Derby rules changed due to weather in Cincy
CINCINNATI -- It will be a wet field, a great field and a format unlike any other at the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders.
Great American Ball Park joined the rest of this city in getting soaked by afternoon showers Monday, but Major League Baseball ensured the show would go on, as originally scheduled, albeit with a truncated version of the previously announced format, in an effort to complete the event before more rain overtakes it.
The five-minute time limit per batter per round was shortened to four minutes, a previously announced 60-second time extension for home runs exceeding 475 feet was changed, with players now receiving a 30-second bonus if they hit two homers of at least 425 feet.
"You always worry about the weather," said Todd Frazier, the "hometown" hero from the host Reds and a popular pick to win the Derby, "but you can't control it."
Nor could the participants really prepare themselves for a revamped Derby format that will test not only their strength but their speed. Thanks to drastic changes, we've got brackets, we've got a clock, we've got incentives on the line not just for swinging for the fences but for swinging well beyond the fences. We've also got rookies who rock and old dudes who can still belt 'em -- all seeded and greeted by a ballpark that loves the long ball.
The first round pitted Albert Pujols (No. 1 seed) against Kris Bryant (8), Frazier (2) vs. Prince Fielder (7), Josh Donaldson (3) vs. Anthony Rizzo (6) and Joc Pederson (4) vs. Manny Machado (5). The seedings were based on each player's 2015 home run total through July 7.
It's pretty simple. The winner of each head-to-head matchup moves on to the semifinals, while the loser is eliminated. The two semifinals winners square off in a third and final round. Ties are broken by a 90-second swing-off. If there's still a tie after that point, the batters will engage in successive three-swing swing-offs until a winner is declared.
The other big alteration to this year's Derby is the timer will start with the release of the first pitch. Each batter will have those four minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. However, batters can extend their time either of two ways:
1. Utilizing their one "timeout" per round
2. Hitting at least two homers that equal or exceed 425 feet (as calculated by MLB.com's revolutionary Statcast™ technology), earning 30 seconds of bonus time.
So, how does a home run hitter try to beat the clock?
"Just swing a lot," Bryant said with a smile.
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.