There isn’t a lot for baseball fans to be happy about in Toronto. Since they are stuck in the toughest division in baseball, it is going to take a monumental rebuilding effort for the Blue Jays to ever become competitive with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays.
However, they may have at least one of the many needed building blocks in place—Vladimir Guerrero Jr., one of the most eagerly awaited prospects in recent years. Monday night he will become the youngest player ever to participate in the Home Run Derby.
While that distinction is nice, what fans really want to is whether he can win it. Anyone that feels they know the answer to that question can put money down on a prop bet at SportsInteraction.com:
- Will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. win the 2019 Home Run Derby?
o Yes +450
o No -1410
What that translates to is “Sure, he has a shot; just not a very big one (yes–18.18 percent; no—93.38 percent).”
With odds like that, it sounds like taking ‘No’ is certainly the way to go. You will not win much unless you wager a lot, but at least you will not lose. But before taking the ‘No,’ there are things worth considering first.
After tearing up the minors for the last few years, the Blue Jays were expected to either have him on the Opening Day roster where he belonged or starting the season in AAA so that he wouldn’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2025 season.
Sure enough, they waited until April 24 to call him up. Since then he has been a good player (.252 BA with eight home runs and 25 RBIs; slugging .422). It doesn’t sound like the profile of a power hitting home run machine. But few rookies start their careers hitting everything and cracking home run after home run out of the park.
In the nine games he played in AAA earlier this year he hit three home runs in 30 at-bats and had a slugging percentage of .700. Yes—he can crush the ball.
But what about the competition? The league has announced six guys including Guerrero:
- Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians: 18 home runs
- Pete Alonso, New York Mets: 28 home runs
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates: 25 home runs
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers: 31 home runs
- Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves: 20 home runs
So, yeah—just among those five, the competition looks pretty tough. However, there is something that will work in his favor—the curse.
It has been said over the years that the guys that really go all out to win the Derby end up going through a power drought in the second half of the season. The reason is more than just superstition; it is because guys adjust their swing in an effort to kill every ball.
Some guys (like Yelich and Acuna Jr.) may make a concerted effort not to adjust their swing to avoid the curse. But Santana, Alonso, and Bell will be less concerned.
Is it a bet worth taking? Eh—only if you are a Blue Jays fan. Yes, he is good, and he is capable. But there are other guys in the Derby with nothing to lose that are simply hitting better than him this season.