The Home Run Derby is Major League Baseball’s answer to the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. While the dunk contest seems to lose some luster with each passing year, the Home Run Derby is still must-see TV for baseball fans everywhere on a yearly basis.
Thanks to the proliferation and growing popularity of sports betting, the derby has also become a marquee event for MLB betting sites. Nothing that happens on a baseball field is more exciting than a dinger, so what could be better than watching eight of the game’s greatest sluggers slug it out on the eve of the All-Star Game?
The 2022 field of competitors is absolutely stacked. Two-time champion Pete Alonso will return to defend his throne at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. If he successfully does so, he’ll become just the second player in the event’s history to win it on three separate occasions, joining the legendary Ken Griffey Jr.
Alonso will have his work cut out for him, however. Kyle Schwarber, Juan Soto, and Ronald Acuna Jr. are just a few of the names standing between the Mets’ star and Home Run Derby history. Alonso will also have to get through Albert Pujols, who comes into this year’s competition with the eighth-most dingers in derby history.
Will Alonso win the derby for a third time? Or will a new champion dethrone him in 2022?
When Is The 2022 Home Run Derby?
The 2022 Home Run Derby is set to go down on Monday, July 18th, at 8 pm ET. Dodger Stadium will play host to Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities this year two years later than originally scheduled. Chavez Ravine was originally awarded the 2020 event, which had to be canceled as a result of the pandemic.
This will be Dodger Stadium’s first-ever Home Run Derby. The venue last hosted the All-Star Game way back in 1980, before the derby first debuted five years later. Interestingly enough, nearby Angel Stadium has hosted MLB’s All-Star events twice since the Dodgers were last tapped to do so.
This will mark the third Home Run Derby to take place in a National League West park in the last six years. The 2016 version went down at Petco Park in San Diego, while last year’s event was held at Coors Field in Denver.
Who Won the Home Run Derby In 2021?
As mentioned, the Home Run Derby throne belongs to Pete Alonso until somebody else seizes it. Alonso took the 2019 title at Progressive Field in Cleveland before his triumph in Colorado last summer. Remember, there were no All-Star festivities at all in 2020.
After his triumph last year, Alonso said, “I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet.” Frankly, it’s hard to disagree. Alonso smacked 74 big flies totaling more than six total miles in distance on his way to last year’s Home Run Derby victory. He defeated Baltimore’s Trey Mancini in the final round.
Since his MLB debut for the Mets in 2017, Alonso leads the majors with a total of 129 regular-season home runs. Eugenio Suarez of the Mariners ranks a distance second in the same span with 111, followed by Kyle Schwarber (109), Aaron Judge (105), and Matt Olson (104).
Every Home Run Derby winner since 2010 is listed below:
- Pete Alonso (2021)
- Pete Alonso (2019)
- Bryce Harper (2018)
- Aaron Judge (2017)
- Giancarlo Stanton (2016)
- Todd Frazier (2015)
- Yoenis Cespedes (2014)
- Yoenis Cespedes (2013)
- Prince Fielder (2012)
- Robinson Cano (2011)
- David Ortiz (2010)
2022 Home Run Derby Participants
Alonso certainly won’t have an easy path to his third straight title. While the 2022 Home Run Derby odds do say Alonso is easily the most likely player in the eight-man field to win it, he’ll certainly have to earn it.
Here’s the full 2022 Home Run Derby field:
- Pete Alonso (23 HR this season, 129 career HR)
- Julio Rodriguez (15 HR this season, 15 career HR)
- Albert Pujols (6 HR this season, 685 career HR)
- Kyle Schwarber (28 HR this season, 181 career HR)
- Jose Ramirez (17 HR this season, 180 career HR)
- Ronald Acuna Jr. (8 HR this season, 113 career HR)
- Juan Soto (19 HR this season (117 career HR)
Home Run Derby Betting Odds
- Pete Alonso (-250)
- Kyle Schwarber (+250)
- Julio Rodriguez (+350)
- Ronald Acuna Jr. (+350)
- Juan Soto (+400)
- Jose Ramirez (+450)
- Albert Pujols (+600)
Pete Alonso (-250)
Modesty may not be Polar Bear Pete’s strong suit, but…is there a better power hitter in the world right now? Aaron Judge is probably the other man with the most legitimate claim to that throne, but Judge won’t be a part of the 2022 Home Run Derby.
