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Odds and Ends

Best Bets for 2021 Home Run Derby

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: July 12, 2021, 4:03 pm ET

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The 2021 Home Run Derby promises to be a great one, with Shohei Ohtani making his debut in the event after a stellar first half which saw him swat a ridiculous 33. Although he may go on to take the home run crown in the regular season, is he a sure thing to win Monday night's contest? Let's take a look at some best bets.

Salvador Perez (+200) vs Pete Alonso (-264)

I'm looking at a matchup for my first bet, and think Salvador Perez is mighty undervalued in this entire event. Forgetting that Perez has never hit more than 27 home runs in a season, he's been simply sublime this season when it comes to hitting the stuffing out of the ball.

Perez not only has the second-highest average exit velocity in the field tonight, he's also second in all of baseball in expected home runs according to Statcast with 26.5. The numbers would indicate that Perez has been unlucky to hit 21 home runs, and is probably the victim of playing most of his games in a pitcher's park like Kansas City. Because he hits the ball so hard, and comes in with lower-than-expected numbers, I think Perez is severely underpriced.

The only man with a higher average exit velocity off the bat and more expected home runs is Mr. Ohtani. For this reason, I have no interest in fading him by taking Perez to win it all. The effort it would take to knock off Ohtani is probably greater than the effort it would take to knock off Alonso, so I like just taking this matchup bet at fantastic odds.

Edge: Perez +200

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Player to hit the longest home run

This bet is a hard one to call, but there is a ton of value on Joey Gallo at +300 with Shohei Ohtani moving to the favorite at +275.

The longest homer in Gallo's career was in 2017, and checked in at 492.5. It's no surprise, considering the man seems to max out on every swing in hopes of hitting one out of the stadium. His style might lead him to be tired when it's all said and done tonight, but I think he will leave us with one incredibly long homer.

Ohtani's longest is only 463 feet, which is why it's hard for me to take him at this price. The balls will be juiced, so to speak, and the event will be at altitude, so we're sure to see longer distances than those from both. However, Ohtani's swing is a lot smoother and more repeatable, and I think he will aim to sustain himself for the length of a derby while Gallo will be out there to crush.

As an added bonus, 66.7% of Gallo's homers are classified as "No Doubters," meaning they'd be gone at every park, while only 51.5% of Ohtani's meet that classification. It goes to show you how may taters this guy has that are out-of-this-world long.

Edge: Gallo +300

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.