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Indians Indians Archive View from the Porch: Making Use of Props
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

HRPorchViewFor a gambling man like me, the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail. I don’t really like to bet a whole lot on the NFL because there are too many guys who take games off or don’t play as hard as they can. The playoffs are a much different animal and it can help showcase the skill of a sports bettor. The true beauty of the Super Bowl is that there are so many betting options, both for those who care about the game and those that don’t.

These options are called prop bets, or props. There are player props, game props, halftime props, and everything in between. There are prop bets on the color of Madonna’s hair for the halftime show. Prop bets on the number of receptions Hakeem Nicks will have. Prop bets on the length of Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Prop bets on how many times “Tebow” will be said on the broadcast. There is no shortage of betting options for “The Big Game”.

So, in the spirit of Super Bowl Sunday, for a degenerate gambler like myself, I thought it would be interesting this week to take a look at some Cleveland Indians prop bets for the upcoming season. I’ll separate them into easy-to-follow categories. Las Vegas will release odds for the Indians to win the World Series, AL Pennant, Central Division and set an over/under for their win total, but this will be far more in depth than that.



Season Prop Bets

Odds to win the World Series: +5000. This makes the Indians a 50-to-1 longshot to win the World Series ($50 for every $1 you bet). Sportsbooks will generally leave longshot odds like this low because of the high payouts for a small bet and because anything can happen in sports.

Odds to win the AL Pennant: +4000. This makes the Indians a 40-to-1 longshot to represent the American League in the World Series. Slightly lower than the World Series odds, but it would take the Indians beating the Tigers to make the playoffs and then two of the Yankees/Red Sox/Rangers/Rays. There won’t be a lot of faith in the Indians even if they make the playoffs.

Odds to win the AL Central: +1200. A 12-to-1 chance to win the AL Central. The Tigers will be an overwhelming favorite to win the Central based on their offseason. The Indians should be the clear cut second-best team when these odds come out. The White Sox are in a state of transition, the Twins are coming off a horrible year and have plenty of questions, and the Royals don’t have enough pitching to compete yet. There will be good value on the Indians in this category.

Win Total: Over/under 82.5: Interestingly, I talked with sportsbook analyst Todd Fuhrman of Caesars Las Vegas on Twitter and asked him what he felt the Indians win total would come out at. He said it was bold of me to suggest a number above a .500 record. I think that’s a giant mistake and I will be happy to exploit that number. This is a solid team with a real chance at contending for the division. I can’t see the Tigers winning this division by more than 12-15 games, and that’s what Vegas may project based on MLB win totals.


Player Prop Bets

Asdrubal Cabrera home runs: Over/under 15.5: I think the 2011 season was a bit of an outlier in terms of power production for Asdrubal Cabrera. As Mike Podhorzer over at Fangraphs noted, according to MLB Hit Tracker, Asdrubal Cabrera was second in the “Just Enough” category, which measures home runs that barely cleared the wall. In a simplified sense, the object for people who set betting lines is to balance the action on both sides of the number. There’s a good chance Cabrera falls right on 15.

santana winCarlos Santana home runs: Over/under 27.5: A really simple number here, does Carlos Santana, in his second full year, exceed last year’s home run total of 27? If the Indians stay healthier than last season, one would think that Santana would not match the 155 games played he accrued last season. Santana also hit just one home run in May of 2011, so he could easily surpass this number if his other months stay consistent. He hit 14 of his 27 home runs in just 71 games after the All-Star Break.

Travis Hafner home runs: Over/under 16: I’m purposely setting this number a little bit higher than Hafner’s last three years worth of home runs because he maxed out at 117 games played in 2010. From 2009-2011, Hafner averaged one home run every 7.28 games. If he keeps up that pace, 16 home runs would mean that he would play 116 games. Considering the better depth of the major league roster and the need to get right-handed bats in the game with such a left-handed heavy lineup, additional rest could keep Hafner healthier. Also, he’s in a contract year (club option for 2013) and we all know how guys perform in contract years.

Grady Sizemore home runs: Over/under 17.5: The power potential is still there for Sizemore, but his health is the big question. A sportsbook would never release a prop on such a question mark, but I have no qualms doing so. If Sizemore stays healthy, he’s still the guy with 28 home runs in 177 games combining 2009 and 2011. He really didn’t play healthy for most of those two seasons and still showed decent power. All the reports thus far have been encouraging. And, let’s face it; it’s easier to trot around the bases than run around them. Sizemore knows that.

Michael Brantley batting average: Over/under .281: Brantley has been a guy to show flashes of brilliance over the last two full seasons. Last year, he was severely hampered by a hamate bone issue that took his average from the low .280s/high .270s down to the .266 it finished at. Brantley was a streaky hitter, putting together a couple of .294+ months and some less desirable ones. The makeup of the batting order will be interesting, will Brantley hit at the top or seventh? Both have benefits to his batting average and he should improve upon 2011.

