Thanks to Denver’s dry and thin air, expect baseballs to fly out of Coors Field Monday during MLB’s annual Home Run Derby.
Because dry balls carry farther, baseballs at Coors Field are stored in a so-called humidor that keeps them at a steady 70 degrees and 50% humidity. But MLB announced the baseballs used in the Derby won’t be stored in the humidor, so expect some crushing blows.
Easily the most-anticipated participant is Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, the first Japanese player to compete in the Derby and the first player in MLB history to be selected an All-Star as both a position player and a pitcher. Ohtani, who has 31 home runs so far this season, will face off against Washington Nationals slugger Juan Soto in the first round of tonight’s Derby.
It’ll be interesting to see if Ohtani drives more viewers. The 2019 Derby (the event was canceled last year due to the pandemic) averaged a combined 6.20 million viewers, which was down 26% from the 8.35 million who watched in 2017, according to Sports Media Watch.
For the second straight year, no Phillies players will be competing. Rhys Hoskins made it to the second round of the 2018 Home Run Derby, but lost by one home run to Washington Nationals slugger Kyle Schwarber. Two Phillies players have won the Derby — Bobby Abreu in 2005 and Ryan Howard in 2006.
Monday’s event is just the second time the Derby has taken place at Coors Field. In 1998, Ken Griffey Jr. blasted 19 home runs, barely edging out then-Cleveland Indians slugger Jim Thome’s 17 home runs.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Home Run Derby:
2021 MLB Home Run Derby
When: Monday, July 12
Where: Coors Field, Denver
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: ESPN (Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez, Buster Olney, Marly Rivera)
Spanish: ESPN Deportes (Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Orlando ‘El Duque’)
Streaming: ESPN+ (requires subscription, ESPN app (requires cable authentication), FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, AT&T Now (all require a subscription).
Players in the Home Run Derby
Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels
Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers
Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
Trey Mancini, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals
Home Run Derby bracket
The seeding of the players in Monday’s Derby was determined by their 2021 home run totals as of Wednesday. Tiebreakers were determined by 2020 home run totals.
(1) Shohei Ohtani vs. (8) Juan Soto
(4) Salvador Perez vs. (5) Pete Alonso
(2) Joey Gallo vs. (7) Trevor Story
(3) Matt Olson vs. (6) Trey Mancini
The Derby is a single-elimination bracket event with three rounds. During the first two rounds, each batter has three minutes to belt out as many home runs as they can. During the final round, the time is reduced to two minutes per batter.
Batters are awarded 30 seconds of bonus time at the conclusion of each regulation period. A batter can earn an additional 30 seconds by belting out a home run over 475 feed during the regulation period.
Hitters are entitled to one 45-second timeout in each round, though that doesn’t extend into a batter’s bonus time.
What happens if there’s a tie?
In the event of a tie, the top two batters will faceoff in a 60-second swing-off. If a tie remains after that, hitters battle in successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner.
There’s only been one tie in Derby history — 2019, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. edged out Joc Pederson in the third tiebreaker.
How much does the winner receive?
The winner of the Derby takes home $1 million, thanks to a new agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association put in place prior to the 2019 season.
2019: Pete Alonso, New York Mets (Progressive Field)
2018: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (Nationals Park)
2017: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (Marlins Park)
2016: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Petco Park)
2015: Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park)
Celebrity softball game
Immediately following the Derby, ESPN will air the annual celebrity softball game, which features a mix of former baseball stars, professional athletes, celebrities, and social media stars.
Players include JoJo Siwa, Kane Brown, Steve Aoki, Karamo Brown, Larry Walker, CC Sabathia, gold medalist Jennie Finch, San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White, Quavo, and 2018 celebrity softball MVP The Miz.
If you don’t want the result spoiled, don’t Google it — the game was actually played Sunday evening.