The return of the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game after a year without either event is exciting enough. Add in that this season’s Home Run Derby will take place in the thin air of Denver’s Coors Field with long-ball specialists including Shohei Ohtani, Joey Gallo and Pete Alonso highlighting the field and, well, tonight is going to be a whole lot of fun.
To celebrate the midsummer festivities, we asked ESPN MLB experts Alden Gonzalez, Buster Olney, Jeff Passan, Jesse Rogers and David Schoenfield to predict everything from who will hit the longest home run of the entire derby to who will provide the moment we’re all talking about Monday night to which team will come out victorious in the Midsummer Classic and which matchup they want to see most.
Check out our predictions ahead of Monday night’s fun and come back for live updates during the Home Run Derby and our biggest takeaways after a long ball king is crowned in Denver.
Who is going to win the Home Run Derby?
Passan: Ohtani. A mea culpa.
Schoenfield: What, you want me to bet against Ohtani? No way.
Olney: Alonso. He won in 2019 despite the fact his cousin was really, really nervous and struggled to throw strikes. Now he’s got bench coach Dave Jauss throwing to him — and you could see him getting on an incredible roll.
Rogers: Gallo. He finished the first half with 11 home runs in his final 12 games. He’ll carry that over to the derby.
Gonzalez: I’m going to go way against the grain here and pick Trevor Story. He knows this park well, obviously, and has actually averaged a greater distance on home runs than Ohtani. (Yes, on 21 fewer home runs. And he plays half his games at Coors Field. But come on — work with me here.) More to the point, it would just be a cool moment for a Colorado Rockies fan base that is still mourning the departure of Nolan Arenado and will soon do the same for Story.
Who will hit the longest home run of the night and how far?
Passan: Joey Gallo, 533 feet.
Schoenfield: While Ohtani has certainly hit a few tape-measure shots this season, I’m going with Gallo as well. He hit a career-long 495-foot home run in 2018, and since 2017 he and Giancarlo Stanton are tied with 16 home runs of at least 450 feet. Now, factor in the Coors Field altitude and I’m going with a 529-foot blast.
Olney: Ohtani. Moon shot; I’ll say 586 feet, in honor of Frank Robinson, who hit that many homers in his career.
Gonzalez: This is Ohtani, without question. Mike Trout believes he might “leave the stadium,” which sounds impossible given how far and how high the Coors Field roof is in right field. But this is Ohtani … at Coors Field … without the humidor … hitting baseballs that will probably be wound very tight. I’ll go with 515 feet.
Rogers: Ohtani will launch one onto the Rocky Mountains early in the contest. It’ll go 509 feet.
What will be the one moment we’re all talking about long after this Home Run Derby ends?
Olney: Something that Ohtani does — whether he wins or loses or wrecks the upper deck in Coors Field.
Passan: Ohtani is going to have a round for the ages. While the format for the Derby might make it such that he doesn’t win the whole thing, he’s going to do in 2021 what Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did in 2019.
Schoenfield: Ohtani beats Alonso 23-22 in the second round, including one stretch of five straight 450-foot home runs that sends Coors Field into a frenzy.
Gonzalez: I think Ohtani will be the story here, but I also think Gallo is going to get hot and put together an epic round at some point. Gallo wouldn’t face Ohtani until the final, and that would be a really fun pairing.
Rogers: I agree with Jeff. Early on, Ohtani is going to go off and hit like 10 straight pitches out. We might not see him in the finals, but we’ll be talking about that first round.
Who will win Tuesday’s All-Star Game and by what score?
Schoenfield: American League wins 11-10 as the hitters go wild and match the 21 runs scored in the 1998 All-Star Game at Coors.
Passan: National League, 3-2.
Gonzalez: I agree with Dave. Let’s go with the American League winning by a 13-8 score. More importantly: Offense has increased over these past few weeks, partly because of Major League Baseball’s crackdown on foreign substances, and that will reach another level in this environment.
Olney: The American League will push its winning streak to eight; I’ll say 7-3.
Rogers: The NL is stacked on the mound. They win 7-3.
Who is your All-Star Game MVP pick?
Olney: Everybody will be looking for a reason for Ohtani to be the MVP, which will be an advantage going into the night — and let’s face it, he’ll get more chances to do damage than anybody else, on the mound and at the plate. The math says: Ohtani.
Schoenfield: Rafael Devers goes 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and four RBIs.
Passan: Fernando Tatis Jr.
Gonzalez: Guerrero records three hits, two of which go for extra bases, and paces the AL.
Rogers: Nick Castellanos. Why? Because he’s the type of player who wants to be the All-Star MVP. That’s good enough for me.
What’s the one All-Star Game matchup you are most excited to see?
Schoenfield: Well, it would have been Ohtani batting against Jacob deGrom, but deGrom won’t be pitching, so let’s go with whatever inning Ohtani pitches. Hopefully it will be early in the game when the NL starters are still in, because I’d love to see him face Tatis and fire a few 100 mph fastballs.
Olney: Tatis against Ohtani. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’ll be the swaggiest matchup in All-Star Game history.
Gonzalez: I am really hoping we see Ohtani face Tatis, as they’re arguably two of the most dynamic, fascinating players in the sport. I’m also interested in seeing just how Ohtani responds to potentially pitching in this game. He’d probably do so in relief, something he isn’t really accustomed to, and will have to find time to warm up at some point between innings. Simply watching him walk out to the bullpen would be a cool moment.
Rogers: I’ll take Aroldis Chapman vs Tatis with the game on the line, please. Tatis wins that battle.