Since the All-Star game on the American League side will be dominated by the Kansas City Royals, the American League fans shift their attention to the 2015 Home Run Derby, but it won’t have the same format as in years past. A little change could never hurt and the changes Major League Baseball made to this year’s contest has actually piqued my interest. The rounds are now timed and it’s in bracket format, so for me at least I get to actually fill out a bracket for a sport I throughout enjoy. Anyway, Major League Baseball can explain all of the rules better than I can, so here’s the official press release regarding the changes to the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders:
The 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will introduce a new streamlined format this July featuring brackets and timed rounds, Major League Baseball announced today. The 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders will be held on Monday, July 13th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, and broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET).
The eight-player contest will be conducted as a single-elimination tournament in which the loser of each bracket is immediately eliminated. Brackets in the first round will be seeded based on 2015 home run totals through July 7th, with ties broken by awarding the higher seed to the batter with more home runs hit since June 15th. If a tie remains, a coin flip will determine the higher seed. In each matchup, the higher seed will hit second.
During each of the three rounds, each batter will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible, and any swings that do not result in a home run will not be counted. Timers will count down from five minutes beginning with the release of the first pitch, and any home run hit after the timer reaches one minute remaining will stop the timer immediately when the ball lands in home run territory. The timer will not start again until the batter hits a ball that does not land in home run territory, or swings and misses at a pitch.
Batters may be awarded bonus time during their turn based on the length of their home runs hit. If a batter hits two home runs during a turn that each equal or exceed 420 feet, one minute of bonus time will be added. If one home run during a turn equals or exceeds 475 feet, 30 seconds of bonus time will be added. It is possible for a batter to earn a total bonus of one minute and 30 seconds. All distances will be measured using MLB Advanced Media’s Statcast system.
The batter with the most home runs hit in each matchup will advance to the next round (or win the Derby, if in the third round). Ties in any round will be broken by a 90-second swing-off with no stoppage of time or additional time added. If the batters remain tied after the 90-second swing-off, they will engage in successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner. Once the second batter in any matchup hits one more home run than the first batter, the second batter will be declared the winner of the matchup and will not attempt to hit any additional home runs. In addition, each batter will be entitled to one “time out” per round.
In addition to coverage on ESPN and MLB.com, the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders will be broadcast live on ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN and ESPN Radio in the U.S. as well as ESPN International. Participants for the Home Run Derby will be announced at a later date. For more information, please visit www.allstargame.com.