2023 MLB Home Run Derby takes place on Monday July 10 at 8 p.m. ET
The 2023 MLB All-Star Game is at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday night, but the Home Run Derby has always felt like the main event of the Midsummer Classic festivities. Eight players will vie for the coveted title and the $1,000,000 cash prize on Monday night while putting on a show for the fans in attendance and those tuned in around the world.
Players that were invited to participate and agreed to join in on the fun were ranked No. 1 through No. 8 based on how many home runs they had hit at the time the field was decided. The format in its current iteration began in 2015 with a bracket-style format and a time limit instead of outs on swings that did not result in home runs. In the case of a tie, the tiebreaker was the number of homers hit between June 15 and July 4.
Players are given a 30-second bonus round automatically, but those who hit at least two homers measured 440 feet or more by Statcast get an extra 30 seconds tacked on, so there is a lot of incentive in hitting bombs, not just balls that clear the fence.
Home Run Derby Odds
Here are the participants, odds to win (DraftKings), and the seed number for each batter:
(2) Pete Alonso +300
(6) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +360
(1) Luis Robert +500
(7) Julio Rodriguez +550
(4) Adolis Garcia +650
(5) Randy Arozarena +950
(3) Mookie Betts +1000
(8) Adley Rutschman +1700
Alonso is a three-time participant and two-time winner in the Home Run Derby, which makes him a reasonable favorite at +300. He won in 2019 and also 2021, but fell short of a three-peat when he was bounced in the second round by Rodriguez in last year’s event. Rodriguez, who is the hometown hero in this year’s Derby, is +550. J-Rod lost to Juan Soto, who is not in the field this year. It is worth noting that Dave Jauss is NOT throwing to Alonso. It will be Mike Friedlein, one of his youth baseball coaches.
Guerrero was the runner-up in 2019 following an epic second-round battle with Joc Pederson that required three swing-off tiebreakers. Guerrero hit 40 homers in that round and 22 in the Finals, but fell one short to Alonso. He makes sense as the second favorite for his experience in this tournament, even though he is only the No. 6 seed. He also faces No. 3 seed Mookie Betts, who is one of the long shots at +1000.
The top-seeded Robert has the easiest first-round matchup on paper, but he is a first-timer, along with Arozarena, Betts, Garcia, and Rutschman. We’ll see if Alonso falling short on the tiebreaker due to injury is a huge hindrance since his matchup against Rodriguez seems much stiffer than it would have been against Rutschman.
For my pick, I like Adolis Garcia at +650. He has a lot of positives working in his favor, as mentioned below in the first-round matchups notes, including a veteran HR Derby pitcher in Tony Beasley.
Home Run Derby First-Round Matchups
Here are some thoughts on the first-round matchups:
No. 1 Luis Robert (-215) vs. No. 8 Adley Rutschman (+175)
We’ve finally seen the power breakout from Luis Robert, as he has a 26.5% HR/FB% this season and has made a clear launch angle change with a 43.2% FB% compared to a 32.9% last season and a 37% mark in 2021. While his Hard Hit% is down from the previous two seasons, he’s maximizing his lift more effectively and has a 15.1% Barrel%.
While Rutschman is a good offensive player, he doesn’t really have the launch angle or the barrel skills that these other guys have. Obviously a controlled environment like glorified batting practice may allow him to fare better, but Robert’s swing is tailored more towards this event than Rutschman’s. Rutschman’s longest HR this season is 424 feet, so he’s not a lock to hit two of 440+ to get the bonus time.
It’s a hefty price, but I’d be surprised if Robert didn’t move on.
No. 2 Pete Alonso (-170) vs. No. 7 Julio Rodriguez (+140)
There is a ton of pressure on the hometown kid in Rodriguez after finishing as the runner-up last year. Rodriguez did beat Alonso 31-23 in the second round and won 32-24 in the first-round over Corey Seager, so he was really consistent with his first two scores before getting tired and hitting 18 in the Finals.
Rodriguez will once again use the same pitcher in Franmy Pena, who is the regular BP pitcher for the Mariners. As mentioned above, Alonso will switch from Jauss to Friedlein, which makes me feel like there’s a little bit of equity in Rodriguez. After all, he hit 63 homers in the first two rounds last year. Nobody else hit more than 43 homers (Alonso). I don’t like going against Alonso in this since he’s very, very good at it, but I do think Rodriguez is a worthwhile underdog.
No. 3 Mookie Betts (+170) vs. No. 6 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (-210)
Guerrero obviously put on a remarkable show in Cleveland back in 2019 and it’s good to see him run it back again here. He led all batters with 29 homers in the first round that year, so he’s very tough to beat. He has some of the best contact authority metrics in baseball. His low launch angle is a little bit of a concern, but it was lower in 2019 and he still hit 91 home runs, so I guess he can make the adjustment if he needs to.
John Schneider is throwing to Vladito again, much like he did in 2019, so that keep me from liking Betts a lot as an underdog. Betts will have first-timer Clayton McCullough throwing to him. The Dodgers first base coach has never done it before. Betts is only 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, so while he’s an athlete, I wonder how many swings he really has in him for this event.
No. 4 Adolis Garcia (-140) vs. No. 5 Randy Arozarena (+115)
Garcia has the second-highest FB% of any contestant and the highest Barrel% of anybody in the field. Arozarena has made a bit of a launch angle change this season and nearly doubled his Barrel% from 7.9% to 14.9%, so I think he’s an interesting darkhorse. Garcia’s raw power is better and we’re seeing him blossom as a hitter now that he’s cut back on the strikeouts, something that isn’t an issue in this event.
I typically like guys that pull the ball in this event and that may be truer of a Home Run Derby at T-Mobile Park, where the ball doesn’t always carry well, but we’ve seen guys with power to all fields have success in this event recently. Garcia has more of that than Arozarena in my opinion. I do like that Garcia will be using Rangers third base coach Tony Beasley. He pitched to Joey Gallo in 2021, so he has experience in what is a high-pressure situation. Rays field coordinator Tomas Francisco does not have the same experience, so I give the edge to Garcia and I think he makes a deep run with this round as a springboard.