Updated: July 9, 8:05 PM ET
Home Run Derby preview
By Rico Longoria and David Schoenfield
|Sammy Sosa is back to defend his title. Maybe Barry Bonds can end his home-run slump -- he hasn't hit one out his last 13 games. Alex Rodriguez will participate too, boos and all. Yes, it's Home Run Derby time and ESPN.com has surveyed experts and insiders, we've talked to hardcore analysts and investigated the numbers with a magnifying glass, all to figure out who will win the Derby.
So, we present the odds, but we do not advocate betting on sporting events. That's bad for you.
Home runs: 25
Home run rate: one HR every 13.56 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 7/18
Best month: May (10)
In July: 2
No one is really noticing because of the Rangers' horrible pitching, but A-Rod is on his way to hitting 40 homers and driving in 100 runs for the fourth straight season and is likely to finish in the AL top 10 in OPS and slugging percentage. The good folks in Seattle will surely make it plenty hard for A-Rod to concentrate tonight, but we still like him to be in contention right up to the end. Personally, we think Rodriguez will be jacked up to show the Mariners faithful what they're missing.
Odds: 3-1. Falls to 4-1 if he is showered with funny money while hitting. Barry Bonds
Home runs: 39
Home run rate: one HR every 6.64 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 8/31
Best month: May (17)
In July: 0
Do we smell a slump-buster? Barry hasn't hit a dinger in his last 13 games and is the only player in the Derby without a long ball in the month of July, so maybe a good showing here will help Bonds regain his power stroke. But we all know he's not just a hacker, as evidenced by his league-leading 88 walks (21 ahead of Sammy Sosa), his .305 average and an out-of-this-world 1.314 OPS. And don't forget that Barry outdueled Big Mac in the '96 Derby, so he knows how to win these things.
Odds:5-1. Down to 7-1 if he doesn't wear his cap backwards. Luis Gonzalez
Home runs: 35
Home run rate: one HR every 9.43 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 9/26
Best month: April (13)
In July: 3
The only guy within sight of Bonds in the home run race will also be doing battle with him in the Home Run Derby. Gonzalez has come out of nowhere (Houston and Detroit, actually) to lead the National League in total bases and RBI this season, and is on pace to break Babe Ruth's 80-year-old record of 457 total bases. He's not a natural home run hitter, though, so we see him struggling in spacious Safeco Field.
Odds:10-1. Rises to 8-1 if his wife and the triplets are in the house. Troy Glaus
Home runs: 22
Home run rate: one HR every 14.55 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 7/15
Best month:May (8)
In July: 1
Glaus led the AL with 47 round-trippers last season and is on pace to top 40 again in 2001. His average has hovered around .250, though, and Anaheim has struggled to score runs this season (12th in the AL with 374). And you can bet he's thanking his lucky stars that Cal Ripken beat out David Bell in the voting at 3B, or else Glaus might be watching this thing from home. But Glaus has a swing built for power, so if he gets hot he may sneak up on the field like Jeromy Burnitz did back in '99. Odds:12-1. Up to 10-1 if anyone mentions Bell's name. Todd Helton
Home runs: 26
Home run rate: one HR every 12.12 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 3/23
Best month: May (9)
In July: 1
Helton is tied for the league lead with 84 RBI, is fifth with 26 HR and is batting .314, but he might not even be the best hitter on his own team. Larry Walker may own that distinction this season, but we can't forget that Helton hit over .370 with 42 bombs last year. The air is thicker in Seattle than in Denver, however, and the Coors Field advantage won't apply at Safeco.
Odds:20-1. Shoots to 15-1 if he trades the Coors Light for some of that famous Seattle java. Jason Giambi
Home runs: 19
Home run rate: one HR every 14.89 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 5/14
Best month: May (7)
In July: 0
A late addition for Manny Ramirez, Giambi isn't a stranger to hitting the longball. Last year, he hit 43 dingers and capped off the season by being named the AL MVP. He's again having another big season, but his 19 homers are the fewest of all the eight contestants in this year's Derby.
Odds: 25-1. Once he realizes he's not in the spacious Oakland Coliseum his odds race up to 15-1. Hopefully, he realizes it fast. Bret Boone
Home runs: 22
Home run rate: one HR every 15.45 at-bats
vs. LH/RH: 8/14
Best month: June (10)
In July: 3
Bret Boone? That's right, an off-season spent in the weight room is responsible for this year's most unlikely Derby entry. Boone's 22 homers entering the All-Star break are just two shy of his career-high and his 84 RBI are only 11 short of his career-best. He'll definitely be the hometown favorite, but he doesn't have a pure power stroke and will probably have a tougher time than the rest with Safeco's big dimensions. Hey, at least he'll get the biggest cheer.
Odds:30-1. His chances are improved only if everyone else drops out.