Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m a fantasy writer, not a sports bettor or a sports betting writer. Still, I thought it’d be fun to see how my projections, taken from the EDGE+ fantasy baseball draft guide, stack up against PointsBet’s MLB Futures for the 2021 season. I’m showing my projected leaderboards for each of the six categories PoinstBet is taking action on, along with the odds given.
+1500 - Whit Merrifield: 185 (.287 in 644 AB)
+1200 - DJ LeMahieu: 182 (.308 in 591 AB)
+1800 - Ketel Marte: 178 (.296 in 602 AB)
+2000 - Eloy Jimenez: 177 (.302 in 587 AB)
+1200 - Trea Turner: 176 (.303 in 580 AB)
+1200 - Mookie Betts: 173 (.293 in 591 AB)
+2500 - Corey Seager: 173 (.300 in 576 AB)
+4000 - Juan Soto: 173 (.318 in 544 AB)
+2000 - Bo Bichette: 172 (.289 in 596 AB)
+3000 - Ozzie Albies: 172 (.286 in 601 AB)
The path to leading the majors in hits is less about being baseball’s best hitter and more about racking up a ton of at-bats without walking much. Merrifield led the majors in hits in both 2018 and 2019 while hitting just a smidge over .300 each year (.304 and .302, respectively). He finished sixth last year while batting .282. At age 32, he should be on the decline, and I suspect someone here will sufficiently exceed the projections to beat him out for this hits crown this season. I’d count on him finishing in the top five in the league in hits, but I wouldn’t make a significant wager on him to win. In truth, there’s nothing here very exciting to me. I was hoping for longer odds on Marte after his down season, but Pointsbet is too smart for that, it seems.
Most Home Runs
+1200 - Ronald Acuña Jr.: 47 in 683 PA
+1000 - Mike Trout: 46 in 646 PA
+1000 - Pete Alonso: 44 in 635 PA
+1500 - Eloy Jimenez: 44 in 635 PA
+2500 - Fernando Tatis Jr.: 44 in 621 PA
+2000 - Bryce Harper: 43 in 659 PA
N/A - Teoscar Hernandez: 43 in 607 PA
+1200 - Juan Soto: 42 in 665 PA
+2000 - Aaron Judge: 42 in 618 PA
+1200 - Cody Bellinger: 41 in 635 PA
+3000 - Franmil Reyes: 41 in 639 PA
+2000 - Matt Olson: 41 in 644 PA
+3000 - Luke Voit: 41 in 601 PA
+2000 - Giancarlo Stanton: 41 in 574 PA
I’m surprised about Hernandez’s lack of a listing; he has 42 homers in 671 plate appearances the last two seasons and the Statcast numbers to back it up. If one could get him at +4000 or +5000, he’d be the most intriguing option here.
It’d be pretty incredible for a 22-year-old shortstop to lead the majors in homers, but Tatis would seem to be capable, if he can play in nearly every game. He was in the running for the homer crown for much of last year, and he totaled 39 homers in 629 plate appearances at ages 20 and 21.
Not having the DH available in NL games will hurt the chances of Reyes, Stanton and Yordan Alvarez, all of whom will have to put on a glove or open up on the bench for nine or 10 games. Stanton leads my projections in homers per plate appearances, but even if he can stay off the IL this year, he’s just not going to get to bat as much as most of the rest of these players.
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+1500 - Eloy Jimenez: 125 in 635 PA
+800 - Juan Soto: 115 in 665 PA
+3000 - Corey Seager: 112 in 637 PA
+1000 - Cody Bellinger: 111in 635 PA
+2000 - Freddie Freeman: 111 in 669 PA
+1200 - Mike Trout: 110 in 646 PA
N/A - Carlos Correa: 110 in 597 PA
+1200 - Marcell Ozuna: 110 in 618 PA
+3000 - Yordan Alvarez: 109 in 575 PA
+1500 - Bryce Harper: 108 in 659 PA
+2000 - Pete Alonso: 107 in 635 PA
+5000 - Franmil Reyes: 107 in 639 PA
+1500 - Manny Machado: 107 in 659 PA
+2000 - Jose Abreu: 107 in 671 PA
Jimenez for the RBI crown is my favorite bet of the bunch here. He might open up batting fifth for the White Sox, which isn’t ideal, but I doubt it will last. Jimenez was able to drive in 41 runs in 55 games last year, and his career is very much on the upswing at age 24. I’m also a big fan of his for AL MVP honors at +2500.
