No matter how casual or die hard a baseball fan you are, this week is one of the most exciting in the sport with the Home Run Derby came before the All-Star Game which will take place Tuesday, July 15. This year there was a new format for the Home Run Derby to mix it up a bit. Watch the video above to see some highlights of last year’s derby.
One thing that stayed the same is participants in the derby swung for the heavens with the intent of hitting as many baseballs as far as they possibly can out of Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here’s what you need to know about the contest and what went down this year:
1. Yoenis Cespedes Became the First Back to Back Derby Winner Since 1999
Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hit 17 homeruns in Round 1, 6 in Round 2, and 9 in round 3 to win the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field last year. Watch the video above to see highlights of his home runs.
He won 9-1 in the final round against Todd Frazier to mark the second winner in history to win back-to-back Home Run Derby next to Ken Griffey Jr.
Cespedes totaled 30 home runs in this year’s derby. Two of the hits were fur to a tiebreaker round since he started out the contest slow. He quickly gained momentum and went on to hit 17 homers in the next two rounds to make it to the final where he hit 10 more.
5 of the 6 longest home runs were Cespedes’.
2. Yasiel Puig Didn’t Hit a Single Home Run
Puig, the LA Dodgers’ slugger failed to hit one home run in his first Home Run Derby much to the surprise of the baseball world. The Cuban talent is known to have one of the hottest bats in the league, but walked away from the contest without a hit.
3. The Format Was Changed
In order to keep the derby from getting too repetitive, the MLB decided to change up the format this year.
Here is what will be different:
1) There are 10 participants instead of 8 which means there are now 5 per team instead of 4.
2) Each participants will have 7 outs per inning instead of 10 in order to make elimination faster and force the placers to get it together more quickly to stay alive.
Rules: A hit is deemed out when a player swings at a pitch and does not hit a home run. A ball hit over the fence must be fair to count as a home run.
3) Home run totals willed not be combined in the first two rounds like they were previously.
4) The new bracket format makes sure that in the final round, a player from the American team will be facing off against one from the National team.
This is how the 3 rounds of elimination will go:
Round 1 (10 Players)
A player from the National team and one from the American team with the most home runs in Round 1 will automatically be in Round 3.
Round 2 (4 Players)
Round 2 will be comprised of the players from each team with the second and third most home runs in Round 1 who will face off against each other. The two lowest home run hitters from each team from Round 1 will be eliminated from the competition.
Round 3 (4 Players)
The winners of Round 2 in both leagues will be thrown in with the winners of Round 1 in the final round with 2 representatives remaining per team.
4. Chris Berman Was the Commentator
You might recognize Chris Berman from movies such as Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy and The Longest Yard, but Berman has been the commentator of the Home Run Derby for almost 30 years now and serves as a signature, yet controversial figure for the event. While some say he is repetitive and annoying, others find him quite entertaining as he is keen on stirring the pot among the crowd and players.
ESPN producer Scott Matthews said of Berman:
Chris has been the voice of the Home Run Derby for almost three decades. He’s authentic, enthusiastic about how much he enjoys doing the Derby. He’s seen so many great moments, and if you sit down and talk to him, he has so many great memories about the Derby, and he’s looking forward to Monday night. He works very hard to prepare, and it’s a long broadcast window for any play-by-play person to handle, and Chris does a terrific job with his preparation, his enthusiasm… this is an event he genuinely loves a lot.”
Others such as USA Today are saying:
While the biggest improvement of all would be removing ESPN’s Chris Berman and his repetitively brutal “back, back, back” home run calls, there are actual format changes that will better serve the viewers.”
Click here to see SB Nation’s compilation of Berman’s “Back, Back, Back” quotes.
5. Jose Bautista (American) and Troy Tulowitzki (National) are the Captains
Captain: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (21 HR)
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (21 HR)
Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (12 HR)
Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds (17 HR)
Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies (13 HR)
Captain: Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays (17 HR)
Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics (20 HR)
Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics (14 HR)
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles (16 HR)
Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins (16 HR)
Troy Tulowitzki is currently tied in the National League for the most home runs this season with derby teammate Giancarlo Stanton. Tulowitski chose Stanton and Frazier and later picked Puig and Morneau who are all top hitters in the National League.
Jose Bautista chose just one of the American League’s top 10 home run hitters for the derby, Josh Donaldson. He then picked Jones, Dozier and defending Home run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes fro the remaining spots on the roster.
Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics hit 17 homeruns in Round 1, 6 in Round 2, and 9 in round 3 to win the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field last year. Watch the video above to see highlights of his home runs.