The first half of the Major League Baseball regular season has come to a close, which means that the first All-Star break to take place in Washington, D.C., since 1969 is rapidly approaching.
On Monday, there will be two primary events: the Celebrity Softball game and the Home Run Derby. Focusing on the latter event, here's a look at the full bracket, the format and a few predictions.
Per Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, the Home Run Derby will continue with the format instituted in 2015.
Eight players compete in a single-elimination tournament to determine the winner. They are seeded one through eight based on the amount of home runs hit by Tuesday, July 10. For example, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar is No. 1 by virtue of hitting 23 dingers during that span. That figure leads the octet.
The first seed faces the eighth seed, No. 2 plays No. 7, No. 3 goes toe to toe with No. 6 and then No. 4 vs. No. 5 rounds out the quarterfinals. There is no re-seeding: The No. 1/8 winner plays No. 4/5, while the other two quarterfinal winners match up.
Each batter is given four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. Hitters will receive an extra 30 seconds in their round if they hit at two balls measuring at least 440 feet.
Batters can also take timeouts during rounds: They are allowed a single 45-second timeout each in round one and round two and then two timeouts (45 seconds and 30 seconds) in the finals.
If there is a tie, batters will engage in a 60-second "swing-off." No timeouts are granted during tiebreakers.
No. 1 Jesus Aguilar vs. No. 8 Rhys Hoskins
Aguilar has a hard-hit contact rate of 45.4 percent, while Hoskins' is far lower at 32 percent. The Philadelphia Phillies outfielder is a key reason why the Phils are in playoff contention, but he has a tough uphill climb here.
No. 4 Alex Bregman vs. No. 5 Kyle Schwarber
Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber will be receiving pitches from his personal batting-practice pitcher in Tampa, Florida, (former University of Miami player Mike Sinicola). That chemistry should help his cause. Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman should hold his own, but give the edge to Schwarber in bonus time after he hits a few long bombs.
No. 2 Bryce Harper vs. No. 7 Freddie Freeman
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is an excellent hitter, but he's essentially playing on the road against Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Expect this one to stay close, but Harper uses the momentum of the home crowd for the win.
No. 3 Max Muncy vs. No. 6 Javier Baez
With a 44.2 percent flyball rate and a 46.5 percent hard-hit contact rate against right-handers, Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy has the big edge over Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez. Expect one of the game's biggest surprises this year to vault into the second round.
No. 1 Jesus Aguilar vs. No. 5 Kyle Schwarber
Expect two close semifinal contests, starting with this one. The edge here goes to the player with the best Vegas odds. Per OddsShark, Schwarber is second on the odds ledger to win it all, just ahead of Aguilar. He's the pick to move on.
No. 2 Bryce Harper vs. No. 3 Max Muncy
The battle of two power-hitting lefties should be a good one. Although Harper has the home crowd behind him, Muncy has been hitting the ball a little harder and a bit more in the air than him against righties this year. Look for Muncy to advance to the finals by a homer or two.
No. 5 Kyle Schwarber vs. No. 3 Max Muncy
While Schwarber has a years-long connection with his derby pitcher, Muncy is going to use Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward. Per Castrovince, "Ward has worked closely with Muncy since his call up to the big leagues and Dodgers debut on April 17."
So Muncy has a solid connection as well, and that's in addition to the fact that his .991 OPS against right-handers leads all derby participants. He's the pick to win it all.
All statistics via Fangraphs unless otherwise noted