Out of all of the things we missed during a shortened 2020 MLB season, the Home Run Derby has to be at the top of the list.
It’s always the highlight of the summer, even more so than the All-Star Game itself. Luckily, with the Midsummer Classic back in 2021, so is the Derby. Hopefully, this year’s Home Run Derby will help make up for not having one last year.
MLB has brought together eight of the best sluggers in the majors and set them up in a tournament format. On top of that, the Derby will be at Coors Field, so we’re bound to see some crazy-long homers. Let’s take a close look at which players are the most likely to win the Home Run Derby and who has the most value.
**Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Shohei Ohtani: +400
Let’s be honest, we’re all hoping that Shohei Ohtani steals the show during the Home Run Derby.
The guy is utterly amazing and currently leads the majors with 32 home runs. But does that make him a good bet? Hitting home runs in this kind of setting is different from hitting them in a game. Ohtani will surely feel some of the pressure of being the favorite and so many people wanting to see him.
He’s also on what most would consider the tougher side of the bracket, facing Juan Soto in the First Round.
Joey Gallo: +450
Joey Gallo hasn’t necessarily had the season of a bonafide All-Star, but he might have more raw power than any hitter in baseball right now. He should have no problem hitting the ball out of the park, especially at Coors Field. In fact, he’s probably the best bet to hit the longest home run of the competition.
For what it’s worth, Gallo has come on strong lately, hitting 10 home runs in June and four more in his first six games in July. He’s clearly found his home-run stroke and could bring that into the Derby, making him the player to beat on his side of the bracket.
Pete Alonso: +525
Since there was no Home Run Derby last year, Pete Alonso is the reigning champion, having won the 2019 competition. That experience will surely help him this time around.
He won two years ago in part because he was able to pace himself and win each round rather than tiring himself out early. He’s also one of three National League players in the competition, so he’ll be more familiar with Coors Field than some of the AL participants.
The caveat is that Alonso hasn’t hit as many home runs this year as most would have projected. But in a setting like this, Alonso’s raw power will make him a serious contender.
Matt Olson: +580
Matt Olson might be one of the best sleepers in the Home Run Derby. He’s not always mentioned among the top power hitters in baseball, but he’s hit 21 homers and counting this season. Olson is also accustomed to hitting at one of the bigger ballparks in the majors, so he shouldn’t be bothered by the dimensions at Coors Field.
He’s also on the “weaker” side of the bracket, making him an intriguing option that most people will probably overlook.
Salvador Perez: +700
It’s a little rare for a catcher to participate in the Home Run Derby, but not when you’ve had the kind of season Salvador Perez is putting together. The Kansas City backstop has mashed 20 homers this season and is quickly closing in on his previous career-high of 27.
Just looking at him, it’s clear that Perez has a lot more raw power than he uses during games. Perhaps he’s waiting for the Home Run Derby to unleash some of that. That could make him an interesting sleeper in this conversation, although he’ll have to knockout Alonso in the First Round and then get either Soto or Ohtani, giving Perez a difficult path to winning the competition.
Juan Soto: +750
In terms of value, Juan Soto might be the best pick of the eight participants. His moneyline is this high because he has just 11 home runs this year. But the 22-year-old has ridiculous amounts of power if he can tap into it.
If he can stop worrying about helping the Nationals win games and focus on hitting home runs, Soto is the kind of player who could easily find his groove. At Coors Field, he has a chance to hit some real bombs.
The catch with Soto is that he’s a young player who could get jitters at this kind of event. However, there’s a good chance he’ll give Ohtani some trouble in the First Round, and if he can get by him, Soto has a chance to win it all.
Trevor Story, +800
Trevor Story wouldn’t be the first player to win the Home Run Derby in his home ballpark. In fact, Bryce Harper did it at Nationals Park in 2018 and Todd Frazier did it in 2015, so perhaps it’s a trend that will happen every three years.
Of course, Story has just 11 home runs this season, putting him on pace for the lowest home run total of his career. It’s also likely that he won’t be playing in Colorado much longer. That being said, perhaps Rockies fans will get behind him and inspire Story to give them something to cheer about in what could be his swan song with the organization.
Trey Mancini, +1000
Outside of Story being the hometown hero, Trey Mancini is the sentimental favorite in this year’s Home Run Derby.
A year ago, Mancini was undergoing treatment for colon cancer, doing so in the midst of a global pandemic. But he’s back with the Orioles this year and has hit 15 homers during the first half of the season. After hitting 35 homers in 2019, Mancini probably isn’t at full strength after six months of chemotherapy last year. However, based on what he showed us in 2019, there’s no doubt that Mancini has enough power to win the Derby.
It would be a happy ending to Mancini’s story and not as far-fetched as the odds would indicate. Mancini has a legitimate chance to win, making him a great bet for anyone who wants to root for the sentimental pick in the competition.
Photo: Getty Images