The Derby, it is a-changin’.
The MLB announced that it was changing the format of the Home Run Derby last month, changing the competition in an attempt to streamline the length and add a bit of excitement back into the annual event. It was vaguely complicated before but now, with severe weather predicted for the great Cincinnati, the League has shifted things up again a little bit. So, what’s different? Plenty. Here’s how the Derby, which is slated to air at 8 p.m. on Monday on ESPN, works.
The Single-Elimination Tournament Field
In an attempt to make the Derby a little bit more competitive, the League has organized the field into a single-elimination bracket, pitting eight players against each other. Seeding was based on home run totals through July 7. The matchups are:
No. 1 Albert Pujols (26 HR) vs. No. 8 Kris Bryant (12 HR)
No. 4 Joc Pederson (20 HR) vs. No. 5 Manny Machado (19 HR)
No. 3 Josh Donaldson (21 HR) vs. No. 6 Anthony Rizzo (16 HR)
No. 2 Todd Frazier (25 HR) vs. No. 7 Prince Fielder (13 HR)
Now, instead of “outs” per round, each player will face a four-minute clock, trying to hit as many home runs as they possibly can in that time frame. Prior to the impending rain storm, players were supposed to have five minutes at the plate.
The clock will begin on the release of the first pitch but will stop for any homer during the final minute. Any round will immediately end if the second hitter in the matchup surpasses his opponent’s home run total. So, there’s no running up the home run score here.
Players Are Rewarded for Hitting Especially Impressive Home Runs
Although they’ll be timed for the first time during the Derby, players can actually extend their time at the plate by adding a little bit of, as the MLB put it, “pop” at the plate.
Hitters will receive an additional 30 seconds of swings if they hit two home runs with a projected distance of 420 feet. Originally, that extra time was a projected minute of swings.
It’s a Swing-Off!
So, what happens if there’s a tie? Don’t worry, the MLB has a plan for that. If any of the head-to-head matchups in the tournament end in a tie, the two batters will compete in a 90-second swing-off. A swing-off! And who said the Derby wasn’t exciting anymore?
The timer will not stop during the swing-off and the player with the most home runs during that minute and a half will advance to the next round.
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