Home Run Derby Format 2014: Explaining Updated Rules for MLB Spectacle

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2014

American League's Yoenis Cespedes, of the Oakland Athletics, poses with the trophy after winning the MLB All-Star baseball Home Run Derby, on Monday, July 15, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Who's ready for some dingers?

This year's Home Run Derby will have plenty of them, and if that wasn't exciting enough, the format for the annual summer event has been reworked in a fun new way.

Home Run Derby
Monday, July 14 at 8 p.m. ETTarget Field, Minnesota, MNESPN

Mark Newman of MLB.com breaks down the new format:

Major League Baseball on Monday announced a new format for the Derby, featuring 10 players who will get seven outs per round, with bracketed play after the first round.

Five players from each league will bat in the opening round, with seven outs instead of the previous 10. The player who hits the most homers in each league will automatically receive a bye to the third round (semifinals). The next two players from each league with the most homers will square off against one another in a head-to-head matchup in the second round.

The winners of these matchups will advance to the third round to compete against the league's top seed. The final round will feature the winners of the American and National League semifinals going head-to-head to determine the winner of the event, won last year at Citi Field by Yoenis Cespedes of the A's.

In every round, the participants will be given seven outs. In the event of a tiebreaker, the tied parties will be given three swings each to break the tie. If there isn't a winner after those three swings, they'll alternate swings in a sudden-death format until a winner is determined. 

It's important to note that in the bracket phase, American League batters will compete against one another and ditto for the National League participants. Thus, the final will come down to a matchup between an AL and NL representative.

There are some real advantages to the switch.

For starters, guys who go for broke in the first round will have some time to recuperate for the semifinals. That means we could still see a huge opening round that doesn't completely kill that player's energy going forward, which is always a bummer. 

But it also puts more pressure on the players who don't win the opening round, as they'll have to take far more swings to win the competition. So what we should see is a very competitive, very exciting first round.

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 09:  American League All-Star Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays at bat to break a tie with American League All-Star Mark Trumbo #44 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the State Farm Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadi
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Plus, moving to seven outs per round rather than 10 should speed things up a bit. Past Home Run Derbies have been bogged down a bit by the sheer amount of time they take to conclude. In this format, with less outs and clear, distinct rounds, the event should have a more brisk feel to it. 

So who is going to win this thing?

Ozzie Guillen—who will be announcing the event on ESPN Deportes—says he'll be watching two guys in particular, per Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com:

When you see [Giancarlo] Stanton and [Yoenis] Cespedes, they can hit it to the moon if they have to. Those guys are so big and so strong, I don't think any ballpark can hold them. They're going to put on a show for the fans. That ballpark, no matter how the ball carries, I think they're going to put on an unbelievable show.

Those two are probably the favorites, but don't sleep on Jose Bautista or Troy Tulowitzki, either. If nothing else, all eyes will be on Yasiel Puig to see if any antics accompany his big swing. And of course, a surprise contender could always emerge from the field. 

Keep in mind that Cespedes is the defending champ, making him the favorite, while Bautista reached the 2012 final. Those experiences might help them in the end. 

But hey, you never know who will have the hot bat. It will be interesting to find out who does and who can navigate this year's exciting new format. 


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