Yoenis Cespedes put on a show on Monday night at Target Field, launching moonshot after moonshot en route to repeating as the Home Run Derby champion. Cespedes deserved the honor, but the new format put in place for the Derby is somewhat questionable. The goal is to crown the person who hits the most home runs as champion, but the format put in place does not reflect that goal.
In the new format, players are pitted against each other in a bracket-style elimination. Cespedes, the champion, hit 30 home runs on Monday night. The runner-up, Todd Frazier, hit only 11. Frazier had to hit only 10 home runs to earn his spot in the final round, while Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista hit 10 in the first round alone.
It simply doesn’t make any sense to turn the Home Run Derby into a single-elimination tournament where players who hit a lot of home runs have the potential to be eliminated early, while others with low totals have chances to advance further.
The fans in Minnesota were undoubtedly treated to a show, but there are more logical ways to determine the Home Run Derby champion. Instead, it would make more sense if the teams were split into two sides of five, NL and AL. In the first two rounds, the bottom two players in each round on each side would be eliminated. In the final round, the top player from each league would receive 10 outs and the player who hits the most home runs would win.
This is one of a couple of solutions to the problem, but the bottom line is that MLB needs to decide if the Derby is purely for entertainment, or if it is held to determine the true home run champion in a particular year.
On a positive note, Giancarlo Stanton participating on Monday night hopefully opened the door for other top sluggers to participate in the Derby next season. Many baseball fans would have loved seeing Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu in this year’s competition, and future team captains would do well to recognize raw power instead of just numbers.
The Home Run Derby would receive its highest ratings in history if the best five home run hitters from both the NL and AL participated every season, and hopefully that’s something MLB will work towards in the future.