Monday is one the slowest days of the year on the sports calendar, but not if you love dingers!
The MLB Home Run Derby will kick off the All-Star festivities in Seattle on Monday night at T-Mobile Park. Live broadcasts will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Sportsnet in Canada and on ESPN in the United States.
This year’s field of eight sluggers is incredibly impressive: Pete Alonso, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Julio Rodriguez, Luis Robert, Adolis Garcia, Mookie Betts, Randy Arozarena and Adley Rutschman all swinging for the fences.
It’s a single-elimination bracket with three rounds total. In each bracket, the higher seed hits second.
Batters will have three minutes per round in the first and second rounds and two minutes in the final round to hit as many homers as possible. The clock starts with the release of the first pitch, and the round ends when the timer strikes zero.
Thirty seconds of extra time will be granted to each batter at the conclusion of each regulation period. A hitter can earn an additional 30 seconds of bonus time — giving him 60 seconds total — if he hits at least two homers that equal or exceed 440 feet (tracked by MLB’s Statcast) in the regulation period.
Here’s a look at the bracket and how the sluggers will match up in the first round. All odds are courtesy of bet365.
While handicapping for this event you’ll notice that the right side of the bracket is absolutely stacked with No. 2 Alonso going up against No. 7 Rodriguez in the first round and No. 3 Betts squaring off with No. 6 Guerrero Jr.
It’s probably going to take a lot of homers (and energy) for whichever competitor advances to the final round from that side of the bracket. One strategy could be to target some of the longshots on the left side of the bracket (Robert, Arozarena, Garcia, Rutschman) and hope they can edge out some of the battle-tested combatants, like Alonso and Guerrero Jr., in the final round.
It’s hard to bet against Alonso here as a two-time defending champion of the event. Nobody takes the Home Run Derby more seriously than the New York Mets first baseman.
Also, the seeding for this event is essentially meaningless, so don’t pay too much attention to it during your handicapping process. The seeds were determined by the participants’ 2023 home run totals through play on July 4. Tiebreakers were determined by most homers hit from June 15 through July 4. Regular season home runs are not a good indicator of how these sluggers will perform at the derby.
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||+360|
It should be a pleasant evening in Seattle with temperatures around 25C and partly cloudy conditions, so the retractable roof will likely be open. Winds will be light at 10 km/h and will blow from left field to right field, which means they shouldn’t help, or hinder, the sluggers in their attempts to hit as many homers as possible.
Luis Robert (-220) vs. Adley Rutschman (+175)
Robert is finally healthy and living up to his power potential this year for the lowly Chicago White Sox. And with Chicago so far out of the playoff picture, this could be the highlight of the Cuban slugger’s season. He’s rightfully a big favourite in this opening matchup and his compact power stroke should fare well in the event.
However, Rutschman is an intriguing underdog in both this matchup and as an outright play. The rookie is the first switch-hitting catcher to participate in the derby since Mickey Tettleton in 1989 for Baltimore. He said he would likely hit from the left side of the plate where he has hit the majority of his homers this season. The field dimensions in Seattle also slightly favour left-handed hitters, as the distance is only 326 feet down the right-field line as opposed to 331 feet down the left-field line.
Pete Alonso (-180) vs. Julio Rodriguez (+150)
The hulking Alonso has won this event twice already and has hit more derby homers, in total, than anyone in the history of the event. Alonso is trying to become the second person ever to win three home run derbies (Ken Griffey Jr. is the other). He’s the outright favourite for good reason.
It’s a shame Rodriguez drew the Polar Bear in the first round. The Mariners slugger will have the support of the home crowd behind him and should at least give Alonso a run for his money. J-Rod finished second in the event last year behind Juan Soto and is trying to become the first slugger to win the event in front of his home crowd since Bryce Harper in 2018.
Adolis Garcia (-150) vs. Randy Arozarena (+130)
Garcia has very quietly become one of the most potent power hitters in baseball over the past two seasons for the Texas Rangers. Garcia and Arozarena are close friends and former teammates, so this should be a fun matchup to watch.
Arozarena has an electric personality and loves to feed off the crowd, which should help him drastically in this event. He has a history of coming through in the clutch and in big moments as evidenced by his 2020 Babe Ruth Award (best performance in postseason) and 2020 American League Championship Series MVP accolades. If time is ticking down and he only needs a last-season homer, you can bet Arozarena will make it happen.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (-210) vs. Mookie Betts (+170)
Guerrero Jr. is back in this event for the first time since 2019, when he set the all-time record for most home runs in a single derby with 91. However, he ended up losing in the finals to Alonso that year. He’s on a collision course with Alonso in the second round of this bracket and you can bet he’ll have revenge on his mind should the two meet again. Vlad Jr. should get some decent support from the home crowd as many Canadians will be making the trip from the western provinces, as they always do when the Blue Jays play in Seattle.
Don’t be fooled by Mookie’s relatively small stature. Despite standing at 5-foot-9 and weighing only 180 pounds, Betts has the kind of power stroke to hand with the other larger sluggers in the event. He’s participating in the event for the first time and said he was persuaded by his wife to give it a shot. He’s probably regretting that decision after drawing Vlad in the first round.