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Home Run Derby 15 gets fans in the game

Want to be champion? Check out 4 key tips, learn new features and see who's predicted to win

Albert Pujols, Todd Frazier, Josh Donaldson, Joc Pederson, Manny Machado, Anthony Rizzo, Prince Fielder and Kris Bryant are ready to hit as many balls as possible out of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The question is: Are you?

Major League Baseball Advanced Media on Friday announced the update of its award-winning Home Run Derby 15 game. While you wait to see which of those eight sluggers wins the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders tonight, now is the time to download the update for free and see if you have what it takes to be the new Home Run Derby champion.

Here are three important things to look at: Crucial tips from the winningest player in our video game, the newest features that were just added so it's ready for All-Star Week and the result of 10,000 simulations to predict who will win for real tonight on ESPN.

Secrets of success
Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is home not only to legendary mineral baths and horse racing, but also to the Home Run Derby king. Dr. Harry Miller is a pediatrician there, and he plays the game on his iPad when riding an indoor exercise bike. His game handle is "hsmmax" and as you can see by clicking the trophy icon in the game app, Miller is the runaway leader in all-time wins, with 1,445 -- not to mention the longest homer (777 feet).

"It helps pass the time on the bike, combining exercise with my love for baseball," Miller said.

We asked the good doctor for some tips to help others reach his "Swing Master" level, he offered four insights -- one for each base:

1. "The first six to eight pitches are a lot easier to hit. Don't let those balls pass by. After that, be prepared to adjust the height of your swing more."

2. "Another tip is to hit the ball right after the apex of its height. A quick flick of the finger up or down will allow you to adjust to a higher or lower pitch."

3. "After four outs, you really have to be more selective in picking a pitch that you know will be in your sweet spot."

4. "Finally, let's say you're up against a tough player. Having a boost in reserve can really help you when you're close to beating them but need that edge -- when you're down to your last out or two."

New features
Home Run Derby 2015 features a completely revamped UI, improved home run celebrations and dynamic time-of-day lighting. It also incorporates the new format of the actual Home Run Derby. The Derby, which will be televised live by ESPN and, will follow an exciting new format featuring brackets, timed rounds and bonuses based on home run distances.

This game includes all of your favorite modes:

1. Multiplayer Derby Mode. Enter the authentic Home Run Derby tournament. Play against millions around the world in eight-player live multiplayer games. Heat up the leaderboards by competing against the world's best ... like Miller.

2. Arcade Mode. Hit as many homers as you can before time runs out. Collect impressive new achievements and attain stadium-specific objectives. Get rewarded by hitting targets and special MLBuck balls.

3. Single Player Derby Mode. Build your skills in an authentic Home Run Derby against the AI.

"I think the new features are always welcome to keep the game fresh for those who are new and to those who have been playing a while," Miller said.

The Big Eight
Video: Eight All-Stars picked to square off in DerbyThis update features all Home Run Derby competitors from 2010-15, and that includes the eight sluggers announced by MLB for tonight's Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders. In fact, our game is so realistic that ran 10,000 simulations on it and determined that Pederson, the Dodgers rookie, is the favorite to win. Here was the breakdown in simulated wins by each 2015 contestant:

Pederson: 2,495 (25%)
Pujols: 2,279 (23%)
Bryant: 1,879 (19%)
Frazier: 1,635 (16%)
Donaldson: 734 (7%)
Fielder: 599 (6%)
Rizzo: 196 (2%)
Machado: 182 (2%)

Their slugging happened in a virtual replica of Great American Ball Park. New riverboat smokestacks took a pounding from these bats. If you're just starting out, work your way up from the Normal Bat to Hand Cannon, build up your boosts, get a larger contact rating for a better sweet spot and listen to Dr. Miller's advice.

"The feel of the game is very realistic, thanks to the graphics," Miller said. "It does give the player a sense of what it might feel like when a hitter sends it out of the park."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog.