slow grind of a grueling regular season is usually absorbed in piecemeal fashion. Reading a few box scores, checking in on an extra-innings thriller, and maybe even spending an afternoon at the ballpark can be enough to follow a favorite club’s progress.
But for baseball bettors – aficionados who lay their money on the line to back season-long futures and proposition bets – the ebb and flow of a long season practically pays for the price of admission. A few choice wagers on player performances can provide daily entertainment value, even when your own team falls to cellar-dweller status.
The Bovada sportsbook has several prominent MLB props posted as spring training comes to a close, so if you like the idea of enjoying 162 games’ worth of action on a single bet, check below to compare wagers:
American League Most Valuable Player (MVP)
The race for the AL MVP award begins and ends with the reigning winner, center fielder Mike Trout (+125) of the Angels. The two-time AL MVP (’14 and ’16) is quite simply the best all-around player in the game – boasting a .315/.441/.550 slash line with 29 homers and 100 RBI – and at even money, he’s the clear favorite at Bovada.
The also-rans include Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (+500), Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (+1000), and Tigers first baseman – and two-time AL MVP (’12 and ’13) – Miguel Cabrera (+1200).
National League MVP
The NL MVP race offers a bit more parity, with Cubs outfielder and defending NL MVP Kris Bryant (+275) narrowly edging Nationals outfielder and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper (+300).
Other players in the mix offering better than 10 to 1 odds include Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (+700) and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (+900).
American League Cy Young
Last year’s AL Cy Young winner was Rick Porcello of the Red Sox, who rode his team’s success to a 22-4 record. Those wins were enough to edge Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who recorded a 16-9 record despite posting an ERA of 3.04 – better than Porcello’s 3.15 mark.
Oddly enough, neither pitcher is listed as Bovada’s favorite this year, or even close to it. Porcello (+3300) sits behind no less than 12 pitchers, while Verlander (+1200) has a pair of peers to catch.
Those would be Chris Sale (+350) and Corey Kluber (+500), of the Red Sox and Indians, respectively. Kluber won in 2014, while Sale has yet to reach pitching’s pinnacle despite his stellar statistical output in recent years.
National League Cy Young
Since 2011, four of six NL Cy Young awards have been claimed by two pitchers: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (’11, ’13, and ’14) and Max Scherzer of the Nationals (’16).
Accordingly, Bovada sees this as a two-ace race, pitting Kershaw (+160) against Scherzer (+350) in a proverbial pitcher’s duel.
If you like longshots, studs like Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (+1000) and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (+1600) aren’t bad bets in the least bit.
MLB Home Run Leader
The race for dinger leader isn’t what it used to be, and that’s probably a good thing for baseball at this point. Last year’s leader, Mark Trumbo of the Orioles, socked 48 out of the park – which wouldn’t rank in the top-10 during the bad old days of juiced jacks.
The oddsmakers at Bovada don’t expect Trumbo’s (+1400) unexpected output to continue, as he’s listed among the third tier alongside teammates Chris Davis and Manny Machado.
The favorite is Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton (+800), who can hit moonshots with the best of them, but has struggled staying on the field throughout his career.
Arenado (+900) and Bryant (+1000) round out the list, while Harper (+1400) and Trout (+2000) offer decent value.