Skip to content

Tom Verducci suggests a bracket format for the Home Run Derby

Jul 6, 2013, 8:55 PM EDT

home run derby

SI’s Tom Verducci with the “why the heck didn’t I think of that?!” idea of the year: change the Home Run Derby to suit a bracket format, not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament.

Here’s how it works. You get 16 participants. The nine leading home run hitters are guaranteed entry. The host team gets one entrant. (It still boggles the mind that Justin Upton wasn’t selected in Arizona nor Billy Butler in Kansas City.) The defending champion also gets a spot. That leaves five wild card entrants. The Home Run Derby Committee, a panel of baseball officials and media personnel, will select the wild cards based on . . . well, let’s be honest: you pick the five remaining guys people most want to see.

The committee seeds the players one through 16 — not based strictly on leagues or home run totals (though the two guys with the most home runs should get the 1 and 2 seeds), but generally on the most entertaining matchups. This is entertainment, folks.

It works like the NCAA brackets. You go head-to-head against another player. It’s one-and-done or survive-and-advance. Each player gets 10 swings. The higher seeded player chooses to go first or second. The one with the most home runs moves on. Simple. In the event of a tie, the one with the longest home run advances, putting a premium on putting on a show.

Such a change would benefit everyone, from the fans watching, to the various media entities out there (ESPN et. al. would have their own bracket creation tools), to the writers, to the TV station covering the affair, and so forth. I love this idea to pieces.

The Home Run Derby, in its present format, takes too much unwarranted criticism but it certainly isn’t perfect and could stand to make a few changes. Granted, adopting a bracket format is a fairly big change, but the Derby has undergone plenty of changes in recent years. In 2005, the Derby took eight competitors, each from different countries. From 2000 to 2003, the Derby used a bracket format for its semifinals and finals (but not for the first round).

If I may suggest one additional rule: Wily Mo Pena must participate.

  1. largebill - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    First year after we moved back to Cincinnati it seemed like every Reds game we went to Wily Mo hit a homer. Not sure what he did rest of time, but he was darn good in the few games we got to.

    • dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:22 AM

      What are you talking about? The current format doesn’t have any swing limit. The current format is 10 outs so if you hit 10 homeruns you actually swing 20 times.

    • dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      Wrong person. Sorry about that.

    • dickclydesdale - Jul 7, 2013 at 2:46 AM

      Wright with only 13 homeruns should be the captain of nothing especially a hr derby.

  2. dolphindubs - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:16 PM


  3. hojo20 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    My condolences to anyone who watches the HR Derby,

  4. 13arod - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Dont like the bracket idea

  5. paul621 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    This would mean 30 at bats–cut that down and I’m on board. Otherwise, that will take forever.

  6. quintjs - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    I think the top 9 on the HR leader board idea works great, until 6 of them pull out.

    • jerze2387 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:24 PM

      Thats what SHE said


  7. Stiller43 - Jul 6, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    “The Home Run Derby, in its present format, takes too much unwarranted criticism…”

    IMO it takes too little very warranted criticism.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      More contestants, fewer at bats — that’s my solution. Just take the two players who hit the most homers in round one and send them to the finals. Ten swings, not ten outs.

  8. ramblingalb - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Takes 3 hours now, as constructed above, would take twice that. And no one wants to take 40 swings, they wear out now with 30.

    • dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

      What are you talking about? The current format doesn’t have any swing limit. The current format is 10 outs so if you hit 10 homeruns you actually swing 20 times.

      • phillyinknoxville - Jul 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

        Right. And if you advance to the next round and hit 10 more HRs, 20 swings + 20 swings = 40. Was that so hard?

      • dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        He implied he believes the current format is 10 swings per round for a total of 30. The guys suggestion of 10 swings per round is 40 swings which is too much. The current format is 10 puts per round. Let me use 2011 as my example.

        Round 1
        Robinson Cano hit 8 + 10 outs = 18 swings
        Adrian Gonzalez hit 9 + 10 outs = 19 swings

        Round 2
        Robinson Cano hit 12 + 10 outs = 22 swings or 40 after 2 rounds
        Adrian Gonzalez hit 11 + 10 outs = 21 swings or 40 after 2 rounds

        Round 3
        Robinson Cano hit 12 + 10 outs = 22 swings or 62 after 3 rounds
        Adrian Gonzalez hit 11 + 10 outs = 21 swings or 61 after 3 rounds

        This guys proposal has everyone capped off at 40 swings maximum. Both these guys had 40 in the first 2 rounds and well more after the final round. How do they swing more with the proposed format geniuses?

  9. innout10 - Jul 6, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Love the idea… If swing number is an issue at 40 then do 8 player bracket for only 3 rounds instead of 4

    • dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:26 AM

      The current format has no swing limit. The format used now has 10 outs so if you hit 10 homeruns you take 20 swings. The proposal above has just 10 swings maximum with the top hitter advancing.

  10. fissels - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Anything would be good so we don’t have to listen to Chris Berman and his “Back back back” nonsense any more than we have to.

  11. dodgers1k88 - Jul 7, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    For those commenting on the amount of swings being 40 versus 30 I’m thinking you don’t pay attention. The current format is based on 10 outs. You swing away until reaching those outs. When Josh Hamilton hit 28 at Yankee Stadium he took 38 swings in round 1 alone. The proposed format limits each round to 10 swings only. If you hit 10 you’re done. There isn’t even a swing off if the batters tie at 5 each, they use distance to break ties. I like the proposal. Could make the derby fresh.

  12. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 7, 2013 at 2:14 AM

    How about no more HR derby and NO More All star game? They have never been interesting at anytime in history, do away with this mess please and get us a new Comish while you are at it PLEASE!!

    • nbjays - Jul 7, 2013 at 8:02 AM

      How about no more ‘harry? He’s never posted anything remotely interesting, or intelligent, just posts trash talk and criticism. Please do away with this mess and get us a new troll.

  13. abaird2012 - Jul 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Meh. HR derby pointless. If I want to watch BP, I’ll just get to a game early.

  14. louhudson23 - Jul 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    How about just eliminating the damn thing….

  15. greymares - Jul 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Using the bracket format, I would use an 85mph. pitching machine reduce the at bat to 5 swings or 10 pitches. longest H.R. wins

  16. moogro - Jul 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    It’s PAINFUL to watch. It draws you in because they are baseball stars, but what happens is really stupid. The players put on their icy grimaces, the announcers are bored and irritating, and everyone daydreams wondering how this may have been avoidable if we maybe could have gone back in time to change this. But alas, it is too late again this year. Back to the regular season! But, before you know it:

    “…oh shit, I got picked for the home run derby AGAIN. Is it the same format? Imagine how hard it must be to watch this. This is embarrassing. Maybe I’ll drop out. Oh, people won’t like that. My coaches want me to get out. Oh shit, I got picked for that f***ing home run derby again!”

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2877)
  2. D. Span (2453)
  3. J. Fernandez (2364)
  4. G. Stanton (2361)
  5. G. Springer (2236)
  1. F. Rodney (2165)
  2. Y. Puig (2139)
  3. M. Teixeira (2081)
  4. G. Perkins (2003)
  5. H. Olivera (1876)