Over the past few weeks, Vegas sports books have been releasing some interesting player prop bets for season-long feats like the home run leaders, MVP, Cy Young award and so on. After browsing the odds on various sports books, I noticed tons of good value for the young studs on the Blue Jays.
It makes sense why a lot of the Jays players are dark horses for the end-of-season awards. After all, they are very inexperienced, so why would oddsmakers be so bullish on the Jays young players when they have tons of data on other more experienced players. On the other hand, the young stars of the Jays such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have shown massive steps of improvement despite minimal big league service time. When you couple that with the Blue Jays favourable position on aging curves, there could definitely be a few dark horse candidates to take home some trophies for the mantle at season’s end.
Here are my top Blue Jays player prop bets for the major awards/accolades given at the end of the season. This list is strictly based on the value of the sports book odds rather than the players with the best odds.
1. AL MVP – Lourdes Gurriel Jr. @ 101:1
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I love the value on this one. As I was saying, oddsmakers are typically not so bullish on inexperienced players due to lack of historical data and that is why I think these types of players provide great value for bettors. Before looking at any numbers, let’s first consider that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. came into camp looking much stronger than last year and he is also just 27 years old, which is widely considered the start of one’s athletic peak. With that being said, Gurriel Jr. is in an ideal position to have a great season, perhaps one of the best in his career.
Now let’s look at some numbers for trajectory purposes. Between 2018 and 2020, his OPS+ steadily jumped from 106 to 137 and he even upped his batting average to a hair under .310 in 2020. Despite his free swinging ways, his bat is very impressive and it’s only gotten better since he’s come up.
He has also shown massive defensive improvement after moving to LF early in the 2019 campaign. In 2020, it felt like he had about a thousand nice diving catches. His toss on the fly to gun Yandy Diaz at home was probably one of the nicest throws of the season. No one would’ve expected defence to become a strength for Gurriel Jr., but he has checked all the boxes of a good left fielder, whether it be speed, arm strength or the ability to put his body on the line. At the end of 2020, he finished as a Gold Glove finalist.
When you consider how well-rounded of a player Gurriel Jr. is and his peak-performance age, 101:1 is excellent value for him to take home the AL MVP. Do I think he will win it? Probably not, however, if you did the 2021 season over 101 times, I do think he’d take home an MVP award and possibly a few.
2. AL Cy Young Award – Hyun Jin Ryu @ 15:1
In the pitching department, it is tough to pick a ‘dark horse’ because virtually every Jays starting pitcher besides Hyun Jin Ryu has only ever peaked as a 4th or 5th starter with the exception of a couple All-Star nods. With that being said, Hyun Jin Ryu is the only candidate within the realm of reason in this category. 15:1 is good for the 5th highest odds to win the AL Cy Young award.
Hyun Jin Ryu has been dominant his entire career, but especially throughout 2018-2020. In 2018, he would’ve won the Cy Young award if that was the pandemic shortened season (1.97 ERA in 15 starts). In 2019 and 2020, he finished as a Cy Young finalist. He did everything he needed to do to be successful in his inaugural season with the Blue Jays. He kept his BB/9 below 2.5 while striking out more than a batter an inning. There is no reason to think Ryu will slow down, assuming he takes the mound every 5th day and stays healthy.
Another factor that adds value to these odds is the fact that Tyler Glasnow and Lucas Giolito are actually ranked higher by odds makers to win the award. Both Giolito and Glasnow have among the best stuff in MLB. Glasnow throws a 100 MPH fastball with a wipeout slider, while Giolito throws in the upper 90’s with a put away changeup. Both these pitchers have the stuff to be dominant and they’ve both shown flashes of it but in my view, their inconsistency and lack of results shouldn’t be enough to get them that high on the list. Glasnow produced an ERA+ of just 104 in 2020 with subpar results in the playoffs, and even with Giolito’s no-hitter in 2020, he still only posted an ERA of 3.48 and he has never had numbers below 3.41 in a full season.
All in all, Hyun Jin Ryu has proven it a lot longer than a few pitchers ahead of him, and when you couple that with the results we have seen in the last three seasons, 15:1 for Cy Young isn’t bad value at all.
3. MLB Home Run Leader – George Springer @ 29:1
George Springer to lead MLB in homers provides great value to bettors. In 2020, he hit 14 home runs in just 51 games and in 2019, he hit a whopping 39 bombs in just 122 games. I think that oddsmakers must’ve factored in health in this valuation because when healthy, basically no one in baseball has hit home runs at a higher rate than Springer.
You can make an argument for Teoscar Hernandez at 41:1 but I have a feeling that he will only get about 550 or 600 PA this year at most because he is the weak defensive link in the 4-man outfield and the DH is already going to be clogged up by the likes of Rowdy Tellez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He will still probably play pretty much every day, but I don’t think he gets as much action as Springer sees this season and that’s why he’s my number one choice on the Blue Jays to lead baseball in home runs.