Clearly, this event is Alonso’s to lose. Before slugging 74 dingers last year, Alonso went deep another 57 times on his way to the 2019 title. It’s worth noting that last year’s event took place at Coors Field, which is very easily the best hitting environment in all of Major League Baseball.
Dodger Stadium isn’t quite as hitter-friendly, but warm conditions and an early 5 pm Pacific Time start should have the balls flying with some gusto. When Alonso gets going, he’s incredibly difficult to stop. He hit an incredible 35 dongs in the first round of last year’s contest alone before edging Mancini, 23-22, in the final round.
Alonso’s effortless power stroke allows him to conserve energy along the way, which gives him an advantage over some of the slighter, less experienced sluggers in the field. At the current -250 Home Run Derby odds, how can you not like Alonso’s chances?
Kyle Schwarber (+250)
Schwarber is, essentially, the left-handed version of Alonso. The first-year Phillie leads all players in the 2022 competition with 28 real-life home runs on the season. He’s on pace to shatter his previous career-high mark of 38 big flies, which was set back in 2019 with the Cubs.
This will be Schwarber’s second appearance in the Home Run Derby, and he likely would’ve featured last year were it not for a poorly-timed injury right around the All-Star Break. He nearly won his only previous outing, however, when he fell in the finals at the hands of his current Phillies teammate, Bryce Harper. Schwarber hit a total of 55 homers that year, but lost to Harper by just one homer in the final round.
Much like Alonso, Schwarber’s bowling ball physique and smooth swing should serve him well in this kind of competition. If you’re not taking a shot on Alonso at -250, Schwarber’s current +250 Home Run Derby odds look like the best alternative. If Alonso doesn’t three-peat, Schwarber is the most likely candidate to stage a coup.
Julio Rodriguez (+350)
Julio Rodriguez is the youngest and least-experienced slugger in this year’s competition. Rodriguez has a grand total of 360 MLB plate appearances under his belt as of this writing, but he’s wasted no time in establishing himself as one of the game’s brightest young stars.
Rodriguez earned an All-Star nod as a rookie, and he’ll look to add to his impressive first-year resume by taking a shot at Alonso’s Home Run Derby crown. Rodriguez has 15 homers on the year, but he’s done the vast majority of that damage over the past month of play.
The 21-year-old predictably got off to a slow start, but he’s looked more comfortable in recent weeks. Rodriguez has launched nine of his 15 homers since June 1st. With 21 stolen bases under his belt, Rodriguez has an outside shot at a rare 30-30 season as a rookie.
If he does win it, Rodriguez will become the third first-year player in the history of the Home Run Derby to do so. Judge was the last rookie to win the competition in 2017, while Wally Joyner was the co-champion as a member of the Angels back in 1986.
Ronald Acuna Jr. (+350)
Only Albert Pujols has fewer home runs this season among derby participants than Ronald Acuna Jr’s eight, but the Braves’ perennial MVP candidate has dealt with some injuries. Acuna didn’t make his season debut until April 28th after recovering from last year’s torn ACL, while he’s missed a few more games with minor maladies since then.
When healthy, however, Acuna is easily one of the most feared hitters in the game. He smacked a whopping 41 homers in his first full MLB season back in 2019. He was well on his way to topping that mark with 24 homers a season ago before the knee injury suffered in July sidelined him for the rest of the way.
Acuna was a semifinalist at the 2019 derby, where he fell to the eventual champion, Alonso. Acuna hit 25 homers in the first round to get past Josh Bell before he fell a homer shy of Alonso in the second.
I’d sooner bet on Acuna’s +350 Home Run Derby odds than Rodriguez at the same number, especially considering Acuna is familiar with this kind of a stage. Both are still well behind Schwarber in terms of overall betting value, however.
