Home Run Derby format, explained: Number of rounds, time limits & tie rules for 2021 contest

The Home Run Derby has undergone a number of format changes since the inaugural competition in 1985.

It used to be done in innings, then outs and now it is done in time. It went from a wide-open field to brackets of players.

But the latest format seems to be a popular one. Fans enjoy the faster pace with batters being now more inclined to swing often as opposed to waiting for the exact right pitch to come by.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect out of the format in the 2021 Home Run Derby.

MORE: Breaking down the Home Run Derby field

How many rounds are in the derby?

There are three rounds in the Home Run Derby, which operates in a bracket style. Two competitors will be pitted against one another in the quarterfinals with each one hoping to hit as many home runs as they can in the time allotted to them. The batter with the most home runs moves on to the semifinals, where he will face off against the winner of the neighboring bracket. The two hitters will go through the process again to decide who will be paired up in the finals of the Home Run Derby.

This has been the format of the derby since 2015 when, for the first time, participants faced off in a bracket to reach the finals. Previously, each player was allotted a number of outs to work with — any swing that didn’t result in a home run was considered an out — to hit as many home runs as possible. Each hitter had 10 outs from 1991 through 2013 before it was changed to just seven outs in 2014. The top four in home runs advanced to the semifinals, working to narrow the field down to just the remaining two for the final round.

What are the time limits?

Under the new format, batters have four minutes each to hit as many home runs as they can. They are allowed to take as many swings as they would like as they do not face a penalty for swinging and failing to hit a home run. The clock starts as soon as the first pitch is thrown. Players can take one timeout at any point during the round.

Batters can extend their time limits by 30 seconds if they launch two baseballs equal to or farther than 440 feet.

What happens in a tie?

There are two steps for a tie in the Home Run Derby. The first step is a one-minute round where each batter will have a minute to hit as many home runs as they can. Should the batters remain tied after that round, there will be three-swing swing-offs until a winner is decided.

There had never been a tie in the first first four years of the new format, but fans had the chance to see it take place for the first time in Cleveland in the 2019 derby, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joc Pederson were forced to do battle in three swing-offs in their second round matchup — one timed, and two three-swing swing-offs. Guerrero ultimately won with a total of 40 home runs to Pederson’s 39.

When is the 2021 Home Run Derby?

  • Date: Monday, July 12
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • Location: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
  • Channel: ESPN | ESPN2 (Statcast broadcast)
  • Live stream: ESPN+ | fuboTV (7-day free trial)

The Home Run Derby will be held on the first day of the All-Star break, coming on Monday, July 12. Fans can tune into the broadcast on ESPN, or watch the Statcast broadcast on ESPN2.

Those hoping to live stream can find both broadcasts either on ESPN+ or fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

Past Home Run Derby champions

Here’s who has won the Home Run Derby in the past. Ken Griffey Jr. is the only hitter to win the derby in Colorado. He also holds the record for the most Home Run Derby wins overall, sitting at three, including 1998 and 1999 when he became the first player to win the event in back-to-back years.

YearPlayerTeamPark (City)
2019Pete AlonsoMetsProgressive Field (Cleveland)
2018Bryce HarperNationalsNationals Park (Washington, D.C.)
2017Aaron JudgeYankeesMarlins Park (Miami)
2016Giancarlo StantonMarlinsPetco Park (San Diego)
2015Todd FrazierRedsGreat American Ballpark (Cincinnati)
2014Yoenis CespedesAthleticsTarget Field (Minneapolis)
2013Yoenis CespedesAthleticsCiti Field (New York City)
2012Prince FielderTigersKauffman Park (Kansas City)
2011Robinson CanoYankeesChase Field (Phoenix)
2010David OrtizRed SoxAngel Stadium (Anaheim)
2009Prince FielderBrewersBusch Stadium (St. Louis)
2008Justin MorneauTwinsYankee Stadium (New York City)
2007Vladimir GuerreroAngelsAT&T Park (San Francisco)
2006Ryan HowardPhilliesPNC Park (Pittsburgh)
2005Bobby AbreuPhilliesComerica Park (Detroit)
2004Miguel TejadaOriolesMinute Maid Park (Houston)
2003Garret AndersonAngelsU.S. Cellular Field (Chicago)
2002Jason GiambiYankeesMiller Park (Milwaukee)
2001Luis GonzalezDiamondbacksSafeco Field (Seattle)
2000Sammy SosaCubsTurner Field (Atlanta)
1999Ken Griffey Jr.MarinersFenway Park (Boston)
1998Ken Griffey Jr.MarinersCoors Field (Colorado)
1997Tino MartinezYankeesJacobs Field (Cleveland)
1996Barry BondsGiantsVeterans Stadium (Philadelphia)
1995Frank ThomasWhite SoxThe Ballpark in Arlington (Arlington)
1994Ken Griffey Jr.MarinersThree Rivers Stadium (Pittsburgh)
1993Juan GonzalezRangersOriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore)
1992Mark McGwireAthleticsJack Murphy Stadium (San Diego)
1991Cal Ripken Jr.OriolesSkyDome (Toronto)
1990Ryne SandbergCubsWrigley Field (Chicago)
1989*Ruben SierraRangersAnaheim Stadium (Anaheim)
1989*Eric DavisRedsAnaheim Stadium (Anaheim)
1987Andre DawsonCubsOakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland)
1986*Wally JoynerAngelsAstrodome (Houston)
1986*Darryl StrawberryMetsAstrodome (Houston)
1985Dave ParkerRedsHubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (Minneapolis)

*Both 1986 and 1989 saw ties in the Home Run Derby

Leave a Comment