The Home Run Derby brackets were revealed on Wednesday night and odds were posted for the full eight-player field at DraftKings Sportsbook.
|Player||DraftKings Odds||2019 Homers (As of July 7)|
|Josh Bell (PIT)||+300||27|
|Pete Alonso (NYM)||+400||29|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)||+400||8|
|Matt Chapman (OAK)||+800||21|
|Joc Pederson (LAD)||+800||20|
|Alex Bregman (HOU)||+900||23|
|Carlos Santana (CLE)||+1000||19|
|Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL)||+1100||21|
Home Run Derby field
Editor’s note: Christian Yelich has been replaced by Matt Chapman in Monday’s Home Run Derby.
No. 1 seed: Matt Chapman, OAK
First-round opponent: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 93.0 mph average exit velocity; 12.4 percent Barrels per PA; 14.8 degrees average launch angle; 19.4 percent HR/FB rate
Chapman steps into the Derby fray in the wake of Yelich’s last-minute, surprise withdrawal from the contest. The Athletics’ third baseman is a worthy participant, with his metrics more than holding their own against those of his fellow contestants. A testament to Chapman’s power is that 14 of his 21 homers on the season thus far have come in his home park of the Oakland Coliseum, which has a well-earned reputation as a pitcher’s haven and finished the first half with the eighth-lowest home-run factor (0.831) in the majors.
No. 2 seed: Pete Alonso, NYM
First-round opponent: Carlos Santana
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 91.1 mph average exit velocity; 10.2 percent Barrels per PA; 13.7 degrees average launch angle; 30.8 percent HR/FB rate
Alonso is one of two rookie sensations in this year’s Derby, but he’s the one who’s been getting it done at the big-league level since Day 1 of the 2019 campaign. The Mets slugger is almost overshadowed in the Derby by fellow first-year player Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Yelich and Bell, but many aspects of his power profile – which includes a majors-high 20 homers of 400-plus feet — check in as comparable or better than his fellow participants.
No. 3 seed: Josh Bell, PIT
First-round opponent: Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 93.9 mph average exit velocity; 9.7 percent Barrels per PA; 10.7 degrees average launch angle; 28.0 percent HR/FB rate
Bell’s name was largely obscure to the casual fan entering this season, and arguably, through the first month of 2019 as well. However, the Pirates’ biggest masher has jacked 20 of his 26 homers since May 1 and has made plenty of noise by already slugging a pair of 470-foot-plus homers this season. Bell’s power metrics don’t put him at the head of any one category, but they give him an excellent chance of ultimately prevailing in the contest as the odds-on favorite in many sportsbooks.
No. 4 seed: Alex Bregman, HOU
First-round opponent: Joc Pederson
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 88.9 mph average exit velocity; 2.7 percent Barrels per PA; 20.3 degrees average launch angle; 19.2 percent HR/FB rate
Bregman enters his second consecutive Derby with some deceptively lower numbers in certain power categories as compared to other participants. However, Bregman also boasts the highest average launch angle of any contestant in the Derby and has a proven Derby track record in the form of 15 homers in last year’s edition.
No. 5 seed: Joc Pederson, LAD
First-round opponent: Alex Bregman
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 91.5 mph average exit velocity; 7.1 percent Barrels per PA; 14.9 degrees average launch angle; 25.3 percent HR/FB rate
Pederson is another player with some Derby skins on the wall. He participated as a rookie in 2015 and finished as a runner-up that year to Todd Frazier by just one homer. Pederson’s 20 round trippers are particularly impressive when considering he’s logged 290 plate appearances as a part-time player who typically sits against left-handed pitchers.
No. 6 seed: Ronald Acuna, Jr., ATL
First-round opponent: Josh Bell
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 91.2 mph average exit velocity; 8.6 percent Barrels per PA; 14.9 degrees average launch angle; 21.5 percent HR/FB rate
What sophomore slump? Acuna has quickly buried that old sports adage when it comes to him, as he’s on pace for a true breakout season. He’s also coming into this year’s Derby with some long-ball momentum, considering he hit nine home runs in June, his best total in a full month this season.
