The 2015 Home Run Derby is in all-out planning mode, as official plans are expected to be completed soon. The new rules, however, are in place. The third annual Mid-Summer Classic will be the first to have a "wood bat only" rule. While this had been discussed in the past, only in the last couple of months was it officially decided on and put in place. This will also be the first year that the GBC will be expanding the number of hitters to 8, instead of the previous 6.
Gateway Baseball president and 2015 host Kyle Knisley weighed in on the decision to expand the Derby. "We made the decision to expand the roster to eight this year because there is so much competition, especially in the National League. Of course, you want to see everybody in the Derby, but the point is to have the very best home run hitters out there." This decision was made following a lengthy discussion among GBC organizers. "With the growth our club has seen, it just makes sense to grow the Derby as well. Making it to the Derby is supposed to be an exciting thing, so we don't want to make it too easy. At the same time, this is the goal, to see growth in the club, and to be able to get four of your best hitters from each league and still know that there are other guys that are great hitters that didn't make it."
Below are the official rules for the 2015 Home Run Derby. More details can be found here.
Home Run Derby Rules
The Home Run Derby consists of 8 of the Gateway Baseball Club's most powerful hitters (4 from each league), as voted on by "Gateway Nation." The Derby winner from the previous year is guaranteed a spot in the contest the following year. In addition, the winner of the 2015 Home Run Derby will also earn his league home field advantage in the 2015 GBC Championship.
Each player will supply their own pitcher. This can be a parent, sibling, friend, coach, or anybody the player chooses. Contestants will alternate by league (in order of least votes to most), with contestants from the hosts league filling the even numbered slots, providing a sort of "home field advantage." Hitters will compete in a traditional playoff system, in which the players with the most home runs advance to the next round, with the bottom half of the contestants being eliminated in each round. Each player gets 10 "outs" per round. In this event, any swing that does not result in a home run is considered an "out." Should a tie exist at the end of any round that affects the elimination of any player, the tied players enter a "swing-off", allowed only 5 swings, regardless of whether or not they are home runs. Should it remain tied, another "swing-off" takes place, this time allowing only 3 swings. If still tied, sudden death swings occur, with players alternating until one hits a home run. In this event, a batter from the league of the host will go first. If multiple players involved in a sudden death situation are from the same league, the player with more regular season home runs will go first. The home run count will be reset after each and every round. The player that continues on and hits the most home runs in the final round will be declared the winner. This year, only wood bats will be permitted.
What do you think of this year's changes? Let us know in the comments below!