With the legalization of sports betting across the United States, tonight’s MLB Home Run Derby could give the industry a glimpse of how big this whole turnover could actually be.
In the past, certain sportsbooks and off-shore markets have offered odds on events such as this same event and the NBA’s Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests. Heck, even the NFL offers betting odds on the Pro Bowl. In recent years, Daily Fantasy Sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have also offered contests where customers can choose a number of players from the game and play it like it’s a normal NFL Sunday.
Since the Home Run Derby is the only baseball competition on the board tonight, everyday bettors will likely turn here as their choice of fix. And why wouldn’t they?
The Home Run Derby has plenty of drama and excitement, especially in years previous, since adopting the four-minute clock and doing away with the 10-out format. It is literally people crushing baseballs against time. What’s not to love?
Now that sports betting has its footprint in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we can probably expect Mets fans to place a huge number of bets on rookie slugger Pete Alonso and Pirates fans to do the same with Josh Bell. Interestingly enough, it’s no coincidence that those two players have the highest odds (according to FanDuel Sportsbook) of anyone to win the event – Alonso: +350, Bell: +400.
Not Much Star Power
As for star power in the Home Run Derby, that is certainly lacking this year. Sure, you’ve got exciting rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the mix, at +450 odds to win.
But then you’ve got Joc Pederson (+600), Matt Chapman (+850), Alex Bregman (+950), Carlos Santana (+950) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (+950). Are they really bringing the masses to their TV screens? In previous years, the answer would be a resounding “no,” but the legalization of sports betting will do nothing but help the TV ratings for this year’s event.
Christian Yelich, who leads MLB in homers before the All-Star break, would have been a fascinating watch. However, the sweet-swinging lefty pulled out of the event at the last minute due to a nagging back injury.
The 2019 MLB Home Run Derby will take place at Cleveland’s Progressive Field at 8 pm EST. It’s not like this venue has glorious waterfalls or other notable landmarks to entice fans in either, but the area above the elevated left-field wall has a spacious standing-room-only area. Perhaps, we’ll see some fan-on-fan jostling (safely, of course) for loose baseballs.
Be assured that all of the professional sports executives will have their eyes on tonight’s event, taking notes on how they could possibly maximize profits for their respective leagues during their All-Star period.
As mentioned, the NFL and NBA have already come up with creative ways to turn a profit during their All-Star gatherings. Tonight, we’ll see MLB enter into a new stratosphere, thanks to legalized sports betting.