MLB Home Run Derby History and Winners: Full List

Have any Blue Jays players ever won the MLB Home Run Derby?
T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
T-Mobile Home Run Derby, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Every year, the Home Run Derby is the one of the main attractions for the MLB All-Star Game, as star-studded, prolific hitters battle it out for home run king supremacy. The intense action brings about great excitement and joy to many players and fans around the world during this annual hitting competition. With the 37th instalment of the derby set to take place in a few weeks, let’s take a closer look at some of the history of the event.

History and Format

The implementation of the Home Run Derby into the Midsummer Classic all began back in 1985 when it made its debut as part of the All-Star festivities held in Minnesota at the Metrodome. The All-Star Game itself provided great entertainment over the years, but adding this new element to the festivities brought it to another level for fan and player experience.

In terms of the format of the event, from 1985-1990, a total of 4-10 players were selected (2-5 players per league) to participate in the event where each player was given two innings consisting of five outs each to hit as many home runs as they could. An out was classified as any swing made by the batter that didn’t result in a home run. The player who had the most home runs over the two innings was declared the winner.

From 1991-2005, the format was revamped into a three-round competition where 8-10 players (4-5 players per league) were selected to hit as many home runs as they could before reaching 10 outs in each round. Home run totals accumulated per round were not carried over to the next round and reset to zero. The top four finishers in the first round advanced to the second round, and the top two finishers from the second round advanced to the final round where the winner would be determined. A slight adjustment was made for 2005 in which the players weren’t selected based on their respective leagues, but instead, in honour of the World Baseball Classic, the players represented their home countries instead.

From 2006-2013, the format was once again changed in which the home run total was allowed to accumulate in the first two rounds and only reset to zero in the final round. As a result, the four players with the highest totals advanced to the second round, with their totals carrying over. So then the two players with the highest cumulative total across two rounds advanced to the finals.

In 2014, the format was altered once again with greater complexity as five players were selected per league that faced off against each other in their own league for the first round, with each player having seven outs in total to hit as many home runs as they could. The highest scoring player from each league received a bye into the third round, while players finishing second and third in their respective leagues from the first round faced off against each other in the second round. From there, the second round winners would face the first round winners in the third round from the same league and the winner from there would represent their league in the final round against the opposing league’s winner to determine the ultimate champion. All totals reset after each round, and ties were broken by a 3-swing swing-off. If a tie still persisted, then it would go into sudden death until one player homers and the other player doesn’t.

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From 2015 to the present, the home run derby had a complete makeover, at it was changed into a new “timed” format, while removing the “outs” format from before. Eight players were selected from both leagues and were seeded based on their home run totals during the season as they would go head-to-head against each other in a single-elimination bracket format for a total of three rounds. Each player was given 3-5 minutes to hit as many home runs as they can, with the winner advancing to the next round in the bracket until the final winner was determined. In the finals, the time given was 2-5 minutes, depending on the year it was held. In addition, each player was given “bonus time” at the conclusion of the regulation period each round. Additional bonus time could be earned based on the home run distances hit. Depending on the year, home runs hit beyond 420-475 ft varying from one to two times would net the player with 30 seconds or one minute of extra time. If any tie occurred, a one-minute swing-off was used to break the tie. If a tie remained, 3-swing swing-offs were employed until a winner was determined. There have been also slight variations to this generalized timed format over the past decade, as MLB tinkered with little adjustments along the way to hopefully make the event run more smoothly.