Juan Soto (+400)
Juan Soto isn’t having his best season, but he will enter the All-Star break in his best form. The Childish Bambino has slugged 19 homers on the year, with five of those big flies having come so far in July. As of this writing, the 23-year-old superstar has gone deep in four of his last five games.
Soto is also back for more after making his Home Run Derby debut last year in Colorado. He smacked 31 homers in a memorable first-round bout against the mighty Shohei Ohtani before falling by one at the hands of Alonso in the semis. The fact that Alonso has gone head-to-head with and beaten both Acuna and Soto in previous derbies is a testament to his clear status as the tournament’s heavy frontrunner.
Soto has plenty of power in his game. He smacked a career-high 34 big flies back in 2019 before hitting 29 last year before finishing as NL MVP runner-up. That said, he’s not necessarily a classic slugger in the same vein as Alonso or Schwarber. The Nationals’ young star may be the best overall hitter in the sport, but he’s also not likely to ever come particularly close to hitting 50 homers in a season.
Soto’s swing is more conducive to line drives than to hitting for a ton of power. His first-round victory over Ohtani last year shows he’s fully capable of putting on a good showing, but I’m skeptical he has the consistency to get past someone like Alonso in another direct clash. I’ll pass on Soto’s +400 Home Run Derby betting odds.
Jose Ramirez (+450)
If the season ended today, Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez would have a legitimate claim to the American League MVP trophy. J-Ram is one of the sport’s more unheralded stars, yet his consistency is remarkable. He’s hit at least 23 homers in each full season since 2017 since becoming a regular starter for Cleveland the season prior.
Ramirez is more like Soto or Rodriguez in terms of his all-around game, however. He’s slashing .285/.366/.564 with 19 homers so far in 2022. While he does have enough power to rank among the league’s HR leaders, he’s still well behind Judge, Alonso, and several others in terms of raw power.
This will also mark Ramirez’s maiden voyage in this competition. He has the makeup to fare well on the big stage, but his Home Run Derby odds (+450) aren’t really that much more favorable than Schwarber’s (+250) or Acuna’s (+350).
Albert Pujols (+600)
Albert Pujols announced before the season that he’ll hang up his cleats at the end of the campaign. Commissioner Rob Manfred assigned Pujols and Miguel Cabrera to the NL and AL All-Star rosters as honorary “legends,” which is certainly a deserved honor for both.
Pujols, now 42 years old, is merely a part-time player this season for the Cardinals. He’ll typically start at designated hitter against left-handed pitching, which explains why he’s only made 164 plate appearances across 51 games. He’s playing a very small role for a legitimate World Series contender, and he figured he’d give the derby one more go before he calls it a career.
Pujols first appeared in the 2003 Home Run Derby, which gives you an idea of just how long this dude has been around. This will be Pujols’ fifth derby, though he’s still looking to win one for the first time. The closest he came was that 2003 showing in which he finished second to Garret Anderson. Apropos of nothing, Garret Anderson is now 50 years old.
Pujols still has a little thunder left in his bat, with six homers on the year after he went deep a total of 17 times a season ago with the Angels and Dodgers. Pujols winning this thing for the first time as a 42-year-old would be an incredible feat and an amazing way to cap a Hall-of-Fame career, but c’mon. There’s no real reason to believe this guy at this age is capable of beating Alonso or Schwarber in a competition that requires quite a bit of endurance.
Pujols’ +600 Home Run Derby betting odds are admittedly alluring, but I just can’t pull the trigger.
Home Run Derby Predictions
At this point, I see no reason not to jump all over Alonso’s aforementioned -250 Home Run Derby odds. You can argue he should be an even bigger favorite considering how easily he’s dominated this tournament over the past couple of years. Until he loses, he’s going to be a worthy favorite.
If you want to shoot for plus-money value with your MLB Home Run Derby odds, look no further than Schwarber (+250) or Acuna (+350). Schwarber is another guy built for this thing, so the Phillies’ slugger offers quite a bit of bang for the buck at those odds.