Baseball takes center stage on the sports calendar for a few days, beginning with the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
There are eight contestants, including Nationals star Bryce Harper on his home turf, participating in the derby for the second time in his career. That makes the 25-year-old Harper the wily veteran among this group, with the other seven players in their first Home Run Derby. Harper finished second in the 2013 derby.
Most of the players in the derby are all-stars, though that’s not a prerequisite. We saw this in 2016, when then-Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton fell short of all-star status but dominated the Home Run Derby in San Diego, hitting 61 home runs in three rounds to take home the trophy.
This year there are three non-all-stars in the Home Run Derby field — Dodgers infielder Max Muncy, Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, and Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins. Muncy finished third in the final vote balloting in the National League, won by Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, also a Home Run Derby participant.
Participants and seeding
The players were ranked in order of their home run totals through Tuesday, July 10, with Aguilar earning the top spot thanks to his 23 home runs at that point. The seeding:
- Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
- Bryce Harper, Nationals
- Max Muncy, Dodgers
- Alex Bregman, Astros
- Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
- Javier Baez, Cubs
- Freddie Freeman, Braves
- Rhys Hoskins, Phillies
This is an individual battle and not a league competition, which is why it’s not a huge deal that seven of the eight contestants are National Leaguers, with Alex Bregman of the Astros the only American League player in the Home Run Derby.
Each round is four minutes, starting when the first pitch is thrown. Any home run hit on a pitch thrown before the clock reaches zero will count. If a player hits two home runs longer than 440 feet in that round, he gets an extra 30 seconds of bonus time at the end of the round. Players are allowed one 45-second timeout in the first round and semifinals, and in the finals each player gets two time outs, one 45 seconds long and the other 30 seconds.
My favorite rule of the Home Run Derby is if there is a tie at the end of a round the two contestants will battle in a 60-second swing-off, with no stoppages allowed. If they two are tied even after that, then things get fun: “if a tie remains after the swing-off, batters will engage in successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.”
For all the degenerate gamblers out there, here are the odds to win the Home Run Derby, courtesy of the folks at Bovada, with the hometown star the favorite in Washington:
- Bryce Harper 11/4
- Jesus Aguilar 7/2
- Max Muncy 5/1
- Freddie Freeman 11/2
- Rhys Hoskins 11/2
- Javier Baez 6/1
- Alex Bregman 9/1
- Kyle Schwarber 9/1
Television and streaming info
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN, ESPNews
Spanish TV: ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes