MLB runs leader odds: Josh Donaldson a screaming value
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If there's baseball this summer, it'll come during a significantly shortened season, which could lead to value on volume-based prop bets. Today, we'll break down the best bets to lead MLB in runs, which has strongly been correlated to team performance in recent years.
This has been a leaderboard dominated by American League players - eight of the last 10 runs leaders, and four of the five leaders in 2019, hailed from the AL. That includes reigning two-time leader Mookie Betts, who headlines the field this year despite his move from the Red Sox to the Dodgers. Can he defend his crown in a new league?
Here are the odds to lead MLB in runs this season (55-1 or shorter), with a few names to target as early values:
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||+1100|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||+3600|
Mookie Betts (+700)
It's pretty hard to fade Betts as the favorite to lead the majors in runs this year, as he's set up perfectly to make it three straight seasons after joining a Dodgers lineup loaded with premier hitters. Eight of the last 10 runs leaders played for teams that ranked in the top four in runs scored, and Betts will likely be leading off for the NL's top run-scorers.
If there's any concern here, it's the switch to the new league. Since 2008, only one player has recorded more than 127 runs in the NL. That's happened seven times in the AL during that span and five times in the last three years alone. There's value here, but not without reservation.
Mike Trout (+850)
Trout has led the league in runs three times (2012, 2014, 2016) and is always a contender in this market, even when the Angels are lousy. Add Anthony Rendon and potentially Shohei Ohtani to the lineup, which is projected to be among the top three in runs scored by PECOTA? Trout might set a career high in runs.
The one caveat is health. Trout missed a combined 16 games from 2013-16 but has missed 98 contests over the last three campaigns. A shortened season could do wonders for his chances here, but at short odds, you've got to swallow the risk.
Josh Donaldson (+5500)
The Twins finished second in runs last year (939) and improved their order by adding Donaldson, who led MLB in runs in 2015. They're expected to once again finish in the top two in runs scored this season. So why in the world is Donaldson getting 55-1 odds, the shortest of any Minnesota hitter?
Donaldson paced the field with 122 runs in 2015 - when his Blue Jays led the league in runs - and finished one short of the league lead with 122 runs in 2016, too. He plated 96 runs a year ago and should see that total rise with a glut of power hitters surrounding him in the order. This is the steal of the field, and it isn't close.
Jonathan Villar (+6500)
If you're looking for a surprise winner based on predictive stats from past champs, take a swing on Villar, who's such a long shot that we didn't even include him in the table above. Each of the last five runs leaders entered that season having recorded at least 99 runs, 10 stolen bases, and a baserunning score of 2.9 the previous year. Eight players did that a season ago, including Villar, but the Marlins speedster is the only one with odds longer than 30-1.
There's obvious risk here - Miami might have the worst offense in baseball, and Villar isn't much help with his bat. But he plated 111 runs with an equally inept Orioles team in 2019, and he's an elite baserunner who's always produced strong run totals when healthy. At 65-1, he's worth the gamble.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.
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