After weeks of anticipation, the wait is nearly over: We’re just hours away from the 2023 Home Run Derby. The festivities will get started at 8 p.m. ET, with a star-studded field set to swing for the fences at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. But if there’s one thing more enjoyable than watching baseball’s best sluggers go toe-to-toe, it’s betting on baseball’s best sluggers going toe-to-toe. So, in that spirit, here are some plays we recommend on Monday night.
2023 Home Run Derby picks
Favorite: Pete Alonso (+300)
Alonso enters the Derby as the favorite, and for good reason: He’s won two of the last three, and he’s looking to join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win the event three times. The New York Mets first baseman combines prodigious power (90th-percentile max exit velocity) with a sincere dedication to the Derby — unlike a lot of stars who duck it intentionally or just go through the motions, Alonso is out there looking like he’d rather die than accept defeat. In such a bunched-up field where the top five or six options have relatively similar odds, Alonso’s track record is a safe bet.
Dark Horse: Adolis Garcia (+650)
The argument for Garcia is simple: Few hitters in baseball are capable of getting hot like he can when he’s got it all clicking. The Rangers star’s 23 homers have come in bunches this year — six in 11 games in early May, five in eight games in late June, three in five games earlier this month, even three in one game back in April.
This will be Garcia’s first time competing in the Derby, meaning we have very little information to go on — which could create some value inefficiency before the betting markets wise up. He also has a surprisingly easy path to the final, facing off against fellow Derby newcomer Randy Arozarena (just 16 homers so far this year) in the first round and then either Luis Robert Jr. or Adley Rutschman in the semis. Garcia could flame out early, or he could catch fire and win the whole thing.
Prop: Total home runs, over 276.5 (-115)
There are a couple reasons you should be hammering the over here. First, the overall context: Amid record offensive numbers, rumors have been swirling all year that MLB has gone back to the infamous juiced balls this season. In 2022, 5,215 total homers were hit during the regular season. This year, we’re on pace for 5,642. If balls are carrying on Monday night the way they have all season, we should be in for some fireworks (which, as the more conspiratorially minded among you are quick to point out, is good for MLB’s bottom line).
Then there’s the micro-level argument. Last year’s Derby blew past this total, ending with 291 total homers hit — and that was with a relatively lack-luster field that included 40-something Albert Pujols as well as line-drive hitters like Corey Seager, Jose Ramirez and Juan Soto. (Yes, I know Soto wound up winning the thing, but he hit 18, 16 and 19 homers; it was more about matchup luck than it was about him crushing the ball.) T-Mobile Park skews pitcher-friendly, but that was true of Dodger Stadium too, and 2022 had no problem clearing this number. With a stronger field and a homer-happier ball, expect a repeat on Monday night.