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Giancarlo Stanton, Mark Trumbo have top odds for 2016 Home Run Derby

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The two-year bracket format for the MLB Home Run Derby might lend itself to an improbable champion, if Todd Frazier’s triumph in 2015 is any indication.

The Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton and the Baltimore Orioles’ Mark Trumbo top the Home Run Derby odds board at +300 and +375, respectively, at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for Monday’s showdown at PETCO Park in San Diego.

It’s easy to see why. Players get an additional minute on top of their allotted five minutes if they hit two home runs that travel farther than 420 feet. Ten of Stanton’s 20 homers this season have traveled farther than 420 feet, and Trumbo also has 10 that have met that threshold. The two sluggers could potentially meet in the semifinal.

Wil Myers, of the hometown San Diego Padres, is listed at +550. The aforementioned Frazier is at +600, along with the Cincinnati Reds’ Adam Duvall, with the Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano (+1000), Colorado Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez (+800) and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager (+900) trailing on that baseball betting prop.

The timing rules make the Derby an endurance contest. And, of course, PETCO Park is MLB’s third most extreme pitcher-friendly stadium (according to parkfactors.com) thanks to its distant power alleys and the heavy sea air. However, an average of 2.24 HR/game have been hit there this season, in line with the National League’s 2.20 average.

As the MLB home run leader and top seed, Trumbo is the -175 favorite in his quarter-final against Seager, who is listed at +145. For whatever it is worth, Trumbo has only one home run in 12 career games at PETCO, but Seager has yet to homer in 49 career times at bat in San Diego.

Stanton has a -175 line to defeat Cano, who is listed at +135, in their matchup. Stanton’s average true distance of 421.8 feet on his homers is the longest of any player with at least 15 homers this season. Cano could have an edge in stamina, which helped win the Home Run Derby in 2011.

Myers, owing to the home-park factor, is listed at -150 against Duvall at +110. Myers has actually been beastlier at PETCO, with a 1.036 home OPS vs. .706 on the road. Duvall, a first-time all-star, will have to adapt from his hitter-friendly confines in Cincinnati.

The second-seeded Frazier is a mild -140 favorite against even-money Gonzalez. Back-to-back champions are rare; Yoenis Cespedes did it in 2013-14, but he was the first since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-99. Gonzalez averages 420.9 feet on his homers, second among players with at least 15. However, he has only six home runs in 192 career at-bats at PETCO Park.

The players are seeded based on their home run totals through July 6.

Dodgers Open World Series as Betting Favorites

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The Los Angeles Dodgers offer a better price at the start of this year’s World Series than last season’s favorite did, but value bettors could still be pushed toward the Houston Astros.

The Dodgers are the -170 betting favorite over the +150 underdog Astros on the World Series prices at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. While the Dodgers had Major League Baseball’s best regular-season record and are 7-1 in the postseason, the odds are closer to parity than they were on the eve of the 2016 World Series when the Chicago Cubs were listed at -190 with the Cleveland Indians coming back at +165.

And of course, those Cubs had to win Games 5, 6 and 7 to capture their first World Series title in 108 years.

The combination of being from America’s second-largest city and being in the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years is driving some big money toward the Dodgers. If one believes Houston can pull this off, it’s probably best to wait until close to the start of Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

Conversely, a Game 1 win would drive the Dodgers’ value down even farther. For example, they were a -190 favorite before the NLCS and came down to -290 after taking Game 1 against the Cubs.

The strong suit of the Astros’ lineup, which is led by 2B Jose Altuve, is that they can handle high-velocity fastballs in the strike zone. While the Dodgers bullpen has an earned-run average of 0.94 during the playoffs, power-armed relievers such as Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen might not fare as well at fogging high heat by hitters like they did in the NLDS and NLCS.

In a similar but different way, the Dodgers’ lineup isn’t vulnerable to Houston’s strongest suit. Justin Verlander, who will start Game 2 on Wednesday, and reliever Lance McCullers excel at making hitters chase breaking balls out of the strike zone, but 1B Cody Bellinger, 3B Justin Turner and the Dodgers hitters possess exceptional plate discipline and led the NL in bases on balls drawn. In other words, there’s a chance for some scoring battles.

