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2015 Home Run Derby

Jul 13, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

CINCINNATI — Hello from Great American Ball Park, where the sun actually is shining at the moment but is not expected to throughout the evening. There was already one major storm that swept through town this afternoon, and there’s another one coming before the end of the night. With that in mind, MLB decided to tweak the already-new timing rules on tonight’s Home Run Derby in an attempt to speed things up and get the event finished before the real heavy stuff arrives.

There’s a whole new format to the Derby this season, with a bracket format that pits the majors’ (healthy) home run leader (Albert Pujols) against the competitor with the fewest home runs to date (Kris Bryant). So, the 1-seed faces the 8-seed, the 2-seed faces the 7-seed, and so on and so forth.

There’s also a clock involved for the first time. Players originally were going to have 5 minutes apiece to take as many swings as they liked. Now, with the weather situation, that number is down to 4 minutes. There’s also the opportunity for 30 seconds to be added based on home run distance.

Should be a fun event as always. Enjoy…

2015 MLB HOME RUN DERBY
Where: Great American Ball Park
Gametime: 8 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN
Radio: 92.7 FM, 94.3 FM, 980 AM
Weather: Storms late, 72 degrees, Wind 6 mph RF to LF

FIRST ROUND
1-Albert Pujols vs. 8-Kris Bryant
4-Joc Pederson vs. 5-Manny Machado
3-Josh Donaldson vs. 6-Anthony Rizzo
2-Todd Frazier vs. 7-Prince Fielder

SEMIFINALS
Pujols/Bryant vs. Pederson/Machado
Donaldson/Rizzo vs. Frazier/Fielder

FINALS
Semifinal Winner 1 vs. Semifinal Winner 2

8:10 p.m. — And we are ready to get started here in front of a packed house. First up is Albert Pujols (still booed here even though he doesn’t play for the hated Cardinals anymore) vs. the rookie Kris Bryant.

8:27 p.m. — Well, this whole time limit thing definitely adds a new twist to this event. Anthony Rizzo looked downright exhausted after his 4 minutes were up (and that was with one timeout called a minute in). He got off to a slow start but then picked things up and finished with 8 homers … only to bested by Josh Donaldson, who totaled nine, including a 465-foot bomb way into the upper deck down the third-base line. So Donaldson moves onto Round 2 and will face either Todd Frazier or Prince Fielder.

8:46 p.m. — OK, I’ll admit it: This new format is pretty cool. Because it gives us moments like the one we just got. Fielder had hit 13 homers in his 4 minutes (plus 30 bonus seconds) and that put Cincinnati’s own Frazier in a tough spot. Frazier, though, pulled it off with a flair for the dramatic. He hit his 13th homer with about 10 seconds to spare, tying Fielder. Then with the crowd in a frenzy, he stepped up again needing to hit one more homer during his 30 bonus seconds. He only needed two of those seconds, blasting the first pitch to left-center to “walk-off” Fielder. That was very cool. So it’s Donaldson vs. Frazier in one of the semifinals.

9:05 p.m. — Impressive display by Manny Machado, who hit his homers in bunches in the first round. That included three in a row on two separate occasions, including during the final 30 seconds of his 4-minute round. Machado added two more in bonus time, laying down the gauntlet for Joc Pederson … who answered the challenge in even more impressive fashion. The Dodgers rookie launched 10 homers in the first two minutes alone, then after a timeout got to 13 with a full 1:07 to spare. So Pederson moves on and Machado is eliminated despite his 12 homers.

9:24 p.m. — The other rookie in this field, Kris Bryant, didn’t fare as well as Pederson. Bryant got off to a slow start and despite a late push could only get to nine homers. That set the stage for the evening’s final participant, Albert Pujols, to deliver the first buzzer-beater in baseball history. Sitting on 9 homers and with the clock winding down, Pujols launched one more homer to left just as the clock struck zero. So Pujols is on to the semifinals to face Pederson.

9:47 p.m. — Todd Frazier has done it again, and this crowd is loving every minute of it. After Josh Donaldson belted nine homers in his semifinal round, Frazier stepped to the plate to a huge roar. He was sitting on eight homers with about a minute to go, then kept coming up short. Finally, he launched one off the black batter’s eye in center field to tie Donaldson with 8 seconds to go, then won it on his next swing. Can’t believe it, but the Home Run Derby has become fun again, and all it took was the addition of a clock to the event. Frazier makes it to the finals, where he’ll face either Albert Pujols or Joc Pederson.

