Eight contestants plan to put on a hitting display in the 2022 Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium. Reigning two-time champion Pete Alonso is the favorite at + 200 per DraftKings Sportsbook as he looks to make history as the first to win three straight times and tie Ken Griffey Jr. for the most all-time Derby victories.
How to Watch
Monday July 18, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Odds to Win the Home Run Derby
(odds per DraftKings at 11:30 a.m. ET)
Pete Alonso + 200
Kyle Schwarber + 330
Juan Soto + 550
Ronald Acuna Jr. + 650
Julio Rodriguez + 850
Corey Seager + 950
Jose Ramirez + 1700
Albert Pujols + 2200
This is a single-elimination bracket-style format and the head-to-head winner advances to the next round.
The first-round matchups are:
(1) Schwarber (-340) vs. (8) Pujols (+ 270)
(4) Soto (-180) vs. (5) Ramirez (+ 150)
(3) Seager (+ 125) vs. (6) Rodriguez (-150)
(2) Alonso (-180) vs. (7) Acuna Jr. (+ 150)
Batters have three minutes in the first and second rounds and two minutes in the final round. Batters automatically get 30 seconds of bonus time, but can receive 30 seconds of additional bonus time by hitting at least one home run of 440 or more feet. They get one 45-second timeout per round.
In the event of a tie, there is a 60-second tiebreaker round. If it is still tied after that point, there is a “swing-off” in which each batter gets three swings.
The winner gets $1 million for his efforts. Much was made the last two years of how Alonso’s winnings in the Derby were more than his salary. That would be true of Rodriguez this season ($700,000). The total prize pool for the players is $2.5 million.
Home Run Derby Best Bets
Here are some bets I like in this year’s tournament:
Juan Soto (+ 550): To me, Soto has the easiest Round 1 matchup. I hate to say that about my beloved Cleveland Guardian Jose Ramirez, but the perennial AL MVP candidate has not been the same since going for an MRI on his injured thumb last month. Ramirez missed a couple of games and returned on June 21 after doctors determined the MRI to be clean enough for him to continue playing.
Prior to the injury, Ramirez had a Hard Hit% of 40.1% and a Barrel% of 8.2%. He hit 16 home runs over those 262 plate appearances. Since his June 21 return, he’s hit just three home runs in 113 plate appearances, with two of them coming on Saturday in the team’s last game before the All-Star Break. His Hard Hit% is down to 34.1% and his Barrel% is down to 2.3%. It looks like the thumb injury really took away his power and it hasn’t quite returned.
Soto hit 31 homers in the first round last year, the fourth-most all-time, but lost 16-15 to Alonso in the semifinals. I don’t think he’ll need the strain of hitting 31 with a double swing-off against Ramirez, so he should be fresher moving on to face Schwarber.
Jose Ramirez Under 19.5 Home Runs (-110): Along those same lines, I like Ramirez Under 19.5 home runs. He has the highest launch angle of anybody in the field, which means he has a great chance of getting under pitches and not hitting them far enough for home runs. For the safety of the kids in the outfield, pitchers have to wait until the ball lands, so Ramirez could lose precious time.
His IFFB% (infield fly ball percentage a.k.a pop up rate) is second to Acuna of the contestants in the field and he doesn’t really have a line drive swing to save time. Also, I don’t think he really has the body type for this kind of event. He’s a shorter, stockier guy that probably fatigues faster than others.
Don’t be thrown off by the fact that every hitter reached at least 19 HR last season. The All-Star Game was at Coors Field. In 2019, five players failed to hit at least 20 HR in the first round and every player fell short in the first round in 2018.
Longest HR Kyle Schwarber (+ 350): Acuna Jr. is a very deserving favorite here, with Schwarber the second choice per DK. Of the participants, Ramirez has the highest launch angle, but Schwarber has the best launch angle/Hard Hit% combination. You have to hit it high, but also hit it hard with enough backspin to keep carrying and Schwarber has a good skill set for those two things.
He has the second-highest Barrel% in baseball this season behind Aaron Judge and is the only hitter in the top 20 minimum 200 plate appearances in this field.
Ronald Acuna Jr. Highest Exit Velocity on Derby HR Over 111.5: Acuna Jr.’s max exit velo this season is 116.6 mph, the highest of anybody in this field. Alonso is second at 116.5 and his line is likely a little low at 109.5. Acuna makes violent contact with a really aggressive swing and he’s never done this before. Guys like Alonso, Seager, Pujols and Schwarber that have are likelier to conserve energy, whereas I’d expect a guy like Acuna to be swinging from the heels.
Acuna has hit nine balls of at least 111 mph this season and this is a controlled batting practice environment.
These are just fun-money bets. Don’t blow your bankroll on the Derby, but there are a lot of props and a lot of ways to have rooting interest, so enjoy the show and enjoy a few days away from the MLB grind.