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In what has gone from an internet joke to an actual proposition bet, the Houston Astros, mired in the backlash from a cheating scandal that covered the 2017 season, have been given a hit by pitch total of 83.5 for the season from the William Hill sportsbook.
The proposition bet came on the heels of the beginning of spring training and the vengeful interviews that returning MLB players have given to the assembled media criticizing Astros players for their role in the 2017 scandal that brought Houston their first-ever World Series title.
The vitriol directed at the Astros has been so vicious that new manager Dusty Baker has pleaded with Major League Baseball to issue a stern set of warnings in anticipation of players taking justice in their own hands.
“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about,” Baker told reporters this past weekend. “And in most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.”
The MLB commissioner, Rob Manfred, has been the source of anger and frustration from players such as Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. In an interview on Monday, Turner told the media that Manfred should have taken the 2017 World Series trophy away from Houston and the commissioner was weak for not punishing the players.
On Sunday, Manfred told the media that he would exact larger suspensions for any player or manager found guilty of intentionally throwing at the Astros players. “(It’s) simply not appropriate to express frustration you have growing out of the Astros’ situation by putting someone physically at risk by throwing (things) at them,” Manfred told ESPN. “It’s simply not acceptable.”
With all the fanfare, William Hill, one of the largest betting operators in the world, has taken note and offered customers a futures bet on how many times Astros players will be hit by a pitch in 2020.
Last season, MLB teams were hit with an average of 66.1 pitches over the course of a season. Houston was hit with 66 pitches during 2019.
Director of William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, Nick Bogdanovich, gathered his staff and they came up with the number of 83.5 HBPs after looking at the Astros’ totals over the last three seasons and the league highs for teams in Major League Baseball.
The 2008 Cleveland Indians set the all-time record in the modern era of baseball with 103 hits by pitches.
After William Hill set the total number of hit by pitches for the Astros at 83.5 for 2020, they created additional proposition bets ranging from season totals that went from zero to over 151 beanballs.
A season total between 81 to 90 was given 3-1 odds for the lowest return on the prop bet and 141-150 HBPs were given the longest chance at 250-1.
With most MLB players believing that the Astros team got away with cheating without punishment, all eyes will be on Houston’s early games to see if opposing pitchers take matters in their own hands, doling out a form of “frontier justice” for the cheating program that led to a World Series.
If you’re just getting into MLB check out our Guide on betting on MLB!
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