MLB Home Run Derby Preview & Predictions: Ohtani The Pick

Shohei OhtaniIt’s official. The first half of the MLB season is in the books meaning it’s time for the Midsummer Classic, also known as the All Star Game. As always, the All Star Game pits the best of the National League against the best of the American League in a matchup with bragging rights on the line.

You can tune into the game on Tuesday night (July 13th @ 8:30 PM on Fox) but before the showcase of the weekend, the MLB Home Run Derby takes place today (8 PM ET Monday; TV: Live on Fox).

While this year’s addition is missing a few familiar names, the field is still stacked with tons of guys capable of flying balls out of hitter-friendly Coors Field including odds-on favorite, Shohei Ohtani. A longshot, but perhaps sentimental favorite, would be Trevor Story, who is taking part in the derby in his hometown park. Story and Ohtani are just two of this year’s field, which was finalized just a short while ago. Overall, those taking part this year have combined for nearly 200 home runs. How many will be hit today? You’ll just have to watch and find out.

When it comes to the Home Run Derby, there is no shortage of prop bets. From who will hit the longest bomb to which league the winner will represent, to odds for each first round matchup. There is money to be made on tonight’s showcase. That all said, there is a consensus among most bettors that Los Angeles Angels’ double threat, Shohei Ohtani, will find himself at most if not all of the applicable leaderboards.

According to Bovada, Ohtani is the favorite to win (+200), hit the longest home run (+250), and factors into four of the top five odds for what the final matchup will be. Ohtani is pegged as the victor in two of them. The Angels’ designated hitter and regular starting pitcher, Ohtani leads the entire field, as well as all of baseball, with 33 home runs. His closest competitors, Fernando Tatis Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Kyle Schwarber will all be missing the derby for various reasons. Joey Gallo, who ranks fifth in baseball in home runs, has 24.

But sometimes the home run derby isn’t about who hits the most home runs in the regular season. In fact, that person often doesn’t win. The derby is best-suited to guys who are really good at going yard in batting practice in particular. The favorites, in particular, have a mixed bag when it comes to winning. Not since 2015 has the favorite won. A seven-year absence of the top seed winning does feel like a long time but with the level of talent in the league in recent years, it makes sense. That all said, Ohtani is far from being just an ordinary contestant. Baseball hasn’t seen a player like Ohtani perhaps ever. He’s already set to make history as the first player to both pitch in and start an MLB All Star Game. Could he also become the first pitcher to win the derby?

Ordinarily, given the history, backing the favorite isn’t the best play. But Ohtani is a special player and there are worse ways to make a buck than banking on the favorite here. But, if the odds aren’t enticing enough, any of the contestants in this year’s event could very well be poised to win. There is a reason they are all in the field after all.

Beyond Ohtani, the 2021 Home Run Derby field is made up of the following players: Joey Gallo, Trevor Story, Matt Olson, Trey Mancini, Juan Soto, Pete Alonso, and Salvador Perez. Of those seven, Gallo (+350) is considered the second favorite to Ohtani. The Texas Rangers’ representative, Gallo is a power hitter by nature with a swing that many players can only dream about. In many ways, he is the kind of guy who is built for the structure of the derby, which involves needing to hit a lot of home runs over several rounds of competition.

Alonso and Olson, of the New York Mets and Oakland Athletics respectively, are the next up in terms of favorites, sitting at +500 for Alonso and +550 for Olson.

While this has not been Alonso’s best year offensively, the Mets’ representative is more than capable of hitting a lot of home runs over the course of a derby. He proved that in 2019, when he won the competition in the midst of a torrid offensive season. In fact, Alonso is the only former winner taking part in this year’s field, something that could give him a bit of advantage when it comes to the unique structure of the event. As for Olson, he’s been a huge help to an A’s offense which has performed above expectations. He has 23 home runs on the season, which puts him on pace for his best career numbers.

A sentimental favorite, Colorado Rockies’ Trevor Story (+1000), enters with the sixth best odds. Definitely a long shot, Story enters the derby with the fewest homers of any participant, sitting on just 11. But he possesses a unique advantage that none of his fellow competitors has. Story calls Coors Field home and over the course of his career, he’s hit 90 homers in 344 games in that venue. No one knows hitting in Colorado like Story and it certainly wouldn’t be the first time a hometown player outperformed expectations in the derby.

Home Run Derby Predictions & Final Pick For This Preview

In a lot of ways, Ohtani is the safe pick. But there is nothing that says the safe pick can’t or won’t also be the smart pick. That said, if Ohtani’s price doesn’t quite whet your appetite, perhaps look toward one of the props. Like taking Ohtani (+140) for the over on 22.5 home runs. Or backing Gallo (+105) to reach the finals. Because while it seems chalky, Ohtani vs Gallo is our pick for the finals. That too, is something you can wager on (+300). All odds quoted are with Bovada.