Ah, but for the good old days of calculators, ink pens and paper.
You’d think the bookmakers at Major League Baseball betting sites would have really sunk their teeth into handicapping hundreds of “prop” markets for the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. After all, the daily slate of regular-season hardball prevents Las Vegas and London from giving every ballgame the full treatment. The annual All-Star Break is an opportunity to stop, breathe, and put out an impressive set of gambling odds on a gala event.
Plus, celebrity athletes are the boon of the prop bookie, and don’t even ask me about the number of storied ballplayers taking the field in Cleveland on Tuesday night.
But technology is changing online prop markets faster than you can say “Over/Under 3 RBIs.”
More and more player-prop betting is taking place through custom-odds software and not in the “analog” menu of gambling markets available online. Bovada Sportsbook might have attached 100 player-props to its All-Star Game moneyline of American League (-115) and National League (-105). This year, there’s a paltry 26 prop markets mostly dedicated to exact-score outcomes and team-scoring propositions.
Athletes still determine the “basic” team prop outcomes, though. To handicap whether a run will be scored in the 1st inning (or not) means handicapping the likely performances of starting hurlers Justin Verlander and Hyun-jin Ryu.
MyBookie’s “Team Total” prop (4 and ½ runs for either club) is chiefly about which set of power hitters – phenoms like Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich of the NL or old, reliable sluggers like Mike Trout of the AL – will crack an elite opposing stable of pitchers first.
It is impossible to blog about an algorithm that never changes. If you’d like to log into a betting site’s software and customize some juiced-up player props to gamble on, be our guest…or scroll ahead for some All-Star Game options that might just have a better chance to up a stake at the internet sportsbook.
The old-fashioned internet sportsbook, that is.
Will There Be a Run Scored in the 1st Inning? (Yes: -110, No -120)
Bovada is “juicing” this prop market with an extra 10%. But I’m liking the “yes” wager, because of an angle I’ve noticed that could propel the National League team to victory with a potential flurry of home runs.
Mound fatigue is not generally a factor in the Midsummer Classic. Speedball and slider-throwing aces are exciting to watch as they strike out the dregs of MLB again and again, but those hurlers can give up home runs to batters like Bellinger. Giving up a homer often just means that a fresh, combative pitcher got overly confident and made a mistake.
In the Year of the Home Run, the hurlers of the All-Star Game – including starters Verlander and Ryu – are likely to give up a couple of shots to the yard before settling down in the 2nd and 3rd innings. Verlander especially could be vulnerable to an early miscue.
Alternate Line: National League (-1.5) (+155)
For a similar reason, I’m liking the NL team to live large from the plate on Tuesday night.
National League batters from the All-Star squad have accounted for over 400 homers so far in 2019, though the AL roster isn’t too far behind. The difference is how each pitching staff is likely to approach taking on the big bats.
Elite “placement” hurlers who specialize in control rarely give up home runs no matter what, but will allow rallies once tired and unable to precisely steer the baseball. There’s no such thing as an exhausted pitcher in the All-Star Game, giving a confetti-throwing staff an advantage over a stable of hot-shot strikeout artists.
Make no mistake, the 2019 American League roster includes some of the best ever to grace the rubber. Verlander and Cole can send elite batters packing with fierce fastballs, while Chapman’s heat has been clocked at 105 MPH.
But the National League brings a batch of crafty pitchers who specialize in deadening contact and putting-out opposing batters with easy plays in the field. Zack Greinke is a versatile and smart hurler, and Ryu does not rely on a blazing fastball but rather a chameleon-like style that keeps sluggers guessing.
The betting public is wrong – the American League could win in Cleveland, but the National League is the true favorite by a healthy margin. NL representatives have an almost 50% chance to prevail by 2 runs or more, making the above prop line a value pick with a nice payoff ratio.
Margin-of-Victory: NL by 3-4 Runs (+575)
I’m almost interested in Bovada’s 7-to-1 line on extra innings at Progressive Field. The last 2 MLB All-Star Games have gone to a 10th inning, and hard-fought outcomes have betrayed any notion that players would stop trying as hard with home-field advantage in the World Series no longer determined by the winner of the July ballgame.
But to see 3 All-Star Games in a row go to extra innings would be to witness history in the making, while an alternate margin-of-victory gamble with similar odds stands out – the NL at (+575) to win by 3 or 4 runs.
When skippers Dave Roberts and Alex Cora (of the L.A. Dodgers and Boston Red Sox respectively) take the dugout for the mostly-ceremonial job of managing NL and AL representatives at Progressive Field, each might have his fingers secretly crossed that 2017 and 2018 don’t happen all over again. After all, they’ve got a lot of stock invested in some of the (healthy for now) commodities on the diamond.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see either manager go for the gusto rather than try to merely tie the score in the 9th inning. That’s why the (+700) prop market is probably a fool’s errand.
A pick on the true favorites to win by a healthy margin? At nearly 6-to-1 payoff, I’m going with the more realistic – and less historic – outcome.
Take the National League on the moneyline or a prop line for Tuesday…and expect at least a solo home run or RBI line-drive from a slugger from either or both clubs in the early going.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.