Oddsmakers think Houston Astros batters could be sore this season.
On Monday, sportsbook William Hill set the over/under on number of Astros batters to get plunked this season at 83.5.
In the past five seasons, only nine teams have been hit by pitches more than 83.5 times, but, with the anger over the sign-stealing scandal involving Houston, there is plenty of reason to believe the Astros will be targeted frequently.
Enough opposing players and managers have expressed their displeasure with the Astros that new Houston manager Dusty Baker has publicly urged MLB to protect Astros hitters from intentionally being beaned.
“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 Saturday. “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.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Sunday that, independent of the Houston situation, he has been planning to increase the disciplinary ramifications for intentionally throwing at batters and will meet with managers this week to address the issue.
“[It’s] simply not appropriate to express frustration you have growing out of the Astros’ situation by putting someone physically at risk by throwing at them,” Manfred told ESPN. “It’s simply not acceptable.”
Last season, teams were hit by an average of 66.1 pitches, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Astros were hit 66 times last season.
Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, said he and his staff looked at how many times Astros batters were hit by a pitch over the past three seasons and the league high from last year.
“The trading team and I debated how this could play out and chose a number in the middle,” Bogdanovich told ESPN.
In 2008, Cleveland Indians batters were hit 103 times, the most in the modern era. William Hill has the odds of the Astros getting hit 101-110 times at 9-2. The Astros getting hit more than 150 times this season is 200-1.