MLB Home Run Derby odds boil down to Stanton, Judge

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The combination of a home ballpark and being the only returning power hitter in the field has put Giancarlo Stanton atop the MLB Home Run Derby futures board – albeit barely.

Defending champion Stanton, of the hometown Miami Marlins, is listed as a +165 betting favorite to capture MLB’s annual contest of clout at Marlins Park on Monday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

New York Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge, who has an MLB-best 30 home runs and is threatening to take down Mark McGwire’s rookie record, is listed right behind at +175. By virtue of having had more home runs on June 15, Stanton is the No. 1 seed, whereas Judge is No. 2.

Eight players will be participating in a bracket-style timed event, where each player has four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. Hitters get another 30 seconds if they hit two home runs measured at more than 440 feet.

Stanton, who bashed 61 big flies during the 2016 contest at San Diego’s Petco Park, will try to become just the third repeat champion and third player to win in his home park. Judge will try to be the first rookie to win since 1986.

Either player is a worthy play, but there’s far, far greater value in picking one of the darkhorses. For the quarter-finals, Staton faces that other Yankees rookie, Gary Sanchez (+1400 to win). Sanchez has the longest average home-run distance in the field (422 feet to Judge’s 415 and Stanton’s 410) and could be an early bracket-buster. Upsetting Stanton would throw the field wide-open.

The Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano (+1000) and Kansas City Royals’ Mike Moustakas (+1400) meet in the other quarter-final in the “Stanton region” of the bracket. Sano (average home run distance of 414 feet) should also be considered a darkhorse.

Judge faces the other Marlins representative, Justin Bour (+1400), in his quarter-final. Bour has an average home-run distance of 398 feet – tied with Moustakas for lowest in the field – and might be a bit of a sacrificial lamb up against Judge.

Meantime, Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger (+900 on the 2017 Home Run Derby odds) and the Colorado Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon (+2000) meet in an all-NL West quarter-final. Bellinger has enlisted his father Clay Bellinger as his pitcher and will be the fourth competitor to have his dad serving up meatballs. One of the other three (Robinson Cano in 2011) won and another (Bryce Harper in 2015) was runner-up.

Blackmon, meantime, faces a potential Bellinger-Judge tag team just to make the final, so his high price is probably a red herring.

New York Yankees underdogs at Boston Red Sox in opener of series between rivals

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The relative health of each AL East rival’s lineup could lead to some betting trends being reversed when the New York Yankees pay their first visit of the season to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are the -127 betting favorite against the +107 underdog Yankees with an 8-run total in the matchup for the series opener on Tuesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Boston is 8-2 straight-up over its last 10 home games in April and 9-4 over its last 13 home games against division opponents, according to the OddsShark MLB Database. The Yankees are also just 2-8 in their last 10 road games against Boston as the underdog.

That being said, Boston might have some injury-related MIAs with 2B Dustin Pedroia (ankle/knee) and 3B Pablo Sandoval (knee) both considered questionable. Super-utility player Brock Holt (vertigo) is also sidelined. It’s doubtful the Yankees are going to have any sympathy as they labor on without SS Didi Gregorius (shoulder) and C-DH Gary Sanchez (biceps).

Tuesday’s pitching matchup includes two righty power arms, with the Yankees’ Luis Severino facing the Red Sox’s Rick Porcello. Severino is coming off back-to-back double-digit strikeout efforts and will be seeking his first career win at Fenway Park.

The total has gone under in all three of Severino’s career starts against Boston. The total has gone under in seven of Porcello’s last 10 starts against the Yankees.

Righty Masahiro Tanaka is the Yankees’ scheduled starter on Wednesday, while Chris Sale will face New York for the first time since his off-season trade from Chicago.

In his most recent start, Tanaka had excellent command of his signature split-finger fastball. Although the total has gone over in seven of Tanaka’s last 10 starts against Boston, head-to-head he’s done well against Red Sox hitters such as Xander Bogaerts (.222 lifetime), Mookie Betts (.167), Hanley Ramirez (.154), and Jackie Bradley Jr. (.118).

Sale has had 10 or more strikeouts in three consecutive starts and the total has yet to be higher than five in any of his outings.

An all-lefty matchup is on tap for Thursday, with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia opposite Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. Sabathia has a poor career record at Fenway Park (5.25 ERA in 16 starts), but the total has gone under in eight of the lefthander’s last 10 starts against Boston.

Pomeranz has had trouble being efficient and going deep into games this season. The total has gone under in three of Pomeranz’s four career starts against the Yankees at online sports betting sites.

Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox stay even on 2017 World Series odds

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Timing will be everything if one is inclined to bet on either the Boston Red Sox or the Chicago Cubs to win the 2017 World Series, due to the effect of big-market bandwagon fandom.

With Opening Day just more than a week away, the Cubs and Red Sox are each listed at +450 on the odds to win the World Series at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

There’s a chance the odds might not get more high-yield once the season starts. With their giant fanbases in the Midwest and New England, both will draw plenty of betting action and odds could fall closer to even money if either has a hot start in April. The teams were both also listed at +450 at the outset of spring training.

The Cubs, who are also +175 to win the National League Pennant, have a nucleus of young stars – 3B Kris Bryant, 2B Javier Baez, SS Addison Russell, 1B Anthony Rizzo – who might stay together for several seasons. The big variable, as always, is the health and performance of the pitching staff; the Cubs are looking for a bounce-back from new closer Wade Davis.

The Red Sox, after three years of regenerating since their 2013 World Series win, have added ace LHP Chris Sale to their rotation and have their own cohort of young offensive stars such as SS Xander Bogaerts and RF Mookie Betts.

Boston has to replace the run production of retired DH David Ortiz, but are a solid choice given that they are the AL East team which is most in win-now mode. The Toronto Blue Jays (+2200) might have missed their window, while the New York Yankees (+2500) are still a year away from their peak.

The upside of the Cubs and Red Sox being so highly touted is that it might inflate prices on other teams – and hey, postseason baseball is a wide-open game. The Cleveland Indians (+900), who were one win away last season and added RBI machine Edwin Encarnacion, still have an excellent shot at getting back to the postseason.

The National League’s other teams in major markets, the Los Angeles Dodgers (+1000), San Francisco Dodgers (+1100) and New York Mets (+1400), have all come down slightly in price since mid-February. All three certainly have the pitching to make a run in October, but perhaps not the balanced lineup.

One team whose odds has been surprisingly static since the winter meetings in October is the Houston Astros (+1400), who have one of the game’s most offensively prolific double-play combos with Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. The Astros’ late-season stumbles of the past two years might be a fixed reference point for many baseball fans, but they have been following the model of slow-growing their prospects over a period of several years.