Tonight, sluggers from around the league will repeatedly hit baseballs very far distances. Yes, I am technically describing the Home Run Derby, but in 2019 baseball terms, we might as well call it “Monday.”
Even in this era of three true outcomes, juiced baseballs, and many, many home runs, I’m still looking forward to tonight’s Derby. It’s a fun event, and for a sport that so desperately needs to follow through on its promise to “let the kids play,” the Home Run Derby is one of those opportunities for baseball to showcase how fun it truly is.
On a different level, I am also excited to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Pete Alonso, and Josh Bell hit jacks 500 feet; Carlos Santana attempt to win in front of the home crowd (a la Todd Frazier or Bryce Harper); and Joc Pederson show off that smooth swing.
But I am also enthused by the very format of the Derby. First introduced in 2015, the bracket-style competition adds to the drama. These current rules have been in place since 2016:
“Eight players participate in the derby in a bracket-style, single-elimination timed event. Each player has four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. Hitters are awarded an additional 30 seconds if they hit two home runs over 440 feet (130 m). Hitters are also allowed one 45 second timeout to stop the clock (two in the finals).
The eight competing players are seeded 1-8 based on their home run totals. While the lower seed hits first, the higher seed hits second in all rounds. The round ends if the higher seed exceeds the total of the first hitter. In the event of a tie, three sets of tiebreakers are employed: first, a 90-second swing-off (with no timeouts nor bonus time awarded); second, each player gets three swings; whoever hits more home runs in the three swings will be declared the winner; thereafter, sudden death swings will occur until the tie is broken.”
One added benefit of the bracket-style Derby is the March Madness-like prediction contest. This year, Major League Baseball is offering a $250,000 prize to the winner of their online bracket competition. So while I do very much enjoy watching the Home Run Derby and gawking at these hitters’ raw abilities, I also enjoy filling out my bracket. Read the rest of this entry »