MLB Betting: 2022 Home Run Derby Picks

Kyle Schwarber is the top seed at this year's event, but he isn't the favorite to win it all. Is there value in backing him on FanDuel Sportsbook?

The 2022 edition of the MLB Home Run Derby will take place on Monday night, and it will once again feature the single-elimination bracket format that we've seen since 2015.

While the Derby has delivered some memorable moments on its own over the years, we can further spice things up by betting on which of the eight contestants will emerge victorious on MLB odds.

But which bets offer the best value? Let's dig in and find out.

What Should We Look For?

Tonight's eight hitters were seeded by their home run totals through July 13th, and that ought to mean the top seed should have one of the easier head-to-head matchups in the first round. That's especially the case because it's not like we're looking at the eight very best home run hitters of 2022 in the bracket -- which will be abundantly clear in a moment.

But we know home run totals by themselves don't tell the whole story, as they're subject to all sorts of outside influences such as park factors, quality of opponent, weather, etc.

So, before checking out the competitors, let's take a look at the underlying metrics that matter the most to us tonight.

In 2021, I checked out which advanced stats matter the most in daily fantasy baseball, and while that's a different beast than what we're looking at today, the research included which numbers correlate most closely with dingers.

Here's how a variety of metrics measured up with home runs per plate appearance. The closer the correlation coefficient is to 1, the stronger the relationship.

Stat HR/PA
Barrels per Plate Appearance (Brls/PA) 0.853
Barrels per Batted-Ball Event (Brls/BBE) 0.837
Exit Velocity on Line Drives/Fly Balls (EV on LD/FB) 0.716
FanGraphs Hard-Hit Rate (Hard%) 0.659
Average Distance 0.616
Statcast Hard-Hit Rate (95+ MPH%) 0.636
Average Exit Velocity 0.593
Fly-Ball Rate 0.571
Max Distance 0.579
Max Exit Velocity 0.476

If you've been following along in the Statcast era even a little bit, it's of no surprise to see both barrel stats top the list, and EV on LD/FB also fares well, which is logical because it strips out ground balls. Both versions of hard-hit rate lag behind but still rate as being fairly relevant. For the purposes of this exercise, we'll focus on those five metrics.

Tale of the Tape

With that out of the way, let's see how tonight's sluggers stack up against one another. In addition to the aforementioned stats from this year, I'll also include their seeding, season-long home run totals, and FanDuel Sportsbook odds.

PlayerOddsHRBrls/PABrls/BBEEV on LD/FB95+ MPH%Hard%
(1) Kyle Schwarber+3502912.021.799.052.535.5
(2) Pete Alonso+195249.413.795.945.635.6
(3) Corey Seager+1000228.511.595.046.237.5
(4) Juan Soto+500208.412.896.745.327.5
(5) Jose Ramirez+1600195.16.491.738.330.8
(6) Julio Rodriguez+750169.214.396.851.036.7
(7) Ronald Acuna Jr.+80088.914.596.349.434.3
(8) Albert Pujols+240065.88.295.445.136.9

For context, note that the first six seeds all logged between 375-395 plate appearances, whereas Ronald Acuna Jr. (270) and Albert Pujols (173) were well beneath that, in part explaining the significant drop-off in dingers.

But what immediately jumps out is that Pujols and Jose Ramirez have far and away the worst barrel numbers, and in Ramirez's case, he ranks at or near the bottom across all five metrics. Ramirez looks like an easy pass as a long shot.

While Pujols is still making more hard contact than you might expect, it's easy to question the inclusion of a 42-year-old part-time player who hasn't cracked a .200 ISO since 2015. Even if he shocks everyone with a first-round win, it's highly improbable that he'll have the endurance to win two more times to take the crown.

On the flip side, we're seeing some nice value on Kyle Schwarber, who crushes the field pretty much across the board in the above metrics, yet has the second-shortest odds behind back-to-back champ Pete Alonso. Outside of this field, Schwarber ranks fourth overall in barrels per plate appearance this season behind just Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Yordan Alvarez.

Even better, Schwarber faces one of the weakest first-round opponents in Pujols -- he's a -390 favorite in that matchup -- whereas Alonso will have to get by Acuna, who has far better underlying numbers than his low home run total would suggest.

Schwarber's implied odds are just 22.2%, which seems far too low for a guy who arguably deserves to be the favorite. Schwarber +350 to Win is the top overall pick.

Additionally, with the Phillies slugger arguably on the easier side of the draw against Pujols and possibly Ramirez, Schwarber +120 To Make the Final is an option if you don't want to mess with him potentially needing to defeat Alonso in the final. Under "Name the Finalists," you could also go with Kyle Schwarber v Pete Alonso +360.

If you're looking to back a longer shot, Julio Rodriguez could be a dark horse. In this field, Rodriguez ranks top-three in all of the above peripherals, and he compares favorably with Alonso and Acuna.

The difference is that those two will face each other in the first round, while Rodriguez gets an easier draw versus Corey Seager. In fact, despite being the lower seed, Rodriguez is a -170 favorite over Seager.

Of course, after that, Rodriguez will have a tough road against either Alonso or Acuna and then possibly Schwarber in the final, but Rodriguez +750 to Win isn't a bad price to take the plunge.