UPDATE (July 13, 2:26 PM): Due to weather conditions, the Home Run Derby is making some slight changes to the Home Run Derby in order to speed it up via Baseball Tonight Twitter:
In addition, the clock will no longer stop in the final minute on a HR. An extra 30 seconds can be earned with 2 HR of 425 feet or more.
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) July 13, 2015
One event that has become a staple of the Major League All-Star break the past 21 years is the Home Run Derby, which is held the day before the Midsummer game itself.
The long ball competition has seen many changes in its 21 year existence, and in 2015 it will once again undergo a makeover — one year after new adjustments were introduced last year. The previous format gave each hitter 10 outs to work with, and however many home runs they hit before they get to 10 outs was their total for the round. That is no more.
It’s all about timing now. Batters will receive a five-minute period to hit as many home runs as possible. Balls that do not go for home runs will not be counted against them, other than it will take time off the clock. In the last minute of each round the clock will stop, and will not start again until the hitter swings at a pitch and it doesn’t result in a home run.
Another change made to the event is that it will no longer feature head-to-head matchups. Each participant will be seeded Nos. 1 through 8, dependent on how many home runs they have hit in the season up until July 7.
The one seed will take on the eight seed, the two-seed will face the seven-seed, and so forth. The batter with more home runs at the end of each round will advance to the next round.
Also, for the first time ever, batters will be rewarded for how far they hit the ball. Batters will receive a minute of bonus time if at least two balls in one round travel at least 420 feet. Moreover, an additional 30 seconds can be gained of a home run travels at least 475 feet. Distances will be measured by MLB’s Advanced Media’s Statcast.
Any ties will be broken with a 90-second “swing-off”. Each player is entitled to one 45-second timeout each round. The reasoning behind the timed rounds is to shorten the event, which often drags on when player’s take a lot of pitches looking for one perfect pitch.
The new format also puts pressure on the pitcher’s to throw strikes, as if they can not find the zone then their batter will have less opportunities to hit home runs. This year’s event will be held July 13 at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, where 89 home runs have been hit in 34 games thus far. The 2.62 average home runs per game is the fourth highest among Major League ball parks.