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Touching All the Bases

Having some fun with over/unders: Will David Ortiz hit more than 27 homers?

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What follows here are for entertainment purposes only, of course. Why, I don't even know how one would go about hitting half a home run ...

There. Disclaimer aside. Now, to the good stuff: Bovada sent along some interesting prop bets -- more than 500 of them in all -- regarding what various major league players might accomplish in various statistical categories.

For instance, Bovada has set the over/under on home runs for Xander Bogaerts at 14 and his batting average at .269.

Don't know about you, but I'm going over -- 18 homers sound right, and conservative -- and over. He'll hit .275 or so and collect a fancy Rookie of the Year trophy at season's end.

Here are a few more that piqued my interest, if not my wallet.

Miguel Cabrera
Runs batted in: 129
Hard to believe he'll play this season at just 31 years old -- but then, he was just 20 when he took Roger Clemens deep in the '03 World Series. Cabrera is starting to have the injuries of an older player -- one of the overlooked breaks the Red Sox caught along the way last year was his hip injury in the ALCS -- and last year he played his fewest games (148) since he'll been a full-season big leaguer. He's surpassed 127 RBIs twice in his career -- last year, and during his Triple Crown season in '12. I'm skeptical that he'll be healthy enough to do it for a third straight year. Under.

David Ortiz
Home runs: 27
This isn't a bet on home runs. It's a bet on health. If he plays, say, 125 games, it's an easy over.

Will Middlebrooks
Home runs: 25
Does that include Pawtucket numbers? Aw, you know I'm kidding, sort of. A little bit. While I'm skeptical of some aspects of Middlebrooks's game, the power is legit -- he has 32 homers in 660 career plate-appearances. Given that there's no viable backup plan -- Garin Cecchini hasn't played in Triple A yet -- the Sox appear committed to giving him a full season. I'll go with the under, but not by much. Twenty-five seems about right.

troutmikefinn327.JPGMike Trout
Hits: 199
Trout has two full seasons in the major leagues. He should have two MVP awards. He has none, but that will be remedied this year if this Mickey Mantle circa 1951 stays healthy. But he won't get 200 hits. He hasn't done it yet -- he had a career-high 190 last year -- and he probably won't because he's extraordinarily disciplined (110 walks last season) and pitchers shiver whenever he's 60 feet 6 inches away. Under:

Bryce Harper
Home runs: 26
I wrote this for our baseball preview section that runs Sunday, but I might as well say it here too: Harper has 42 home runs in his career. I expect him to reach or surpass that number. He's not baseball's most overrated player by any stretch, but he's apparently among the most envied. Over.

173157172[1].jpgYasiel Puig
Home runs: 25
That number also approximates the pounds he's gained since the end of last season. He's clearly driving mild-mannered Don Mattingly nuts, a heck of a feat since he kept his sanity for through the Howie Spira '80s with the Georgie Porgie Yankees. He hit .273 with 11 homers in 66 games in the second half last year, though he did have a huge August and hit six homers in September. I suspect he hits no higher than .260 with an .775ish OPS. As for the homers: Under -- by that one-half.

Chris Davis
Home runs: 39
That's quite a dropoff from 53. No one is quite sure what to make of the Orioles' slugger, whose previous high was 33 in '12. He had 37 at the All-Star break last year and 16 in 65 games in the second half. The uncertainty of a repeat reminds a little of Jose Bautista's attempt to match his unexpected 54-homer performance in '10. Bautista hit 43 homers the next season. Let's put the same number on Davis in his age-28 season. Over.

ellsburyjacoby325.JPGJacoby Ellsbury
Home runs: 14
In his amazing (outlier of a) 2011 season, Ellsbury hit 32 homers in 732 plate appearances. In the rest of his career, he's hit 33 homers in 2,472 plate appearances. The shorter porch in right field at his new baseball home might boost his tater total into double digits, though he has just four homers at the New Yankee Stadium -- all in '11 -- in 161 plate appearances there. He's not getting to 15. Under.

Derek Jeter
Batting average: .280
Seems about right. If Jeter went out with a .280 season, that's a more than adequate final line on his baseball card given that he's 40, is probably not going to get many infield hits anymore, and is 90 points higher than he hit last year before shutting it down. I'll go over out of proper respect. But I'm taking the under if the question is "Will he play more than 100 games."

kershawfinn325.JPGClayton Kershaw
Wins: 17
The Dodgers' 25-year-old lefty is baseball's best pitcher, the highest-paid, and it yet it still feels like he's underrated. He's won three straight ERA titles, two Cy Young awards, but has just one 20-win season. That changes this year, with a potent Dodgers offense backing him. I'm taking the over. Way over. Think Steve Stone, 1980.

A.J. Pierzynski
Home runs: 14
Pretty amazing that he's played 15 of his 16 seasons in the American League and never hit a home run at Fenway in 131 plate appearances at the ballpark. You know what that means, right? He'll hit one Opening Day. Maybe two. Even though Fenway may not be the most suitable ballpark for his swing, Pierzynski has hit 44 homers total over the past two season. I bet he's good for 15 or so homers and 15 or so walks. Overr.

Giancarlo Stanton
Home runs 38
Whoa. That's a big number for a guy whose four-season career-high is 37 in 2012 -- and who hit just 24 in a frustrating, injury-plagued '13 season. But Stanton is just 24 and has been crushing the ball ...

... this spring. I'm taking the under, but just barely. Put him down for 25 homers with the Marlins, and a dozen for the Red Sox after the July 31 blockbuster. What, you thought I'd given up?

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