Rob Senior previews the MLB Home Run Derby on July 10, provides his expert prediction and best bets picks.
Major League Baseball’s Top Home Run Hitters Slug It Out! We’ve covered the preview of the home run derby for you here.
Date & Time: Monday, July 10, 8:00 P.M. Eastern
Where: T-Mobile Park, Seattle, WA
Weather: 73 degrees, only 10% chance of rain
Home Run Derby Preview
Eight of baseball’s most prolific sluggers square off in a head-to-head competition in Monday Night’s Home Run Derby.
The Monday night prelude to the American League/National League showdown doesn’t offer quite the same nostalgia as the All-Star Game, but it’s certainly become synonymous with the event.
Home Run Derby History
The event has taken place each year since 1985, but enjoyed a surge in popularity after Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s historic chase of what was then Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61 home runs.
McGwire broke that record in 1998, and that year’s Home Run Derby featured five participants who would eventually join baseball’s hallowed 500 home run club (McGwire, plus Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome, Rafael Palmeiro, and Alex Rodriguez.)
It’s hard to believe a quarter-century has passed since that historic event, but it’s been enough time for the Home Run Derby to become an event unto itself. Let’s meet the 2023 field.
Home Run Derby Rules and Format
The eight participants are seeded 1-8 and paired up in head-to-head contests.
Each player has three minutes to hit as many home runs as he can. Players are allowed one 45-second timeout per round, and players can receive bonus time for home runs of more than 440 feet.
At the end of each matchup, the leading players advances to the next round, where he will return to zero and participate in a new ‘race’ against his semifinal opponent.
When only two players remain, each finalist gets two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner of the final round is declared Home Run Derby Champion.
Home Run Derby Participants
Here are this year’s matchups in the first round of Home Run Derby.
The winner of the 1 vs. 8 matchup goes against the 4 vs. 5 winner in the semifinals, with the 2 vs. 7 winner taking on the 3 vs. 6 winner.
- Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox) vs. 8. Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles)
- Pete Alonso (New York Mets) vs. 7. Julio Rodriguez (Seattle Mariners)
- Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers) vs. 6. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays)
- Adolis Garcia (Texas Rangers) vs. 5. Randy Arozarena (Tampa Bay Rays)
Home Run Derby Odds and Matchups
Here are the odds on who will become the 2023 Home Run Derby Winner (all odds from FanDuel):
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||+350|
Some more odds:
First Round Matchups
Luis Robert (-250) vs. Adley Rutschman (+198)
Pete Alonso (-178) vs. Julio Rodriguez (+142)
Adolis Garcia (-144) vs. Randy Arozarena (+118)
Mookie Betts (+205) vs. Vladimir Guerrero (-260)
Distance of Longest Home Run
Over or Under 488.5 feet (-112 on either side)
Total Home Runs By All Players
Over 274.5 Home Runs (-122)
Under 274.5 Home Runs (-104)
2023 Home Run Derby Analysis and Picks
Let’s break this down. Pete Alonso is a two-time Derby winner (2019 and 2021) and priced accordingly at +300 to win this thing.
When Alonso won in 2019, he did so despite Vladimir Guerrero’s record-setting performance of 91 home runs over the three rounds. That’s why Guerrero is the second favorite at +350.
I prefer to try for a bigger price, which means we need to beat the favorites. But how?
I don’t think the seedings mean much – they’re simply in the order of each player’s number of home runs when the field was determined.
Need proof? A player as accomplished as Mookie Betts at +1500? Maybe Guerrero repeats 2019 and blows the Dodgers outfielder out, but is that really four times as likely as a Betts victory?
What else? Well, Julio Rodriguez put forth an impressive performance finishing second in his Home Run Derby debut last year. This year, he’s hitting in his home stadium!
Randy Arozarena and Adolis Garcia are both first-timers – as are Robert and Rutschman. One of them will be up against a Derby veteran in the Finals.
2023 Home Run Derby Predictions
For bettors, anyway, the Home Run Derby is the highlight of the All-Star Break. More money has been wagered the past two years on the Derby than the All-Star Game itself.
But like the game, this isn’t the place to up your bet size. Take some lunch money and go for a big score. Here are a couple predictions to follow along:
Home Run Derby Winner: Here’s the thinking: what part of the game does Home Run Derby closest resemble?
Batting practice! And what does hometown hero Julio Rodriguez do before every game at T-Mobile Park?
He takes batting practice!
Combine last year’s 2nd-place finish and homefield advantage, and I’ll take a chance with Julio Rodriguez at +500.
Longshot Worth a Try: Mookie Betts, +1500
First Round Upset: Probably gave this one away earlier, but Mookie Betts +205 over Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Longest Home Run: It won’t be an empty night for Guerrero Jr.
I like him to take home this honor by hitting one 477 feet (still under the line of 488.5 feet for longest HR)
Total Home Runs by All Players: Everyone wants to see lots of home runs, but we’re here to make money. Let’s go contrarian with the UNDER 274.5 home runs total at -104.
Here’s where you can give yourself a rooting interest and make some cash.
We already chose Julio Rodriguez as our winner, but who will he beat in the finals? The other side of the bracket has four first timers in Robert, Rutschman, Arozarena, and Garcia.
Rutschman, the 8 seed with only 11 home runs on the season is a bit too much of a Cinderella story. Taking the 1 seed, Robert? Too easy for an event like this!
Instead, take your pick of Arozarena or Garcia to meet Rodriguez in the finals.
Julio Rodriguez over Adolis Garcia (+2000)
Julio Rodriguez over Randy Arozarena (+2300)
(Again, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this – EVERY final matchup that includes Mookie Betts has odds of +5000 or greater! Is he planning to bunt or something?)
MLB’s 2023 Home Run Derby starts at 8 p.m. Eastern tonight and can be seen on ESPN.