The Home Run Derby is making a comeback after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As usual, the competition is very open and bettors are licking their chops with the odds of some of these powerful hitters.
Shohei Ohtani is the only competitor to rank in the top five among MLB home run leaders as of this writing, but there is still plenty of pop on the derby field this year. Mets slugger Pete Alonso is back to defend his 2019 title and players like Joey Gallo, Matt Olson and Salvador Perez will also fight for the title.
Of course, Ohtani is the biggest draw, as his 32 home runs led the majors through July 8. But after watching the No. 1 seed retire in three consecutive events, can you trust Ohtani to win this year’s derby? Or are there better value picks that bettors can focus on?
Here’s an in-depth look at the odds and best bets from Sporting News for the 2021 Home Run Derby.
MORE: Who Turned Down the 2021 Home Run Derby Invitations?
2021 Home Run Derby odds
All odds courtesy of Sportsbook DraftKings
Eight players participate in the 2021 Home Run Derby, and Shohei Ohtani (+380) he is the favorite to emerge as the victor. Ohtani led the MLB with 32 home runs and a .700 slugging percentage through July 8.
Joey Gallo (+475), Pete Alonso (+550), Matt Olson (+650) Y Salvador Perez (+650) all are recorded with medium-level probabilities. Alonso, the No. 5 seed, is the only favorite lower-seeded player in their first-round matchup; He will face Pérez, seed number 4.
Trevor’s Story (+800), Juan Soto (+800) Y Trey Mancini (+850) all are considered long shots to win the event.
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Expert picks from the 2021 Home Run Derby
Top picks to win the 2021 Home Run Derby
Joey Gallo (+475) Gallo is in a favorable position heading into the 2021 Home Run Derby. He is the No. 2 seed on the field and has landed on what appears to be the easier side of the bracket. The Rangers star will face Trevor Story in Round 1 before taking on battle winner Matt Olson vs. Trey Mancini. Gallo should have an advantage over those three hitters.
Gallo has hit 23 home runs this season and is tied for the league lead in home runs without a doubt at 16, by BaseballSavant.com. The other players to reach that mark are Shohei Ohtani, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mike Zunino. More impressive still, Gallo’s 69.6 home run percentage is undoubtedly sixth among players with at least 15 home runs on the year.
So when Gallo hits home runs, he throws them. Additionally, he has hit 10 home runs in his last 10 games. He’s taking shape at the right time and if he stays hot he should have a great chance at winning his side of the frame. The final would be a bit tough regardless of who Gallo plays, but he can compete with anyone in this arena.
Pete Alonso (+550). Picking Alonso over Ohtani on the left side of the bracket is a risk, but as good as Ohtani has been, the numbers suggest that the 2019 Home Run Derby champion could challenge him.
Alonso has hit just 15 home runs so far this season, but like Gallo, they have been convincing. Undoubtedly, eleven of his 15 long balls have been home runs. Without a doubt, his 73.3 home run percentage ranks second among players with at least 15 home runs in the year and first among the eight derby entrants.
Additionally, Alonso’s exit velocity topped 117.1 this season. That’s the sixth highest maximum exit velocity among MLB players, and it is only behind Ohtani (119) among derby entrants for the leadership in that category.
Although Alonso’s road to the final is overwhelming, he will have to beat Salvador Pérez and the winner of the Ohtani vs Juan Soto battle to get there, he is a good choice to win. His power and strength paint a favorable picture for him. So does his previous derby experience, as he hit 57 home runs during the 2019 event.
The best prop bets for the 2021 Home Run Derby
The best prop bets will be posted as they become available.
Longest home run length: OVER 512.5 feet (-110). This may seem like a ridiculously high number, but a player could surpass this mark in 2021. Coors Field is a hitter-friendly park and if MLB uses juicy baseballs for this event, it could take the ball even further in the stadium.
During the Statcast era (since 2015), there were it was a 500-foot home run thrown at Coors Field. That came off Giancarlo Stanton’s bat in 2016 and it traveled 504 feet. In 2021, Ryan McMahon hit the longest home run at Coors Field. It traveled 478 feet with a departure speed of 109.4 mph. It is the fourth longest home run in MLB this season.
In the 1998 Home Run Derby, which was also held in Denver, Mark McGuire hit a 510 foot ball. It was the longest home run in that event.
Neither of these numbers eclipse the threshold we’re looking for, but they’re still among the longest home runs we’ve seen in recent seasons. And it’s worth noting that two of them took place during regular-season games, where it’s harder to hit long home runs.
At a glorified batting practice event like the Home Run Derby, players will certainly have a chance to smash the ball and send it flying into the Colorado night sky. And this year’s contest features two players who rank in the top six in maximum exit speed: Ohtani (119 mph) and Alonso (117.1 mph). So they should be able to hit some of the longest home runs the Home Run Derby has seen.
Even a physics professor at the University of Illinois believes that many explosions will travel more than 500 feet during the derby.
“During the Home Run Derby, there will probably be a number of shots over 500 feet, certainly many near 500 feet I guess,” Nathan said, according to The Denver Post.
Even if a ball misses the 512.5-foot mark, it looks like players could get very close to it. As such, it is worth investing in the end.
Player with the most home runs: Shohei Ohtani (+500). This is a good way to put some action on Ohtani without picking him to win. He’s on the more difficult side of the support, but he should have a chance to hit a lot of home runs, as he has the best raw power and exit velocity of this stacked group.
Last year, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit the most home runs in the derby (91), but still lost because Alonso outscored him in the final. Ohtani could do something similar, especially if he goes into a tiebreaker against Soto or in the second round, if he advances that far.
If you are betting on Gallo and Alonso to win, this is a good way to cover that. Because if Ohtani wins the derby, he’ll probably hit the most home runs. The odds here are better than betting you win outright anyway, so this is a good value.
Matt Olson (-175) to beat Trey Mancini. It’s tough to face Mancini, who has put together an All-Star campaign after missing a year while battling colon cancer, but the numbers in this match show that Olson is the best pick.
To be sure, only five of Mancini’s 15 home runs this year have been home runs. That 33.3 percent rate is easily the worst in the derby field. Additionally, Olson produces a higher muzzle velocity than Mancini (Olson averages 92 mph and Mancini averages 88.5 mph) and has 37 balls on tap for the year, the seventh-most in MLB. Mancini, by contrast, is 31 and ranked 19.
Mancini can compete with Olson, but if the A’s slugger has a good night, he should dispatch Mancini. Neither of them is likely to beat potential second-round foe Joey Gallo, but Olson is the best bet to come out of this first-round showdown.
How many home runs will be hit in the 2021 Home Run Derby?
DraftKings currently has the over / under total hit home runs set in 204.5. Bettors will surely want to lean on the on there.
Since the Home Run Derby changed formats from an outs-based competition to a time-based competition, players have hit a growing number of home runs almost every year. In fact, home runs have risen year-over-year in all but one of the last five events under the new rules.
The 2019 derby number was inflated by the 79-homer battle between Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joc Pederson that took three tiebreaks to resolve. It could be difficult for the 2021 derby to eclipse the 311 figure without similar luck in the tiebreaker.
Still, the event should produce quite a few home runs and could hit 300 if all goes well. Coors Field is one of the most hitter-friendly environments in the league and MLB could choose to use juicy baseballs to create more home runs.
Either way, viewers can once again expect to see many long balls fly through the thin Denver air.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.