We have had this new HomeRun Derby system for a few years now and last night was a perfect example of how the new system is flawed. Bryce Harper was crowned the HomeRun Derby Champion over Kyle Schwarber even though Schwarber hit 10 more homeruns than him on the night. I agree that the new style is more exciting than the old style but the old style put every hitter in the derby on an even playing field. I’d also like to touch on the fact that the umpires pick and choose when they want to enforce the do not pitch until the ball hits the ground rule. Let’s take a look.
So Bryce Harper got to play the HomeRun Derby in his home stadium and the organizers definitely gave him the home field advantage in this one. He had the easiest path to the final round and he got to hit second in each round so he never was in a situation of hitting first which causes hitting unnecessary homeruns/taking extra swings. He took on Freddie Freeman in round one where Freeman hit 12 homeruns and Harper came up second to hit 13. Schwarber didn’t have to work extra hard in round one but he had to work harder than Harper did. He hit 16 homeruns and hit first so he had that uncertainty of how many he would need to hit. Alex Bregman put up a good fight but his final two hits came up just short just hitting the wall. Again in round two, Harper got to hit second and the number he had to beat was 12 that Max Muncy put up. Again, Harper only had to hit 13 homeruns to advance. Rhys Hoskins put up a NUMBER for Schwarber to beat at 20 and Schwarber had to work to get there but he did and ended up hitting 21 in round 2. Schwarber had to go on a late run in round two to beat 20 and then faced a quick turn around to hit first in the final round against Harper. Schwarber was clearly gassed but he still put up 18. Up comes a fresh, rested, hydrated Bryce Harper who ESPN continued to show drinking fresh water and gatorade in the locker room during each round. His dad couldn’t throw a fucking strike but Harper put on a show, went on a run, and was able to knock Schwarber off by hitting 19 homers.
Was it fun to watch? Yes. Was it a fair battle for both players? Nope. On top of the late comeback from Harper and being rested, the umps were clearly letting his dad pitch to him before the ball hit the ground. Why have a rule if you aren’t going to enforce it? They pick and choose when they want to enforce the rule and it’s blatantly obvious when they do. It’s a good way to manipulate the outcome but it’s not fair. Go back to the days when you have 10 outs to hit as many homeruns as you can each round. That takes out the manipulative element that this new system has given the league. I’m confident that if it was 10 outs to hit as many homeruns as you could, Kyle Schwarber would be your HomeRun Derby champion. BUT would the league want that? I don’t think so.