Home Run Derby Predictions
Major League Baseball All-Star festivities kick off in full swing tonight at 8PM ET from Progressive Field in Cleveland with the annual Home Run Derby. Which of the eight participating sluggers will take home the $1 million top prize?
According to oddsmakers, Pittsburgh Pirates power hitter Josh Bell is the favorite to win tonight's MLB Home Run Derby as he has the best odds of the eight participants at +320. New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso comes in next at +375, while Toronto Blue Jays rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a line of +400. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson is next at +550 and substitute top seed Matt Chapman of the Oakland Athletics is at +800. Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana has a line of +850, while Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman is at +900. Atlanta Braves second-year star Ronald Acuna Jr. is the biggest longshot with +1000 odds.
First Round Predictions:
1) Matt Chapman vs. 8) Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Throw the seeds out of the window for this entire tournament, maybe especially in this matchup as Chapman is a late substitue for Milwaukee Brewers reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich as he sits out with a back ailment. While Guerrero Jr. has struggled at times with MLB pitching, he has a vicious swing and won't be fooled by batting practice offerings. Expect the rookie to hit some towering home runs and exit velocity-shattering blasts. I'm taking him to win this first round matchup.
4) Alex Bregman vs. 5) Joc Pederson
Bregman is a complete hitter, but I don't know how well he profiles in this tournament. He might be my very last choice to win the whole tournament. Pederson has serious power and as long as he doesn't pick a left-handed pitcher to throw his batting practice (hint: he won't), expect him to take this first-round head-to-head.
2) Pete Alonso vs. 7) Carlos Santana
Alonso looks so far removed from being a rookie it's frankly unbelievable. He heads into the All-Star Break with 30 home runs and a .634 slugging percentage. Santana has serious power in his own regard, but he isn't in the same league as Alonso. Look for the rookie to get into a HR-swatting groove very quickly.
3) Josh Bell vs. 6) Ronald Acuna Jr.
Bell has one of the biggest surprises in baseball so far this season. He has always been a powerful hitter, but he hadn't quite put together all aspects of his hitting game until this season. In 88 games, has has 30 doubles and 27 home runs for a .648 slugging percentage. Acuna Jr. will give him a heck of a first round challenge and it's kind of strange seeing the Braves stud with the worst odds to win the Home Run Derby, but I do think Bell outlasts him here.
8) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. vs. 5) Joc Pederson
This is an interesting matchup and a lot of people probably see Guerrero Jr. having a nice path to the finals, but the way I see it is he could swing so vicious in the first round that he wears himself out by the semifinals. With his swing, he can get himself out of a groove as quickly as he can get into one. I think the smooth left-handed power swing of Pederson launches him into the finals.
2) Pete Alonso vs. 3) Josh Bell
This could easily be the final if they weren't on the same side of the bracket. It's the two odds-on favorites, so expect to see a fantastic showing by both sluggers here. While Alonso has been awesome all season, I can't get away from Bell as he has hit some of the longest recorded home runs this season and comes in with the higher slugging percentage. Look for this one to go down to the wire, but I'm taking Bell to win.
5) Joc Pederson vs. 3) Josh Bell
No one loves to take the biggest favorite and the LA Dodgers have been winning a whole lot this season, so why not find an underdog pick to win the Home Run Derby? Bell will have probably expend a lot of energy in taking out Alonso if that matchup transpires, leaving Pederson as the beneficiary. While Pederson hasn't hit a home run since June 20 and won't be the popular pick to win this contest, he has a clear path to the finals and serious power. Batting practice offerings aren't about to fool him the way MLB pitchers often do and I think it translates into Pederson taking home the $1 million prize as Home Run Derby champion.
MLB Home Run Derby Champion Prediction: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers