Best MLB prop bet for today, 10/17: Arizona pitches around Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper has been absolutely on fire during this postseason run and opposing pitchers have taken notice with his sky-high walk rate in these playoffs. The left-handed mashing first-baseman has a patient approach and quality eye at the plate, and with an opportune matchup we will look to cash in on his patience with today’s player prop. Similarly, our MLB player prop bets have also been on fire, as we’re currently on a 9-1 run! Can we make it a perfect 10? Let’s dive in, but make sure you also check out our 3-star best bet in our Diamondbacks vs Phillies predictions.
Bryce Harper (PHI) over 0.5 walks (+100) (to win 0.5u)
Odds available at BetMGM sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to the -125 odds available at DraftKings sportsbook.
Bryce Harper is one of baseball’s best players, and his current form is exactly what the Phillies fanbase and organization hoped for when signing him to his mega contract. The talented player has been in the spotlight for over half his life, as he was notably one of the sport’s most hyped prospects from a young age. Now a first baseman, his role has changed on the defensive end, but his production at the plate is still as good as ever. He began the season late with an injury that held him out until May, but the slugger produced a .900 OPS in his 126 regular season games played. So far in the postseason, he is producing a 1.521 OPS thanks to 4 home runs and 8 walks in his 30 PA.
During the regular season, Harper posted a hefty 14.7% walk rate, a 96th percentile mark and the 4th highest percentage among qualified batters. In his final 32 regular season games, Bryce drew 1 or more walks in 22 of those games while generating a 21.3% BB% in that span. He recorded 29 free passes during that sample to only 25 strikeouts, exemplifying fantastic plate discipline. Among those walks, 4 were intentional, as opposing managers opted to walk him with runners on base rather than risk a multi-run event at the hands of the Phillies’ best hitter. This managerial hesitation to pitch to him has carried over into the postseason with at least 1 walk in 5 of 7 postseason games.
Against the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, Harper was able to draw 1 or more walks in 6 of the 7 matchups. His 17.1% BB% in that sample of games is higher than his season average, and he also walks 2.4% more of the time when facing right-handed pitching. Today he faces right-hander Merrill Kelly, who allows a 10.4% BB% to left-handed batters, 2.0% higher than his rate against right-handers. In their only game against each other this season, Harper drew a 3rd-inning walk after Trea Turner generated a lead-off double to begin the inning. These players have just 6 career PA against each other but seeing work a walk in that last matchup is at least encouraging in terms of pitch recognition. Against all relievers this season, Harper drew a 12.67% BB% which is nice to see in case Kelly has his command tonight.
The issue for Merrill Kelly is that command at times, however, and on the season the right-hander ranked just 34th percentile in BB%. Kelly’s pitch mix is comprised of 6 offerings, 5 of which see at least 11% usage. Against left-handed batters his portfolio is a bit more condensed, using 4 pitches at 13.9% or higher usage. His changeup and curveball see noticeable jumps in usage against those lefties, and both of those pitches are offerings that Bryce Harper smashes. Against right-handed changeups he is hitting .328 with a .525 SLG and against right-handed curveballs he has a .350 AVG and .675 SLG. As non-fastballs, those pitches tend to live outside the zone more than the rest of his arsenal, and with the hesitation of throwing Harper fastballs in the zone, I expect Harper to see a ton of these 2 pitches.
The Arizona bullpen ranked league average in BB% during the 2nd half of the regular season, but with the stakes of a Game 2 matchup, we can expect that rate to rise. This is admittedly a market with smaller limits, and one that isn’t available on every single sportsbook. Considering these factors in addition to the variance of a batter walks prop, I will keep my recommendation to a half unit, but I do really like this angle for Game 2.
After a +500 win yesterday, don’t miss today’s Diamondbacks vs Phillies Same Game Parlay