The Home Run Derby, if nothing else, is a polarizing event at MLB All Star Weekend that’s beloved and detested by many. Home run derby rules have changed a few different times over the years to try and make the event run smoother and become more popular.
After missing a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Derby is back in a big way. Stars and power hitters like Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani and Rangers slugger Joey Gallo are part of this year’s field. There are some notable omissions like previous winner Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr., but that hardly takes away from the spectacle that’s bound for July 12.
However, before you place your bets for the champion, here are five things you should know.
1. How To Watch The Home Run Derby
- Date: Monday, July 12, 2021
- Time: 8:00p EST
- Location: Coors Field, Denver, CO
- TV: ESPN
2. 2021 Home Run Derby Format
The Bracket: The Derby went to a single-elimination tournament in 2015, where the participants are seeded and pitted against one another in a bracket. The seeds were chosen based on each player’s home run total as of July 7. The player who hits the most dingers in the round advances to the next. The higher-seeded batter hits second.
The Clock: Since 2015, the MLB uses a running clock rather than outs/non-homers or swings, and 2021 will continue sticking with that. Each player will have three minutes in the first and second rounds. The clock will then go to two minutes in the final round. As long as the pitch is thrown prior to time expiring, a home run will count. However, if the batter who hits second surpasses the first batter’s total, the round ends right then and there.
Bonus Time: In the final 30 seconds, if a player hits a 475-foot or longer home run, he is awarded an additional 30-second bonus to add to the drama.
Timeouts: Each player is allowed to use a 45-second timeout in regulation (can’t be used in bonus time or overtime) in each round.
Tiebreakers: A 60-second hitting period decides a tiebreaker should it occur.
Purse: Derby winner wins $1 million of a total $2.5 million prize pool.
3. The Bracket And Matchups
- (1) Shohei Ohtani vs. (8) Juan Soto
- (4) Salvador Perez vs. (5) Pete Alonso
- (2) Joey Gallo vs. (7) Trevor Story
- (3) Matt Olson vs. (6) Trey Mancini
- Ohtani/Soto winner vs. Perez/Alonso winner
- Gallo/Story winner vs. Olson/Mancini winner
- Left side bracket winner vs. right side bracket winner
4. Location, Location, Location
This year’s Home Run Derby takes place at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The exciting element to this ballpark for both fans and players is the altitude it sits (5,200 feet above sea level), which causes balls to carry much further than most ballparks. That awarded Coors Field the most home run-friendly venue in the MLB in multiple seasons.
In 2021, Coors Field sees the ninth-most homers hit (1.2 per game) despite it having the second-longest center field fence in the Bigs. With some of the MLB’s most prolific power hitters participating in the Derby, fans will likely see monster shots over and over again. In Denver, balls should travel about 10% farther than they would at sea level.
Related: MLB MVP odds for AL, NL
5. Past Home Run Derby Winners
These are the winners of the Home Run Derby since it shifted to its current single-elimination home run derby rules in 2015:
- 2020: No Home Run Derby (COVID-19)
- 2019: Pete Alonso
- 2018: Bryce Harper
- 2017: Aaron Judge
- 2016: Giancarlo Stanton
- 2015: Todd Frazier
All time (since 1985), Ken Griffey Jr., Prince Fielder, and Yoenis Cespedes are the only players to have won multiple derbies. Griffey Jr. and Cespedes are the only players to win back-to-back.