The new “bracketed” Home Run Derby format is a recipe for disaster

You probably have heard by now, but the Home Run Derby will have a new format this year. It will include semi-timed rounds (it’ll be timed, but home runs in the final minute, as well as particularly long home runs, will increase the amount of time), a limited number of timeouts (so that a player doesn’t take a minute after every swing to goof off with a teammate) and a bracket format.

I have a major problem with the bracket format, however. For the sheer reason that it means that, in theory, the person who hits the second most home runs in the first round could be knocked out, and in theory the person with the second-fewest home runs in the first round could go on.

Here’s an example of how it could happen. Let’s say one of the match-ups is Bryce Harper vs. Joc Pederson. Now, let’s say Harper hits 14, but Pederson hits 15. Harper is eliminated, even if nobody else has 14. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the bracket, it’s entirely possible that a player who had hit 2 HRs- or even just one- is going ahead.

And that… is bad. Sure, go and have the time-limit, it’ll make the event go faster. But the brackets are a disaster waiting to happen.

That was the worst Home Run Derby of the Modern Derby Era, but I know how we can save it.

Well, that stunk. Oh, sure, the 2014 Home Run Derby had it’s moments, but in my mind at least, it was the worst Derby since the Modern Derby Era began when ESPN started showing it live instead of on tape delay.

And I think the problem was format. Oh, sure, there were other things wrong: the rain was totally outside of everyone’s control, of course, and Target Field was never going to be the place to give us one of those Derbies that remind us why they hold the event in the first place (such as the 1999 one in Fenway, or Abreu’s performance in Pittsburgh or Hamilton’s in New York). But, mostly, it was the format.

Oh, sure, the new format of having brackets leading up to a showdown between the best HR hitter of each lead seemed good in theory, but in practice, it stunk. Mainly because it forgot the main reason we watch the Derby: to see lots and lots of dingers, especially those from BP legends like Giancarlo Stanton, who can (and did) send balls into parts of the stadium you never even knew existed.

With the bracket format, however, Stanton and Jose Bautista sat around a lot, and by the time they got back from their bye, they were rusty, and the now-truncated 7 outs (instead of 10) didn’t really give them much time to warm up. The result? Last night saw us see a lot of Todd Frazier (who isn’t bad, but is far, far from a Giancarlo Stanton, HR-wise) and very little Stanton and Bautista. Only the fact Yoennis Cespedes was still going throughout the whole thing kept it from being a total snoozefest.

So, here’s my idea on how they can fix the HR Derby:

9 Players: 4 AL, 4 NL and one Wild Card

Having “Captains” pick teams has been more good than bad, so that can stay, but for sake of time the number of players overall should go down. So, instead of picking four teammates, as they did this season, they will only pick three, as they did in previous years. However, a “Wild Card” spot would be added, to be decided upon by the powers that be. It could be a prospect who has impressed (like Joey Gallo), it could be a recently-retired slugger who probably still has some pop in his bat (imagine if Jim Thome, for example, had been swinging last night), or it could be for a MLB player who the captains just couldn’t find a spot for.

10 Outs, but Only 2 Rounds

Each batter would get 10 outs, but, to make the Derby shorter and less of a drag, there would only be two rounds: the first round of 9 (which would also act as a “AL vs. NL” round, with the winning team getting a bunch of dough for the captain’s charity), then a second, championship round of three.

And, hey, if they NEED to pad it out a little… why not have a third round of the top two who survive the round of three?

I’m just saying.

The Longest Dingers of this year’s Home Run Derby contestants

The Home Run Derby roster has been announced! Well, mostly… they still have another AL spot open.

So, for those who want to get psyched by images of longball, here are links to the longest home runs by each of the participants so far this year:

Robinson Cano‘s 442-foot solo bomb off the batter’s eye in Minnesota.

Prince Fielder‘s 460-foot shot at Comerica.

Chris Davis‘ 439-foot longball at Camden Yards.

David Wright‘s 464-foot bomb against Craig Kimbrel in Atlanta.

Carlos Gonzalez‘s 458-foot shot deep into the Cincinnati night.

Michael Cuddyer‘s game-tier of 434 feet.

Bryce Harper‘s 434-foot bomb off of Bronson Arroyo.

I’ll put up the farthest by whoever else is named later.

Who Wright and Cano should pick for the HR Derby…

David Wright and Robinson Cano will be the captains for the HR derby, each picking three from their league to participate in this year’s Derby. In theory, they can choose whoever they want, although I wouldn’t be surprised if MLB makes some heavy suggestions and would block if Robinson Cano picked a pitcher to participate, or something.

But, anyway, who should Cano and Wright pick?

I have some ideas after the jump:

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Random Tweet: Verlander for Home Run Derby?

In the new feature Random Tweet, a seemingly-random-but-actually-picked-out-purposefully tweet will be featured:

The Home Run Derby voting has begun. While it is non-binding and more serves as a way to suggest who MLB should ask first, it is still kind of neat to see. However, amongst the usual names of traditional sluggers and batting practice greats, one man dares to break the mold, and is running a write-in campaign. That man is Justin Verlander, who is a career 0-33 at the plate. Against tradition, against history, against all common sense, Verlander calls for all fans to vote for him.

The possibly upcoming resurrection of the Home Run Derby

Perhaps it was because I was still basically a kid, perhaps it was because we had no idea what was really fueling those moonshots, but the Home Run Derby once was a time where the baseball gods came down to earth and took human form, sending balls deep into the night. Over the Green Monster! Into the highest decks of Turner Field! Through the windows of roofed stadiums! Coors Field!

And then, over the years, it has seemed to have been changed into baseball’s version of the Super Bowl: lots of hype, and a good streak of installments here and there, but usually just overhyped. For every year where Josh Hamilton or Bobby Abreu make the night their personal playground, there’s a few years like the one where McCovey Cove shuts out the best hitters who showed up.

Now, however, we might have a lineup and a location to bring the Home Run Derby back to it’s glory.

(jump)

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