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“That’s Amore!” History of the MLB Home Run Derby & 2019 Contestants

We’ve finally reached my favorite part of the season: the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. For me, there’s no greater event, and it’s one that I’ve watched every season for as long as I can remember. We’ve seen some great Home Run Derbies in years past, most notably Josh Hamilton’s 28 first-round home runs (2008), Giancarlo’s combined 61 home runs (2106), and Bryce Harper hitting nine home runs in the span of 50 seconds to win at home (2018). The home run is by far the most majestic moment of a baseball game, and I’m sure we are in store for another great Home Run Derby showdown in 2019.

Before it’s MLB All-Star inauguration in 1985, Home Run Derby was a television series that ran 26 episodes in 1960. Held at Wrigley Field, in Los Angeles, it featured top Major League Baseball hitters in a nine-inning contest. I remember watching episodes on ESPN Classic during the early 2000s. Hank Aaron took the crown with six victories in seven appearances. There were monetary incentives for each competition with the winner receiving $2000 and the runner-up receiving $1000. Additional incentives were included for 3+ consecutive home runs.

Since 1985, the Home Run Derby has taken place the day before the All-Star Game. From 1985-1990, between four and ten players took part, in a “two-inning” game, hitting as many home runs as possible before reaching five outs. The winner was decided by the player that hit the most home runs during the given “two innings.” From 1991-2005, the format changed to three rounds. Eight to ten players were selected for the contest, with players hitting as many home runs before reaching 10 outs. From there, the counts reset with the top-four advancing to the second round, and the top-two advancing to the final round. Beginning in 2006 through 2013, there was a minute change in the contest’s rules. The running home run count was reset only before the final round. The players with top-four totals, after the first round, advanced to the second round, and the two players with the highest totals (Round 1 & Round 2) advanced to the final round. To help speed up the contest, the format was again changed in 2014. Five players, from each league, faced one another in round one with each player getting seven outs. Players from each league with the highest home run totals in round one received a second-round “BYE” while the players with the second and third highest round one total (each league) went against one another. The round two winner from each league faced the round one winners, and the round three winner was the winner of their respective league. The final round featured the winner from each league. The scores were reset after each round. Since 2015, outs have been eliminated. Outs were replaced by a time limit, and the field was seeded by total home runs up to the All-Star Break. Each round consists of each player getting as many home runs in a five minute span. The winner of each head-to-head matchup advances until the final winner is crowned. Additional time can be awarded; a player who hits two home runs of 420ft+ is awarded an extra minute of bonus time, and an additional 30 seconds is awarded if a home run measures over 475ft. The 2015 contest rules are what we’ve become accustomed to, and will be seeing in 2019.

The 2019 All-Star Game will be featured at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. The original Home Run Derby player field was to feature Milwaukee’s, and reigning NL MVP, Christian Yelich. Due to pulling out of the contest (back issue), Oakland’s Matt Chapman will be replacing Yelich in the Home Run Derby player field. Below is a breakdown of the 2019 Home Run Derby player field, and bracket. I went ahead and gave each player’s current stat line as well as their odds to win the Home Run Derby via CBS Sports. Additional statistics are provided with each contestant.

 

Round 1: Matt Chapman, OAK (1) vs. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., TOR (8)

Matt Chapman: .265/21 HR/52 RBI, Longest Home Run: 441 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 113.3 MPH

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.: .244/8 HR/25 RBI, Longest Home Run: 451 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 113.7 MPH

Round 1: Alex Bregman, HOU (4) vs. Joc Pederson, LAD (5)

Alex Bregman: .268/23 HR/56 RBI, Longest Home Run: 440 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 105.0 MPH

Joc Pederson: .241/20 HR/42 RBI, Longest Home Run: 445 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 113.7 MPH

Round 1: Pete Alonso, NYM (2) vs. Carlos Santana, CLE (7)

Pete Alonso: .280/29 HR/66 RBI, Longest Home Run: 458 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 118.3 MPH

Carlos Santana: .298/19 HR/52 RBI, Longest Home Run: 426 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 109.5 MPH

Round 1: Josh Bell, PIT (3) vs. Ronald Acuna, Jr., ATL (6)

Josh Bell: .304/27 HR/84 RBI, Longest Home Run: 474 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 116.2 MPH

Ronald Acuna, Jr.: .291/21 HR/53 RBI, Longest Home Run: 466 Feet, Hardest Hit Home Run: 114.3 MPH

 

Odds:

Josh Bell 7-2

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. 9-2

Joc Pederson 5-1

Pete Alonso 5-1

Carlos Santana 7-1

Matt Chapman 8-1

Alex Bregman 8-1

Ronald Acuna, Jr. 10-1

 

Progressive Field (Cleveland, OH) Dimensions:

Left Field (19-foot High Wall): 325ft

Left Field Alley: 370ft

Center: 410ft

Right Field: 325ft

Right Field Alley: 375ft

 

My Pick to Win:

Pete Alonso (NYM)

 

 

 

I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. I underwent successful Tommy John Surgery in 2008, and can give a wide-range of tips on the surgery and rehabilitation. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as Serie A football [Forza Rossoneri!]. 2018 will be my fourth writing for Major League Fantasy Sports, and each season gets better than the previous. 2016 was very emotional for Cubs fans alike. After 108 years, they finally scaled the mountaintop! "Baseball been berry, berry good to me!"

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