Betting news, trends, odds and predictions from various handicappers and websites for Monday 7/8/19
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Josh Bell has clubbed 27 home runs this season and his ability to hit from either side of the plate will help his chances of winning the Home Run Derby title on Monday night.
What's more entertaining than watching some of the biggest names in Major League Baseball launch moon shots into the stands? Absolutely nothing, especially on a Monday with no other sports to distract you (yep not even WNBA). The MLB All-Star break begins with the annual home run derby at 8:00 p.m. ET on Monday night, and once again Vegas is taking wagers on the event.
You can bet on who will win the entire competition and there are odds on who will win each of the first round matchups as well. Pirates slugger Josh Bell is the favorite but don't count out rookies Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Pete Alonso who are close behind him.
Last year's winner of the event (and current MLB home run leader) Christian Yelich dropped out of the competition on Sunday due to a back injury and was replaced by Matt Chapman. We break down the odds for this slugfest and give our best picks and predictions.
This year's venue, Progressive Field in Cleveland, favors left-handed power hitters thanks to a 19-foot wall running from left to left-center field and that height dropping to nine feet from center field to the right field pole. The longest home run ever hit at the field was a 511-foot monster of a shot by Jim Thome in 1999.
Left Field - 325 feet
Left-Center - 375 feet
Center Field - 410 feet
Right-Center - 370 feet
Right Field - 325 feet
Monday is expected to be a beautiful day in Cleveland with temperatures peaking in the high 70's and cooling to the mid and low 70's by the time the competition is underway.
It shouldn't be too hot or too humid so the balls might not travel as much as last year but don't count out that pesky breeze from nearby Lake Erie. There's expected to be a decent wind blowing and it could either push balls back or help carry them out depending on the direction.
Here's the breakdown of the sluggers:
Josh Bell +350
Bell is the odds-on favorite and for good reason, he's a power hitting switch-hitter who can absolutely mash. 20 of his 27 home runs this season have come from the left side of the plate. He pulls the ball at a rate of 43.2 percent and his hard contact rate of 49.2 percent is better than anybody else in this competition. His average exit velocity of 93.9 mph also ranks first on the list of this year competitors.
Bell was the front-runner on my list and that was before Yelich dropped out. At +350 he still offers solid value so don't hesitate to take him if, like me, you see everything lining up for the big man.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +450
Vladdy Jr. has fewer home runs than anyone else on this list but he's practically baseball royalty with his father winning the derby back in 2007. Junior has incredible power and while he is a right-handed batter, the launch angle that you can see in the video below proves that he should still send plenty of balls over that towering left field fence.
That said, Guerrero is still just a rookie and besides the freak named Aaron Judge, rookies rarely do well in this competition. Since 1991, when the Home Run Derby started to resemble what it is now, only seven rookies have participated. Five of them were eliminated in the opening round, with Judge and Joc Pederson the only ones to advance.
Joc Pederson +500
Speaking of Joc Pederson, he might not be the most exciting name on this list, but he's got more than a few things going for him: he's left-handed, he has an average exit velocity of 92.9 mph and, most importantly, he competed in the event before. He finished in second-place at the 2015 derby and that experience could prove invaluable.
Pete Alonso +500
The other rookie at the event, Alonso has been an absolute revelation for the Mets with 30 dingers through 89 games. Like Guerrero he's a right-hander and although he doesn't have Vladdy Jr's launch angle he does have a tendency to mash most of his taters over the center field wall. If he steers clear of pulling the ball towards that left field fence, he'll have a chance.
Carlos Santana +700
While he might not be able to play a killer version of Black Magic Woman, this Carlos Santana can hit a baseball more than 400 feet. He's in the competition representing the hometown team and has clubbed 19 homers while hitting with an average exit velocity of 92.8 mph. As a switch-hitter he's mashed 15 of those dingers from the left side of the plate.
Santana's played nine seasons in Cleveland so he knows the ins and outs of the ballpark better than any batter in the event. That familiarity could give him an edge, don't forget that two of the last four winners of the derby (Todd Frazier in 2015 and Bryce Harper last year) were hitting at home. At +700 I love his value and I'm dropping a dime on the hometown hero as well as Bell.
Alex Bregman +800
I love Alex Bregman as a player, I really do. But in this event I don't see him having much of a chance even with the experience he gained from competing last year. Bregman has one of the lower average exit velocities among this group at 88.8 mph and all but three of his 23 homers this season have been from center towards the left field line. He will have a hard time clearing that 19-foot wall consistently, even with his impressive launch angle.
Matt Chapman +800
Chapman was a late replacement but he's more than deserving of being on this list. The 26-year-old third baseman is known more for his defensive prowess than his power at the plate but he's already hit 21 homers this season and his average exit velocity is just behind Bell at 93.7 mph. But he's another right-hander and that will hurt in this stadium.
Ronald Acuna Jr. +1000
Acuna has followed up on his rookie of the year campaign with a big sophomore season, cranking 21 dingers so far. But he's the smallest player in this lineup, tipping the scales at just 180 pounds, and the biggest long shot.
One thing I like about Acuna's chances is that despite being right-handed he's shown plenty of power to the opposite field, hitting about half his dingers over the center or right field walls. That said, power takes muscle and muscle takes size. I can't remember the last winner of this event who was under 200-pounds. It's safe to fade Acuna in this one.
Here's a full list of the odds for the winner of the 2019 Home Run Derby:
Josh Bell (+350)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+450)
Pete Alonso (+500)
Joc Pederson (+500)
Carlos Santana (+700)
Alex Bregman (+800)
Matt Chapman (+800)
Ronald Acuna Jr. (+1000)
Opening Round Matchups:
Matt Chapman (+120)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (-140)
PICK: Guerrero Jr.
Alex Bergman (+120)
Joc Pederson (-140)
Josh Bell (-190)
Ronald Acuna Jr.(+160)
Pete Alonso (-120)
Carlos Santana (EVEN)
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Home Run Derby Best Bet
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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