The 2019 Home Run Derby is set for Monday night at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Here are three of the smartest wagers to be made in this competition.
The hometown crowd will be behind Carlos Santana, who holds an advantage taking his swings left-handed against the right-handed Pete Alonso.
Santana will try to join Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper as recent Home Run Derby champs who won the competition in their own ballpark. The Dominican slugger hits a four-bagger every 13.4 at-bats as a lefty, per theScore.com. Of the sluggers in the competition, Santana trails only Josh Bell in average exit velocity this season.
It’s hard to knock Alonso. He has hit 30 home runs in his rookie season, six of them going beyond 440 feet, but the tall left field wall at Progressive Field could be his undoing. The price is too tempting with the tournament’s sentimental favorite in Santana.
Josh Bell, despite being seeded third behind Christian Yelich (who was replaced by Matt Chapman after being forced to withdraw because of a back issue) and Alonso, is a deserving favorite and the top selection to win the Home Run Derby.
Bell is just the second Pittsburgh batter to reach 25 homers before the All-Star Break (Hall of Famer Willie Stargell hit 30 in 1971 and 1973, per ESPN.com), and he is 10th in baseball in at-bats per home run at 12.3. He leads the majors with seven homers of at least 440 feet, according to MLB.com.
Joc Pederson offers good value at 7-1 and therefore should be used as a “saver” bet.
His first-round matchup with Alex Bregman will probably be tougher than his second-round matchup, assuming he advances. The winner of the Pederson/Bregman battle will face either eighth-seeded Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has just eight home runs in his career, or Chapman, an injury substitution.
Pederson, like Santana over Alonso, has the lefty/righty advantage over Bregman. The California native is also more of a traditional home run hitter than Bregman, who is more of a line drive threat. A Pederson/Bell final round would guarantee a profit.
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