MLB Announces Lineup for the New (Supposedly Improved) 2015 Home Run Derby

albert pujols 2015 home run derby

MLB has announced the eight players who will take part in the reformatted home run derby at the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.

Unfortunately, the lineup will not feature Giancarlo Stanton (27), who is injured, nor will it feature Bryce Harper (25), who declined his invitation because his dad is just coming off rotator cuff surgery and wouldn’t be able to throw to him. It also won’t feature Mike Trout (24), J.D. Martinez (24), Nolen Arenado (24), Nelson Cruz (21), or Paul Goldschmidt (20). But there are still plenty of other mashers.

Here’s the list, along with their home run totals to this point:

Albert Pujols, Angels – 26
Todd Frazier, Reds – 25
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 21
Joc Pederson, Dodgers – 20
Manny Machado, Orioles – 19
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 16
Prince Fielder, Rangers – 13
Kris Bryant, Cubs – 12

Of course, no matter who takes part in the 2015 home run derby, the biggest story going in is the new format.

Last year MLB switched from a three-stage round-robin format to a single-elimination bracket format. However, they included 10 players, which meant two guys got first round byes, and they kept the system in which players were allotted a specific number of outs (swings not resulting in a home run) per round.

This year they’ve tweaked it again. The home run derby will still use a single-elimination bracket format. However, instead of 10 players there are now eight, which makes much more sense. And instead of keeping track of outs, the rounds will now be timed.

In each round, players will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. When a player gets below one minute, the clock stops every time he hits a home run and starts up again every time he makes an out. Thus, even if there’s just one second left on the clock, a player can theoretically hit 10 or 15 or 300 more home runs.

Players can also earn bonus time by hitting long home runs. If a player hits two or more home runs of 420 feet or more, one minute will be added to their time. For every home run of 475 feet or more, a player get 30 seconds.

Sadly, hitting six 500-foot home runs won’t earn three extra minutes. They’ve capped the bonus time at 1:30.

Here’s the official bracket, with players seeded 1-8 based on their current home run totals:

home run derby bracket

Personally, I think the timed rounds makes a lot of sense. Players can still hit a ton of home runs if they get hot at the right time, but we won’t have to sit there and watch them take five or six pitches in a row. They can just swing at everything with impunity.

The bracket format still sucks, unfortunately. Josh Donaldson could beat Anthony Rizzo 4-3 in Round 1, then beat Todd Frazier 5-4 in Round 2 to advance to the Finals with nine home runs. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols could lose 15-14 to Kris Bryant and go home early.

I know sports fans are crazy about brackets, but I want to see the best home run hitters in each round. I want to see guys run up the score instead of stopping as soon as they beat the other guy. I don’t want to see a guy win the home run derby with 12 total home runs.

Maybe next year MLB will tweak the format again and get it right.

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