It is time to see some dingers, as Luis Robert Jr. and Adley Rutschman face off in the first round of this year's Home Run Derby. It is time to continue our MLB odds series with a special round one Robert Jr – Rutschman prediction, pick, and how-to-watch.
Luis Robert Jr. enters the night as the one seed in the tournament bracket, but not the overall favorite, sitting third in odds. The Chicago White Sox's young centerfielder has hit 26 home runs on the season, which is tied for third in the majors. His career-best heading into the season was just 13 home runs, and that has long been bested. While the White Sox are not having the best year, Robert Jr. is looking to give Chicago fans a win on Monday night in the home run derby.
His first challenge will be the Catcher from the Baltimore Orioles, Adley Rutschman. The eighth seed comes into the tournament with just 12 home runs on the season. The eighth seed has won this match-up before. Last year it was Albert Pujols winning over Kyle Schwarber. The last time the one seed beat the eight seed was Mark Trumbo took out Corey Seager in 2016. Can Rutschman keep the streak going for the underdogs?
Here are the Robert Jr-Rutschman MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Home Run Derby Odds: Robert Jr-Rutschman Odds
Luis Robert Jr.: -250
Aldey Rutschman: +198
How To Watch Robert Jr. vs. Rutschman
Time: 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PT
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Why Luis Robert Jr Could Win
Luis Robert Jr. has an effortless swing that has the ball travel far. He has launched a home run 450 feet this year, doing that onl July 4th against Chris Bassitt. Being on a bad team does not hurt either. Last year Juan Soto won the derby for the Nationals, who were dreadful. It all comes down to the right situation and getting in the right rythym to win any given round.
Robert Jr. is also hitting hot right now. He is second in the American League behind Shohei Ohtani for home runs because he has hit nine of them since June 15th. He has been on a roll as of late, and his hard hit ball rate has been amazing. To get the win tonight, Robert Jr. will either have to figure out how to go the opposite field or have a very heavy pull.
According to BallPark Pal, T-Mobile park is one of the hardest to hit home runs in with its dimensions. That is a good think for Robert who can slug the ball beyond many of those dimensions. The negaitve thing is where the easiest parts in the ballpark to hit home runs are. The two easiest slots are both in right field with the other major zone just right of center field. This means for a right handed bat, he would have to push the ball. Robert has done that just 16% of the time this year.
There is a good slot down the left-field line though. It is not a hard angel off the left field foul pole that sits at 331 feet away. While it is not ideal, Robert is more of a pull hitter and may need to be hitting those zones. The biggest issue for Robert tonight, that the hardest part of the ballpark to hit a home run, is where he has hit the majority of his on the year.
Why Aldey Rutschman Could Win
Rutschman has also hit dome deep bombs this year. He has a 461 footer back on July 9th, which gives him one of the longest home runs among derby participants this year. He has also sent one off the catwalk in Tampa Bay. One good thing for Adley Rutschman can bat left-handed. That is huge for Rutschman. At night at T-Mobile park, according to StatCast, the home run factor for lefties is 110. It is only 98 for righties. To give context, a day time game at Coors Field is a 108.
The problem for Rutschman is where he is hitting the ball. Seven of his 11 home runs this year have been hits to left field or left center. The left center is one of the least fiedly spots in this ballpark. Even more, Rutschman is a spray hitter. Typically those do not fair well in home run derby.
The biggest issue for Rutschman is that he is a switch hitting catcher. The last catcher to play in the derby was Salvador Perez, who lost to Pete Alonso in the first round. Only Gary Sanchez has made it out of the first round as a catcher since 2015, the first year of this format. Even more, switch hitters have not done great in this event, and a switch hitter has never won the derby.
Final Robert Jr – Rutschman Prediction & Pick
While the eighth seed has knocked off the one in each of the last five years, it may not happen again this year. Robert Jr. is not the best setup for dingers at T-Mobile Park, but he is better home run hitter than Rutschman. Rutschman would have to get into a great rythym to take the win in this one. It will not be happening, as he hits just 11 home runs and loses in the first round.
Final Home Run Derby Robert Jr. – Rutschman Prediction & Pick: Robert Jr. -250