On Wednesday, Major League Baseball revealed the bracket for the upcoming Home Run Derby. The Derby will take place on Monday, July 8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Last year’s Derby was among the most exciting in recent memory, as Bryce Harper won in front of his then-hometown Washington Nationals. Who will win this year?
Before getting to the bracket, let’s lay out how this thing works. The eight players are seeded No. 1-8 based on their regular-season home-run total entering Wednesday. Ties are broken based on number of home runs hit over the past couple weeks.
As for the Derby itself, there are three rounds, each single-elimination. The batters have four minutes to hit as many homers as they can. They can stop the clock once in each of the first two rounds, and twice in the finals. Players can also earn bonus time if they hit multiple home runs longer than 440 feet. In the event of a tie, there’s a minute-long homer-off.
Now, to the bracket:
Christian Yelich (1) versus Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (8)
Alex Bregman (4) versus Joc Pederson (5)
Pete Alonso (2) versus Carlos Santana (7)
Josh Bell (3) versus Ronald Acuna (6)
On paper, it looks like a good field, with a decided slant toward youngsters — like Acuna, Guerrero, and Alonso. Considering how baseball would be wise to market its best young talent, this seems like a step in the right direction.
In Washington, D.C. last season, Bregman hit 15 home runs in the first round but fell two shots shy of defeating Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber finished as runner-up to eventual winner Bryce Harper.
“It’s a lot of fun and something I watched as a little kid,” Bregman said. “I had a lot of fun doing it last year and, hopefully, I can have a better showing this year and make it a lot further.”
For Bregman, Progressive Field features more friendly dimensions than Nationals Park. It is just 325 feet out to left field in Cleveland and 370 feet to the left-center power alley. Bregman plans to stick with an identical approach from last season’s Derby, driving low, sinking line drives to his pull side.