2018 Home Run Derby Favourites and Sleepers
Hometown favourite Bryce Harper leads a National League-dominated group in this year's Home Run Derby. Despite the majority of the majors' HR leaders coming from the American League, only Houston's Alex Bregman will be representing the conference.
Since switching formats in 2015 and going from outs to a timer, the Derby has been a lot more entertaining. The single-elimination eight-man tournament has also yielded surprise winners and thrilling matchups decided by no more than one homer for the most part.
This year's Derby is wide-open with no clear-cut favourites. Every player has a legitimate shot to win. So we look at two favourites and two sleepers worth paying attention to, plus betting odds via Bodog.
Harper is the ever-so-slight favourite to win thanks to being from Washington and knowing the ballpark like the back of his hand. Harper currently sits tied at ninth in the majors with 22 homers and leads all the contestants with an average distance of 410.23 feet per homer.
A five-tool player, Harper is only batting .213 and only slugging .468, making him the worst among the eight, statistically. Thankfully, he won't be facing elite pitchers and can hit homers at his own pace. He is the most gifted hitter of the eight on paper when you factor in his accuracy, swing, and power.
Harper is seeded #2 and will face the steady-swinging Freddie Freeman (+650) in the first round. If he advances, he takes on the winner of Javier Baez and Max Muncy in the semis then it's off to the Final.
The top-seeded Aguilar will look to be the first #1-seed to win the Derby since they changed the format. Aguilar leads the NL in homers with 23 and is tied for sixth in the majors. The 28-year-old is having a breakout season for the Brewers and is hitting .307 with a slugging percentage of .638.
Aguilar is 6'3" and 250 lbs. making him the biggest contestant. He can generate a lot of power and will crush balls like nobody's business. He almost didn't make the cut and made it to the festivities thanks to a strong push from the team and its fans thus earning him the Final Vote.
That will be huge for Aguilar who will play with plenty of inspiration. He goes up against #8-seeded Rhys Hoskins (+550) of the Phillies in what should be a tight contest. If he gets through, the winner of Kyle Schwarber and Alex Bregman meets him to decide who makes the Final.
His odds may not reflect it, but Baez is one of the favourites to win the Derby. Seeded at sixth, Baez is tied for 23rd with 18 homers and is the biggest star in the contest next to Harper. The 25-year-old is making his first All-Star appearance and was the 2016 NLCS MVP for the world champion Chicago Cubs.
Baez has the swagger of a star but it remains to be seen if he can deliver. His cool demeanour paired with his smooth swing is a deadly combination and he is the type of player to rise to the challenge. He started the year slowly but has been on fire and is now hitting .289 and slugging .559.
He faces #3-seed Max Muncy (+650), who has surprised everyone this season. If he gets past him,he faces the winner of Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman and then it's off to the Final.
Bregman will be the American League's sole representative and he has a better shot than his odds indicate. The 25-year-old is making his first All-Star appearance after already matching his home run totals from last season with 19. He is batting .285 for the year with a slugging percentage of .531.
Though not as powerful as Aguilar or as gifted as Harper or Baez, Bregman has the right tools to win this thing. He can swing hard but has refined his technique and the added patience has paid off as seen by his improved stats. Batting from the weaker side of the bracket also helps.
Seeded at #4, Bregman will go against #5-seed Kyle Schwarber (+400) who is another sexy pick to win the contest. But should he upset Schwarber, he takes on either Aguilar or Hoskins and when he beats them, moves on to the Final.
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