The Denver area and the Colorado Rockies are playing host to this year’s MLB All-Star festivities. While we are now without hockey to bet on, and very little basketball remaining, we will still be able to make some wagers on the fun this weekend in the MLB. Everyone knows that chicks dig the long ball, but bettors and fans do as well. That is why we are going to look at Home Run Derby contenders here and see where the value is. (Lines from PointsBet.)
Shohei Ohtani has been an absolute monster this year. Entering Thursday’s action, he has 32 home runs already in 330 plate appearances. Needless to say, he is the favorite to win the Home Run Derby. At +300, he is being given a 25% chance in the field of eight competitors. I think that is a fair number for him. I am never one to bet favorites in a futures market as they tend to be underlays, but I am not really sure that’s the case here. At worst, I think he’s one of the top four guys, which means if they all had an even chance of winning from that group, 25% would be fair value.
Considering I think Ohtani has the best chance to win, he theoretically should be higher than 25%, which means he should be shorter odds than +300. The Derby is not an efficient market, and the limits are low at most books. Therefore, the lines are not as sharp or as juiced as other futures markets we may bet into. For those two reasons, I think betting on the favorite here is an acceptable risk as he does offer some value at +300.
The returning champion
Pete Alonso of the New York Mets was your 2019 HR Derby champ, the last time we had this event after the pandemic axed the 2020 Midsummer Classic. He is back this year to defend his title. Most books have him as the third favorite behind Ohtani and Joey Gallo. Currently you can find Alonso in the +400 to +450 range. At the best price of +450, that is an implied probability to win of 18%. Alonso had 53 homers in 2019. He had 16 in 57 games in 2020, so he was only slightly behind that 2019 pace. This year he has been down, though, with just 15 homers in 74 games entering Thursday. He had a homer every 13 plate appearances in 2019. This year, that number is one in every 19 plate appearances. He did have a big homer to tie the game against the Yankees in last weekend’s subway series. Unless Aroldis Chapman or another hard-throwing lefty is on the mound feeding him batting practices pitches, I’m likely to stay away from betting on him. Many have tried, but only Ken Griffey Jr. (1998, 1999) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013, 2014) have ever repeated as champion. Many more have tried and failed.
If you want someone at juicier prices that can cash a ticket, my longshot play here is Trevor Story at +600. Salvador Perez, Matt Olson and Trey Mancini are the only three longer shots on the board. Story has not been flashing the power as much this season with only 11 homers through Wednesday, but this is a guy who averaged over 30 a season in his first four full seasons in the bigs. Story is also the hometown boy, so the Rockies fans are going to be going nuts anytime he smashes one out. If Story can feed off that energy and get into a groove, he could carry himself to the finals. We have seen some of the big boppers have massive early rounds only to gas out before the end. I’m hoping Story can sneak past the first round and come up with a big late round as others are starting to fade. If so, the 6-1 odds on the hometown kid will help pay the bar tab as we watch his glorious victory. That would make for a great night in Denver, and the betting life is really all about the … story.