MLB Picks: 2014 Home Run Derby

Matthew Jordan

Monday, July 14, 2014 1:02 PM GMT

The World Cup is over. The British Open doesn't start until Thursday. You have no other option than to bet on the Home Run Derby on Monday night. Just deal with it. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is the 3/1 the favorite at sportsbooks to win it.

New Format
In an effort to spice up the Derby, I guess, MLB has changed the format a bit. There are now five hitters for both the American and National League. Because it was dragging on, hitters only get seven outs now instead of 10. An out is any batted ball -- or swing and a miss -- that isn't a home run. It's also a bracket-style format split into leagues. The guy from the AL and NL who hits the most homers in the opening round gets a "bye" into the semifinals. The next two from each league advance to Round 2 and then face off. Then the winners from there move into the semifinals to face the opening-round winners of each league. Then the finals is AL vs. NL as well. Not really sure why MLB keeps thinking that anyone cares about AL vs. NL -- interleague play pretty much ruined that.

The two captains are Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (8/1 on MLB odds), the NL betting favorite for MVP, and Toronto's Jose Bautista (11/2). I question their selections, although their hands were somewhat tied. The three players with the most home runs in baseball, the White Sox's Jose Abreu (29), Orioles' Nelson Cruz (28) and Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion (26) all took a pass on participating, for example. Encarnacion is hurt now too.

So Bautista chose defending champion Yoenis Cespedes (5/1 on MLB odds) from Oakland, A's third baseman Josh Donaldson (10/1), Orioles outfielder Adam Jones (12/1) and Twins second baseman Brian Dozier (12/1). The latter was obviously because the All-Star festivities are held at Minnesota's Target Field. Not that Dozier is any slouch, as he leads all MLB second basemen with 18 dingers. Cespedes is looking to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only repeat winner of this event. He beat Washington's Bryce Harper in the finals 9-8 last year at Citi Field, the fourth straight year an AL player has won it.

Tulowitzki and Stanton are tied with the most home runs of any competitor with 21. I get why Stanton is the favorite as any big-league scout, player, manager or general manager will tell you that Stanton has more pure power than any player in the majors. He hit one in early April that looked like it might break Marlins Park, travelling 484 feet. That was the longest dinger in the majors until Mike Trout (didn't want to participate) hit one 489 on June 27. Stanton's average home run length is No. 1 in the majors at 423.8 per ESPN's home run tracker.  

The NL roster is rounded out by Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig (5/1), Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau (10/1), a former Minnesota Twin, and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (12/1). Morneau won this event in 2008 when it was at Yankee Stadium.  That was possibly one of the most memorable Home Run Derbies as Josh Hamilton went psycho in the first round with 28 home runs but then was so exhausted he didn't do much after that and lost to Morneau in the finals. That was before it was an AL vs. NL format.

There is also a prop baseball pick at Bovada on which league the winner comes from: the American League is even money and the National League at -130. The site also has several head-to-head props and will "Player" make the finals.

 

MLB Free Picks
For potential sports picks today, I like a Bautista vs. Stanton final with Bautista continuing the American League's winning streak. Stanton is +125 to make finals and Bautista +200. Then we will talk about whether the Derby ruined Bautista's swing if he struggles out of the break.