MLB Home Run Derby Preview, Picks, and Predictions

Date IconLast Updated: Oct 16th, 2023
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MLB Home Run Derby Preview, Picks, and Predictions
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Should you take the two-time defending champ? Should you back a newcomer? What about a crafty veteran? Tonight’s Home Run Derby features exciting matchups and some guys who can crush the baseball. It begins at 8 p.m. ET.


 Here are the four opening-round matchups.

  • New York Mets Pete Alonso -180 vs. Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna, Jr. +150
  • Philadelphia Phillies Kyle Schwarber -340 vs. St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols +270
  • Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez -150 vs. Texas Rangers Corey Seager +125
  • Washington Nationals Juan Soto -180 vs. Cleveland Guardians Jose Ramirez +150

Let’s get to the MLB betting advice.


Alonso vs. Acuna, Jr.

Alonso has won this event the past two seasons and defeated Acuna in the 2019 finals. 

Acuna, Jr. has eight home runs in 260 plate appearances this season, but rest assured his swing is in top form.

Acuna, Jr. ranks in the 91 percentile in exit velocity and 92 percentile in barrel percentage, which measures how often a batter gets the best part of the bat on the baseball. 

Alonso ranks in the 69 percentile in exit velocity and 89 percentile in barrel percentage. 

I like a pizza money bet ($10-$25) on Acuna, Jr to defeat the two-time defending champion Alonso at +150 as offered by DraftKings.


Schwarber vs. Pujols

 This is the biggest mismatch of the Home Run Derby. Pujols, who has hit 685 home runs and .296 for his career, is being honored for his achievements. 

Schwarber has been red hot in June and July and has hit 29 home runs in 391 plate appearances this season. He trails only Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who has 33.

Schwarber’s pitcher will target the middle of the plate slightly above knee level, which is his hot zone averaging 98 MPH exit velocity. If the pitcher gets into a groove and hits that spot, Schwarber could easily hit 25 home runs in this opening-round matchup. 

Schwarber wins this matchup, but I cannot bet against one of the greatest batters of all time in Pujols.


Rodriguez vs. Seager

This matchup is the most even, with a slight edge to Rodriguez. Rodriguez ranks in the 92nd percentile in exit velocity and 91st percentile in barrel percentage.

Seager might get a mixed greeting when he comes to the plate after he left the Dodgers for the Texas Rangers as a free agent last season. 

He ranks in the 87th percentile in exit velocity, but just 77th percentile in barrel percentage. Make no mistake, his hot zone is middle of the plate, just a bit above waist high, where he has averaged a 97 MPH exit velocity.

So, I like Rodriguez to win and will bet pizza money on him as a -150 favorite as offered at BetMGM.


Soto vs. Ramirez

MLB set the bracket to have the most exciting pairing complete the first round. Soto is the face of the Washington Nationals and, despite being just 23 years old, is already an MLB superstar. 

He ranks only in the 77th percentile in exit velocity and 86th percentile in barrel percentage this season. 

He won the Silver Slugger Award for the highest batting average in the 2020 season, hitting .351 and was also league best with a .490 on-base percentage, and a 1.185 OPS.

Jose Ramirez is one of the best switch-hitting batters in MLB and I believe he will opt to bat left-handed and attack the shorter right-field bleachers at Dodgers Stadium.

His pitcher will look to target knee high on the inner third of the dish where Ramirez has averaged a 100 MPH exit velocity.

I like betting on Ramirez to win this first-round matchup with a pizza bet receiving +150 at DraftKings.


The Winner

I think we will see Schwarber and Acuna, Jr. meet in the finals. At DraftKings, you get the opportunity to name the finalists and this specific matchup is offered at an attractive price of +750. So, a $10 pizza money bet returns $75 in profit if the two players meet in the finals.

Special Pepperoni Pizza Money Bets

The way Schwarber is smashing the baseball, I must pick him to win the Home Run Derby at +330 at DraftKings. 

In addition, DraftKings offers bets on who will hit the longest home run and again, I am on Schwarber getting +350. 

We know they will use special baseballs for this event, and I also like betting pizza money Over 491.5 feet for the longest home run hit.