CHICAGO -- As soon as the participants of tonight's 2016 T-Mobile Home Derby (8 p.m. ET/5 PT on ESPN, simulcast live on MLB.com) were announced, Todd Frazier, the White Sox slugger and defending champion, took to Twitter with a brief message."It's about that time #cantwait," Frazier tweeted from his @FlavaFraz21
CHICAGO -- As soon as the participants of tonight's 2016 T-Mobile Home Derby (8 p.m. ET/5 PT on ESPN, simulcast live on MLB.com) were announced, Todd Frazier, the White Sox slugger and defending champion, took to Twitter with a brief message.
"It's about that time #cantwait," Frazier tweeted from his @FlavaFraz21 account, along with the brackets for the eight players involved. Frazier earned the No. 2 seed, despite not being selected as an All-Star, with Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez serving as his first-round opponent.
There was no doubt Frazier wanted to defend his championship captured last year before a raucous home crowd in Cincinnati. Frazier had such a great experience in 2015, with one of his brothers, Charlie, throwing to him, and another brother, Jeff, serving as his "hype man," that he's been pretty much thinking about it every day since winning last July.
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Both of his brothers will return with Frazier to the '16 competition.
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"I was one of those guys, if I wasn't playing baseball, we'd be down the street at the high school playing Yankee/Pirate," Frazier told MLB.com back in May in regard to the Derby. "You take half the field and you can't hit it over there. Other people have a different name. We called it Yankee/Pirate, don't ask me why.
"You try to hit laser beams. I've been doing it my whole life. Little League we had a home run derby. High school, I came in second. I think it was a metal bat, it was 25-24. He went last so that's why he beat me. I have a high school coach who busts my chops to this day.
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"Minor Leagues, I came in second and then first time in the Major Leagues, I came in second again," Frazier said. "Then I got my opportunity and won it. I love that stuff, man."
Frazier has 25 home runs, ranking him second in the AL behind the 28 hit by Baltimore's Mark Trumbo, who also will be part of the Derby. Trumbo goes against Corey Seager and Robinson Cano against Giancarlo Stanton on one side of the bracket, with Frazier/Gonzalez and Adam Duvall against Wil Myers on the other half.
One worry for White Sox fans and possibly the organization is that Frazier struggled in the second half of the '15 season following the Derby. He hit .220 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in the second half, after hitting .284 with 25 homers and 57 RBIs before the break.
But Frazier admitted to being worn down in the season's second half, while also dealing with the fact of the Reds being well out of any postseason contention. The White Sox enter the All-Star break seven games behind the Indians in the AL Central and 4 ½ out of the second AL Wild Card.
Brackets in the first round were seeded based on 2016 home run totals through Wednesday's games. Frazier will be competing in the event for the third consecutive year. He also joins Carlton Fisk (1985), Frank Thomas (1994-95), Paul Konerko (2002) and Jermaine Dye (2006) as White Sox participants in the Derby, with Thomas' 15 homers in '95 giving him the title.
Here's how the Derby will work:
The players were seeded one through eight based on home runs totals through Wednesday. The winners of those two dinger duels will meet in the other semi. Then the last two sluggers standing hack for the hardware in the final round.
And now for the rules:
• Single-elimination tournament in which the winner of each matchup advances and the loser of each matchup is eliminated.
• If the second batter hits more home runs than the first batter in any matchup, he will be declared the winner and not attempt to hit additional home runs.
• Four minutes per batter for each round. Clock starts with the release of the first pitch. In the first round and semifinals, each batter is entitled to one 45-second "time out." In the finals, each batter is entitled to two 45-second "time-outs."
• Thirty seconds of bonus time will be awarded for two home runs that each equal or exceed 440 feet.
• Ties in any round will be broken by a 60-second swing-off with no stoppage of time or additional time added. If a tie remains after the swing-off, batters will engage in successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.