This baseball lineup could be worth $1 million


(Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

BetAmerica, a North Dakota based company, is offering a “Home Run Derby” contest online which allows participants to select a lineup of nine players for a $1 entry fee. If all nine players go yard, the entrant is said to win a $1 million prize.

We will let others debate the legality of such a contest, but at first blush the odds appear steep.

On average, Major League Baseball’s top power hitters go yard just about once every five game.  Thus, the odds of winning this contest are 1/5 ^ 9, or nearly one in two million.

With the contest paying a prize of $1 Million (rather than $2 Million), it allows for BetAmerica to enjoy a substantial expected return on investment.

It happens more often than you might think. On April 13 there was a season high of 41 players with a home run and there have been 42 days with at least 20 home run hitters. However, we are not limited to selecting average major league hitters. Instead, we can not only pick the best home run hitters in baseball, we can do so on days when they play in the more friendlier hitters parks. For example, home runs are hit much more frequently at Coors Field than any other ballpark, so selecting a good home run hitter playing in that park could help skew the odds in your favor.

Next, we will look for only home run hitters who hit home runs more often than once every five games.

Now for the tricky part: maximizing our chances nine of these batters hit a home run on the same day. One of those could be August 16, 2014.

The Rockies play at home, giving one of the league’s best home run hitters, Troy Tulowitzki, a great chance at going yard.


2014 Scatter Plot of Home Runs for Troy Tulowitzki (Source: ESPN)

The schedule also features the Toronto Blue Jays visiting US Cellular Field that day, giving us three sluggers — Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and Jose Abreu  - in a friendly hitter’s park. The Angels visit Globe Life Park in Arlington, putting Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in a great position to succeed.

Rounding out the bottom three of the million dollar lineup would be Milwaukee’s Mark Reynolds (47.7 percent flyball rate, 23.5 percent home-run-to-flyball ratio), Detroit’s Victor Martinez (13 home runs in 53 games) and the Dodger’s Yasiel Puig, who has a .618 slugging percentage and .271 isolated power.

So my lineup on Aug. 16, 2014 would be:

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Edwin Encarnacion
  3. Jose Bautista
  4. Jose Abreu
  5. Albert Pujols
  6. Mike Trout
  7. Mark Reynolds
  8. Yasiel Puig
  9. Victor Martinez
Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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