The sport of baseball has a lot of fun aspects to it. Arguably the most exciting and fan-favorite aspect of baseball is the home run. It gets the crowd off of their feet, with everyone either erupting in excitement or despair. All of that comes from one swing of the bat. The love of the home run is what started the Home Run Derby in the MLB.
The MLB Home Run Derby is the annual event held once a year before the All-Star Game, usually in July. Eight players are chosen throughout the league to participate. Those players are seeded in a bracket, ranked by their home run season total. The players go head to head in a home run challenge, with the loser being eliminated and the winner moving on.
The MLB has hosted a lot of home run derby’s over the years, resulting in a lot of fond and highlight-reel memories. However, a few stand above the rest. These are our top 5 home runs in MLB Home Run Derby History:
Top 5 in MLB History:
5. 1996 Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia) – The home run derby in 1996 saw baseball’s two most prolific home run hitters face each other in a 3 round showdown. The two players were Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants and Mark McGwire of the Oakland A’s. Bonds trailed by two home runs with one out left in the finals. He went on to hit three straight home runs for the win.
4. 1998 Coors Field (Colorado) – The 1998 Home Run Derby is special in history because it was the first year the event was broadcasted live on television. This particular year saw Ken Griffey Jr of the Seattle Mariners face Jim Thome of the Minnesota Twins. 1998 was Griffey Jr’s second straight win in the event.
3. 2019 Progressive Field (Cleveland) – The Home Run Derby at Progressive Field saw the emergence of then-rookie and now MLB Superstar Vladamir Guerrero Jr of the Toronto Blue Jays. Pete Alonso beat Guerrero Jr in a thrilling final round between two rookie sensations.
Alonso would go on to lead the MLB in home runs that season with 53, and MLB’s rookie record. Although Alonso won the event, the star of the show was Guerrero Jr. The highlight was Guerrero Jr’s semi-final matchup versus Joc Pederson of the LA Dodgers. It took three rounds of swing-offs for Guerrerro Jr to finally outlast Joc Pederson, 40-39.
2. 2016 Petco Park (San Diego) – Giancarlo Stanton stole the show in 2016 when he was with the Miami Marlins, beating Todd Frazier of the Chicago White Sox. Stanton demolished Petco Park with baseballs, en route to a Derby-record 61 home runs. He hit the 10 longest home runs on the night, as well as the 20 hardest-hit balls. The hardest topping out at 120.4 mph.
- 2018 Nationals Park (Washington) – The 2018 Derby was something out of a Hollywood movie. The Washington Nationals fans had been pleading for Bryce Harper to participate in the home run derby on home turf. Their wish became beyond what they could have imagined though. Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals went on to defeat Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs in the 2018 Home Run Derby.
Schwarber set the bar high with 18 home runs in the final round. Harper would answer back, however, cranking nine home runs in the final 50 seconds of regulation to tie Schwarber. He eventually won on the second swing of his bonus 30 seconds. Harper, the third participant in Derby history to win on his home turf, hit a 478-foot drive in the final round.
History Of The Home Run Derby:
The Home Run Derby first began in 1985, and since the first iteration, has seen many rule changes. The premise of the event is that 8 players picked throughout the league, who thrive hitting home runs, face-off in a bracket-style challenge.
1985-1990 – 4-10 players from both the AL and NL were selected to participate. Each player was given 2 innings to hit as many home runs as possible before reaching 5 outs. For the derby, an out was defined as any swing that was not a home run. The winner of the contest was the player with the most total home runs after two innings.
1991 – the format was changed to a 3-round contest. From 1991 to 2006, 8-10 players were selected to hit as many home runs as possible before reaching 10 outs in each round. The tally would reset after each round, with the top four advancing to the second round. The top two would then advance to the final.
2006 – This year saw a small tweak to the format, with the tally only resetting before the final round. Therefore, the players with the four highest totals after Round 1 advanced to Round 2. The players who finished with the two highest scores of rounds 1 and 2 advanced to the finals.
2014 – This season saw major changes to the Home Run Derby. The MLB sought to speed up the event and increase the drama. In the new bracket format, five players from each league faced the other players in their league in Round 1. Each player would have seven outs. The five players would all face each other, eventually getting to the point of a league victor.
The finals featured the winner of each league. Each round stood alone, with the score reset after each round. Ties in any round were broken by a 3-swing swing-off. If the players remained tied, the players engaged in a sudden-death swing-off until one player hit a home run.
Current MLB Home Run Derby Format:
The format was changed once again in 2015, with this set of rules being used today. The most significant change is the elimination of outs, replaced by a time limit. Eight players are seeded based on their season home run totals and are given five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible.
The winner of each head-to-head matchup advances, until a final winner is determined. If a tie occurs in any match-up, a 1-minute swing-off decides the winner. After that, if they are still tied, the two players move to 3 swings swing-offs until a winner is determined.
Further, a player can get “bonus time” at the last minute of each round. During that time, the clock would stop for each home run, restarting once a swing does not result in a home run.
Additional bonus time can be earned for distance. Players who hit at least two home runs measuring at least 420 feet are given an extra minute of bonus time. An additional 30 seconds of bonus time is given if at least one home run measures over 475 feet.
Thank you for checking out this article! If you are a fan of the home run derby like I am, I hope this article entertained you or at least helped you learn a thing or two. To check out other MLB or Baseball related content, just click here. If you want to read up on other sports and related topics click here.