Shin-Soo Choo OPS: Over/under .880: With a DUI distraction and a myriad of injuries, Shin-Soo Choo had his worst year as a professional batting just .259. In the two years prior, Choo was a model of consistency posting slash lines of .300/.394/.489/.883 and .300/.401/.484/.885. Choo should enter 2012 extremely motivated to put his awful 2011, both on the field and off it, behind him. I’m expecting a big year from the South Korean and one that brings him a year closer to that big contract.

masterson pitchJustin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Derek Lowe combined wins: Over/under 39: These three will be the main arms in the Indians rotation. Setting a number of 39 gives an average of 13 wins per pitcher, which should be a reasonable number. Masterson won just 12 games last year despite a 3.21 ERA and 12 no decisions. Jimenez could be the key to the Indians rotation and a lot will be expected of him. Jimenez managed to get wins in four of his 11 starts with the Indians even with an ERA over 5. He received the win in 40 of his 88 starts with Colorado from 2009-2011. As for Derek Lowe, a proven veteran pitcher with an incredible track record for staying healthy, he had won at least 12 games for nine consecutive seasons prior to last year. He transitioned from the bullpen to full-time starter in 2002 when that streak began.

Chris Perez saves: Over/under 34.5: A healthy lineup and a good bullpen are a closer’s best friend. Perez was 36/40 in save chances last year after being 23/27 the year before following Kerry Wood’s trade to the Yankees. There was some cause for concern with Perez last year as his strikeout totals dropped and he seemed to fight with his command more often than not, but he still got the job done 90% of the time. Just 13 closers amassed over 35 saves in 2011.

Josh Tomlin home runs allowed: Over/under 30: Tomlin showed plenty of testicular fortitude in his first full season in the show, possibly overachieving in the first half of the season to the tune of 10 wins. Tomlin is likely a combination of the pitcher he was in the first half and the second half. He sported a 3.81 ERA in the first half and a 5.26 in the second half. As a fly ball pitcher, Tomlin allowed 24 HR in 165.1 IP. Had Tomlin not been shut down in September, he may have given up 30 gopher balls. It’s a distinct possibility this season.

Joe Smith batting average against left handed hitters: Over/under .260: Joe Smith faced 90 lefties in 2011. They hit .152 off of him. In 2010, the 48 lefties combined to hit .342 off Smith. Again, like most of these categories, Smith is probably in between the two and may have some regression this season.

Manny Acta ejections: Over/under 2: Manny Acta was only tossed twice in 2011, and one occasion was to allow bench coach Tim Tolman to manage a game prior to retiring to focus on his upcoming battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Acta makes his share of appearances on the field, but rarely are they animated enough to get him ejected.


Team Prop Bets

Total Team Strikeouts: Over/under 1,235: The 2011 Indians struck out 1,269 times. Plenty of players were involved in that horrifying number, as just two Indians struck out more than 100 times. With Sizemore’s return, that number could go up, but with Casey Kotchman replacing Matt LaPorta and fewer minor league callups, the Indians should make contact a little more than last season.

Total Runs Scored: Over/under 775: Assuming the Indians stay healthy, there’s no reason they can’t improve on last year’s 709 runs (4.37 per game). A jump santana slamof 66 runs would be less than half a run per game. The team was without one of its biggest run producers in Shin-Soo Choo and will have a full year of Jason Kipnis in the lineup. At 775, the Indians would wind up with 4.78 runs per game.

2012 Home Wins: Over/under 45: The early season success enjoyed by the Indians was due to their incredible home record over the first two months of the season. The Tribe went 19-6 at Jacobs Field in April and May. After that, they went 25-31. With more consistency, 45-36 at home seems more than doable.

Double Plays Turned: Over/under 115: Indians pitchers combined to induce 105 double plays in 2011. With a fairly contact-heavy staff and a solid ground ball bullpen, there’s a good chance that this number goes up. With an improved first baseman capable of picking bad throws, that alone could add a handful of double plays to the team.


mattandrickbobbleheadFun Props

Sunset Camera Shots Between Innings: Over/under 70: Anybody who has watched a home game on STO knows that sometime around the fourth inning from May-August, at least one camera is focused on Lake Erie waiting for the sun to drop below the horizon line. Considering that we should get around 45-50 hometown sunset shots, expecting 20 or so on the road seems like a pretty fair number.

Number of times the Indians visit “Souvenir City”: Over/under 125: This is different than total team home runs. This is the amount of times a Matt Underwood home run call includes the phrase “Souvenir City”. The Indians hit 154 home runs in 2011, but not all of them wound up in Souvenir City. Or, at least Matt Underwood didn’t think that they did. There’s a good chance that the Indians hit more home runs this season, so we’ll safely estimate that somewhere around 70% of them include Matt Underwood’s signature call.

Number of times Rick Manning swears on air: Over/under 9.5: These count if Rick Manning swears on the way to commercial or after taking off his headset and thinking it’s out of earshot. Manning, the savvy color commentator who makes up the other half of the STO broadcast team, has a knack for accidentally letting something slip. You have to listen closely to the broadcast to catch these sometimes, but they’re always worth the wait.


Without question, there are a million more props that could’ve been added to this list. These are just some of the ones that are the most interesting. Can Asdrubal’s power production stay at the same level? What can we expect from Sizemore and Hafner? Will Ubaldo Jimenez and Derek Lowe be impact players on this team? Just some things to chew on as we send football to the offseason and begin to bring baseball to the forefront.

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