Freedman’s Favorite RBI Player Props for the 2019 MLB Season
Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado
- The first full day of the 2019 MLB season starts on Thursday, March 28.
- Matthew Freedman breaks down his season-long player prop-betting strategy and highlights some of his favorite RBI props.
Each day, I publish at least one quick-n’-dirty piece highlighting a favorite prop of mine. See my master list of 2019 prop bets for more information.
The 2019 MLB season begins in earnest this week, and in this piece I’m going to highlight some of my favorite player props for runs batted in (RBIs).
For daily player props, follow me in The Action Network app.
2019 Year-to-Date Record
366-293-13, +52.20 Units
- NFL: 21-13-0, +11.72 Units
- NBA: 205-154-4, +31.86 Units
- NHL: 66-80-7, -7.57 Units
- Golf: 4-7-1, -2.35 Units
- NASCAR: 5-8-0, -1.70 Units
- NCAAB: 42-28-1, +8.61 Units
- NCAAF: 0-1-0, -1.00 Units
- Exotic: 23-2-0, +12.64 Units
Freedman’s RBI Player Prop Strategy for the 2019 MLB Season
I like baseball, but I don’t obsessively follow it. Even so, I still think I can bet it profitably because of the great work done by other writers at The Action Network.
Plus, I’m a narcissist. There’s nothing I can’t do well. I’m even great at staying humble.
But back to baseball.
Most of my current knowledge in the sport comes from reading Mark Gallant’s baseball content. Check out his work if you need to catch up on baseball before Thursday, the first full day of the season.
Mark has noted that last year almost 70% of season-long MLB player props hit the under. That number is high, but I don’t think it’s an anomaly.
First, season-long production can be significantly impacted if a player misses more than just a few games, and the average fan might be likely to underestimate the odds of players missing time due to injury or rest.
Additionally, my sense is that the average person betting on season-long props is investing more as a fan and less as a cynic. As a result, overs are probably popular, which means that sportsbooks can upwardly skew their lines.
Plus, books tend to release props only for the most important players on each team, so there could be some selection bias at play: These are players who might already by prone to regression due to prior overperformance.
So my investment process for season-long MLB props is simple.
- Shop around a few sportsbooks to find the highest lines for each prop.
- Bet the under for each prop. Literally each prop. Seriously. Each prop.
- Get my money back plus winnings in late September.
If I actually knew something about baseball, this bet-the-board strategy would almost certainly have a negative expected value relative to the more nuanced approach of selectively betting 5-20 exploitable lines.
But I don’t know baseball. Nevertheless, I’m betting that this strategy will be profitable. And when I say, “I’m betting,” I’m actually betting.
2019 RBI Player Prop Strategy: Should I Middle?
There’s such a wide range of lines available for some of these RBI props that I’m sometimes tempted to middle.
In case you don’t know, to “middle” is to bet both sides of a line when different sportsbooks have it listed at different points.
For instance, if one book has a player’s RBI prop at 99.5 and another has it at 84.5 — and I have found a spread this large — you could bet under 99.5 and over 84.5.
If the final total were to land above 99.5 or below 84.5, you would lose one bet but win the other (minus the vig). But if the total were to land in the middle, you’d win both bets.
So in a few instances, where the divergence between two books is sufficiently wide, I’ve opted for the middle. Because I’m a humble narcissist.
But most of the time I’m simply betting the under.
Freedman’s RBI Player Props for the 2019 MLB Season
If you don’t want to tie up an egregious amount of money for six months by betting the board, here are five RBI player props I think offer value.
Nolan Arenado Under 120.5 RBIs (-115)
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has an MLB-high 503 RBIs over the past four years, averaging 125.75 RBIs in 158 games per season. But 120.5 is such a high number.
Last year, even though he led the National League with 38 home runs and played 156 games, Arenado had only 110 RBIs.
If Arenado misses any time at all, he will need to be in peak form to hit the over.
Khris Davis Under 112.5 (-120)
Over the past three years, Oakland Athletics outfielder Khris Davis has averaged 111.7 RBIs in 151.3 games, so he’s more than capable of hitting the over.
But he’s had 113-plus RBIs just once, and he’s coming off a season in which he had career highs with 654 plate appearances, 576 at-bats, 142 hits, a league-high 48 home runs and 123 RBIs.
I’m willing to bet that Davis won’t have another career-best campaign.
Giancarlo Stanton Under 110.5 (-115)
Just two years ago, then-Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton had an MLB-high 59 home runs and 132 RBIs on his way to the NL MVP. But last year with the New York Yankees, despite having more at-bats (617 vs. 597), he regressed to a more modest 38 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Just twice in his career has Stanton played more than 145 games, and only once has he had at least 111 RBIs.
Stanton could have a great season and still not hit the over.
Javier Báez Under 99.5 (-130)
Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Báez finished second last year in MVP voting thanks to his NL-high 111 RBIs.
But before last year he’d never had more than 75 RBIs or played more than 145 games in a season.
Manny Machado Under 97.5 (-115)
In 2018, infielder Manny Machado had a career-high 107 RBIs in a 162-game contract-year campaign split between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Now with the San Diego Padres, who enriched him with a 10-year, $300 million contract, Machado is likely to see a marked decrease in RBIs.
For one, he just got paid, so he might have less motivation, and he also seems likely to experience some natural regression.
Additionally, the Padres last year were 28th with 617 runs scored and dead last with a .297 on-base percentage. Even if Machado has a great hitting campaign, there might not be enough men on base for him to get his RBIs.
Finally, Machado has had 98-plus RBIs only once.