This article was originally published on May 9. Click here for more current information on Home Run Derby betting.
In the wake of one of the most controversial editions of horse racing’s annual signature event, DraftKings Sportsbook already has another Derby on its mind.
With two months of lead time, DraftKings rolled out odds on over 60 players to win Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2019 version of the Home Run Derby. As customary, this year’s slugfest unfolds the night before the July 9th MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
This year’s Home Run Derby takes home a cool million. For the second consecutive year, bettors will also have a chance to cash in on the event by placing wagers at legal, regulated sportsbooks in multiple states.
Home Run Derby 2019 odds
One inherent problem in setting lines for the Derby at this juncture is that the list of participants hasn’t been finalized. Nevertheless, DraftKings has announced that all bets placed will stand regardless of a player’s participation.
As per the operator, the current odds reflect not only the chances of a player winning the contest based on skill, but the probability that they will be invitees in the first place as well.
Plenty of big names, but one notable omission
Accordingly, the fact the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, the Brewer’s Christian Yelich and the Rangers’ Joey Gallo currently lead the pack as the three most likely winners is unsurprising.
As of May 8, Yelich and Bellinger were No. 1 and 2 in the majors with 16 and 14 home runs, respectively. Gallo was tied with several players in the American League for second with 11 round trippers. The Texas slugger also lays claim to the fifth-farthest home run thus far this season (467 feet).
And speaking of tape-measure bombs, there appears one particularly glaring omission from DK’s initial list of HR Derby players. One that coincidentally found himself in the opposite dugout from Gallo on the same afternoon odds were released.
Pennsylvania bettors may be accused of crying an (Allegheny) River when they note there currently aren’t any HR Derby odds on the Pirates’ Josh Bell. But there’s no denying the 26-year-old switch-hitting first baseman has the credentials.
Bell plunked a 472-foot shot at an exit velocity of 114.9 mph Wednesday afternoon into the famed waterway behind PNC Park. Yet, it wasn’t even his longest homer of the young season. Bell also launched a 474-foot rocket against the Reds’ Anthony DeSclafani on April 7. That qualifies as the second longest in the majors overall in the current season.
And the pacesetter in the category – the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara, who smacked a 482-foot blast on Opening Day – is nowhere to be found on DK’s board as of this writing, either. However, the 24-year-old outfielder has admittedly had trouble following up his impressive start – he’s left the yard on only five additional occasions over 126 total plate appearances.
HR Derby history? Bet the underdog
Despite the undeniable talent of the aforementioned top trio of favorites, recent history would actually discourage banking on the odds-on pick in the Derby. Yes, Bryce Harper, then of the Washington Nationals, bucked that trend in 2018 by taking home the crown after slugging 45 homers during the event.
Yet, prior to that, only one other favorite – Giancarlo Stanton in 2016 – had come through for bettors since 2010. The then-Marlins slugger did so in grand fashion – he exploded for an event-record 61 round trippers that year, including 24 in the quarterfinal round.
Star-studded event more popular than ever
Just a year after the NBA reintroduced the ABA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1984, Major League Baseball decided its All-Star Game festivities needed some spicing up as well.
Hence, the Home Run Derby was born in 1985. Initially far from the popular spectacle it would become, the long-ball extravaganza wasn’t even televised until 1993. And, it was only shown on tape delay for the first five years at that.
These days, the event is not only met with a considerable degree of anticipation by the baseball purist, but by the betting aficionado as well. In the mostly arid wagering landscape that is MLB All-Star week, the Derby offers an opportunity to plunk some cash down on baseball’s elite sluggers.