Every year during the MLB All-Star break, fans and players ramp up their excitement for the main event – the home run derby. Although the hype of the home run derby was dying down considerably over the last few years, the format change implemented by the MLB has gained newfound attention. With the new format where players are seeded from 1–8 and square off against one another similar to playoff brackets, players have considerably more of an incentive to go all-out every round and fans often find themselves on the edge of their seats in close duels. For baseball bettors, the home run derby presents an opportunity to place wagers and watch the highly anticipated event. Here are four tips on handicapping the home run derby.
Examine The Ballpark
The location of the home run derby can significantly impact the performance of participants. Some ballparks favour left-handed batters whereas other ballparks favour right-handed batters. Additionally, some ballparks have lower outfield fences, meaning that well-hit line-drives will likely clear the ballpark whereas ballparks with higher outfield fences require the ball to be hit hard and high. Depending on the average home run distance for each participant, larger ballparks will not be favourable for a batter whose average home run distance is only slightly higher than the home run distance requirements for the ballpark. All of these factors must be taken into account when handicapping the home run derby since the specific ballpark where the home run derby is being hosted can significantly impact the outcome of the event.
Past Experience and Performance
People often say that experience is the best teacher. For first-time participants in the home run derby, they may be at a slight disadvantage due to the fact that they may be somewhat fazed by the bright lights, were not able to put together a sound strategy for how to go about the event, or did not consider the fact that they may have overestimated their stamina when advancing to the latter rounds. If a specific batter has had a history of strong performance(s), he should be someone to consider betting on. Additionally, looking at the winners from recent past years, it is important to take note of the types of hitters that tend to win the event – are they bulky power hitters or are they more of the athletic and refined type of hitter?
Look For Value
Although a specific batter may be the clear favourite to win the home run derby, chances are that the payout will be quite low and the payout also reflects the actual possibility of him winning, resulting in a lack of value in taking this individual. A better strategy would be to look for value in participants. If a batter is a heavy underdog (+700 or 8.00 to win) but you believe that this individual is a dark horse and peg his chances of winning the event at 30%, there is a lot of value in betting on him since the market’s implied probability of him winning the event is 12.5% compared to your estimated probability of 30%. Getting value for your wager is often more important than deciding who has the best chances of winning.
Attitude Towards The Event
Some of the participants become extremely excited and honoured to take part in the home run derby whereas other participants, it seems like more of an obligation being a superstar player. These participants will compete but may not seem particularly engaged or care much about the outcome. On the other hand, a first-time participant or a relatively younger participant may feel that he has a lot to prove and may actually practice for the event beforehand with his chosen pitcher. Attitude can make all the difference when it comes to wanting to win the event so much more than his counterpart.