Sat, Mar 4, 2006
By Stephen Nover
Having averaged 48 homers the past five years while leading the majors in home runs two of the last four seasons, it’s no surprise Alex Rodriguez is favored to hit the most homers again.
Rodriguez is the 9-2 favorite at Bodog.com sportsbook to lead the majors in home runs this season.
At that low price, though, it might not be worth it to take Rodriguez.
“The problem with those kinds of winner-take-all props is there is no hedging,” said professional handicapper Andy Iskoe. “You have to have an expectation that you’re going to cash.
“Getting 40-1, 80-1 is great, but if he doesn’t end up leading the majors you might as well of had 1,000-1.”
OK, so let’s try and locate this year’s winner.
Andruw Jones broke through last year to lead the majors, smacking a career-high 51 homers. The 28-year-old Jones had never hit more than 36 homers before.
Few believe Jones can duplicate his 2005 season. That’s why Bodog has him at 12-1. Those are the same odds for the always intriguing Barry Bonds.
Until he was injured last season, Bonds had been amazingly consistent, hitting 49 homers in 2000, a major-league record 73 in 2001, 46 in 2002, 45 in 2003 and 45 in 2004. If you were assured of Bonds getting just 450 at bats, he would a very viable choice.
But with his creaky knees, you’re not. So let’s move on.
“You’re looking for a 25-26 year-old ready to break out,” said professional gambler Russ Culver. “You don’t care how many times he strikes out.
“There are a lot of young, potential home run candidates. You just have to get the one ready to break out.”
Perhaps Adam Dunn? The Reds slugger hit 40 homers last year. Dunn is 26 and plays in a homer-friendly park. He strikes out a lot (363 times the past two years), but an all-or-nothing player isn’t bad for this particular prop. Dunn has odds of 8-1.
Mark Teixeira reached superstar status last year, smacking 43 homers. The Rangers first baseman also plays in a great park for hitters and at 25 years-old, he’s in his prime. His odds are 8-1, too.
Albert Pujols, the best player in the National League, also has 8-1 odds. He’s averaged 43 homers the last three years and is just 26.
Manny Ramirez is another consistent power-hitter, topping 30 homers 10 of the past 11 years. Ramirez’s odds are 10-1.
Both Pujols and Ramirez are protected in their respective lineups with other good hitters. That’s not the case with some of the others listed on the home run prop, including Miguel Cabrera (40-1) of the Marlins, Jason Bay (40-1) of the Pirates, Todd Helton (60-1) of the Rockies and Miguel Tejada (60-1) of the Orioles.
Bonds might be an exception, but you normally want to stay away from aging, injury-prone stars like Ken Griffey Jr. (30-1) and Gary Sheffield (30-1).
You also don’t want to back a player whose home field is a pitcher’s park. In that unfortunate class is Washington’s Alfonso Soriano (20-1) and Seattle’s Richie Sexson 20-1.
The Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero doesn’t play in a great hitter’s park, but he could be worth a small investment. He slugged 32 homers last year despite missing 21 games in May because of a separated shoulder.
This will be Guerrero’s third year in the American League and he’s still only 30. Bodog lists Guerrero at 12-1.
Philadelphia’s Pat Burrell is an interesting long shot at 50-1. His homers have gone up each of the past three years from 21 to 24 to 32 last year. He plays in a hitter’s park, has protection in the lineup and is under 30 years of age.
All together, Bodog has odds on 37 players. The rest are lumped together in a field bet at odds of 6-1.
The field includes Adrian Beltre, who led the majors in homers just two years ago, Jim Edmonds, who smacked 42 homers in 2004, Mets’ promising third baseman David Wright and Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez, who figures to see better pitches this season with the additions of Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley.
The field also has several star players who were hurt last year, including Scott Rolen and Magglio Ordonez.