Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Home Run Derby format changed again

You know the saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Well, the Home Run Derby must be broke, because Major League Baseball keeps trying to fix it by changing it every year. While the end goal is still the same — hit as many home runs as humanly possible and get Chris Berman to throw out his ‘back’ ad nauseum — you’ll notice on July 14 at Target Field in Minnesota, the 2014 Home Run Derby rules will be different from years past.

The 20th annual event will be broken down into four total rounds, each round allowing each qualifying hitter seven outs. 10 players, five from each league, will start and try to hit as many home runs as they can.  The top three home run hitters from each league will then advance into a tournament-styled AL-NL separated bracket. The top home run hitter from each league in the first round will receive added rest with a bye into the third round, or semifinals, while the respective No. 2s and 3s slug it out in the second round. In the third round, or semis, the NL hits first and each league’s top seed gets to pick if he wants to hit first or second, and — yep, you got it — the four then try to hit as many home runs as they can, the most from each league advancing to the fourth and final round. Which league hits first in the finals will be determined by an all-important coin toss at home plate. The final two then try to hit as many home runs as they can.

MLB.com has a clear(er) breakdown of the rules:

Round 1

  • Ten participants total; five participants representing each league.
  • Batting order will be determined prior to the event. Hitter No. 1 for the NL will hit first followed by Hitter No. 1 for the AL (home team). This order will continue for hitters Nos. 2-5 for each league, with the NL going first followed by the AL.
  • Each participant will receive seven outs.
  • The player from each league who hits the most home runs (AL 1; NL 1) will automatically advance to round three (semifinals).
  • The next two participants with the most home runs from each league (AL 2; AL 3 / NL 2; NL 3) advance to Round 2.

Round 2

  • The two participants advancing from Round 1 for each league will compete against each other (AL 2 vs. AL 3 / NL 2 vs. NL 3).
  • The NL matchup will occur first, followed by the AL matchup, with NL 2 and AL 2 choosing if they want to hit first or second.
  • Each participant will receive seven outs.
  • The winners from the Round 2 matchups (one from each league) will advance to Round 3 (semifinals).

Round 3 (Semifinals)

  • The top seed from each league (AL 1; NL 1) will face the winner from his league’s Round 2 matchup.
  • The NL matchup will occur first, followed by the AL matchup, with NL 1 and AL 1 choosing if they want to hit first or second.
  • Each participant will receive seven outs.
  • The participant from each league with the most home runs will advance to the Finals.

Round 4 (Finals)

  • The semifinal winners (one player from each league) will compete for the crown of Home Run Derby champion.
  • The batting order will be determined by a coin flip, which will be held at a meeting at home plate between the two finalists and their league captains (note that a finalist and team captain could be the same participant).
  • Each finalist will receive seven outs.

Tiebreaker(s)

  • If two or more players are tied for advancement into the next round or for the championship, each player will receive three swings to hit as many home runs as possible. If they are still tied after three swings, they will each take one swing. This process is repeated if necessary until one player wins the swing-off.

About Bob Biscigliano

Bob is a writer of s(p)orts, fan of Detroit, southpaw, movie quoter, a-hole with a great kitchen, one hell of a model American

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