We have some good news for you, humanity: After the rockiest MLB offseason since BALCO, baseball semi-officially returns on Friday with Rangers vs. Royals in the first Spring Training game of the season. Once that first pitch is thrown, all of this nasty sign-stealing business will finally be put to rest and baseball fans across the world will move forward, hand-in-hand, into a spring of rejuvenation and harmony [record scratch]. Just kidding, lol. William Hill just posted the over/under for Houston Astros batters hit by pitch this season at a modest 83.5, so if you expected all of this to go away as the actual baseball began, well, you're an idiot. Sorry if we're the first ones to break it to you.
And if that doesn't whet the appetite, don't worry. There's more where that came from.
Over the past five seasons, only nine teams have hit that over. In 2019, the league-wide average was 66.1 HBPs per team. 83.5 is roughly a plunk every other game for Bregman, Altuve, Springer, and the rest of the trash can crew. But still, and we can't stress this enough: SMASH that over. Even new-old Astros manager Dusty Baker is bracing for the maelstrom about to hit his team like a volley of archer fire in the hit Zach Snyder joint 300, saying " I'm depending on the league to try to put a stop to this seemingly premeditated retaliation that I'm hearing about...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."
Ah yes, we'd all just HATE to see Bregman catch one in the cup in Chicago in March. That would be an absolute travesty. Speaking of Bregman, if you're wondering which Astro is the leader in the likelihood-to-get-thrown-at clubhouse, Sportsbettingdime.com currently have Bregs leading the way with a season-long O/U of 10.5 plunks, followed by Springer at 8.5 and Altuve at 6.5 (probably just because he's smaller target to aim at).
These lines are still subject to move, of course, so keep your eye on Saturday's World Series rematch with the Washington Nationals. It's a meaningless game and the Nationals don't exactly have to an axe to grind, but if the orchestra is sound checking the chin music this early, then it could be a very, VERY black and blue season for the Stealin' 'Stros.