When it comes to betting on baseball this week, the MLB's annual All-Star Game scheduled for this Tuesday night in Cincinnati is the only game in town until the second half of the regular season gets underway this upcoming Friday.
One of the most popular events surrounding the MLB All-Star Break is Monday's Home Run Derby. The entire format of this year's contest has been changed to feature four head-to-head matchups in the opening round. The following are my MLB player prop picks for all four matchups based on odds from BetOnline.
Albert Pujols (-105) vs. Kris Bryant (-125)
Both Pujols and Bryant come into this opening round matchup as +450 second-favorites to win this year's Home Run Derby, so this should be a good hard-fought battle between two of the best long-ball hitters in the Majors. Pujols last appeared in the Home Run Derby in 2009, and this will be Bryant's first appearance.
Pujols has already belted 26 home runs this season, which is tops in the American League. Bryant comes in as the eighth overall seed with 12 home runs. Seeing how this year's contest is a timed 5-minute round to hit as many homers as possible, I am going with the favorable odds and overall edge in power with a play on Pujols in this matchup.
Joc Pederson (-145) vs. Manny Machado (+115)
Pederson comes into this competition with 20 home runs on the year, and he has been set as a +550 fifth-favorite to win this year's Home Run Derby. Machado has belted one less home run (19) than his opponent in this round, and he has the longest odds to win of the eight contestants at +800.
This will be the first appearance for either player in this competition. Both of these guys would be considered to be among the top power hitters in the majors, but I am going to go chalk in this one with a play on Pederson as a pretty hefty favorite.
Josh Donaldson (-125) vs. Anthony Rizzo (-105)
This third matchup features two players with identical +700 odds to win the entire competition. Donaldson has the clear edge in home runs during the regular season so far with 21 verses 16 for Rizzo, and he has been more productive at driving in runs with 61 RBI against Rizzo's 48. I would also have to give the overall edge to Donaldson in light of his 104 total hits on the year.
This will be Rizzo's first Home Run Derby while Donaldson did compete in last year's contest. He did not make it out of the first round after hitting just three home runs, but the experience has to count for something. I am once again going with the favorite in this head-to-head matchup with Donaldson as my pick to advance.
Todd Frazier (-130) vs. Prince Fielder (+100)
This could be the top matchup in the opening round of this year's Home Run Derby. Frazier comes into this competition as a +400 favorite to win the Derby in front of his home-town crowd as a member of the Reds, while Fielder is listed as one of three +450 second-favorites to take home the crown. Frazier is tied for the third-most home runs in the majors this season with 25, while Fielder is much farther down the list with 14.
This matchup comes down to home-field advantage against veteran experience. This will be Frazier's first Home Run Derby, so his nerves could run a bit high. Fielder has been a regular fixture in this competition, and while he did miss last season's Home Run Derby he won this event in 2012 by belting 28 home runs over the course of three rounds. I am going with the veteran experience in this matchup with a play on Fielder's more favorable betting odds.
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