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Home Run Derby Betting — Ohtani’s the Favorite… We’re Looking Elsewhere

MLB Home Run Derby for 2021

How will the 2021 T-Mobile Home Run Derby Play Out?

By Charles Jay

Make no mistake about it – the Home Run Derby, as well as the wagering at BetAnySports that comes with it – is a big deal. And to many people, it’s the only thing really worth watching during the All-Star break.

The way I’m looking at things, the way the game of baseball has evolved, batters customarily swing in such a way that facilitates fly balls, and as a residual effect, home runs. And therefore, participating in a Home Run Derby does not take them so far out off track as it did before.

Sure, occasionally you’ve got a player who doesn’t want to “mess up his swing,” as we imagine Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are doing this year, but by and large this has become a spectacle in which players gain a little “street cred,” the way they do with slam dunk or three-point shooting contests in the NBA.

So who’ll get the most “cred” this season?

Let’s take a look at the first-round matchups, with odds as they are posted at BetAnySports:

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Home Run Derby — Shohei Ohtani (-225) vs. Juan Soto (+185)

It is clear that, with 33 homers, Ohtani is the top home run hitter in the game in 2021. If he can continue to pitch well, and hits 50 home runs, could you deny him the MVP award?

Ohtani hits them out of the park in a hurry. His “velocity” is such that 16 of his home runs have exceeded 110 mph off the bat.

But a couple of things must be noted. We’re not sure that Ohtani’s power to the opposite field serves him as well as it might otherwise. The pull hitters are going to be the ones most successful.

And let’s face it – there is a “hype” factor here. I can’t help but think there is some value with an underdog like Soto, even though he is also known as a guy who can go to the opposite field. We might take the +185 between these two Derby first-timers.

Home Run Derby — Pete Alonso (-210) vs. Salvador Perez (+175)

Perez is hitting homers at a rate with which he hasn’t been all that familiar in his career. In fact, six more round-trippers and he will have tied his career high. Only three catchers have had at least 20 by the All-Star break, so his feats have been rare.

But  BetAnySports customers should know that Alonso is very primed for this event. He’s made the bold prediction that “I’m going to win it again.” Yes, again. Alonso is the defending champion, having won the Derby in 2019 (they did not have an All-Star Game in last year’s short season).

Alonso is an absolute natural home run hitter. And he is the only player in this field who has competed in this event before. He says “I love hitting at Coors Field.” Well, he’s had one homer for every eight plate appearances, with a monster 1.409 OPS in Denver (albeit over six games). Yeah, he’s our choice.

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Home Run Derby — Joey Gallo (-190) vs. Trevor Story (+165)

Gallo is obviously a pure power hitter. And he is on a hot streak, having hit 13 homers in his last 19 games. He is one of those players who other players make sure they watch during batting practice. So he would seem to be made for this event.

But, while we wouldn’t say he is a reluctant contestant, the Derby has never been a priority for him. In fact, a couple of the Texas Rangers’ coaches had to talk him into participating. It’s just that Gallo is wary of being looked upon as a  “one-dimensional” player. He doesn’t sound like the kind of guy who’ll alter his swing for this event.

Story may feel the extra inspiration to win this contest in front of his hometown fans. At Coors Field he hits a homer once in every 14.5 at bats, while it’s 23.2 at bats on the road.

Get this – his road slugging average is .436 on the road over the course of his career, while at home it’s .612. Okay, this does happen with a lot of Colorado players. But something has to be said for his familiarity with the park, the atmosphere, the crowd, the hitting background and so forth. I smell an “upset” here.

Home Run Derby — Matt Olson (-220) vs. Trey Mancini (+180)

Olson flashed some form in his last game on Sunday by going “yard” twice against Texas. He’s got 23 dingers for the year. But before Sunday, he had homered just once in 18 games.

Mancini isn’t on fire; he hit a home run on Sunday as well, but prior to that, only once in 16 games.

But you have to like the story behind Mancini, as he recovered form colon cancer (which sidelined him all of last year) to be here. And that’s what he’s dedicating this to. You have to admire a guy on a quest, especially if he’s an underdog. This Mancini will go “boom boom” on Monday night.

Home Run Derby — American League (-190) vs. National League (+165)

From which league will the winner come from? It should be noted that the National League only has three of the eight competitors, so if everybody had an equal chance, you’d be looking at the NL as about a -140 favorite.

I actually wouldn’t mind taking Alonso at +520 here, because he’s quite motivated and I like his experience. Plus, pacing oneself might be an underrated aspect of this competition. And we have talked about Story’s, well, story earlier in this, uh, story.

At +165, we’ll take the chance.

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