Home-field advantage in the World Series will be on the line Tuesday night when the American League takes on the National League in the 2014 All-Star Game, which features the tightest odds in recent memory. The AL is favored by the slimmest of margins at some books monitored by OddsShark.com and as perfect even odds at others.
Before the All-Star Game, however, 10 batters will head to the batter's box to try to win the Home Run Derby. Let's take a look at their chances.
Home Run Derby
Defending champion Yoenis Cespedes is going off at 9/2 to keep his title in the derby. Cespedes only has 14 home runs on the season this year, but his 32 in last year's event are tied for third most all-time in a single derby.
The favorite to win this year's Home Run Derby is Giancarlo Stanton at 5/2, who is tied with Troy Tulowitzki for the NL lead in home runs with 21. Stanton's raw power makes him a natural fit for this competition, as he should be able to crush moonshots all day with soft pitching. Tulowitzki looks like a nice value bet at 7/1, reaching his 21 home runs in 43 fewer at-bats than Stanton this season.
The other contenders are Jose Bautista (5/1), Yasiel Puig (11/2), Josh Donaldson (10/1), Adam Jones (12/1), Todd Frazier (14/1), Brian Dozier (15/1) and Justin Morneau (16/1).
The All-Star Game is a virtual pick'em, with the AL favored slightly on the money line at 25/27 over the NL at 50/51. On the run line, the AL is surrendering the -1.5 at 37/20, with the NL +1.5 paying 4/9. The total for the game is set at eight runs.
Unlike in other sports, where offense tends to reign supreme in the All-Star Game, pitching has had the upper hand in the MLB in recent years. Eight or fewer runs have been scored in each of the last six All-Star Games, including last year's 3-0 win by the AL. All eight games rewarded under bettors, according to the All-Star Game chart at OddsShark.com.
The AL's win last year was its first since 2009. The NL had won the previous three years, defeating the AL 3-1 in 2010, 5-1 in 2011 and 8-0 in 2012. From 1988 to 2009, the AL went 18-3-1 with a 12-0-1 record from July 1997 to 2009.
There are plenty of great prop betting options available for bettors looking for more action on the game than just the winner and the total. “Race To” prop bets allow bettors to wager on which team will reach a certain amount of runs first. For example, the “Race to 4” prop line is set at NL first to four at 17/10, AL first to four at 23/10 and neither team to four at 14/5. Races to two through seven are all available.
Other props include first team to score (NL 5/8, AL 13/10), last team to score (NL 10/11, AL 5/6) and even the first home run of the game: A solo shot (20/21), a two-run home run (12/5), a three-run home run (8/1), a grand slam (50/1) or no home runs being hit at all at 11/4.