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Few baseball prop markets are more fun than betting the home run race, which often provides twists and turns due to the high difficulty of hitting homers. That should be especially true this season, with just 60 games to chase the home run crown.
Given the high volatility, this isn't the year to bet on the favorites, even if their odds look enticing. Instead, it's worth scanning down the board for players whose batting profiles line up well with a short-sample power burst.
Here are the odds to lead MLB in home runs (shorter than 100-1), with our five favorite value bets on the board:
|Ronald Acuna Jr.||+1600|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||+6000|
Jimenez doesn't have the same season-long numbers as the rest of the value bets here, but just based on the conclusion of his 2019 campaign, he's a bet worth making. The White Sox youngster led MLB in barrels (23) from Aug. 10 to the end of the season, hitting 13 home runs during that span. If he can carry that improvement into 2020, it's hard not to buy his stock, especially at long odds.
Soler initially opened at inexplicable 80-1 odds, but his current price of 40-1 is still far too long for last year's American League home runs leader (48). The Royals slugger led the majors in barrels (70) and "no-doubt" homers (30) in 2019, so the power is there to repeat his impressive home run totals. Nobody on the board has this combination of proven production and underlying predictive stats. Grab this number before it's even shorter.
If you're targeting efficiency in a shortened slate, Cruz is your guy. He was the only player in MLB last year to hit at least 40 home runs in 120 or fewer games, and he led all qualified batter in home runs per game (0.34). He also ranked first in barrels per plate appearance (12.5%) and third in hard-hit rate (51.5%). In a shortened season, few are a better bet to make the most of each appearance.
The Indians arguably face the easiest slate of pitchers of any team, and Reyes has the talent to capitalize. He boasted the third-highest home run/fly ball rate (31.1%) in 2019, which might be a regression concern if he didn't also rank fourth in exit velocity on fastballs and line drives (98.2 mph) and fifth in hard-hit rate (51%). A low launch angle limited his homer potential in 2019, but if he continues to improve that, the sky is the limit for Reyes.
Everything about Sano's hitting profile screams home runs. Among players with at least 200 batted-ball events, he led the majors in hard-hit rate (57.2%); barrel rate (21.2%); average exit velocity on fly balls/line drives (99.6 mph); and average distance on fly balls (367 feet). So, why is he 80-1? A 105-game sample with the Twins last year hurt his raw numbers, but in a shortened season, Sano is the best value to mash his way to the home run crown.
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.