All eyes are on the Supreme Court, awaiting its ruling in Christie vs. NCAA, a lawsuit that could eviscerate the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively banned most sports betting outside of a few states. With the possibility of more sports betting being available in the near future, it felt like a good opportunity to bring back one of my favorite columns that I hadn't done in several years, the prop bets piece.
I don't have the temperament of a tout, so there's no Platinum MegaLock or Szym's Gold Guarantee here. As a bettor, my yearly habits are picking and choosing among the best opportunities and squeezing out dollars from value picks. Having a projection system has proven to be a useful tool, though the real upside opportunities can be surprisingly few, with both Vegas and the public quite aware of what the projection systems are churning out.
The last time we ran this exercise, we had a pretty good year, picking Max Scherzer to win the Cy Young at 20-1 odds (he had never had a single Cy Young vote at the time). Team prop bets are among my favorites, so there are a few of them here. As in the past, I am placing all of these bets, so poor projections will cost me real money.
For each prop bet, I have included the American odds, fractional odds and the implied probability.
Nolan Arenado: National League MVP (+700 or 7/1, 12.5 percent). When we ran the preliminary 2018 award probabilities after the playoffs, the prediction model that the ZiPS projection system uses had Arenado's MVP probability at 15.5 percent. But there's one gigantic difference; at the time, the Miami Marlins were still the employer of Giancarlo Stanton. Without Stanton, ZiPS now projects Arenado at 21.9 percent and the top projected hitter in home runs and RBI, just ahead of Cody Bellinger in both. Even with the obvious hit Arenado's WAR would take given that his numbers are enhanced by Coors Field, it still ranks third in the projections behind Corey Seager and Kris Bryant and voters aren't strictly going by WAR by any means.