MLB 2023 Betting Analysis before Season Begins: Favorites Players to Watch

MLB 2023 Betting Analysis before Season Begins: Favorites Players to Watch

We’re still in the early days of the 2023 spring training season as Major League Baseball looks forward to a season with more novelty, this time in the form of a pitch clock designed to make games move more quickly and a rule against the defensive shift in the infield, which teams are already working around by filling holes with the third outfielder. Some teams are looking surprisingly impressive, while others are already making it clear that the rebuild is still a long way from being finished. As you start to consider your long-term MLB betting strategy for the national pastime, take a look at our thoughts on some of the most surprising players we’ve seen thus far.


MLB News: Biggest Surprises from Spring Training


Jarred Kelenic (Seattle Mariners)

In 2022, Kelenic saw 54 games at the major-league level. He posted a .141 average and a .221 on-base percentage but did slug seven home runs. In six spring games in 2023, he is hitting an eye-popping .412 with four home runs in 17 plate appearances. The slugging percentage, .313 last year, is 1.118, and his on-base percentage is .412. After six games, he leads all MLB hitters in home runs, and the biggest change has come in his swing mechanics. He is hitting balls loudly, and the rest of the American League West should get to hearing that bat this season.


Alec Bohm (Philadelphia Phillies)

Bohm appeared in 152 games in 2022. He hit .280 and had 13 home runs. For a third baseman, that home run total, and that .398 slugging percentage, is mediocre at best. Of the 21 third basemen with at least 1,000 plate appearances since 2020, he is 18th in slugging. In 2023 so far, he has three home runs through seven games, and the slugging percentage is .850. He has 17 total bases, tied for sixth with Andre Lipcius and Freddie Freeman. He clearly spent time this off-season in the weight room. Given the fact that Bohm likes to use the whole field and drive the ball rather than elevate it, though, it’s hard to see this trend of home runs continue over the long haul this season.


Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)

In 30 starts in 2022, Fried threw 185.1 innings and struck out 170 hitters, against just 32 walks. This spring, he has already struck out nine batters in five innings across a pair of starts. One of those strikeouts came on a called third strike due to a pitch clock violation, and he has also gotten to play a Minnesota team that did not have Joey Gallo, Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa or Jorge Polanco in the lineup. His velocity is the same, and he hasn’t added any new pitches, so don’t expect the jump in strikeouts to keep going.


The Boston Red Sox

This team went 78-84 in 2022 but has started spring training 8-0. They lead the Grapefruit League with a 3.00 ERA. The starting rotation is, frankly, creaky in terms of age, but if Chris Sale, James Paxton and Corey Kluber can post throwback seasons. However, Paxton (hamstring) will not be ready for Opening Day, and neither will young pitchers Garrett Whitlock (hip) and Brayan Bello (forearm). Nick Pivetta has spent time dealing with COVID-19. So while the 8-0 start in the spring is nice, without the expected contributors chipping in, this sounds like an illusory beginning.


The Kansas City Royals

At 10-2, the Royals have four more wins than any other team in the Cactus League. Before you conclude that the Royals’ rebuild is well ahead of schedule, let’s remember that Kansas City has posted winning records in spring training 11 times in the last 17 years. In the regular season, they have three winning seasons in the same time frame. They lead the Cactus League with a .560 slugging percentage, but even if that doesn’t fade in the next few weeks, remember that the team plays in Kauffman Stadium, with cavernous dimensions that keep teams from putting up big offensive numbers.

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