Last year’s Home Run Derby was among the more memorable in recent history. The Yankees in particular had a pair of sluggers, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, on either side of the bracket. Giancarlo Stanton was the reigning champion in the event and was defending his title at what was then his home park.
Judge, of course, put on an absolute show. His prodigious power has no trouble playing in real games, so it obviously was stellar in what’s akin to a nationally televised session of competitive batting practice. Judge made staggering, jaw-dropping, all-fields power look mind-blowingly simple.
It will be hard for this year’s Derby to top that. Judge and Stanton aren’t participating, and Sanchez is on the shelf with a groin injury. The bracket still features pop, but not quite the kind of awe-inspiring strength that the likes of Stanton and Judge entail.
Here’s the lineup:
Bryce Harper will be the favorite on his home turf in the nation’s capital. This will be Harper’s second try at the Home Run Derby crown, after he finished second to Yoenis Cespedes back in 2013. Kyle Schwarber is the second favorite, while the relatively diminutive Alex Bregman has the longest odds.
The full odds, courtesy of Bovada, are as follows:
Bryce Harper +225
Kyle Schwarber +350
Javier Baez +500
Jesus Aguilar +500
Max Muncy +650
Freddie Freeman +750
Rhys Hoskins +900
Alex Bregman +1000
There’s a decent balance to this lineup. Harper is a quality favorite, while the likes of Muncy and Aguilar bring interesting stories to the table as surprising late-bloomers. Schwarber has huge raw power, and Baez is one of the game’s more visually exciting players. Again, none of them are Judge or Stanton, but there’s intrigue nonetheless.
The Derby starts at 8:00 ET and airs on ESPN. Even if the Yankees are absent, it should still be a good time.