The AL and NL captains have made their picks for the 2014 Home Run Derby, and there are definitely a couple surprises. There is a new Derby format this year, which I will get into below. Just like previous years, each league has a captain that picks his side. There are 5 per side, one slot per league will be announced Thursday.
Troy Tulowitzki is the NL captain, and picked Giancarlo Stanton, Yasiel Puig, and Todd Frazier. Jose Bautista is the AL Captain, and picked hometown guy Brian Dozier, Adam Jones, and 2013 Derby champ Yoenis Cespedes.
At first glance, Bautista completely dropped the ball with his team. I don’t know many people who could hope to take on Tulo, Stanton, Puig and Frasier, but Bautista didn’t even give the AL a chance on paper. Of course the Derby is not a team competition, but the NL just looks completely stacked here. Almost any favorite to win the Derby other than Bautista is in the NL. Personally, I think Stanton is going to put on a show only Josh Hamilton could understand.
Speaking of Josh Hamilton, there is a new format to the Home Run Derby, and it favors guys who have epic rounds of hitting. This is a bracket format, with the NL and AL knocking themselves down to one player each, who will then meet in the final round. Here’s the breakdown:
In the first round, all ten players will bat, each getting seven outs rather than the usual 10. The top three from each league will move on. Here is where it gets interesting. The batter in each league with the most home runs will receive a second round bye, allowing himself to rest, while the second and third batters will face off in round two. The winner of round two will, of course, face the first batter that had the bye. I think this is a great move, rewarding a guy that may have an absolute epic round like Hamilton’s 27 in 2008. Also, it gives batters more reason to win round one, rather than just “do enough to move on.”
The winners of round three become the lone survivors of their respective league and will face each other in the final round (round four). A coin flip will determine who bats first, and like all other rounds, the batters will have 7 outs to make their case for Derby history.
If there is a tie at the end of any of the rounds, including the final round, the players that are tied will get 3 swings, not outs, to try to break the tie. If the players are still tied, they take one swing each until the tie is broken. Again, this would be fantastic to see from the fan standpoint.
I love the new bracket format for the Derby. It brings a lot of structure and understanding that we have not seen previously. Additionally, giving the best hitter from round one time to rest is something I hadn’t even considered, but think is a genius addition. I am not sure how I feel about only giving players 7 outs, but I can see how MLB knows its viewers drop as the Derby enters the third hour every year. In all, this should be a fresh take on the Derby that removes none of the integrity it has always had.