We’re just three days out from the 2015 Home Run Derby, and this year’s edition brings with it some very exciting changes. At the end of June, Major League Baseball officially declared that the 2015 Home Run Derby will be an eight-batter, single-elimination contest. The eight contestants were bracketed and seeded 1 through 8 based on the number of home runs they hit through the games played on Wednesday, July 7.
The pairings for the quarterfinal round are as follows:
(1) Albert Pujols vs. (8) Chris Bryant
(2) Todd Frazier vs. (7) Prince Fielder
(3) Josh Donaldson vs. (6) Anthony Rizzo
(4) Joc Pederson vs. (5) Manny Machado
This year, MLB also decided to completely do away with the rule concerning the number of outs (any swing not resulting in home runs) that a batter has in each round. Now, for the first time in its history, the Home Run Derby is on the clock.
Batters will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible, with each batter.having the opportunity to call one 45-second timeout during their turn each round. The clock begins once the first pitch of a batter’s turn leaves his pitcher’s hand. There will also be bonus time put on the clock if they hit home runs of various distances. Here’s how those time bonuses break down:
0 or 1 HR measuring under 474 feet: No extra seconds
1 HR measuring at least 475 feet: 30 extra seconds
2 or more HR measuring 420 to 474 feet: One extra minute
2 or more HR with one measuring 420 to 474 feet and one measuring 475 feet and over or both measuring 475 feet and over: 90 extra seconds
Also, inside the last minute of a batter’s turn, the clock will freeze when the batter hits a home run, and the countdown won’t resume until the batter makes a swing which fails to produce a home run.
In the event of a tie between the two batters in their head-to-head match-up. there will be a swing-off lasting 90 seconds. Unlike a batter’s regular turn, the clock won’t stop at all and the bonus time rules aren’t in effect. If there’s still a tie after the 90-second swing-off ends, then best-of-3 swing-offs will be contested until a winner is found.
The instant that the second batter’s home run total exceeds that of his opponent, the clock stops, ending the match-up.
In addition to the new format and timing rules, this year’s Home Run Derby will be the first where home run distances will be measured through Major League Baseball’s new Statcast, a data stream which collects information pertaining to players’ tendencies.
All in all, these new features should make for a most exciting Home Run Derby in a few nights from now. I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “bracket” and the phrase “single-elimination tournament” pertaining to an annual sporting event, I get excited. This is why other tournaments, such as March Madness, are popular year in and year out.
The bracket makes the Derby, which is already one of my favorite sporting events every single year, even more better.
The 2015 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby airs live Monday night at 8:00 Eastern Time on ESPN and can also be heard live on ESPN Radio.
http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/28/the-2015-gillette-home-run-derby-will-have-a-new-format/ (Hardball Talk article by Bill Baer outlining the new format for the Derby)
http://www.si.com/mlb/2015/06/28/home-run-derby-format-rules-brackets-time-rounds (Sports Illustrated article outlining the changes to the Derby)