10:10 p.m. — More high drama in the other semifinal, except this time somebody ran out of time. After Pederson hit 12 homers in his round, Pujols tried his best to catch him, getting to 11 in the bonus 30 seconds. But his last flyball to deep center landed short of the fence, and BP pitcher Dino Ebel couldn’t throw the next pitch in time. So Pederson wins 12-11 and now goes on to face Frazier in the finals. Wonder who the crowd will be rooting for here…

10:34 p.m. — It’s over, it’s all over! Todd Frazier does it again, winning in a dramatic walk-off, 15-to-14. Pederson got off to a slow start in his finals round but then went bananas, homering on six consecutive swings at one point. He had 13 when the 4-minute clock expired, then added another in the bonus round, putting up a really big number for Frazier to have to top. But he did it. He launched No. 14 with 12 seconds to go, then hit the winner at the start of the bonus round. Very cool event. Couldn’t script that any better.

  1. stoatva - Jul 13, 2015 at 7:06 PM

    The home run derby would be a good opportunity to try out automated ball and strike calling. These things have become incredibly tedious as players take one lob after another right down the middle.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 13, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      I know lots of fans are enamored of the idea of using something like Pitch Track. But you need to be aware that the current systems only track where the ball is at the front of the plate. They do not track whether the ball was in the strike zone.

      Combined with the sophistication of the set up and tuning, this could very well cause lots of conspiracy theories about teams being advantaged.

      IMO the first step should be adding some % agreement between pitch track and umpires on called strikes. You would expect there to be differences. But umpires who are clearly bad would likely be easy to identify using this objective (even if not accurate) data.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 13, 2015 at 8:38 PM

        meant to say adding to the box score.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 13, 2015 at 8:52 PM

        Is that correct? I thought they tracked release point break and speed. If nothing else, they could use that to approximate pretty accurately its path over the plate.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:16 PM

        I think so. Here is a quote from http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-strike-zone-during-the-pitchfx-era/article about pitch track systems.

        These include pitch velocity, pitch movement and the location where the pitch crosses the front of home plate.

        Doing a Google search on the reliability of the various pitch track implementations reveals how they regularly disagree with each other. And many of the articles comment on how often the umpires are right.

        That is why I think the solution is to address the umpires who are bad (or inconsistent) in calling balls and strikes. Thus my suggestion to come up with some % agreement metrics that are published in the box scores. I am willing to bet that MLB has them, but their contract with the umpires union does not allow them to be published.

      • zmunchkin - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:18 PM

        Sorry for the bad link. Here is the correct one

      • natsdial8 - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:23 PM

        Calling pitches can’t be the easiest thing in the world , however some people obviously are better than others . MLB should do a better job taking on the umpire union and getting rid of the umps who are consistently bad . That would help.

      • natsdial8 - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:26 PM

        So agree w Zmunch didn’t see your earlier post.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:38 PM

        Thanks for the link. Agree in wishing MLB did a better job of weeding out the bad ones, or doing more to acknowledge and reward the good ones.

  2. Nats Fan Zee - Jul 13, 2015 at 8:23 PM

    Thank God Bryce is not involved in this “swing fest” … Bonus time, time outs …. What a joke!

  3. TimDz - Jul 13, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    Harper will win the derby….he’ll just do it tomorrow on his way to the MVP….

  4. TimDz - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:07 PM

    So much for all that practice, Manny…buh bye…..

  5. natsdial8 - Jul 13, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    Gotta be trade groundwork this week any good rumors out there ? Not that we ever have a good read on Mike R :😉

  6. stoatva - Jul 13, 2015 at 10:51 PM

    I’d seriously consider a Berman-free pay per view broadcast next year. He’s the pits.

  7. sunshinebobby - Jul 13, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    I must be getting old. But this was about as exciting as soccer.

  8. Joe Seamhead - Jul 14, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    Did I miss anything? It’s not a personal boycott, or anything. I just find everything about the All Star thing to be a total bore and sham.

  9. natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    Okay, I’ll admit it. I don’t usually watch the Home Run Derby, but last night, I watched the whole thing because, Todd Frazier. Good for him. I’m sorry, but that was very cool, with the home town crowd really getting into it. Heck,* I* was getting into it and exhorting the last one to get out. Yeah, I cheered for the Home Run Derby. What can I say? I’m a chick, and they were long balls. (I don’t think they should have to wait for balls to land before delivering the next pitch, though. But that’s just me.)

  10. natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    Hey, what happened to my comment?

    • natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2015 at 6:53 AM

      Oh, it’s up here. As you were.

      • natsfan1a - Jul 14, 2015 at 8:20 AM

        Oh, and, the girl who sang the anthem? Hit it out of the park. imho.

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ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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