Trout, Alonso Favored in Odds to Hit First Home Run When MLB Returns

Pete Alonso celebrating a home run
Pete Alonso trails only Mike Trout among the favorites to hit the first home run of 2020. Photo by @Allweblink (Twitter).
  • Bettors can wager on which player will hit the first home run, whenever the 2020 baseball season starts
  • The MLB does not have a set schedule yet, meaning there’s no way to know which teams will play the first game(s)
  • It’s extremely hard to find value in this prop bet

The 2020 MLB season still doesn’t have a start date. It might not even have an American and National League, instead switching to three geographically-based ten-team divisions.

But that hasn’t stopped online sportsbooks from continuing to post MLB futures. Team win totals have turned into win percentages; the Rookie of the Year odds continue to shift; and now bettors can put money down on which player will hit the very first homer of the 2020 season, if there is one.

Odds to Hit First Home Run of 2020 MLB Season

Player Odds 2019 AB/HR 2019 PA/HR
Mike Trout (Angels) +800 10.4 13.3
Pete Alonso (Mets) +850 11.3 13.1
Joey Gallo (Rangers) +1000 11.0 13.5
Christian Yelich (Brewers) +1000 11.1 13.2
Cody Bellinger (Dodgers) +1100 11.9 14.0
Aaron Judge (Yankees) +1100 14.0 16.6
Yordan Alvarez (Astros) +1200 11.6 13.7
Eloy Jimenez (White Sox) +1400 15.1 16.3
Miguel Sano (Twins) +1400 11.2 12.9
Ronald Acuna Jr (Braves) +1500 15.3 17.4
Nolan Arenado (Rockies) +1500 14.3 16.2
Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) +1600 13.8 (career) 15.9
Vlad Guerrero Jr (Blue Jays) +1600 30.9 34.3
Matt Olson (Athletics) +1800 13.4 15.2

Odds as of May 5, 2020. 

In total, 23 players are listed. The prop does not specify what happens if a non-listed player hits the first home of the season. Presumably wagers will stay open until one of the listed players hits a home run. (The remainder of this article is written under that assumption.)

Mike Trout leads the pack at +800, which translates to an 11.1% implied probability. Based purely on at-bats per home run, Trout is a justified favorite. But keep in mind that at-bats does not include walks. Trout walks a lot.  A more telling stat is plate appearances per home run. On that front, Miguel Sano and Pete Alonso led the league last year.

Hard to Find Value Without a Schedule

If bettors knew which team(s) were going to be playing the first games of the year, this would be an easier wager to play. But we don’t (yet). We don’t even know if a season will be played at all. We also don’t know if it will take place in teams’ home parks or at select neutral sites. With that in mind, it may be wise to fade Nolan Arenado and his Rockies teammates. If they aren’t playing at Coors, their chances of hitting a home run in any given plate appearance goes down slightly.

Everyone’s Odds Are Too Short

As mentioned, the implied probability for the field, as a whole, is over 130% which, from the outset, makes it tough to find value. If all 23 have a roughly equal chance of hitting the first home run, every player has a 4.3% chance. Only six players on the list have odds that amount to less than a 4.3% chance: Gleyber Torres (+2500), JD Martinez (+2800), Alex Bregman (+3000), Khris Davis (+3000), Rhys Hoskins (+3000), and Trevor Story (+3000).

The odds for Trout and Alonso have an implied probability north of 10%. Every player listed in the table above is 5.3% or higher.

This bet is a clear stay away for me.

That said, if I had to play it, I would certainly be looking at one of the six players at +2500 or longer. Among that group, Gleyber Torres had the best plate-appearance-per-home-run mark last season at 15.9%.

But god help you if the Yankees don’t get to play the Orioles right off the bat.

Pick #1: Stay Away

Pick #2: Gleyber Torres (+2500)

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