Handicapping The 2021 MLB Home Run Derby & Betting Guide

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After an absence in 2020, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game returns this year, and the multi-day festivities include the Home Run Derby, sponsored by T-Mobile.

The Home Run Derby will be held at Coors Field in Colorado on Monday, July 12th, pitting some of baseball’s greatest sluggers in a competition of “grip it and rip it” swinging for the fences.

How To Watch The Home Run Derby & What’s At Stake

Once again, ESPN has the broadcast rights to the Home Run Derby. If you’re a numbers guy or gal, ESPN News will air a simulcast chock full of Statcast metrics, such as launch angle and the like. If that’s your cup of Coors.

The batters are not just swinging for their looks: the league offers a cash prize pool of $2.5 million, with $1 million going to the HR Derby Champion. Even for the highest-paid athletes, a hundred grand here and a hundred grand there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

UPDATE: Latest Odds on Home Run Derby

Home Run Derby Bracket Matchups

Shohei Ohtani vs. Juan Soto

We’ve never seen anyone (not even Babe Ruth) quite like the two-way star Shohei Ohtani, but will the Japanese star win the Home Run Derby and make his star even brighter?

Ohtani has a gorgeous swing and tremendous raw power. Take a look at his swing to see how quickly he pivots his midsection to point toward the pitcher and extends his arms to maximize his longball game.

Why Ohtani can win: He’s the storyline of 2021, and he’s on a roll, having hit nine homers in the last 14 days, as of this writing.

Remember Juan Soto? There was a time when the Nationals outfielder was the most heralded young player in baseball. Soto hasn’t disappointed at all, since his 2019 season when he helped lead the Nats to the World Series title. It’s more like he’s been overshadowed by sexier young stars. But the flashy Soto still won the NL batting title last season, and he has more than enough pop to win the Derby Crown in Denver.

Why Juan Soto can win: After a slow start in the HR category, Soto has picked up the pace of late, hitting seven homers in his last month, and two homers just this week.

Salvador Pérez vs. Pete Alonso

Some things get better with age: cheese, wine, the music of Sam Cooke. So too for Sal Pérez, who isn’t considered a classic home run hitter, but keeps smacking the longball. Consider: since his rookie year, Pérez has increased his HR output every season (except the pandemic-shortened year), and he is sure to do so again, seeing as he already has 20 home runs through early July. He’s the only player in baseball history to increase his HR in seven straight seasons.

Why Pérez can win: He’s the underdog, and sooner or later, every dog has his day, right?

If you put stock in experience, Pete Alonso is your man. The Mets slugger won the most recent derby, in 2019, when he blasted 57 homers in the three rounds of competition.

Why Alonso can win: Since his rookie season of 2019, Alonso leads baseball in home runs.

Joey Gallo vs. Trevor Story

Gallo is on pace for his third 40-HR season for Texas, and he’s getting hot at the right time, with 10 dingers last month, and four already in July. He’s an all-or-nothing hitter: in 58% of his plate appearances, Gallo doesn’t put the ball in the field of play (either a HR, strikeout, walk, or hit by pitch). No HBP for the HR Derby, but Gallo should be thrilling to watch in the Rocky Mountain air.

Why Gallo can win: He’s 6’5, 250 pounds, with a long swing made for putting a dent in the baseball. Probably the favorite after Shohei.

Story will be the crowd favorite, performing in front of his hometown fans. No one knows better that the thin air of Denver can do crazy things to a baseball.

Why Story can win: Homefield advantage.

Matt Olson vs. Trey Mancini

If it seems like every batter in the derby is a left-handed hitting first baseman, well it just seems like it. Olson is another one of them, and the Oakland slugger has 21 homers already, which is impressive since the A’s play in a ballpark large enough to graze 1,000 head of cattle.

Why Olson can win: I’d rate him as a longshot, but anything can happen.

The Orioles usually have a few hitters who just swing for the fences. Strikeouts be damned. Mancini is the latest in that line of Big Wind sluggers.

Why Mancini can win: He’s the feel-good story: less than two years ago he fought and win a battle against cancer. “The biggest reason why I wanted to do [the HR Derby],” Mancini says, “was to show people that there’s life after a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy.” That’s good enough for me to root for him.

MLB Home Run Derby Betting Guide

Odds have yet to be released by sportsbooks, but should be available by the weekend.

Here’s how the Home Run Derby works:

  • Batters are matched head-to-head based on the contest’s seeding.
  • Each slugger has five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible.
  • Batters supply their own pitcher.
  • Competitors are allowed one 45-second timeout during the first and semi-final rounds, and two in the finals.
  • The batter with the most HR in each matchup advances, until a final HR Derby is crowned.

If a tie occurs in any round, there are three sets of tiebreakers:

  • 1st tiebreaker: A 90-second swing-off.
  • 2nd tiebreaker: Best-of-3-swing swing-off.
  • 3rd tiebreaker: Sudden-death swing-offs until a winner emerges.
  • Tiebreaker rounds are four minutes.

2021 Home Run Derby Seeding

  1. Shohai Ohtani, Angels
  2. Joey Gallo, Rangers
  3. Matt Olson, A’s
  4. Salvador Pérez, Royals
  5. Pete Alonso, Mets
  6. Trey Mancini, Orioles
  7. Trevor Story, Rockies
  8. Juan Soto, Nationals

Players Who Won Home Run Derby In Their Home Park

  1. Ryne Sandberg, 1990 in Wrigley Field, Chicago
  2. Todd Frazier, 2015 in Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati
  3. Bryce Harper, 2018 in Nationals Park, Washington D.C.

Trevor Story will be hitting in his home park this year.

Batters Who Have Won More Than One Home Run Derby

  • Ken Griffey Jr. (1994, ‘98-99)
  • Yoenis Céspedes (2013-14)
  • Prince Fielder (2009, 2012)

Pete Alonso is the only batter in the competition who has previously won the derby.

About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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