MLB Home Run Picks: Why to Bet Lane Thomas, Willson Contreras & Mookie Betts
Getty Images. Pictured: Willson Contreras, Lane Thomas, Mookie Betts
Baseball betting is one of a kind. Each day diving into a full slate is grueling and sometimes edges are nowhere to be found within a side or total. But opportunities to fade pitchers at a lesser degree remains a constant. One of the areas in which I've tapped into this season has been the player prop market. More specifically, looking at hitters and their total bases/home runsprops.
Whether it's a positive split or the wind blowing out in double-digit force, there's always opportunities to back some of MLB's best hitters to find the outfield seats. These bets are rarely not (+) money and home run props can often reach the 6-700 mark, providing plenty of value at a small cost.
That leads us to my new regular feature here at Action Network: DiSturco's Triple 7s. In each article, I will give out my three favorite total bases props and pair that with the odds for those same players to hit a home run.
The idea of Triple 7s comes from the slot machines. That's the ultimate jackpot and it's important to note the rarity of notching that feat. Similar to slots, parlaying all three players below to hit a home run is nothing more than a lottery ticket.
It's important to bet responsibly, and while I do bet every player o1.5 TBs (.5u) and to hit a HR (.1u), you shouldn't overextend yourself with a parlay of all three. It's a long shot for a reason.
But if you're feeling confident or have no plans and want to try and hit Triple 7s, pull the lever and cross your fingers. Today's lottery ticket comes with +13562 odds.
Visit our MLB Props page for a full list of props and odds for every player on the MLB slate each and every day.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mookie Betts may not have put on a show in the Home Run Derby, but the do-it-all superstar has continued his tear to begin the second half of the season.
Betts continues to be the best Dodgers hitter against right-handed pitching (150 wRC+) and has a .261 ISO. Betts has been on a tear in July, hitting .405 with five home runs and five doubles. Since the calendar turned June, Betts has performed at an MVP level.
He draws a very interesting matchup on Monday night as Grayson Rodriguez returns from the minors for the Orioles. The power righty has dominant stuff, but his lack of control spurned him in his first big league stint.
As walks began to pile, Rodriguez would pepper the zone and be torn apart. He ranks in the bottom 6% of all pitchers in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, xBA, xSLG and barrel rate, all while posting a 6.03 xERA in 10 starts.
I don’t expect Rodriguez to post a 2.58 HR/9 his second time around, but there are legitimate concerns for the right-hander. Command remained an issue in the minors (4.14 BB/9 in eight starts) and he could very well fall behind and be crushed once again, especially against a vaunted hitter like Betts.
The concern with Betts is that his plate discipline will lead to multiple walks. But he also isn’t afraid of attacking Rodriguez if he finds himself in a hitter’s count. You can count on Betts for dominant at-bats and he ranks in the top 10% of all hitters in average exit velocity, xSLG and xBA.
Also for what it's worth, the wind is blowing to left center at near-double-digit winds. Based on an 82-game sample from RotoGrinders' WeatherEdge, we should see a +21.1% increase in HRs.
Willson Contreras, St. Louis Cardinals
Willson Contreras has quietly been one of the best hitters in baseball over the last two weeks.
It has been an interesting season for the righty. One of the focal points of criticism amid the Cardinals’ struggles, Contreras hit sub-.160 in May and only slightly improved in June. But dive into his underlying metrics and Contreras is a buy-low candidate right now.
In the month of July, Contreras is hitting .565 with three home runs and four doubles. His OPS sits just shy of 2.000 and he enters with an extra base hit in six straight games. Despite his struggles pre-July, Contreras remains a plus hitter against southpaws and draws a favorable matchup against Jesus Luzardo on Monday.
Luzardo ranks in the bottom 50% of all pitchers in hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. But where his biggest struggles stem from is barrel rate: a career-worst 10.6%. He is also much worse away from loanDepot Park, which makes sense considering it’s extremely pitcher-friendly.
Contreras has a 124 wRC+ and .268 ISO against left-handed pitching. His slugging jumps up nearly 150 points (.537 to .398) and he has a 64.7 extra-base hit rate.
In general, Contreras ranks in the top 1% of all hitters in max exit velocity and is top 20% in both xSLG and barrel rate. Despite his lack of success all season, his underlying metrics are extremely promising — career-best .272 xBA, .488 xSLG and .12.3 barrel% — which makes me believe this strong start to July will continue.
RotoGrinders' WeatherEdge projects a +20.3% increase in HRs and +20.9% increase in total runs on Monday night where the wind is blowing out to right cetner at 8 mph.
In a prime matchup for the right-handed slugger, I’m throwing .5u on over 1.5 total bases (+135) at Bet365 and .1u on HR (+450) at FanDuel.
Lane Thomas, Washington Nationals
Now is a good time to buy low on Lane Thomas after a slow start — if you can even call it that — to July. The leadoff hitter for the Nationals is hitting .280 with just three doubles, but draws a favorable matchup on Monday night.
Thomas is by far the most consistent hitter for Washington and is dominant against southpaws. He has a 189 wRC+ against left-handed pitching with a .278 ISO, both of which are second on the team behind only catcher Riley Adams.
He has taken a huge step forward this year atop the Nats lineup and will see four if not five at-bats in what presents itself as a high-scoring game.
When you compare Thomas’ numbers vs. righties and lefties, the difference is eye-popping. In 115 at-bats against left-handed pitching, Thomas is slashing .374/.424/.652 with seven home runs and a 40% extra-base hit rate. Those numbers drop to .264/.313/.416 and 35% against righties, respectively.
Drew Smyly takes the mound for Chicago and he’s not a pitcher who will overpower the opposition. Rather, he relies on accuracy and inducing soft contact — which he has been able to do for the majority of the year — for success.
But over the last month-plus, the lefty has faltered a bit. Since June, Smyly has given up nine home runs in seven starts. He hasn’t made it past the fifth in each of his last three outings and has seen both command and hard-hit issues throughout.
It makes sense that the 34-year-old would begin to break down a bit as the season progresses and with a plus-matchup on Monday, I am targeting Thomas, who is 4-for-9 lifetime against Smyly with a double and home run.
We rarely get Thomas at this high of a plus number for total bases and I’ll be throwing .5u on over 1.5 (+128) at BetRivers and .1u on HR (+475) at Bet365.
DiSturco's Triple 7s Home Run Bets for Monday, July 17
- Mookie Betts (+370)
- Willson Contreras (+450)
- Lane Thomas (+475)
If you like all three plays and want to try a spin at hitting triple 7s, a $10 parlay of these three home run props at FanDuel comes in at $1,356.20.
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