No. 7 seed: Carlos Santana, CLE
First-round opponent: Pete Alonso
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 92.4 mph average exit velocity; 6.4 percent Barrels per PA; 8.7 degrees average launch angle; 22.4 percent HR/FB rate
Santana is the “old man” of this year’s Derby, but the veteran earned the call with what’s shaping up as a career-best season at age 33. The switch-hitting iron man is currently boasting high-water marks in all three components of his .302/.420/.548 line. Santana may have the least buzz of any contestant this year, but as he’s proving game in and game out this season, he shouldn’t be underestimated, and is worth a shot as one of the competitors with the longest odds across the board.
No. 8 seed: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., TOR
First-round opponent: Christian Yelich
Pertinent 2019 metrics: 89.4 mph average exit velocity; 5.1 percent Barrels per PA; 6.2 degrees average launch angle; 13.6 percent HR/FB rate
Guerrero may be last in seeding but likely right at the top with Yelich in terms of hype heading into the Derby. And although the power metrics cited above don’t yet measure up to that of his peers, there’s little question the upside is there. While it may take some time for that to manifest itself in actual games, a one-off event like the Derby is tailor-made for a player who’s put up a distance of 407 feet or greater on six of his eight homers thus far.
2019 Home Run Derby details
The annual homage to the game’s most impactful in-game event, the Home Run Derby gathers eight of the game’s most prodigious sluggers to compete in a bracket-style, single-elimination tournament.
Participants outside of the defending champion are typically seeded based on their home run totals up to the date the final selections are made. In the event that a tie-breaker between two or more players is needed, the player with the most home runs since June 15 is awarded the seed in question, as per the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Some of the particulars of the 2019 Home Run Derby include:
- Date: Monday, July 8 at 8 p.m. Eastern
- Location: Progressive Field – Cleveland, Ohio
- Where to watch: ESPN will offer the main telecast of the Home Run Derby. ESPN News will offer an alternate, more data-driven telecast that will include analysis on Statcast metrics.
- Prize pool: Major League Baseball has announced the total prize pool as $2.5 million, which includes $1 million awarded to first place. The cumulative amount up for grabs and the top prize are the largest in the contest’s history.
- Defending champion: Bryce Harper (hit 45 home runs in the 2018 Derby)
Home Run Derby rules
The Home Run Derby has been the subject of multiple formats since its inception in 1985. The current iteration, largely in place since 2015, is as follows:
- Each player is matched up head-to-head against another based on the contest’s seeding structure.
- Each player has five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible.
- The winner of each head-to-head matchup advances, until a final winner is determined.
- If a tie occurs in any match-up, there are three sets of tiebreakers employed:
- 1st tie breaker: A 90-second swing-off.
- 2nd tie breaker: Best-of-3-swing swing-off.
- 3rd tie breaker: Sudden-death swing-offs until a winner is determined.
- Rounds are currently four minutes in length.
- A player is also entitled to 30 seconds of bonus time if they hit at least two home runs of 440 feet or longer. The bonus time is awarded at the end of the four-minute round.
- Each batter is allowed one 45-second time-out during the first and semi-final rounds. They are awarded two in the finals, one of 45 seconds in duration and another that is 30 seconds in length.
Wagering on the Derby: A unique proposition
Wagering on the odds-on favorite to win the Home Run Derby has mostly been a losing bet for the last nine years. Data reflects that only two favorites since 2010 — then-Marlin Giancarlo Stanton in 2016 and Harper in 2019 — have actually taken home the crown.
Predicting who might come out on top is likely trickier than a conventional team-based bet due to the similarity in the talent levels between the majority of participants. In other words, there aren’t supposed to be any pushovers or tomato cans taking their hacks in the contest. Each of the invitees is part of the event in the first place due to how potent a bat they’ve been swinging up to that point in the season.
Listed odds reflect the probabilities of each player’s success in the eyes of the bookmakers/betting public, as usual. But, Derby lines might be at least a tad less predictive than your standard wagering scenario. The quality of pitches a player sees and his overall endurance come into play. So too does any potential injury situation a player may come into the contest with.
Then, as is the case during any game in the season, the setting also plays a role.
Stadiums with park factors more conducive to the long ball will naturally boost the upside of every participant to a certain degree. That alone could make the outcome even more difficult to pin down.
And, participants who happen find themselves in their home ballpark would certainly carry a certain edge. Their intimate knowledge of relevant stadium specs such as dimensions, wind angles, etc. would presumably serve as valuable tools when trying to rack up the round trippers.