Sabermetrics for baseball bettors: Hitting
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The Major League Baseball futures buffet offers a wide variety of individual markets that appeal to bettors. With a shortened season on the horizon, there's even more value to be found, especially when it comes to volume-based props.

The key is being able to identify said value.

It can often be overwhelming to comb through the numbers in such a data-driven sport. Your best friends in this exercise - let's call it "Advanced Stats 101" - will be Baseball Savant and Fangraphs, both of which are fairly straightforward to navigate, as well as totally customizable.

Here's how you can use both to your advantage when capping the MLB player futures markets.

MVP

Most Valuable Player is an all-encompassing market that considers many factors, quite different from volume-based markets such as home run and steals leaders, which revolve around counting stats.

Though the MVP needs to excel in a variety of areas, there are still certain characteristics to look for. You want to find players who have a combination of power (see: home runs) and plate discipline (see: runs). Great defense plays a part, too, and you can track who contributes with their glove by looking at fielding stats on Baseball Savant. Categories such as runs prevented and outs above average (OAA) are typically strong indicators.

Home run leader

This is the hitting equivalent of the strikeout leader. It's another volume-based market in which plenty of value can be uncovered. Any hitter worth backing will have a high barrel count (Brrls), as the last five home run leaders were all top three in total barrels and top seven in Brrls/PA.

You should also look for players who record a high average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and ISO. Khris Davis led MLB in home runs in 2018 after landing in the top six in average exit velocity, ISO, barrels, and Brrls/PA the year prior. We could have seen the 2018 success coming with a deep dive into his profile.

Runs leader

This is another volume-based market, but it's more situation-dependent than the others. Though runs leaders will fit a certain profile, there are various circumstances that impact their ability to contribute in this category, including playing in a good offense and batting toward the top of the lineup.

When trying to identify potential runs leaders, look for batters with high walk rates who make good contact - the latter will combine a high contact percentage and a low swinging strike rate. A high baserunning score is also a bonus in this category.

Stolen base leader

This is one of the more straightforward markets despite the inherently situational element involved, as some teams are more reluctant to give the green light on the basepaths. Basically, you want someone who's fast and smart on the basepaths.

You'll want to look for high success rates (stolen base percentage), speed scores, "bolts" (runs above 30 feet/second), and high sprint speeds (measured by feet/second).

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Sabermetrics for baseball bettors: Hitting
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