Less than five months ago, things were looking pretty great for the Houston Astros. After claiming the first World Series title of their 55-year existence in 2017, the franchise was once again on its way to another Fall Classic against the Washington Nationals. These days, the Astros, who went to great lengths to cheat by stealing signs, have become Major League Baseball’s most hated team, so much so that a number of sportsbooks have actually released odds on how many Houston players will get hit by a pitch over the course of the 2020 season.
That’s right, it might not just be fans who are unhappy that the Astros were reportedly banging on trash cans and using electric buzzers to inform players what the next pitch would be, it might actually be other players who felt the team sullied the game and pulled a fast one. Players like Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Kris Bryant have all given emotional responses damning what Houston did, all while also expressing disappointment by the lack of punishment by the league. It might’ve been best summed up by Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis, who told USA Today Sports on Tuesday: “To see something like that, it’s damaging to baseball. It’s anger. I feel like every single guy over there needs a beating. It’s wrong. They’re messing with people’s careers.”
The outcry by players could prove they’ll seek a little revenge this season, or so William Hill sportsbook thinks. With a little over a month until the start of the regular season, the company has created a prop bet for how many times an Astros player gets hit by a pitch this season, setting the over/under at 83.5. That projection means at least once every other game a player would get beaned during an at bat – less than 20 off of the modern record of 103, which was set by the Cleveland Indians back in 2008. The overall record was a whopping 148 by the Baltimore Orioles way back in 1898.
If you have a couple of extra bucks to spare, taking the over here might be the lock of the season. There’s a pretty good chance it’ll happen. We’re not exactly expert gamblers but every team seems to want a piece of the Astros right now and some of those players might wind up paying a little retribution, especially Jose Altuve. This probably isn’t the last we’ll hear about the Astros scandal, as it continues to shake the league to its core, thanks in part to the complete botching by commissioner Rob Manfred.