Most Home Runs
Baltimore's Chris Davis came somewhat out of nowhere last season to lead the major leagues with 53 home runs. He had 77 home runs in 1,520 career at-bats prior to 2013 largely as a part-time player. He hit 33 dingers in 2012 in his first season as a regular in Baltimore.
Has Davis suddenly discovered something at age 28 or was that season a fluke much like when former Oriole Brady Anderson hit a by-far-career-high 50 in 1996 (hint, hint)? Time will tell, but Davis does play 81 games in hitter-friendly Camden Yards and has a strong lineup around him. Still, reaching 50 again seems unlikely as that had only been done once previously since 2007 (Toronto's Jose Bautista with 54 in 2010).
Davis is the 6/1 favorite for sports bettors to lead the majors again. Also at 6/1 is Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, the 2012 home-run king with 44 in his Triple Crown season. Cabrera also hit 44 last season, marking his only two career years with more than 38.
Our recommendation? The Rangers' Prince Fielder at 12/1. Fielder hit behind Cabrera in the Tigers' lineup the past two seasons before being traded this offseason to Texas. Globe Life Park in Arlington becomes very hitter-friendly when the summer winds kick in. Just two years ago Josh Hamilton, a lefty like Fielder, hit 43 with the Rangers. Thus Fielder could hit somewhere in the ballpark of 46 he did in 2009 with Milwaukee and win his first home-run crown.
Bovada also lists his total home runs at 31.5 on MLB odds and we lean heavily over there. Ditto on the MLB leader being over 45.5.
The over/under for the big-league batting champion this season is .345 for sports bettors. Since Minnesota's Joe Mauer won his first of three American League batting titles in 2006, the winner has hit better than .345 six times. Cabrera led the majors with a .348 average a season ago in taking his third straight AL crown.
There is no prop for a batting king, but we like Mauer to win the award with an average north of .345. His total is set at .320. Mauer hit .324 a season ago when his year was cut short with a concussion. He no longer will have to worry about the physical wear and tear of playing catcher so Mauer should be that much more productive. His career-high average was .365 in 2009.
Cabrera has the site's highest over/under average at .325. He hasn't finished under that since 2009 when Miggy hit "only" .324. This year with a weaker lineup around him, Cabrera's home-run and average totals are likely to drop. Under on the average.
Injuries have vastly changed the fortunes of a few contenders this season. The Atlanta Braves have a wins total of 87.5, but they have lost their two best pitchers, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, to season-ending Tommy John surgery. Another starter, Mike Minor, is battling shoulder issues but should be ready in late April. The Braves did sign Ervin Santana, but is he the guy who had a 3.24 ERA with Kansas City in 2013 or a 5.16 ERA in 2012 with the Angels? Under 87.5 wins.
The Arizona Diamondbacks already are 0-2 and they lost their ace, lefty Patrick Corbin, to season-ending Tommy John surgery. That was crushing news for the Snakes and pushes Wade Miley into the No. 1 role. He pitched so-so in losing the season opener to L.A. in Australia. The Diamondbacks are set at 80 wins and now appear to finish under without GM Kevin Towers making a trade for pitching.
The Oakland A's lost their No. 1 starter, Jarrod Parker, also for the season. No. 2 A.J. Griffin had arm troubles this spring but has avoided surgery. However, he will start the season on the DL and it's an injury worth monitoring. Under 87.5 wins for two-time AL West champion Oakland.
Oakland's division-rival Rangers also have been crushed by injuries. Second baseman Jurickson Profar, catcher Geovany Soto and No. 2 pitcher Derek Holland all could miss at least half the season. Ace Yu Darvish will start the year on the DL but doesn't have a serious neck injury. The issues of the Rangers and A's should benefit the L.A. Angels, whose wins total is 86.5 at sportsbooks. They have avoided any major injuries. Plus the Halos can beat up on Houston 15-16 times this year. Take over on the Angels as well as L.A. at +225 to win the AL West.