This year’s field has some players who put up insane performances in previous derbies such as two-time winner Pete Alonso, but there are several first-time participants who are looking to begin a new chapter of derby heroics.
Alonso, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Julio Rodriguez make up the returning participants, with Luis Robert Jr., Mookie Betts, Adolis Garcia, Randy Arozarena and Adley Rutschman making up the first timers.
Caesars Sportsbook has betting odds available for the eight-man field, so we evaluated each participant from a betting perspective. I like the fact Arozarena won’t have to go up against Rodriguez, Vlad Jr. or Alonso until at least the final round, too. This side of the bracket, which includes Robert Jr. and Rutschman, is wide open, and Arozarena could really surprise.
In the other side of the bracket, it’s hard to pick against Alonso (+300). While he is the chalk, no one in this Derby field knows what it takes to win better than he does. Alonso takes this competition very seriously, but he’ll have his hands full in the opening round going against Rodriguez, who will have full support from the Seattle crowd.
If Mookie beats Vlad, the second round matchup will be tough. Pete Alonso or Julio Rodriguez would be waiting and both guys bring power and more experience to this event.
The Derby is in Seattle, so J-Rod will have a boost, but faces the favorite in Alonso, which is pretty unfair if you ask me. Additionally, Rodriguez and Alonso could tire themselves out in that first round matchup, which benefits Betts to make the Derby Title match.
If Mookie wins, make sure to tweet and thank his wife who urged him to do the event.
When asked about participating and the conversation, Betts said this to MLB , “It’s the last thing I haven’t done,” Betts said. “My wife kind of compared it to [NBA superstar LeBron James] not doing the dunk contest. And that’s not a knock or anything, but she just feels like for what I’m trying to do in baseball, bring awareness to Black culture, I should probably be more involved.”
Betts is swinging the bat hot right and at +1500 to win the Derby and +205 to beat Vlad in the first round, I will grab a slice of both. A Pacific Northwest native who was born and raised in Oregon, Rutschman’s decision to participate in the Derby in Seattle was an easy one. Another easy call? Having his dad, Randy, pitch to him. Unlike most sluggers, Rutschman, a switch-hitter, also gets to choose which side of the plate he’ll hit from. He told MLB.com that he will “probably start out left-handed.” The numbers support that, as 20 of his 24 career blasts have come from that side, but it raises the interesting possibility of him switching sides in the middle of the contest. — ZC
“Even though he didn’t win,” Alonso said, “I still think that was one of the coolest Home Run Derby rounds ever.”
Back then, the format was different; each contestant got a certain number of “outs” instead of a time limit. Alonso’s Derby career — two wins, three appearances prior to 2023 — has all come in the timed era, an evolution that has made the Derby more compelling and more exhausting.
“I definitely think it’s more of an endurance thing,” Alonso said of the new format, which forces guys to swing fast. But it’s not hard to see the appeal: “I think it’s fun because you have a chance to have higher home run totals. Obviously, it’s really awesome for the people there in the stadium because they just see balls flying out the yard consistently and also for people on TV because it’s just high-octane.”
This year, Alonso will be competing for his third Derby title, which would tie Ken Griffey Jr. for the most ever.
“I mean, it’s something that obviously I’m known for,” Alonso said. “Not just Home Run Derby stuff, but for me, just homers being a super big part of my game, so I guess it’s pretty on brand.”
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