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2022 MLB Home Run Derby: Eight Players Who Absolutely Should Be In It

With just under two weeks until the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby, we still are unsure of the participants. So, if we could set our ideal field, who would it be? These are the top eight candidates for the perfect Home Run Derby.
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2022 MLB Home Run Derby: Eight Players Who Absolutely Should Be In It

The day is drawing closer to the announcement of the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby participants. We know in years past that many top home run hitters declined an invitation to the event. But if we could set our ideal field, who would it be? These are the top eight candidates to put on the perfect Home Run Derby.

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8 Players Who Should Be In the 2022 MLB Home Run Derby

Aaron Judge (29 Home Runs, 30.8 xHR*)

How can you make this list but not include the major league leader, whose 60-homer pace is actually behind where his expected home runs say he should be? Yankee fans are clamoring to see if Judge can break Roger Maris' club record of 61 home runs in 1961. Right now, Judge has a real shot to break that mark, and he is the most feared man in the batter's box for any pitcher this season. He ranks first in barrels per plate appearance (Brl/PA), and his average home run distance is now over 400 feet this season.

Yordan Alvarez (25 Home Runs, 21.1 xHR)

No one in baseball has a higher slugging percentage over the last 30 days than Alvarez, whose .747 rate is 30 points higher than the next-closest player. His nine home runs in that span rank third, and he has now set himself up for a collision course with Aaron Judge for the American League MVP. His xHR shows that he benefits from a short left-field porch at Minute Maid Park thanks to his unmatched opposite-field power. But he ranks in the 100th percentile for his hard-hit rate and leads the league in average exit velocity.

Pete Alonso (22 Home Runs, 21.2 xHR)

After a "down" 2021 where he hit just 37 home runs, Alonso is right back on pace to hit 45 this season after an incredible 53 bombs in his rookie season of 2019. In addition to the home run pace, he is also on pace for 140 RBI and a .537 slugging percentage. Alonso is also now a top-20 player in Brl/PA, which allows him to keep his homer total up even though he plays in a park that is just barely at league average at allowing home runs.

Kyle Schwarber (25 Home Runs, 25 xHR)

Only two players in the major leagues have an average hit distance of 200+ feet and an average home run distance of 400+ feet: Mike Trout and Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber now leads the National League in homers by three over Alonso, and he is now top-10 in average exit velocity for his batted balls this year. Schwarber has also led the majors in home runs since the beginning of June.

Click Here to See the Latest Odds on Who Will Lead MLB in HRs

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Byron Buxton (22 Home Runs, 21 xHR)

If you are looking for incredibly long and majestic home runs for your Home Run Derby, then Byron Buxton is likely your man. He has the third-longest homer this season (469 feet) and averages more than 410 feet per blast. With 22 long-balls already, Buxton has passed his career-high set last year with 19. Assuming good health, Buxton is a lock to register 40 home runs, and he has a knack for huge home runs in clutch spots. The other thing that Buxton brings to the table is the dynamic energy that is desperately needed in our Home Run Derbies.

Shohei Ohtani (18 Home Runs, 19 xHR)

We should find a way - any way - to get Shohei Ohtani and his sweet left-handed swing into the Home Run Derby this year. He has the Ichiro Suzuki-Ken Griffey, Jr. combination that combines a perfect swing with unbelievable power. Ohtani has a batted ball the season that traveled at 119.1 miles per hour, the second-fastest recorded hit this year. It all adds up to the 13th-highest average exit velocity in the majors this season (92.9 mph). Ohtani is a talent unlike any major league baseball has ever seen, and these types of events are the perfect venue to put a star like him on display.

Giancarlo Stanton (20 Home Runs, 22.3 xHR)

Stanton is only 0.1 miles per hour behind Yordan Alvarez for the highest average exit velocity this season. He ranks second in the league in barrels per batted ball event and first in the "wow, look how fast that got out!" reactions. In terms of pure raw power, Stanton has been the league leader for a number of years. And while Alvarez may be close to taking that crown away, it's clear Stanton is still one of the most dangerous hitters in our game, even at almost 33 years old.

Oneil Cruz (3 Home Runs, 3.2 xHR)

A rookie with just three homers and only 13 games played in the Home Run Derby? Well, if you want the best home run show, Cruz should certainly get in. As Baseball Savant points out, only 0.01% of baseballs hit since 2015 have traveled more than 118 miles per hour. Cruz hit one in the first major league game of his career. He hits the ball HARD and would put on quite a show if you gave him a derby in a park with a short right-field porch. The experience may be lacking, but the power certainly is not.

xHR are expected Home Runs as defined by Baseball Savant.

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NBANFL

Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.

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