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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:58 PM

Home Run Derby Best Bet

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MLB Home Run Derby Betting Preview

After this weekend we've reached the one week of the entire year that's as slow as slow gets for sports bettors: the MLB All-Star break. And while I for one tend to welcome the slow period given what lies ahead with football season on deck, it doesn't mean that bettors have to completely stay away from beer and pizza money type action in baseball with the HR Derby and the All-Star game itself.

Editor's Note: Christian Yelich will not participate in the 2019 Home Run Derby due to a back injury. Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman will take his place.

It's this year's HR Derby that has sparked a bit more excitement then usual for the event given all the young, growing talent that's in the field, including the reigning NL MVP in Christian Yelich. Yelich has been dubbed with the “#1 seed” for the event thanks to him having the most HR's this year of any competitor, but it also means he's got to face the #8 seed – who's got the fewest regular season HR's – in Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Yet, the message defensively will be just as stern this time around, as they can't go around giving up easy yards and points like they did and expect to win too many games. But if we can use last year as any indication, we should expect the Riders defense to step up from here on out, because last season's visit to Ottawa in Week 2 was the only time all year Saskatchewan allowed more then 34 points against. Welcoming a Toronto team that looked awful last week for the home opener is a great situation for this Riders defense to get back on track, and it's hard to believe that they won't be able to to some degree.

Vladdy has been the top prospect in baseball for some time now, and with his bloodlines in the game, he's not your generic worst seed in the event. In fact, he's tied with Mets slugger Pete Alonso for the 3rd best odds (+450) to win the event, as it's hard not to like his chances if he gets by Yelich in that opening round. It was 12 years ago that Vladdy Sr won the HR Derby, and wouldn't it be fitting for Jr's first time on the big stage – because the Blue Jays aren't seeing any big stages anytime soon – to be claiming a HR Derby crown.

So if you are looking for some action during the slowest time of the year in sports, the HR Derby is probably the best bang for your buck in terms of excitement, as long as money management is still practiced. Here are the odds for this year's event along with one recommendation for a guy who has already gotten my support.

MLB HR Derby Odds
Josh Bell (+265)
Christian Yelich (OFF)
Pete Alonso (+450)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr (+450)
Joc Pederson (+900)
Carlos Santana (+950)
Alex Bregman (+1150)
Ronald Acuna Jr (+1300)
Matt Champman (+800)

Odds and Field Subject to Change

Given that it is a bracket format event, siding with one guy from each side of the bracket can keep rooting interests strong the deeper the event goes, and if you are lucky enough to have both guys in the finals, at the current odds listed, it doesn't matter which two guys you've got, you'll be guaranteeing yourself some profit.

Yet, this is still more of a “need action” type event to bet on as opposed to the business-like nature anyone's day-to-day handicapping should be about, and making too many plays before hand on the Derby can end up costing you too many units then you ever envisioned having at risk for this event. With live betting options available as the event goes on, you can always feed the action junkie part of you that way, and that's definitely something to consider.

But for the outset of the event, it's only one guy I'm looking to back, and as has been the case in two of the past four HR Derby's, I think we see the hometown crowd in Cleveland see their own man come home with the crown.

MLB HR Derby Best Bet: Carlos Santana +950

The home crowd storyline took center stage in 2015 when Cincinnati's Todd Frazier went the distance in this event and captured the feel-good story of the All-Star break in doing so. After that it was all about the big boys in Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge showing off their brute strength in the derby, but last year it was all hometown love again as Bryce Harper won the thing at Nationals Park in what became his last All-Star scenario in a Nats jersey. The energy that Harper and Frazier fed off in those events was palpable, and given how fatigued guys can get with swing after swing in the derby, that extra boost of energy never hurts.

Enter Carlos Santana.

The current Cleveland Indians player who began is MLB career in the city, tested the free agency waters in the winter of 2017 and signed a solid deal with the Phillies. Santana was only able to play out one of his signed three-year deal in a Phillies uniform as the winter of 2017 saw him traded twice, to have his final destination be the spot where he started playing baseball at this level; Cleveland.

Santana's eye at the plate and his ability to switch hit have always made him a valuable commodity to this Indians organization, and even though he left in an effort to get the most money he could to set up his family as much as possible, Indians fans feel like him being back int he mix this year just feels right. He's already slugged 19 HR's this year for Cleveland, and while he's not your prototypical power hitter that we get in this event, the in-depth knowledge of the ballpark and his decision on which side of the box to bat from could be that minor edge he needs to survive and advance.

The longer Santana stays around in this bracket tournament, the more energy that Indians crowd will give him, and that never hurts. He's got three very young guys - both in terms of MLB service time and actual age – on his side of the bracket with him, and youthful exuberance catching up to those guys in an event like this is always something to think about.

And at nearly 10-1 odds, the price is there to potentially turn a beer and pizza bet into one that's more lobster and wine. Potentially not a bad way to grind through the dog days of summer.

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