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Home Run Derby Odds, Picks, Bracket, and Rules

Sascha Paruk

by Sascha Paruk in MLB Baseball

Jul 11, 2021 · 12:33 PM PDT

Closeup of Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani posing for a photo prior to his first season in Major League Baseball. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire.
  • The 2021 MLB Home Run Derby takes place on Monday, July 12, at Coors Field in Denver, CO
  • Shohei Ohtani enters his first Derby as a sizable favorite over Joey Gallo and Pete Alonso
  • See the odds, format, and betting advice, below

Major League Baseball has officially entered its All-Star break as of Sunday night. Kicking off the festivities tomorrow (Monday, 8:00 pm ET) will be the annual Home Run Derby.

The rules will be largely the same as the last Derby in 2019 (the 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID). Eight players compete in a three-round, single-elimination bracket. The table below shows the odds to win the Derby at DraftKings and FanDuel.

Note that the odds are significantly different for each player depending on the sportsbook. Once you know which horse you want to back, choose the book accordingly.

2021 Home Run Derby Odds

Player (Seed) Odds at DraftKings Odds at FanDuel
Shohei Ohtani (#1) +350 +260
Joey Gallo (#2) +450 +360
Pete Alonso (#5) +525 +600
Matt Olson (#3) +580 +500
Salvador Perez (#4) +700 +850
Juan Soto (#8) +750 +850
Trevor Story (#7) +800 +1100
Trey Mancini (#6) +1000 +1700

Odds as of July 11th.

First-Round Matchups and Bracket

The first-round matchups are:

  • #1 Ohtani vs #8 Soto
  • #2 Gallo vs #7 Story
  • #3 Olson vs #6 Mancini
  • #4 Perez vs #5 Alonso

The seeds are based on how many homers each player has hit entering the All-Star break.

The winner of Ohtani/Soto faces the winner of Perez/Alonso in the second round (a.k.a. the semifinals) with the winner of that second-round matchup advancing to the finals.

The winner of Gallo/Story faces the winner of Olson/Mancini in the second round.

Due to the set-bracket format, only certain finals matchups are possible. There is no possibility, for instance, of an Ohtani-vs-Alonso final or a Gallo-vs-Olson final.

Round Format and Rules

As they have been since 2015, each round will be based on a time limit (not a certain number of “outs” as they had been prior).

Each player will have three minutes in the quarterfinals and semifinals, which is reduced to two minutes in the finals. Each player also has a 45-second timeout he can use in each round.

If a player hits a home run of 475 feet or longer in the final 30 seconds of his round, he receives an additional 30 seconds at the end of that round.

If two players are tied at the end of a round, there will be a 60-second OT period (each player gets one minute to hit as many homers as possible). There are no bonuses in OT nor are timeouts allowed in OT. The clip below shows Joc Pederson and Vlad Guerrero Jr going to OT in their 2019 semifinal matchup.

Best Bets

The first thing that stands out in the odds is the massive gap between the favorites and the longshots despite this event being relatively unpredictable. For every Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the past-winners list, there’s a Justin Morneau, Miguel Tejada, and Robinson Cano.

There’s no doubt that history favors big bodies, though. The smallest victor over the past decade was Bryce Harper, listed at 210 pounds. Three of the past four winners (Stanton in 2016, Judge in 2017, Alonso in 2019) were at least 245 pounds.

The biggest players in this year’s Derby, weight-wise, are Perez (255 pounds), Gallo (250 pounds), and Alonso (245 pounds).

Mancini is 230. Olson is 225. Soto is 224. Story is 213. And Ohtani is the lightest at 210, at least according to BaseballReference.com.

As mentioned, Harper, the winner in 2018, is also listed at 210 pounds. To find a Derby-winner lighter than that, you have to go all the way back to Garret Anderson (190 pounds) in 2003.

Betting on the smallest player to win the Derby at short odds is not a wise play, as talented as Ohtani is. Alonso at +600 is the number that stands out to me. Not only  does he have the size, he also has experience, winning the most-recent Derby in 2019 in Cleveland.

Some players excel in this format, while others are abysmal (see eg Mike Piazza). Both Prince Fielder (2009, 2012) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013, 2014) captured multiple titles in recent history. Ken Griffey won three between 1994 and 1999.

Alonso has shown he can excel in this format and he is going up against a largely untested field. He’s also on the opposite side of the bracket as Gallo, Olson, and Mancini, three of the five-biggest participants.

Pick: Pete Alonso (+600)

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