2021 Home Run Derby Picks: Grab the Value on Joey Gallo

mlb home run derby picks
PHOTO CREDIT: CRAIG DUDEK

Coors Field will play host to the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby tonight. An eight-man field will take to the thin Rocky Mountain air to try to become this season’s derby champion.

Featuring some of the game’s most powerful stars, the 2021 Home Run Derby figures to be both heavily watched and heavily bet tonight, so let’s make some picks and predictions.

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2021 Home Run Derby Picks

Before we get to our 2021 MLB Home Run Derby picks, let’s first take a look at the odds to win it all. Odds are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook:

Player Odds to Win
Shohei Ohtani+250
Joey Gallo+450
Pete Alonso+500
Matt Olson+525
Juan Soto+800
Trevor Story+800
Salvador Perez+1000
Trey Mancini+1400

Head-to-Head Prediction

Pete Alonso (5) to defeat Salvador Perez (4) (FanDuel Sportsbook -210)

It’s noteworthy that Pete Alonso is the only lower seed favored in the first round of tonight’s derby. It also stands out he holds the second best odds to advance to the semifinals behind only the favorite, Shohei Ohtani (-225). However, this seemingly steep price has not been set thoughtlessly by oddsmakers.

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Salvador Perez may seem tempting here at this price, given that he is tied for 12th in MLB with 21 home runs this season, compared to Alonso’s 17, which is tied for 31st. However, keep in mind that the Royals’ catcher has played 89 games thus far this season. That is more than anyone else in the league in the top 33 in home runs and 12 more games than Alonso has played.

Perez has also never hit more than 27 home runs in a season and his current 21 round-trippers are already tied for his fourth best season output since coming up in 2011.

Meanwhile, Pete Alonso enters tonight’s affair as the defending champ, with last season’s event having been cancelled due to COVID-19. Alonso won the Home Run Derby in 2019, amassing 57 total home runs during the event.

Twelve of his 17 home runs this season (70.6%) have been no-doubters (home runs that would have been over the wall in every park in the league), which is the second best percentage of any of the 33 MLB players with 15 or more home runs.

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Alonso has also topped out with a 117.1 mph exit velocity on one of his home runs, tied for the sixth highest value in the league and the second best of any derby participant behind just Ohtani’s 119.0 mph mark. Alonso can also brag MLB’s eighth best barreled balls per plate appearance rating (10.7%), well ahead of Perez’s 9.9% and a longer average home run (411 feet) than Perez’s 400-foot average.

And one final note. Where Perez has played just one career game at Coors Field, failing to homer yet in the park, Alonso has played six games here, hitting three home runs and batting .455. Look for the defending champ to win his first round matchup tonight, utilizing his successful experiences in both the derby and in this ballpark.

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Best Value Bet

Matt Olson (William Hill +600)

This is very much a strategic selection, but for a +600 payoff, it is a tremendous value pick. As mentioned, the favorite has not reached the finals of the derby since the format changed in 2015.

Matt Olson would be coming from the other side of the bracket from Ohtani, maximizing his chances of avoiding the favorite altogether. Olson’s path to a potential final seems favorable as his first round matchup pits him against Trey Mancini who has the lowest no-doubt home run percentage of any participant and has never homered at Coors Field.

He would then face either Joey Gallo or Trevor Story, both of whom Olson trumps in barreled-ball percentage on the season.

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Pick to Win the Home Run Derby

Joey Gallo (William Hill +450)

Picking any participant not named Shohei Ohtani to win this season’s Home Run Derby may seem a fool’s errand, as Ohtani has catapulted himself into legend status with his pitching performances and league-leading 33 home runs at the All-Star Break.

However, juggling pitching and batting responsibilities is surely a lot to compartmentalize and could leave him vulnerable to a letdown tonight.

Riding with Ohtani is also risky given that the favorite has not reached the final of the derby since the head-to-head format was introduced in 2015. It is also worth mentioning that Gallo is the No. 2 seed in tonight’s derby and that seed has made every final since the 2015 format change, winning four of the five home run derbies since.

If you want to pick a winner outside the favorite, you would be wise to do so from the other side of the derby’s bracket, which appears to be the easier path and allows you the best chance to possibly avoid an Ohtani matchup.

If Gallo can sneak by hometown hero Trevor Story as a -180 favorite, he would just need to get by either Matt Olson or Trey Mancini to reach the finals. Gallo has bested both of those competitors this season in terms of average exit velocity, total home runs, no-doubter home runs, and no-doubter percentage.

In fact, Gallo is fourth in the league in no-doubt home runs with 16 and enters the All-Star Break red hot with 11 home runs in his last 12 games. He was also given Sunday off, a luxury not provided to Ohtani, Olson, Story, or Mancini.

In fact, Perez was the only other participant to have the day off on Sunday, as the Kansas City game was postponed due to weather.

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