By Joey Held
The MLB regular season is a long and arduous process. And sure, if you’re a fan of a team that’s started off poorly, things might be a little tense right now. But it’s okay—there’s plenty of time left to turn things around. So just relax, and keep yourself sane (and possibly rich) with these prop bets you can make with your friends and/or enemies during any game this year.
#1) There Will Be Four Pitches During This At-Bat
If you’re really good at proposing bets that seem like a losing situation for you, you can finagle this into three or four pitches per at-bat. If not, just pick four pitches. The league average is 3.83 pitches per plate appearance, which doesn’t differ much from the 3.81 of 2011. And since you obviously can’t have a fraction of a pitch, round up and congratulate yourself when that hitter flies out on a 1-2 count.
#2) The First Pitch of This At-Bat Will Not Be Swung At
The league-wide average for swinging at the first pitch is 26% this year. The teams that hack at the first pitch the most? The Braves and the Rangers, both at 33%. That means you have at worst a 2 in 3 chance of being right. Sometimes it really is that easy.
#3) Both Teams Will Score At Least Four Runs During the Game
This works best if you’re betting with someone that loves pitcher’s duels, but you can still probably get someone to fall for it. 19 of the 30 teams in the league have averaged at least four runs a game this year, so again, you’ve got about a 2 in 3 chance of pulling this off.
#4) This Pinch Hitter Will Not Get a Hit
Here’s a fun fact: Last year no team batted over .300 in pinch-hitting situations. In 2010 it was even worse, with the Milwaukee Brewers posting a league-best .269 batting average when they trotted out a pinch hitter. So when it’s time for the starter to get yanked or that outfielder to take a seat, bank on his replacement recording an out.
#5) The Next Non-Strikeout Out Will Be a Groundout
Yes, I know this is a mouthful to say; bear with me here. Over the last two years, the averages of the ratio of groundouts to flyouts and lineouts (also known as “airouts”) have been 1.13and 1.08, respectively. And a ton of the top teams are in the National League, so even better if you’re watching an NL game. Your buddy might be inclined to take the airouts side anyway, since it’s giving him or her like 2:1 odds. But the fact of the matter is nearly every team grounds out more than they fly out and line out, so you’re the one that’s actually getting the edge.
#6) The Next Pitch Will Be an Odd Number MPH
With this one you’re really just chalking it up to luck, but for whatever reason, most pitchers will alternate between an odd and even number of miles per hour thrown on their pitches. Maybe the guy controlling the radar gun just gets bored and wants to mix it up, who knows? But if you’re slyly paying attention to the speed of the pitch prior to your bet, you’ll have the leg up on your hapless opponent.
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#7) The Next Pitch’s MPH Will Start With an Even Number
Statistically, you would think the odds are better that this should be…well, an odd number. After all, very few pitchers can hit 100, but most can reach the 90s, and those changeups and curveballs are usually in the 70s, right? Well, not so fast. According to this far-too-detailed chart from FanGraphs, only 55 pitchers in 2011 averaged at least 90 MPH for their fastball. And it’s a lot of the pitchers you would expect—Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum and Felix Hernandez to name a few. So if the marquee names aren’t pitching, you’re basically betting on the pitcher not throwing a curveball, which would likely be in the 70s. And, as in most bets, when you can take the field, you go for it.