Home Run Derby betting is a great way to add some excitement to the longest days of the year.
The MLB All-Star break is one of the slowest times on the sports betting calendar. Sports like hockey, football and basketball are dormant. The event is midweek, so there’s no boxing or UFC to handicap.
Without many lines to choose from, many bettors have spare time to focus on the MLB’s All-Star activities, betting on the Home Run Derby along with the week’s other events.
If you’ve never experienced Home Run Derby betting before, let’s take a closer look at how it works and how you should handicap this exhibition event.
How Does the Home Run Derby Work?
Before betting on the Home Run Derby, you need to understand exactly how it works. Major League Baseball has tweaked the format in recent years, and the best strategies for Home Run Derby betting have changed accordingly.
The current format enters players into a single-elimination tournament. There are four first-round matchups and players must simply beat their opponent to move on.
Previously, each player would compete against a handful of other batters in each round. The two players who hit the most home runs would move on. Now every round is a matter of beating a single opponent head-to-head.
Players get 10 outs per round. The goal is simply to club as many home runs as possible. Going second is usually advantageous because you know exactly how many dingers you must hit to move on to the next round.
Look for Momentum Before the Event
Determining which players are on hot and cold streaks is one of the most important things to look for when betting the Home Run Derby. The last thing you want to do is back a batter on a slump heading into the event.
Finding a batter with the hot hand is one of the simplest and most effective ways to pick winners ahead of the Home Run Derby.
2019 Home Run Derby winner Pete Alonso had a pretty good stretch heading into the break, with eight home runs in the 21 games prior to it.
Keep an eye on how players are hitting going into the All-Star break. Focus on baseball stats that measure power and slugging ability. SLG and ISO are key metrics to consider, along with the number of home runs each batter has tallied straight up.
Which Players Are Strongest at the Park?
Seeing how each contestant tends to fare at the specific park is one great way to gain an edge with Home Run Derby betting.
If you pull up player profiles on ESPN, you can go into a section called “splits” to find out how they tend to play at every single ballpark.
For example, in 2018, Bryce Harper won the event at Nationals Park. Familiarity figured to give him a bit of an edge, as he played all his home games at Nationals Park that year. Another example is Giancarlo Stanton, who has eight career home runs in 19 games at Petco Park. He won the event in 2016 when it was held in San Diego, clubbing a whopping 24 home runs in the first round.
Before betting on a player with seemingly solid numbers, make sure their history of performance at the park in question suggests they’ll perform at least as well as expected.
Bet on Players with Home Run Derby Experience
We highly recommend focusing on players who have participated in the Home Run Derby before.
The derby is an unusual event, and both bettors and players are disadvantaged by its unfamiliar format. If a player has taken part before, that can provide the most solid preview of how they’ll perform in the future.
The Home Run Derby is nothing like an at-bat during a regular MLB game. Professional sluggers don’t often have softballs tossed their direction the way they do at the derby. Some players who are new to the event over-swing and end up fouling off balls or hitting line drives instead of home runs. Those with experience have a better idea of what to expect and how to perform.
Beyond Betting the Home Run Derby
Now that you know how the Home Run Derby works and some strategy behind it, you’ll be in better position to win money when the event comes up this year.
But this quirky event is just one of many options when it comes to betting on baseball. Be sure to check out the rest of the baseball betting advice here at Sports Betting Dime to optimize your betting strategies and grow your bankroll this MLB season.