While All-Star voting figures to be tweaked sooner rather than later – this after the folks in Kansas City have completely overtaken the ballot – the Home Run Derby will feature a few changes on July 13 in Cincinnati.
Gone are the days of National League versus American League and derbies that go more than an hour past their allotted time. Yes, this year’s Home Run Derby will be a three-round, single-elimination, timed event. Instead of getting a set number of “outs” per round, each player will have five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible.
That’s fine with Todd Frazier. The Reds third baseman finished runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes last year but felt the derby dragged a bit.
“Yeah, I thought it was too long,” Frazier said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It was a lot of time in between. But the way they’re trying to change it up, I think it’s going to be interesting this year with the five-minute round. We’ll see how that goes. I think for TV it’s going to be really good because you know the time limits. You know how long it’s really going to be.”
There are, however, a few rules to keep things interesting: Players will receive an extra 30 seconds if they hit a home run at least 475 feet, and they’ll get an extra minute if they hit two home runs at least 420 feet.
“That could hinder you, or it could help you,” said Frazier, who is second in the NL in home runs (25) and fifth in RBIs (54). “It just depends on your endurance basically.”
But are home-run measurements even accurate? Some distances seem incredibly random and arbitrary.
“They’re not accurate at all, to be honest with you,” Frazier said. “To see Giancarlo Stanton hit one out of Dodger Stadium and that’s not over 500 foot, I just don’t get how they track that. The ball’s still going further. It’s not where it lands. It’s where it’s going to land. I’ve hit some here in Great American Ball Park that I think are 30, 40, 50 feet further. Some of them just don’t make any sense. I don’t know how they do that, to be honest.”
Frazier will likely participate in this year’s derby, along with Los Angeles Angels center-fielder Mike Trout. If so, we could have an all-New Jersey final, as Frazier, 29, is from Point Pleasant, and Trout, 23, is from Vineland.
“I think that’d be awesome,” Frazier said. “I think that’d be a pretty cool final. Hopefully I come out the victor. That would be nice. We’ll see what happens. I don’t want the young buck getting me, man. I got to get him.”
One guy Frazier won’t get? Billy Hamilton – at least not in a foot race. With 57 hits, 17 walks and a .273 OBP, Hamilton has struggled at the plate this season, but he still has 40 steals – by far the most in the majors. Heck, only two other players in the bigs – Dee Gordon (26) and Charlie Blackmon (21) have even 20 steals.
“And everybody knows (he’s going to steal),” Frazier said of Hamilton. “It just depends on which base he wants to steal. Once he gets that on-base percentage up, we just want him to get on: on an error, on a hit, a walk, a hit by pitch – hopefully above the waist – and he can just keep on moving. That’s why we say, ‘Run, Billy, run.’ That’s what we call him. Just run, man. It’s just a matter of time. He’s been hitting all right. Once he figures it out, he’ll be unbelievable.”