Trea Turner favored to lead MLB in hits in 2021
While most pay attention to the yearly home run race, the battle to become the MLB hits leader can be just as exciting – and you can bet on it.
Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner – last year’s MLB hits leader – is the +1100 favorite to repeat the feat. Standing in his way are a trio of +1200 second-choices, among others.
Let’s handicap the “Most Hits 2021” market now, and see who might be the best available bet.
Most Hits 2021
Wed, September 1 2021, 3:59 AM
Tatís Jr., Fernando
Turner is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the National League’s hit crown since Terry Pendleton of the Atlanta Braves in 1991 and 1992.
Even if he does so, there’s no guarantee he’ll out-hit the American League’s best batter. Since 1999, the AL has had the MLB’s overall hit leader in 18 of 22 seasons (with one tie in 2013). However, it’s been a much closer race in recent years, with the AL and NL claiming the hit king three times apiece over the last six seasons.
Narrowing the focus back to Turner, he profiles as the Nats’ leadoff hitter with the departure of Adam Eaton, with preseason MVP candidate Juan Soto likely to protect him in the two-hole. If this holds true, the career .296 hitter has a solid chance to cash in as the betting favorite here.
There’s a three-way battle going on for second-choice in this market – we’ll begin with the NL’s lone representative in the group in Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts.
Betts has never even led a league in hits, though he was within two hits of Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve back in 2016, losing 216-214. But the closest Betts has come to reaching that mark again is 2018, when he tallied 180 hits.
Betts has evolved from his second full year in the majors in 2016, becoming more of a power threat and not a top-of-the-order guy. He could easily win MVP honors in 2021 – he was second in the voting in 2020 – but Betts seems unlikely to cash in on most hits.
Second baseman DJ LeMahieu has been tremendously valuable to the New York Yankees as a table-setter since leaving the Colorado Rockies in 2019.
He might have led the AL in hits last year, as he batted an otherworldly .364, but playing only 50 games handcuffed him. LeMahieu checked in just five hits behind junior circuit leader (and MVP) Jose Abreu, losing 76-71.
LeMahieu might only need to improve slightly on his career-high in hits – 197 – from 2019 to have a shot at this.
Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield was the MLB’s leading hitter in two straight seasons going into 2020, but his bid for a three-peat ultimately went by the boards. His average dropped 20 points year-over-year, and he checked in at 70 hits.
Merrifield is remarkable in that he hasn’t missed a single game since 2018. Despite the Royals being a subpar ballclub, he’s in there delivering at the plate on a nightly basis. That kind of reliable brilliance makes him impossible to ignore in this market.