We get an unconventional MLB pick opportunity on Monday night, as the regular MLB schedule hits the great wall that is the All-Star break. While it can be a bummer to miss out on regular MLB games over the course of the week (we’re back to normal come Friday), we can still enjoy the 2017 MLB All-Star festivities with Tuesday night’s All-Star game and Monday’s slugfest via the Home Run Derby.
MLB bettors could toe a fine line between logic and chalk tonight, as two of the best mashers in all of baseball – New York’s Aaron Judge and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton – take the field in Marlins Park in search of a HR Derby title. Stanton is actually operating in his home park where he’s sent 13 long balls over the wall and enters as the #1 seed, having claimed this very HR Derby crown a season ago. Stanton’s resume speaks for itself, while Judge owns the longest homer (495 feet) of the 2017 MLB season and also leads all mashers with the best average exit velocity. Oh, and his 30 home runs lead the majors, too.
2017 Home Run Derby Odds
All of this naturally has both of these heavy hitters entering with the very same 2017 Home Run Derby odds, per top MLB betting site, Bovada. Here’s the full list with all of the odds for the tantalizing 8-player field:
- Giancarlo Stanton – Marlins (+200)
- Aaron Judge – Yankees (+200)
- Cody Bellinger – Dodgers (+650)
- Miguel Sano – Twins (+700)
- Gary Sanchez – Yankees (+1200)
- Charlie Blackmon – Rockies (+1400)
- Mike Moustakas – Royals (+1400)
- Justin Bour – Marlins (+1400)
You honestly could make a hefty case for just about everyone here. Mike Moustakas, Charlie Blackmon and Justin Bour all can mash the heck out of the ball and are absolutely worthy flier bets, simply based on their awesome odds. Bour will be operating out of his home park, just like Stanton, and might come off as even more impressive (20 HR, 11 at Marlins Park) had he not missed several games due to injury. You’re not just betting on him to win, though. You’re betting on him to take down Aaron Judge in round one and then get past Charlie Blackmon/Cody Bellinger and possibly out-mash teammate, Giancarlo Stanton.
That’s a lot to bank on, while the logic is similar with Blackmon. Moustakas feels like a more viable sleeper, as he carries the same upside given the exact same odds, while he’s red hot right now with 6 home runs over his last 10 games. He’ll have to get past Miguel Sano, who sports the second best exit velocity in the majors, but he’s in a groove and can’t be written off.
The path to the title just looks too difficult for some of these lower seeds, but Cody Bellinger could be on attractive name we can discount. Young hitters (Bellinger is 21) don’t have amazing success at the HR Derby and we even saw another Dodgers youngsters (Joc Pederson and Corey Seager) fall short in the last two seasons. Of course, perhaps Bellinger follows Joc’s run, one in which led him to the 2015 Finals, where he fell to Todd Frazier by one long ball.
I’m not willing to completely black list Bellinger just because of his age, but he has a steep hill to climb and he doesn’t have the same friendly data backing him as the two co-favorites.
HR Derby Prediction
Ultimately, I think (as chalk as it sounds), this race really will come down to Judge vs. Stanton. Stanton has mashed 13 long balls at this park this year, trails Judge by just four homers on the season and 5 of the 17 best exit velocities on the year. Two big problems keep me from backing the defending champ, however.
For one, HR Derby champs normally don’t repeat. The fields are so stacked that it just isn’t easy to do, as Yoenis Cespedes and Ken Griffey Jr. are still the only two hitters to accomplished the feat since the MLB started showcasing this contest in 1985. That’s some rough history to work against.
Judge is the more explosive masher by the numbers, too. It’s true that the rookie does work in the friendly Yankee Stadium, but that doesn’t change his raw power and consistency. Judge leads MLB in home runs, but he also has posted the longest HR of the season and the four best exit velocities on the year. That helps him own the best average exit velocity in the majors and by the numbers logically makes him the top threat.
Picking the HR Derby winner is partially logic, partially hard data and partially entertainment. Stanton repeating at home would be awesome, but this has been Judge’s show all season. Odds are the two best long ball artists are going to face off in the finals and if they both have the same odds like we’re seeing at Bovada, I see no reason to not trust the numbers and roll with the young gun.
The reality is going anywhere outside of Judge or Stanton at a high level is probably getting too cute. You could argue the value aspect anywhere in this field, but Judge gives us reasonable value at +200 and he’s the obvious favorite. In fact, he might still be the obvious pick even with less playable odds. Gary Sanchez is about as powerful as anyone here and nobody is hotter than Moustakas. If you want a sideways bet with even more upside, those are the two guys to consider. Ultimately, we simply think Judge is the best long ball hitter in the field and that he’ll win.