With the All-Star breaks comes one of the most exciting events of the year, the annual Home Run Derby! The 2019 edition of the derby has all kinds of star power as we have the best third baseman in the American League in Matt Chapman, as well last year’s rookie of the year in the NL, Ronald Acuna Jr. The star power doesn’t stop there as we have super rookies Vlad Guerrero Jr and Pete Alonso, as well as established stars like Alex Bregman, Joc Pederson, Carlos Santana, and Josh Bell rounding out the field.
This year’s derby will follow last year’s format were the eight participants are ranked and placed into an NCAA March Madness style bracket. Each player will get five minutes to hit as many home runs as they can, with the winner of each matchup moving on to the next round. We do this until one man is left standing and is crowned the 2019 Home Run Derby champion!
In this article, we will break down each matchup and give you all the information you need to bet the derby profitably. Let’s get started!
Here is the bracket, provided by ESPN.
The 2019 Home Run Derby bracket is set ⚾️
MLB HR leader Christian Yelich headlines the field of eight that will face off on Monday at 8PM ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/R2VhXcvnQ4
— ESPN (@espn) July 4, 2019
Please Note: Matt Chapman will be replacing Christian Yelich.
Extremely disappointed to not be able to participate in the HR Derby tomorrow. Always been a dream but unfortunately things don’t always go your way and I’m not physically able. I’m sorry if anybody was let down but I hope to be apart of it again at some point in the future.
— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) July 7, 2019
My First Reactions
The bracket got a bit skewed as reigning NL MVP and current home run leader, Christian Yelich, was a late scratch from the event with an injury. He gets replaced by Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman. Instead of reseeding the event, Chapman gets to assume Yelich’s number one overall seed.
My other first reactions to this field are the lack of current American League home run leaders. The top three National League participants are currently first, third, and fourth in the league in homers. And the other guys, Joc Pederson and Ronald Acuna Jr, aren’t far behind either as they both have twenty bombs on the year, that puts them just outside the top ten, in eleventh. Yelich dropping out of the field doesn’t change the fact that the NL was very well represented in the opening field of players.
But when you look at the American League players, Vlad Guerrero, despite clearly having lots of raw power, only has eight career home runs. That is the lowest career number ever for a guy in the derby. Carlos Santana made the cut because this game is in Cleveland, and they always want a hometown guy to cheer for, he is just eleventh in the league in dingers.
Alex Bregman is a superstar and is third in the league in homers and is the only player in the top five in the AL that will compete. The rest of the top five in AL leaders in homers this year, guys like Mike Trout, Gary Sanchez, Jorge Soler, and Max Kepler, will be watching from the sideline just like you and me. This gets slightly improved by adding Chapman to the mix, but the AL still seems to be underrepresented tonight. Now that we know what to expect, let’s jump right into the first-round matchups.
#1 Matt Chapman (OAK) vs #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)
This should have been the marquee matchup of the first round as we had the reigning MVP in Yelich, facing off against the most notable rookie in the game in Guerrero. But now with Chapman stepping up on short notice, this seems like a blowout in the first round.
So, who wins this matchup? I like Guerrero. I know it would seem like a pretty big upset, seeing that he hasn’t shown a lot of consistent power yet in his career. But if you have ever seen this guy take batting practice, you will know why I like this guy. He swings out of his shoes on every cut, and when he connects, he punishes the baseball.
I do worry that his super hard-swinging ways will come back to bite him in the later rounds, as he may tire out. But I love him in this first round. No disrespect to Chapman, the guy is an absolute beast, but his stroke isn’t a natural uppercut swing that seems to be very effective in the derby, and I think he struggles. Vlad moves on.
Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr
#2 Pete Alonso (NYM) vs #7 Carlos Santana (CLE)
In this two versus seven matchup, we have the hometown hero in Santana facing off against Mets rookie Pete Alonso. Alonso has been absolutely remarkable this year as he has already broken Daryl Strawberry’s Mets rookie record for home runs in a season. The guy has been the one bright spot for the Mets in an otherwise dumpster can fire of a season. I love his approach and his swing for this event, but he has one major thing going against him.
And that is that Carlos Santana will be at home. Santana is somehow playing in his first ever All-Star game after having a very successful nine-season career. And when you look back at how hometown players tend to hit in this competition, it tells me that he is going to be better than most anybody not wearing an Indians jersey might suspect. We saw last year with Bryce Harper’s heroic comeback in front of his hometown fans what home field advantage can do for a guy.
