Baseball. Is. Here.
And no, this isn’t an April Fools’ Day gag. That would just be cruel. Major League Baseball is back from the doldrums of a winter that seemed even longer than it was, perhaps in large part because we were deprived of a “normal” season in 2020.
And although COVID-19 is still very much a factor in our society, it looks as if MLB will do everything possible to play a full season. Fans will begin trickling back in, teams will travel to play against more teams than just those in their region, and some semblance of normalcy will return.
I can’t wait for it. To kick off the excitement, let’s examine a few guys I’m expecting to make outstanding 2021 debuts.
0.5 RBIs vs. Baltimore — OVER (115 PTS)
The sample size is certainly small against Johns Means, Baltimore’s Opening Day starter, but Xander Bogaerts results against the lefty look enticing. In 14 at-bats, Bogaerts has six hits — including one double, two home runs and five RBI. He’s also walked once.
Better still, Bogaerts traditionally rakes against lefthanded pitching, evidenced by his .375 average against southpaws over 64 at-bats in 2020.
Bogaerts could have a big Opening Day against Means, but also consider that the Orioles bullpen is a mess. Means is the best pitcher Bogaerts will face Thursday, which means he’s an instant lock into my lineup.
Play the Over.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
1.5 HITs + RBIs @ Philadelphia — OVER (120 PTS)
Aaron Nola is on the bump for the Phillies, and while nobody would be surprised to see him compete for a Cy Young Award after four straight immaculate seasons, I think Ronald Acuna Jr. will get the best of him Thursday.
The young Braves superstar is 7-for-22 against Nola, which equates to a .318 average, with two home runs and four RBI. Again, this is a small sample size, but I’m encouraged that these numbers are legit in part because he’s also walked six times in that short period of time against Nola, and indication that he sees the ball well against the righthander.
There’s an easy path to hitting this Over. A simple RBI single gets it done. Two choppers up the middle knocks it out, too.
With Acuna Jr.’s past successes against Nola and the variety of ways in which he can get there, I like this prop. I’m taking the Over.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
1.5 HITs + RUNs vs. Arizona — OVER (120 PTS)
Fernando Tatis Jr. is 6-for-11 with one double, two home runs and four RBI in his short career against Madison Bumgarner, Arizona’s scheduled starter. Tatis Jr. just became a very wealthy man, signing a 10-year, $340 million contract over the offseason, meaning his quite a bit to live up to.
He has been electric in each of his first two seasons, but consider this: he’s still only played 143 career games. We’ve never seen the shortstop play a full season, and this is our first taste of what’s hopefully a successful 162-game campaign to come.
I like this prop for Tatis Jr. because he can create on the basepaths. I don’t necessarily mean stolen bases (though those would help). We’ve seen him do it in Spring Training. He’ll go from first to third on what looks like a risky attempt, but he makes it with ease. He’ll tag up and score on a pop out just behind shortstop.
Tatis Jr. is everything you’d want the future face of baseball to me, and I think he’s an easy hit with tonight’s prop. Play the Over.
For more sports opinions and other rants about things you probably don’t care about, follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter.
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