The Midsummer Classic may be tomorrow night but there will be plenty of fireworks in our nation’s capital this evening as the 2018 Home Run Derby is slated to begin at 8:00 PM ET. Baseball bettors are sure to have their hands full with an intriguing group of sluggers, each with a shot at taking home the trophy.
A cursory glance at this year’s field reveals a plethora of new faces, as hometown star Bryce Harper is the only player to compete in a previous competition. And that was all the way back in 2013 at Citi Field when Harper finished runner-up to Yoenis Céspedes.
Top-seeded Jesús Aguilar may have squeaked into the All-Star Game by what some fans considered a ridiculous Final Vote (most thought he should’ve been in already) but he’s a heavy favorite to take home the coveted Derby title this year.
The field behind him looks something like this:
With such a relatively unknown field top-to-bottom to go with his status as the host team’s representative, it’s easy to pencil in Harper as a favorite. He’s the only true household name on the leaderboard and that should put a lot of the money in his corner.
Aguilar is a trendy pick at +300 on Betway and +425 on 888sport, and so will be two of his NL Central rivals. Kyle Schwarber of the immensely popular Chicago Cubs has +450 odds on 888sport and +550 on Betway while his teammate Javy Báez is +800 on 888 and +650 on Betway.
Báez is particularly intriguing as many don’t look to middle infielders for big time power, but his numbers certainly defy that trend. Could he be the first since Robinson Canó in 2011 to win it? It’s a fun thought to consider laying money on.
If you’re looking for a real longshot with some major potential to shake things up, look no further than the Philadelphia Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins. His 2018 numbers and spot in the rankings may not inspire much confidence, but he captivated the baseball world as a rookie call-up in 2017.
It took Hoskins a mere 34 games to hit his first 18 home runs last season (an MLB record), showing that when he gets his sweet spot going, he can make history. Add to that the fact that as a member of the Phillies he’s familiar with Nationals Park and he makes a compelling case.
Call it a hunch, call it blind faith in a sweet natural swing, but if you believe in Hoskins you could make some serious bank. 888sport has Hoskins at +550 with +225 odds at cracking the final round. But the best value is with Betway who lists him at +900 to win it all.
Karamba and Betfair offer interesting first-round matchup markets for each of the four competitions. The contests are tighter but in some cases should be a little easier to call with some upset value thrown in for good measure.
Harper should be a lock against Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman who’s known more for his consistent average than raw power. Karamba has Harper at -245 odds to move on while Betfair has him at 4/7.
The Dodger’s Max Muncy has been tearing it up of late, but in what’s been a tremendous year for Báez one could see him overcoming +120 odds (Karamba) to advance in that matchup. His Cubbie counterpart, Schwarber, should make good on -170 (Karamba) odds as well to defeat Bregman.
Finally comes the toss-up that rests purely on your faith in Jesús. Hoskins, for reasons already mentioned, is an interesting pick here as a eight-seed over one-seed upset, but there’s plenty of reason to expet Aguilar to ride his Final Vote momentum into the next round.
Hoskins has 5/4 and +110 odds from Betfair and Karamba respectively of knocking out the top spot, but Aguilar could just as easily add to the greatest season of his career with -145 odds on Karamba to do so.
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