All that being said, I think Alonso finds a way to get it done. His raw power is just too much to not like him in this type of competition. Santana will put on a show for the fans, but in the end, will come up just short in what I see as being the closest first-round matchup. Alonso is my second rookie to advance to the next round.
Winner: Pete Alonso
#3 Josh Bell (PIT) vs #6 Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)
I see this as the only real mismatch of the first round. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ronald Acuna Jr, he is a budding superstar, and at still just twenty-one years old has a great career ahead of him. But Josh Bell is on another level right now. Bell isn’t just hitting home runs, he is hitting moon shots. Bell has hit two balls into the water outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh already this season and hits like he is mad at the ball.
Bell comes into the derby as the betting favorite, and I can certainly see why. If he doesn’t win the derby outright, he seems to be a near lock to hit the longest home run of the night, five hundred feet bombs could come off the bat of Bell. Bell wins this one in a blowout and advances to the second round with ease.
Winner: Josh Bell
#4 Alex Bregman (HOU) vs #5 Joc Pederson (LAD)
In the final first-round matchup, we have Alex Bregman squaring off against Joc Pederson. When you look at the odds on these guys, it is pretty surprising to see both of them valued so poorly. One of them has to win and advance, so to see them both priced this low opens up some great value. While I like both of these guy’s games a lot, it is a bit of a letdown as there are other players from these two teams I would rather see in the competition.
How much more fun would this be if it were a healthy George Springer versus Cody Bellinger? Alas, we are stuck with the JV squad instead. If I had to point to the worse single betting line of this year’s derby, it would be Bregman as the long shot. Have the books not seen this guy play? Bregman didn’t have a great performance last season when he went out in the first round, but he should be able to learn from that, and I think that experience is what gets him through the first round. I don’t know if he has enough to win the whole thing, but he will survive the first round.
Winner: Alex Bregman
#8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR) vs #4 Alex Bregman +1100 (HOU)
In the first of our two semifinal matchups, we have Guerrero Jr against Alex Bregman. This is a fun matchup with two of baseball’s most exciting young stars, but I just don’t think Bregman has the raw power to hang with Vladdy. His dad won this event in 2007, and I think Jr. has a great chance to make daddy Vladdy proud and make his way to the finals.
As I mentioned above, I worry a little bit about him running out of steam as he swings so hard, but then I remembered he is just twenty years old and this is his first time on the big stage. The adrenaline alone should carry him through to the finals. Bregman will put up a fight, but in the end, it won’t be enough as Guerrero advance to the finals.
Winner: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
#3 Josh Bell (PIT) vs #2 Pete Alonso +1100 (NYM)
In our second semifinal, we have rookie Pete Alonso going up against Josh Bell. This one could truly go either way. Both of these guys have huge natural power and are going to hit a lot of balls out of the park tonight. But I am going to lean towards Alonso. He hits over 30% of his fly balls out of the park, the highest in the competition outside of the one seed Yelich. And he leads major league baseball with twenty homers over 400 feet.
To me, the winner of this round is going to win the derby. This will likely end up being the best round of any in the competition, and I think it will come down to the final few swings, with Alonso edging Bell at the last second.
Winner: Pete Alonso
#2 Pete Alonso (NYM) vs #8 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)
That’s right folks, I have two rookies making the finals tonight! For my money, they have the rawest power of any players in the competition, something that is very important in the home run derby. If you have to muscle up on every swing to get it over the fence, you are eventually going to run out of gas. Both of these guys swing the bat really hard, and they have can miss a ball and still hit it out.
I think this is where Guerrero finally runs out of steam. The big man swings a heavy club, and I have a feeling he will hit the finals with the most combined homers in the first two rounds. But even a bat as heavy as Vladdy’s gets tired eventually. I think he blows his load early and comes out with a dud in the finals.
It may end up being a bit anticlimactic, but I see the finals as two guys that are both spent, and the finals will underwhelm. Alonso posts his lowest total of the night, but it is just enough to sneak by Guerrero and take home the 2019 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby title!
Winner: Pete Alonso
Thank you all for reading and make sure to place your bets now to get in on all of the action of one of the most exciting events of the year. It is going to be the year of the rookie at the home run derby, and my projected winner, Pete Alonso is paying a very attractive +475! Good luck betting on the MLB and enjoy the derby!