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The Houston Astros' cheating scandal has generated opinions from pretty much everyone, including high-profile MLB players like Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger. But will the harsh feelings toward Houston creep into the regular season and lead to retaliation?
In today's betting landscape, people can wager on almost anything and that includes how many times Houston players will get beaned in 2020.
The instant reaction will be to bet the over here. However, 83 is a huge number, especially for a team like the Astros whose star players don't historically get hit a lot. A player's stance is the key factor when it comes to getting beaned. Guys who crowd the plate like Anthony Rizzo, Pete Alonso, and Todd Frazier tend to get hit more often. Last season, Robinson Chirinos led the Astros with 13 HBP and he's not even on the team anymore. Alex Bregman (9) and Michael Brantley (7) were the only other Houston players to get beaned more than six times in 2019.
The thinking here is the Astros will see more beanballs following their cheating scandal. That may happen for the first couple weeks of the season, but as the year grinds into July and August, pitchers won't be throwing at guys on a regular basis. We also have to factor in punishments from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred over retaliations. The Astros finished with 66 hit by pitches last year and the guy who accounted for 13 of them is gone. The under is a strong bet.
Under 1.5 chargers -300
Over 1.5 chargers +200
The over is probably the best bet of these props. While things should settle down after the first month, it's a near certainty there will be at least one incident early in the season that results in a fight. That means you only need one more mound charge all year to cash the bet. Look for at least two Astros players to get into a brawl over the course of the season.
Alex Bregman +100
George Springer +200
Jose Altuve +300
Carlos Correa +350
Bregman is the favorite and he should be. Not only is Bregman one of the most unlikable Astros, his stance invites more hit by pitches than the rest of the players listed. Bregman finished second on the team after getting beaned nine times last season. Now toss in the cheating scandal and he's a safe bet to lead the team in 2020. However, if Carlos Correa keeps running his mouth, he's worth a shot at +350 as well.
There's a reason why the no is juiced to -200. Books are trying to get people to bet yes based on overreaction to the cheating scandal. As mentioned above, while more Houston players will likely get beaned this year, Astros batters simply don't get hit often enough for the team to lead MLB in the category. Last year, Astros batters got hit at a clip of 0.38 per game, ranking 18th in MLB. The New York Mets ranked first getting hit 0.59 times per game. Cheating or no cheating, that's simply too much ground to make up in one year. Don't bet on Houston leading the league in this category.
Thomas Casale is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. A devoted fan of the wishbone offense, Thomas bets on all sports but specializes in college football, NFL, and college basketball. Find him on Twitter @TheTomCasale.