Player props can be useful in a variety of ways -- from taking advantage of them straight up (to the tune of cold hard cash) to measuring a player's potential to produce in daily fantasy baseball on FanDuel. Here, we're going to focus on the former.
Please note that betting lines and our game projections may change throughout the day after this article is published. Also, the weather may be an issue in some locations.
Bryon Buxton To Hit a Home Run (+200)
Byron Buxton is one of the best hitters in the league and has a great matchup tonight.
It's very clear that Buxton is an MVP-caliber player, and with three home runs to start the season, he is locked in at the plate. Last season, he had a 169 wRC+, a .300 ISO, a 39.7% hard-contact rate, and a 26.3% HR/FB ratio versus left-handed pitchers. Those are elite numbers, and it consistently puts him in a spot to go deep in this split.
He'll be up against Andrew Heaney, who allowed 2.22 HR/9 to righties last season, along with a 4.07 xFIP, a 47.3% fly-ball rate, and a 36.4% hard-contact rate. This is a very straightforward matchup for Buxton, and while his odds might not be the longest, he's too good to pass up tonight.
Nolan Arenado Two or More Total Bases (-105)
The St. Louis Cardinals come in with a strong 4.97 implied run total, which is the third-highest on the slate.
If the Cardinals are going to hit or exceed that run total, how is that going to happen? I ask that in a rhetorical sense to make a simple point.
If they hit they hit that total, it's likely due to their best hitters performing well, which means we should target them for some props tonight. One such player would be Nolan Arenado and his two-plus total bases prop. Arenado is batting cleanup tonight and comes in with six hits in the first two games of the season -- with a matchup to help him extend that streak.
Arenado is up against Daniel Lynch, who allowed a 5.46 xFIP, 1.39 HR/9, a low 17.8% strikeout rate, and a 38.7% hard-contact rate allowed versus right-handed hitters in 2021. These are some awful stats, and we should be actively looking to attack that via Arenado's prop at nearly even money.
Arenado had a 146 wRC+, a .295 ISO, and a .387 wOBA versus lefties last season, making this an elite matchup for him.
Madison Bumgarner Under 3.5 Strikeouts (+128)
The under for Madison Bumgarner's strikeout prop is the place to look tonight.
Getting plus money is always a good thing for a player prop, and while 3.5 strikeouts is a low number, I'm liking it tonight for a few reasons.
First off, Bumgarner had a 20.2% strikeout rate last season, which was below the league average of 23.2%. Next, he only reached 68 pitches in the season opener, and that means he shouldn't be reaching too far past that tonight.
He's up against the Houston Astros, who have a 5.16 implied run total tonight (second-highest on the slate). Last season, the Astros had an 18.3% strikeout rate versus left-handed pitchers, which was the lowest in the league. If we combine all of this, the Astros don't strike out and are in a spot to pour in the runs against Bumgarner. That could cause him to leave early and hit the under on his strikeout prop.