Seager is another player I expect to crush it this year, though it’s going to be tough for him to rack up a truly spectacular RBI total from the second spot in the Dodgers lineup. I’d be more optimistic on those National League RBI totals if the DH were in effect. Seager drove in 41 runs in 52 games while mostly batting second last year, but that was with Dodgers’ No. 9 hitters posting a .335 OBP. It’ll probably be something more like .260 this year with pitchers hitting a couple of times per game.
Correa is another big sleeper here, though that hinges on the Astros batting him cleanup. Their lineup isn’t yet settled, and there’s been some talk of him leading off. Both Correa and Alvarez could rack up huge RBI numbers while hitting behind the likes of Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley. It’s also possible that Bregman will bat fourth, but while he’s a terrific hitter, he’d likely walk too much to contend for an RBI title.
+850 - Ronald Acuña Jr.: 130 in 683 PA
+800 - Mookie Betts: 125 in 676 PA
+1000 - Juan Soto: 122 in 665 PA
+1200 - Mike Trout: 116 in 646 PA
+2000 - Bryce Harper: 112 in 659 PA
+1500 - Christian Yelich: 112 in 653 PA
+1000 - Fernando Tatis Jr.: 111 in 621 PA
+1200 - Freddie Freeman: 110 in 669 PA
+2000 - George Springer: 109 in 634 PA
+4000 - Aaron Judge: 107 in 618 PA
+3000 - Trevor Story: 106 in 655 PA
This is where my projections most line up with PointsBet’s. I favor Acuña because he’ll likely drive himself in more frequently than Betts, but I think as long as they stay healthy, those two are the clear favorites here. I do kind of like the idea of Judge as a long shot. He led the AL in runs scored with 128 during his monster 2015 season. He’ll probably keep hitting second in a loaded Yankee lineup, and he should drive himself in 40-50 times if he stays healthy. Still, the kind of perfect health it would take for him to lead the majors in runs scored probably won’t materialize.
+120 - Adalberto Mondesi: 54 in 613 PA
+350 - Trea Turner: 32 in 642 PA
N/A - Leody Taveras: 31 in 594 PA
+700 - Ronald Acuña Jr.: 30 in 683 PA
+2000 - Luis Robert: 30 in 608 PA
+4000 - Dylan Moore: 27 in 595 PA
+700 - Whit Merrifield: 26 in 694 PA
N/A - Andres Gimenez: 26 in 565 PA
+2000 - Myles Straw: 26 in 502 PA
+1500 - Trevor Story: 25 in 647 PA
+8000 - Trent Grisham: 25 in 642 PA
If Mondesi stays healthy, he’d seem to be close to a lock to lead the majors in steals. Heck, he could miss one-third of the year and probably still rate as the favorite. He’s swiped 67 bases in 161 games the last two years. The next highest players on that list are Jonathan Villar (56) and Mallex Smith (48), and neither of them is due to receive the kind of playing time that would make them reasonable candidates for a steal crown this year. Smith probably won’t even open up in the majors.
I would have been more excited about a long shot Taveras pick a couple of weeks ago, but he hasn’t impressed this spring and it doesn’t look like he’ll get to open up in the leadoff spot for the Rangers. Taveras, though, did go 8-for-8 stealing bases in 33 games after taking over as the Rangers’ center fielder last year, but he’s in a competition to keep that job now.
I’d actually probably take Straw as the second best bet to lead the majors in steals. I don’t think he’ll be a very good regular for Houston, but he is a terrific basestealer, having swiped 16 bases in 19 tries as a bench player for the Astros the last three years. If he does surprise offensively, he’s one of the few guys here with a real chance of stealing 40 bags.
Most Strikeouts (Pitchers)
+650 - Shane Bieber: 288 in 198 1/3 IP
+500 - Jacob deGrom: 284 in 200 1/3 IP
+800 - Trevor Bauer: 265 in 201 2/3 IP
+1000 - Max Scherzer: 264 in 198 IP
+450 - Gerrit Cole: 262 in 197 2/3 IP
+800 - Lucas Giolito: 239 in 182 1/3 IP
+2000 - Aaron Nola: 233 in 193 2/3 IP
+2500 - Jack Flaherty: 229 in 187 IP
+3000 - Walker Buehler: 227 in 182 1/3 IP
+2000 - Luis Castillo: 225 in 191 2/3 IP
There’s nothing here I’d want to get involved in. There would seem to be to be five reasonable bets to win the strikeout crown this year, and they’re all right at the top in the PointsBet list. It will likely mostly come down to which of these aces pitches the most innings, and things will be even dicier than usual there after the abbreviated 2020 campaign. I’d rather go with deGrom at +400 to win NL Cy Young honors than take my chances with any of these options.