The MLB All-Star Break stars tonight with the Home Run Derby in Minneapolis, and unlike the past few years, it might be pretty exciting.
In the past, the event has often felt endless and repetitive, even as the league has tried to improve it by adding American League and National League teams, team captains, and Gold Balls used once a player reached nine outs that donated money to charity if the player hit home runs with them.
This year, the changes are more substantial, and they should make the event more fun. Here’s the full list of improvements:
There are five hitters, instead of four, from both the American League and National League. It’s the smallest change, but there’s plenty of firepower in the big leagues that deserves to be displayed. More players = more home runs.
There are seven outs instead of 10. In years past, each hitter has had ten outs (an out being any ball that isn’t a home run). Ten outs afforded players too many re-dos, giving them too much time to get on a roll. Seven outs means batters will be forced to find their groove more quickly.
There’s a new bracket format. This is the biggest and most exciting change to the event. In Round 1, all ten players will bat, and the player on each team with the most home runs will receive an automatic bye into Round 3 (semifinals). The players who finish with the second- and third-most home runs on their team will face off against one another in Round 2, while the fourth and fifth seeds will be automatically eliminated. The winners of Round 2 will face the top seeds in Round 3, and then the A.L. and N.L. will face off in the final.
If there’s a tie in any round, it will be decided by a 3-swing swing-off, and if the round is still tied afterwards then sudden-death begins until one of the two players homers.
The bracket system not only makes the derby more competitive from the start, it also guarantees that fans will be more invested because they can get behind individual players in each round. ESPN’s got a good bracket you can print and fill out. There may not be any home run derby bracketology yet, but brackets are awesome, and the MLB is smart to implement it into the event.
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