Betting the 2018 Home Run Derby: Staff Selections
© Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Brewers pitcher Brent Suter holds a cutout photo of Jesus Aguilar
- The 2018 Home Run Derby will feature eight participants — seven from the NL and one from the AL.
- The Derby will follow the same bracket format we've seen in recent years.
- Bryce Harper is currently listed as the betting favorite (+225) to win in his home stadium.
Well, no more World Cup, and Wimbledon also ended on Sunday. Add in the start of the MLB All-Star break, and bettors everywhere have already started dreaming of pigskins.
Well, if you need to feed your degenerate hunger Monday, you may have to bet on the Home Run Derby. If you decide to head down that path, here are the eight participants and their corresponding odds as of early Monday morning.
Some think they can find an edge, while others just treat the event as if they’re throwing a few dollars on keno spins at the bar. We decided to see where a few of our staff members stand by getting their betting thoughts on Monday’s Derby.
BlackJack Fletcher: Bryce Harper +225
While we all know Harper has had a subpar start to his contract year, we also know he’s capable of hitting absolute moonshots. I think he comes out on his home field looking to have something of a signature moment for the year. He’s not entering this to mess around. He’s in it to win it, and I think he has himself a special night in D.C.
Ken Barkley: Bryce Harper +225
I have a self-imposed rule that I’m no longer allowed to bet on the Home Run Derby. I’ve spent way too much time over the past few years looking over spray charts, analyzing pitchers and handicapping motivation. It simply wasn’t worth the effort, as the betting results never came.
Rather than claim to have all the answers, I’ll just assume the Nationals will rig this event in celebration of their future free agent outfielder (similar to when Blake Griffin was allowed to have that Kia drive onto the court so he could dunk over it at Staples Center a few years back). That was basically a predetermined outcome to anoint him as something he actually probably wasn’t. Maybe this will be the same. If you told me mascot Teddy Roosevelt will pitch to Harper, I’d probably break my rule and bet on him, too.
Mark Gallant: Kyle Schwarber +333
I was able to grab Schwarber at his initial +900 before his odds seriously moved. I pretty much like anyone with very poor odds in a competition such as this one, but Schwarber does have some things going in his favor. He will benefit from a first-round matchup against Alex Bregman — perhaps the least powerful of the eight competitors. If he gets past Bregman, he’ll face either Jesus Aguilar or Rhys Hoskins in the semifinal. Both have lots of power, but both are also unproven guys whom Schwarber can certainly beat.
Matt LaMarca: Jesus Aguilar +500
Aguilar seems tailor-made for the Home Run Derby, as he hits the ball hard and far. He leads all competitors in hard-hit rate and fly-ball rate this season, which is a big reason why he leads the NL with 24 HRs. He’s currently just the third-largest favorite at +500, largely because he lacks the name recognition of some of the “stars” in this competition. But Aguilar is going to be a staple on HR leaderboards for years to come. I think he breaks the curse and becomes the first No. 1 seed to win the Derby since it moved to the bracket-style format.
Collin Wilson: Jesus Aguilar +500
It’s all about daily reps for me. Familiarity with your batting practice pitcher is crucial for timing. That narrows my list to Aguilar (first base coach Carlos Subero, Brewers BP pitcher for two years) and Freddie Freeman (Braves BP thrower Tomas Perez). Those two players are on opposite sides of the bracket, and will both earn a wager from me. With the park favoring righties for home run power, I’ll side with Aguilar to take the crown.
Stuckey: Rhys Hoskins +650
I’m still shocked that Bregman is the only participant from the American League. I really don’t enjoy the Home Run Derby unless Bobby Abreu is hitting hundreds in a row out of the park. This thing is a total crapshoot, but I do think you gotta go with a righty at Nationals Park (which means a lefty will win it). I’m simply putting a few pesos on my boy Rhys because I’m a Phils fan.
Evan Abrams: Max Muncy +700
I’m going to play with fire and fade Harper on his side of the bracket. For me, it came down to deciding between Freeman and Max Muncy — and I ultimately landed on Mr. Muncy.
I crossed Javier Baez out after comparing his 2018 Statcast numbers (hard-hit%, launch angle, exit velocity, barrel%) with Muncy’s. And Freeman has a ton of experience at Nationals Park (269 PA), but only seven homers. I’ll take my shot with Mad Max at 7-1 to find a way to get through.
Danny Donahue: Freddie Freeman +850
I’ve always been a fan of alliterative names (not sure where that stemmed from), which left me to choose between Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy. I went with the former because Muncy’s first-round matchup is against Baez, who’s going to look really cool taking his swings.
John Ewing: Field over Bryce Harper: -330
Harper is the favorite in tonight’s Home Run Derby. According to SportsOddsHistory, only one favorite since 2010 has won the event — Giancarlo Stanton +330 in 2016. On average, the odds-on favorite has finished in fourth place. This is a random event, which is why I’m betting the field ($330 to win $100) over Harper.