On the plus side, we don’t have to hate-watch this year’s event and cheer for whoever is facing Bryce Harper. Because last year’s champion is not taking part this year, despite having twice as many home-runs in the first half as a certain participant we could mention. The original #1 seed was Christian Yelich, but he had to pull out of the event due to back issues, so he has been replaced by the Athletics’ Matt Chapman. The full list of participants and their odds for victory (from bovada.lv) are as follows:
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - 3-1
- Josh Bell - 7-2
- Pete Alonso - 4-1
- Joc Pederson - 6-1
- Ronald Acuna - 7-1
- Alex Bregman - 8-1
- Carlos Santana - 11-1
- Matt Chapman - 14-1
I can’t believe Guerrero has been installed as the favorite, despite having hit only eight home-runs in 61 games this season. There are no fewer than SEVEN Diamondbacks who have more HR to this point, including Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly. The latter has 10 home-runs in 56 fewer plate-appearances than Guerrero. It doesn’t help that Guerrero is a right-handed hitter, and Progressive Field tends to favor left-handers. I suspect these odds are a reflection of where sentimental money is going, rather than actual chances of victory. Josh Bell seems a far more likely candidate to me.
Anyway, it’s a straight knockout tournament, with the four first-round match-ups being Pederson vs. Bregman, Bell vs. Acuna, Alonso vs. Santana and Chapman vs. Guerrero. Each hitter will get four minutes to hit as many homers as possible, and they can earn an extra 30 seconds of bonus time for hitting two home-runs 440 feet or longer in their regular slot. Whoever hits most, moves on to the next round. Repeat for semi-finals and the final. Bonus: enjoy the kids running around the outfield, trying (and generally failing) to catch the balls that fall short. There’ll be much falling over to be seen.
Feel free to chat about who you pick, and whatever else of amusement occurs, in the comments. It’s on ESPN, and also streaming on ESPN.com.