Proposition Baseball Betting In Full Swing

No sport collects more statistics than Major League Baseball so it should come as little surprise that sportsbooks utilize those numbers to produce hundreds of ways to keep baseball betting fans involved in the game.

These proposition bets, which often match player against player and team against team, come in a variety of statistical categories but the most popular prop bet over the years always has been which player will lead the Major Leagues in home runs. We hate to take issue with a familiar catch-line from a well-known commercial, but it's not just chicks who dig the long ball.

Cardinals' slugger Albert Pujols opened as a 6/1 favorite to lead the Majors in homers. Pujols hit 42 round-trippers last season and has clubbed 126 over the past three years. Adam Dunn, who has averaged 40 homers per year over the last seven seasons and had 38 in 2010 for the Nationals, now moves to the White Sox where he's listed as the narrow 13/2 second choice.

Coming off a career low of 31 homers last season after swatting 93 in the previous two years, the Phillies' Ryan Howard is quoted at odds of 8/1, the same price as the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, who had 38 homers in 2010. The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista, who came out of nowhere to lead the Majors with 54 homers last year after hitting only 28 in the prior two seasons, is listed at odds of 9/1.

Others high on the homer list include the Brewers' Prince Fielder, 12/1, the Red Sox's Adrian Gonzalez, 15/1, and the Yankees' Mark Teixeira, 16/1. While most sportsbooks list more than 60 players with the potential to lead MLB in home runs, some baseball betting aficionados may prefer a bet on the field (anyone not listed) at odds of 8/1.

Given the excitement regarding the stellar starting pitching assembled in Philadelphia, it's only natural that some sportsbooks are offering an over/under bet on how many victories the Phillies rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will amass. The total is 64 1/2 with gamblers who prefer the "under" asked to lay -185 (bet $185 to win $100) while bettors who prefer the "over" take +155 (bet $100 to win $155).

The Red Sox's three Js, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey, have a total of 45 1/2 victories with bettors asked to lay -115 on either the "over" or the "under."

Bettors who believe the Phillies and Red Sox will meet in the World Series—each team is favored to win their respective pennant races—also can bet on which team wins more games during the regular season. It's -115 either way but if you like Philadelphia you have to lay 1 1/2 games while if you prefer Boston you get 1 1/2 games.

We found dozens of these team-versus-team victory propositions, including the matching of geographic rivals such as the Yankees and Mets, Cubs and White Sox, Dodgers and Angels, Giants and Athletics, and Orioles and Nationals.

There also are propositions matching players in the categories of home runs, RBIs, base hits and runs.

Also interesting are total bets in more than a dozen categories for the league's leaders. In each category, the gamblers lays -110 on either the "over" or the "under." For example, the total for most home runs in the Major Leagues this year is 47 1/2. Toronto's Jose Bautista hit 54 last year but no one else hit more than 42.

The over/under for wins by a pitcher is 20 1/2, a number exceeded only by the Yankees' CC Sabathia (21) and the Phillies' Roy Halladay (21) last year.

Back to the hitters and the over/under for RBI's is 137 1/2, 11 1/2 more than anyone had last year, while the total for runs is 121 1/2, also more plate touches than anyone achieved in 2010.

Sportsbooks also are aiming high with 116 1/2 walks. No one reached that figure last year and there were only three players with more than 100 free passes.

The standard for stolen bases is 66 1/2, a number exceeded last year only by the White Sox's Juan Pierre, who swiped 68.

There also are totals for league leaders in batting average (.355), getting hit by a pitch (24 1/2), saves (47 1/2), complete games (8 1/2), shutouts (3 1/2), and losses (17 1/2).

Clearly, when it comes to baseball betting variety and innovation, sportsbooks have risen to the challenge.