MLB is on All-Star break, so baseball bettors are limited on action for the next few days, but Monday night gives us the home-run derby, and we can bet on that. So we will. Here's how.
Betting the Home Run Derby
While we're not necessarily fans of Major League Baseball's home run derby – in fact, it should probably just go the way of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa – but as with anything baseball-related books post odds on, we've no qualms about betting on it. A little action goes a long way toward piquing our interest.
So here's our take on how we might make a little cash on tonight's festivities at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
The HR Derby format has been changed from what it was, something that dragged out for too bleepin' long, into a tourmaline-style bracket, with a clock on each hitter for each round. But the song remains the same; banging dingers.
At least the pace should be a little easier to watch. Now if we could just do something about Chris Berman and his on-air antics.
Also, guys who hit 'em really far will be at an advantage, because hitters can earn bonus time on their five-minute limits by hitting balls over 420 feet.
We found plenty of action on tonight's Derby, as books offer odds on each of the opening-round match-ups, on each hitter to reach the finals, on each hitter to win the Derby, and on the exact finals match-up, among other things. And many books will offer updated in-game odds, as the Derby plays out.
Monday night's opening matches look like this; Cubs' young bomber Kris Bryant goes against future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols; two-time HR Derby champion Prince Fielder takes on home-town favorite Todd Frazier; the left-handed side of the Cubs' great slugging combo, Anthony Rizzo, battles Toronto's Josh Donaldson; and Baltimore's Manny Machado goes against the Dodgers' Joc Pederson.
Rookie Bryant didn't get called up to the Majors until the middle of April, and he didn't hit his first homer until May 9. But he donged 12 in his next 50 games, and he's very capable of earning extra time by hitting very long balls. Pujols, meanwhile, is experiencing a power resurgence; after hitting “just” 28 homers all of last season he's hit 26 already this season, and was banging them out in a torrid pace a few weeks ago.
Bryant might be a popular pick in this match, but we'll go with the veteran Pujols, at a price of -105 at Bovada.
Fielder only has 14 homers so far this season, but he's second in the American League in hitting at .343. Frazier, meanwhile, “only” hit 29 dongs all of last season, but has 25 this season.
Frazier will be the home-park favorite tonight, but for some reason that rarely works out. Perhaps it's the pressure of performing in front of the adoring home crowd. We'll take Prince, “getting” +100 at 5Dimes.
Rizzo hit 32 homers last year, and has 16 this year. He's also cut down nicely on his strikeouts, and is almost hitting .300. Donaldson, meanwhile, is having a fine first season with the Blue Jays, with 21 homers, after hitting 29 all of last season with Oakland.
In a close call we'll go with Rizzo, also getting +100 at 5Dimes.
Finally, Machado has already set a new career high for homers with 19, while rookie Pederson has 20 dingers, but hasn't hit one yet this month. However, he also is very capable of earning extra time with long bombs.
Our pick on tonight's final first-round match is determined more by the betting line than how we think it might actually play out. Pederson is a heavy favorite, perhaps deservedly so, but we can't give that kind of price on a one-and-done competition like this. So we'll take Machado, getting +140 at 5Dimes.
Picking a Winner
For Round 2 we like Pujols over Machado, and Fielder over Rizzo. 5Dimes is offering a price of +567 on a Pujols victory over Machado, and +502 on Fielder beating Rizzo.
Bottom-line, we're not exactly sure if experience means anything in a competition like this, but we love the way Fielder is swinging the bat this season. So we'll play Prince at a price of +550 at 5Dimes to become the first slugger to win the home-run derby three times.
Bovada is offering odds of 7/1 on a finals match-up of Fielder vs. Pujols.