Spring training is here, and with it projections and predictions for the 2023 MLB season. Sportsbooks have posted MLB odds on a variety of preseason markets. I scanned through the early numbers and fired off a couple of wagers on MLB futures. Today I’ll share one longshot play I made in the Most Hits market, as well as my reasoning behind the pick.
This is the second post in my Spring Training series on MLB futures. The first focused on a longshot in Most Saves odds.
MLB Odds: Most Regular Season Hits
Hits are a fickle stat in baseball. They are subject to a variety of factors, not all of which are in a player’s control. How do pitchers approach them? What happens to their batted balls? What does their home stadium do to balls in play? How does the defense respond to said balls in play?
Essentially, hits just involve a ton of variance.
So, when looking at most hits markets, I’m naturally gravitating toward longer shots.
At the top of the board, the projection systems (housed at FanGraphs) and the betting markets are in agreement. Trea Turner should lead the MLB in hits. He tops every single projection system housed there with the exception of THE BAT X, which has him second to Freddie Freeman. All of the computers project him for something like 175 hits.
While Turner should have another great season in his new digs in Philly, I actually made a speculative play on another infielder playing for a rival NL East squad.
As you’ve no doubt figured by now, I’m talking about Ozzie Albies. Despite playing for my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, Albies has not been one of my favorites to watch over recent years. I find his lack of plate discipline frustrating, and he was atrocious in the playoffs when the Braves made their World Series run in 2021.
Then, he had a bit of a lost season in 2022. He got snakebitten by injuries, first breaking his foot and missing three months. Then, he got all of six PAs in before breaking his pinkie on a slide into base. That spelled the end of his season.
Ozzie Albies: Due For A Bounce Back?
Prior to that, Albies was having the first below-average season of his career at the plate with a 93 wRC+. That means he produced 7% less offense than the average MLB batter. No doubt, Albies performed below his normal level. Pick your Statcast metric, and he had the worst season of his career in 2022.
But, Albies should be primed for a bounce back campaign in 2023. None of those injuries should linger and affect him this year.
And look at his hit totals from his last three full seasons, ignoring the shortened 2020 year:
- 2021: 163
- 2019: 189
- 2018: 167
That’s an average of 173 a year, not far off the projected leaders for 2023.
Now, it would be one thing if those represented Albies’ peak seasons and we should expect him to experience age-related decline. But, we’re still talking about a 26-year-old player who should theoretically be entering his prime. That’s a key factor here. We get to buy low off of the worst season of Albies’ career — one wrecked by injury — in a spot where he should actually be ascending anyway.
Albies checks a bunch of boxes we’re looking for in a most hits market. He plays for a great team and has batted near the top of the lineup for most of his career. He takes a below-average number of walks and doesn’t strike out very often because he’s a free swinger who makes a lot of contact. A lot of that contact comes on the ground (44.2% career grounder rate), so if the BABIP gods smile upon him, he will rack up plentiful hits. And according to FantasyPros’ data, Truist Park ranked seventh-best for boosting singles.
My Bet: Ozzie Albies To Lead MLB In Hits (+5000)
I backed Albies to lead MLB in hits. He should enjoy some sort of rebound this season after a disastrous 2022, and all the ingredients are there for him to get this done.
I used a profit boost at BetRivers, which has Albies at +5000, to get him up past +6000. If you’re just looking for the best price on Albies without any boosts, it’s currently at .