If there’s one event during the break other than the All-Star Game that baseball fans look forward to it’s the Home Run Derby. This year, there will be new rules added to make the Home Run Derby more interesting by featuring a bracket system.
The format for the tournament will have the eight players numbered 1-8. The players will be seeded based on their home run total as of July 7. In the event of a tie, the players will be numbered according to how many home runs they have hit since June 15 followed by a coin flip, if necessary.
Instead of a set number of outs, each player will get five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The eight players will be organized in a single-elimination bracket and will last three rounds. A running clock will begin once the first pitch is thrown and will stop for any home run hit during the final minute. The clock will stop immediately after those home run balls land and will not begin again until a non-home run ball lands or the batter swings and misses.
Hitters will also be awarded bonus time for showcasing extra pop on their swings. Contestants will also receive an additional minute of swings if they hit home runs projected to land 420 feet during a single turn, as well as another 30 seconds if they hit a ball 475 feet. To measure the home run distances, MLB will be using Statcast.
As for the event, if there are no head-to-head ties, the two batters will compete in a 90-second swing-off during which the clock will not stop and no bonus time will be awarded. The player with the most home runs after the 90 seconds will advance to the next round. In addition, any round will end immediately when the second hitter passes the first hitter’s home run total.
The bracket format is one of the main things that will make the Home Run Derby interesting. Not everyone will like the bracket system because it could cause a favorite player to get eliminated for having a bad round. The new rules will also keep batters from wasting pitches waiting for the right one to be thrown.
This year’s contestants are: Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, Prince Fielder, Todd Frazier, Albert Pujols, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rizzo.
It will be interesting to see how the Home Run Derby plays out for players and fans under the new rules.