By: Jason M. Sanin
Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby has been a midsummer staple for fans during the league’s annual All-Star break. But that staple is going to look much different this year, with the league making drastic changes to the format of the event in an attempt to make it a more entertaining spectacle for all, forcing baseball betting experts to reevaluate how they handicap the competition.
Home Run Bracket Structure
In previous iterations of the Home Run Derby, the eight participants would all aim to hit as many home runs as possible in the first round, with the four most proficient hitters moving on to the semifinals. That has changed in 2015, as hitters will be placed into one on one matchups in each round, with the eight players seeded in order of their 2015 home run totals to start the competition.
This changes how hitters should approach the competition in some ways, as they will no longer have to look over their shoulder at seven opponents. While the goal for each player will still be to hit as many home runs as possible, only having to compete with one player at a time should make the structure of the derby feel less daunting, relieving the pressure on everyone involved.
A Timed Event
Unlike prior years, in which hitters were given a certain amount of “outs,” which were exhausted with each swing of the bat that didn’t result in a home run, this year’s version of the Home Run Derby will be contested with a time limit for each hitter in every round.
Each player will start each round with five minutes on the clock, which will run continuously until the final minute of the round. At that point, the clock will be stopped each time a player hits a home run, only starting again once a swing that doesn’t result in a home run occurs.
In addition, players will have the ability to earn bonus time in each round by hitting home runs that meet specific distance requirements. This will reward the most powerful hitters in the Home Run Derby, encouraging hitters to hit the ball as far as they can, making the event as entertaining as possible for fans in the process.
Will This Work?
Generally speaking, the Home Run Derby is an event that is fun no matter what the format is like, because it involves one of the most exciting plays in sports: the home run. It will be interesting to see whether or not the bracketed format or time limit will have a positive impact on things, but this year’s derby will be fun to watch regardless.
The 2015 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby will take place on Monday, July 13 in Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds of the National League Central division. While Giancarlo Stanton’s absence will certainly put a damper on the proceedings, it is still sure to be one of the most exciting nights on this year’s baseball calendar.