Game 1 on Tuesday is an all-lefty matchup between Astros sinkerballer Dallas Keuchel and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers are a -165 Game 1 favorite with the Astros coming back at +155. The total is at 7 runs.

Houston is 19-8 in Keuchel starts this season, including 2-1 during the postseason. Since August 2016, the Astros are 14-3 when Keuchel starts on the road.

Los Angeles is 26-4 when Kershaw starts, including 3-0 during the postseason. The Dodgers are also 18-2 in the last 20 Kershaw starts where they were favored. The total has gone OVER in three of Kershaw’s last four starts at home.

With a heat wave expected to put the game-time temperature in the vicinity of 100 degrees on Tuesday, there’s a chance the ball could jump off hitters’ bats and pitchers might fatigue at a higher rate. That could favor OVER bettors.

One odd fact is that this is the fifth World Series between an American League team from the Central time zone and a National League team from the Pacific time zone. The NL team has won all four. None of the four was a sweep.

Dodgers, Indians are World Series favorites in MLB postseason

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Last October was a rare instance where the team with the best record in baseball won the World Series, which is something to keep in mind before laying the favorite.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the +300 favorite on the World Series odds as the MLB playoffs begin Tuesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Cleveland Indians (+350) are a close second favorite.

From there, the board spreads out to the teams with Division Series home-field advantage, the Houston Astros (+500) and Washington Nationals (+700), followed by the Boston Red Sox (+800) and defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs (+800).

Wild-card teams have won six of the last 22 World Series, while the top regular-season team has triumphed in only seven of the last 31. So there is potential to cash in early on the value of a wild-card team. The New York Yankees (+1400) stack up well against the Minnesota Twins (+2800) in the wild-card game. However, Aaron Judge, et al., fared poorly in their season series against both Cleveland and Houston.

The Arizona Diamondbacks (+1400), conversely, won the season series against the NL West rival Dodgers and might have the starting pitching and slugging prowess to take them out in a best-of-five NLDS. The Diamondbacks have to first get by the Colorado Rockies (+2800).

While MLB has not had a team repeat as World Series champions since 2000, teams that make a World Series seem more apt to do it again, regardless of what happened in the regular season (see the San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014). The Cubs, who have had their act together since the all-star break, are well-priced at 8/1.

It could well be that this is the year the Dodgers, five-time NL West champions, figure it out. But of the top seeds in each league, Cleveland played better in the second half and has lights-out pitching on the front end through the likes of Corey Kluber and on the back end with Cody Allen and lefty Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

As far as the wild-card matchups go, the Yankees (-235) are heavily favored against the Twins (+200), with a 7.5-run total in Tuesday’s AL wild-card game Yankees RHP Luis Severino is MLB’s hardest-throwing starter this season and the Twins are not a team of fastball hitters. Severino has limited batters to a .207/.265/.362 slash line (batting average, on-base and slugging percentage) this season at Yankee Stadium.

Twins RHP Ervin Santana also has a lifetime 6.43 earned run average in six games at Yankee Stadium, while allowing a .310/.379/.486 slash line.

The Yankees, with the likes of RHP Dellin Betances and LHP Aroldis Chapman, possess a deeper bullpen than the Twins. The total has gone under in five of Twins’ last seven road games against the Yankees.

The Diamondbacks (-166) are favored against the Rockies (+156) with an 8.5-run total in Wednesday’s NL wild-card game. Arizona is likely to start ace RHP Zack Greinke, who held the Rockies to a .229/.241/.435 slash line in five starts this season.

The Rockies’ presumptive starter, Jon Gray, is MLB’s second-hardest throwing starter. That could end up being in Arizona’s wheelhouse since power threats such as 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Mike Lamb and RF J.D. Martinez make them one of baseball’s best teams at hitting against high velocity. If Arizona has a fatal flaw, it’s that closer Fernando Rodney has been human at home this season.

Arizona is 7-2 straight-up in its last nine games against the Rockies. The total has gone under in four of these teams’ last six games at Chase Field.