The 2018 Home Run Derby is Monday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., with hometown star Bryce Harper the betting favourite.
Let’s break down all the contenders and their Sports Interaction MLB Home Run Derby odds.
No Blue Jays In Derby
There’s a reason that ESPN holds that awful ESPYs awards show every year the day after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game: Because there’s nothing going on that day around the sports world (OK, one MLS game this year). It’s the worst day of the year for sports bettors.
The second-worst is easily the Monday before the All-Star Game because the only major sporting event in the USA & Canada is the annual Home Run Derby. This year, the festivities are from Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., for the first time. Of course, the Nationals are the former Montreal Expos, and that franchise hosted the All-Star Game in 1982. The Derby didn’t begin until 1984.
Before we get to this year’s contestants – not a very star-studded field – let’s explain the Derby rules. There are eight players broken down into bracket form: No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7 in the first round and so on. It’s single elimination. Seeds were determined by this season’s home run totals entering Wednesday. Each batter gets four minutes to hit as many homers as possible. Thirty seconds of bonus time are awarded for two home runs that travel at least 440 feet. The batter with the most home runs advances; there’s a 60-second swing-off if any two are tied.
Harper Only One With Derby Experience
Washington’s Bryce Harper is maybe the biggest star in baseball, and he’s the clear face of this year’s Derby in his home park. He’s also the only player in the field to ever compete in one; in 2013 in San Francisco, he was a runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes. MLB begged Harper to compete every year since but he said he only would when Washington hosted the All-Star Game. Some players don’t like taking part in the Derby because there’s a stigma (and some proof) that it messes with their swings for the second half of the season.
As of this writing, Harper is third in the National League with 22 homers but really isn’t having a good season overall ahead of free agency. However, he’s the +300 favourite as the No. 2 seed and opens against Atlanta first baseman and NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman (+650), the No. 7 seed. Freeman has 16 dingers as of this writing and isn’t a huge power guy, topping 30 homers once in his career (34 in 2016). No Brave has won the Derby.
The Harper/Freeman winner will face either No. 3 Max Muncy (+600) of the Dodgers or No. 6 Javier Baez (+550) of the Cubs. Muncy is one of the storylines of the season. He was a scrub for Oakland in 2015-16 and didn’t play in MLB last year. He only got his chance in 2018 with L.A. due to injuries and has hit 21 bombs. Baez is one of the biggest free-swingers in the majors and has 18 homers, on pace to shatter his career high of 23.
The top seed is Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar (+375), another breakout NL star in 2018 who also won the Final Fan vote to be added to the NL All-Star roster. Aguilar has an NL-best 23 homers. He faces No. 8 Rhys Hoskins (+550) of the Phillies.
Could there be an all-Cubs final? It’s possible as Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber (+500) is the No. 5 seed and faces No. 4 Alex Bregman of the Astros (+950). Schwarber has as much power as anyone in the majors but can’t hit left-handers (zero homers against them in 2018). So, it’s safe to presume whomever he chooses to throw his Derby pitches will be a right-hander. The Cubs have had three Derby winners, all Hall of Famers or would be if not for rumoured steroid use: Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg and Sammy Sosa.
Home Run Derby Predictions
It’s a bit rare for the hometown team player to win this as they tend to press a bit. Go Schwarber.