We will have this one up earlier in the day for the rest of the World Series, shame on me for not thinking of using the home run model for some prop bet calls much sooner in the day, thanks to Nolan behind the scenes for throwing the idea at me. Since we’re looking at just one game and only two teams, there weren’t exactly a lot of stacks to write up, so lets see if we can’t pick some winners another way.
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MLB Player Props – Best Bets: Home Runs & Strikeouts
Hunter Renfroe – Home Run: +310 – common odds
The Rays are taking on Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw who will be looking to dispel the nonsense about his inability to pitch in “clutch” situations (which do not exist). Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of his generation, if not the very best. The southpaw was excellent in 2020, putting up a 3.05 xFIP to his 2.16 ERA over 58.1 innings while striking out 28.1% of hitters. Kershaw allowed eight home runs over that innings sample, five to right-handed hitters. For his career, 74% of the 181 home runs he’s allowed have been to righty bats.
The Rays have several home run hitters in the lineup who can be weaponized for prop bets against lefty pitching, but the one I trust the most is Hunter Renfroe. He is pulling the highest mark on this team in my home run model and has a proven track record of obliterating this side of his platoon splits. In 184 plate appearances against lefties since the start of 2019 Renfroe has put up a monster .344 ISO and has a team-leading 16 home runs over the course of the sample. For his career, 62.8% of the 97 home runs Renfroe has hit have come against southpaws.
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Brandon Lowe – Home Run: +400 – common odds
Brandon Lowe is a player who might get overlooked by bettors in assessing the slate of options for home run props, given the lefty-lefty matchup against Kershaw. He’s pulling the second-highest home run mark on the board for the Rays for me tonight and, while I prefer the Renfroe pick, we can pick up some additional value on what I think is a good play. For his career, Lowe has not shown much of a loss in quality against same-handed pitching, putting up a .250/.315/.527 slash with a .277 ISO as compared to a .266/.350/.509 slash with a .243 ISO against right-handed pitchers. As is evident in his ISO, he has generated power more frequently against lefty pitching, hitting a home run in 7.4% of plate appearances compared to 4.6% of the time against right-handed pitchers. Lowe’s major issue will be the strikeout, he fans 37.7% of the time against fellow southpaws, making this very much an all-or-nothing play. Hedging with a Kershaw strikeouts prop bet could be smart.
Clayton Kershaw – Over 6.5 Strikeouts: -154 – BetMGM
Clayton Kershaw is an excellent strikeout option on most slates. For his career, the lefty ace has a 27.5% strikeout rate, inducing 22.6% swinging strikes, numbers that are very much in line with what he posted in 2020. Kershaw sat in the 73rd percentile of strikeout rate and the 56th percentile of whiff rate through the 2020 season. He’ll be facing a Tampa Bay Rays team that led all of baseball with a 28.1% strikeout rate in the split against left-handed pitchers.
The Rays starting lineup includes hitters like Mike Zunino who struck out 44% of the time against lefties this season, Renfroe who we mentioned above, Willy Adames and his 32.1% rate, and Kevin Kiermaier who sat himself down 28.6% of the time in the split this season. The average strikeout rate for the Rays who are starting the game against lefties this season was 23.12%. For their careers, the rate jumps to 23.87%, so we’re not simply seeing any short sample data here, this team swings and misses a lot against lefties. Get your wager in at BetMGM, which OddsShopper has as our best-bet for this one, which sits at -167 on most other sites.
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