Monkey Knife Fight Home Run Derby:
Pittsburgh Pirates at Texas Rangers
The Pittsburgh Pirates travel to the Texas Rangers tonight, and the weather should be extremely beneficial to hitters. It is expected to be around 77 degrees with almost 20 MPH winds blowing toward right field. Texas is already a hitter-friendly ballpark, and with someone like Adrian Sampson on the mound for the Rangers, the Pittsburgh Pirates are a great team to target in the Monkey Knife Fight Home Run Derby contest. Sampson is allowing 2.0 HR/9, and his strikeouts per nine innings pitched are down at 5.8. He is allowing an average batted ball distance of 215 feet, his average exit velocity on those batted balls is 92 MPH, and his fly ball rate is 42%. Opposing him is Jordan Lyles for the Pirates, and he has a fly ball rate over 50%, so rostering the Rangers is also in play. Perhaps the most intriguing of options, despite his terrible start to the season as far as power is concerned, is Gregory Polanco. He has zero home runs so far this season, and his advanced statistics are slightly concerning considering his ground ball rate is at 50%. However, he showed impressive power last season, with an outstanding 52% of balls hit in play resulting in extra bases. That number is down to 17% this season, so either Polanco is not even close to fully recovered from his shoulder injury, or those numbers are going to bolster significantly, and probably soon. The Pirates would not allow Polanco into the lineup, if he didn’t seem fully healed, so a good guess would be the latter. The most obvious option, if attempting to secure a Pittsburgh Pirates’ home run, is Josh Bell. Bell has six home runs this season. His advanced statistics are solid, as he currently sports an average batted ball distance of 227 feet, an average exit velocity on those batted balls of 94 MPH, a 39% fly ball rate, and a hard hit rate of 39%, as well. He also enters tonight’s contest with positive ISO and wOBA differentials. Finally, it will be difficult for the Pirates to hit three home runs tonight, so pivot to Joey Gallo. Gallo has been a home run machine this season, and he has 3 in his last 10 games. His HR/AB is 0.086, and his average batted ball distance is an outstanding 280 feet. His fly ball rate is almost 50%, and his hard hit rate is over 60%. There are only a few players in the league right now doing it better than Gallo in terms of power production.
Recommended Batters: Gregory Polanco, Josh Bell, Joey Gallo
Home Run Prop Bet:
Gregory Polanco (TBA) – Pittsburgh Pirates – OF
Gregory Polanco is slowly, but surely, recovering from a shoulder injury. That injury has his power production down in the gutter right now, but that should change soon. He gets a great matchup tonight against the Texas Rangers and Adrian Sampson, as noted above, and his Vegas odds should be wide considering he has yet to land a ball in the seats this season. If Polanco has similar odds to either Josh Bell or Joey Gallo, use one of them instead, but that will not likely be the case.
This section will only be filled out if PrizePicks offers one of the above-mentioned home run prop bet recommendations. Unfortunately, they do not for tonight’s slate (as of time of posting).
*Odds are from MyBookie. They continually update available prop bets on their prop builder, so odds should be released closer to the start of the contests. If you do not see the recommended player available, he will likely become available later in the day, and odds will be updated in the article when that happens.*
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