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What's In Store for the 2024 Home Run Derby?

With the MLB All-Star Break approaching fast, it’s time for fans to get excited about the extra events that happen in addition to the main game. The most popular event is the Home Run Derby, where some of the best power hitters compete against each other to see who can hit the most home runs in an allotted time to win the grand prize of $1 million. 

In past years, there has been a controversy with players competing in the Home Run Derby, and the league's best power hitters often decide to stay away from the competition. With the risk of injury, the league decided to listen to these concerns and change the rules of the competition this year. Two of the biggest changes have to do with each round's bonus timing and the formatting of each round.

Courtesy of Aaron Ontiveroz / The Denver Post

New Timing and Other Rules

Within the Home Run Derby, the main concern was the short amount of time between swings for the players. In 2015, the league solidified the format of the Derby that was popularized until 2023, where the number of outs a player could have did not matter, but the time management of their pitcher mattered.

While the timing will remain the same this year, there is now a limit to the amount of pitches a hitter can see during each round. In the first and second rounds, hitters can hit for three minutes or see 40 pitches. During the finals, the round will end after two minutes or 27 pitches, whichever comes first. 

The greatest change in the Derby comes in the bonus time. Traditionally, hitters can earn a total of 60 seconds of bonus time if they hit two home runs at least 440 feet in regulation time. Last year, this rule changed slightly, with hitters automatically getting 30 seconds of extra time no matter what. 

This year, hitters automatically receive bonus pitches until they record three outs. If a player hits a home run of at least 425 feet during the bonus time, they then get one additional out. With this new format the bonus time could go on for multiple minutes or only last a few pitches, which could benefit the game’s best power hitters.

Courtesy of Abbie Parr / Associated Press

New Format

In the past, hitters were placed into a single-elimination bracket with three rounds and labeled by seed numbers, but this will no longer be the case. Instead, all eight players will enter the game on the same playing field, and the top four performers will move on to the semifinals.

If any players end the first round in a tie, the tiebreaker will be determined by who hit the longest home run. In the second and third rounds, the format will switch back to the single-elimination bracket, with seed numbers being determined by how many home runs each player had in the first round. 

While the old format reflected a player's performance in the regular season, the new format chooses to only reflect their performance in the Home Run Derby. In the past, the game favored whoever the best power hitter was that year, even if it didn’t go the way many fans thought it would. By implementing this new format, MLB is evening the playing field for all competitors, and letting players create their own destiny during the derby.

Courtesy of Lindsey Wasson / Associated Press

With this new format and the hope of less injuries, the Home Run Derby might attract some power hitters who might have stayed away these past few years. So far, only Gunnar Henderson has announced that he will participate, but more hitters will most likely announce in the coming days.

Edited by Emma Habel

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