There’s something new called Home Run Derby X, which is Major League Baseball’s effort to attract new fans which combines the time-honored tradition of socking dingers with Adrián González traveling abroad during baseball season.
Three Home Run Derby events are scheduled for 2022, first at Crystal Palace Park in London on July 9, followed by locations to be determined in Seoul, South Korea on September 17 and Mexico City on October 15.
MLB described Home Run Derby X like this: “Inspired by the success and simplicity of the Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All-Star Game, Home Run Derby X has been developed with the goal of attracting a new audience to baseball; creating high-energy live event experiences and opportunities for digital storytelling.”
- MLB legend: a former major league player
- Superstar: a women’s baseball or softball player
- Wild card: high-profile content creator “trained up” by MLB
- Rookie: “up and coming talent drawn from the men’s baseball development system”
González is the Dodgers rep among former major leaguers. Other ex-players include Jonny Gomes (Red Sox), Nick Swisher (Yankees), and Geovany Soto (Cubs).
“I think Home Run Derby X is a great way to bring more eyes to baseball on a worldwide level and it will feel great to represent the Dodgers organization in these events,” González said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to meeting baseball fans in different parts of the world.”
Others on the Dodgers Home Run Derby X team include Ashton Landsell, a 21-year-old on the US women’s national baseball team, and Yoongy Kwak, a short-track speed skater from South Korea who won Olympic silver medals in both 2010 and 2022. The “rookies” for each team haven’t been named yet.
Home Run Derby X differs from the event we usually see at the All-Star Game, in a few ways. For one, there are fielders, two from each team while on defense. Catches count as one point, the same as a home run does for the hitting team.
The field is also limited by a 45-degree angle from home plate. There is a fence between 280-320 feet to centerfield and 260-300 feet down the lines. Both the pitchers mound and batters box is on a raised stage.
All four batters bat for each team, and each batter gets 25 swings, which has to come from a maximum of 35 pitches. We will go over more details once the first event approaches, but there are also target hits worth more points, and a five-pitch “hot streak” in which home runs count as two points instead of one.
Is it complicated? Sure. Does the hype video feature Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge despite neither player affiliated with this outside of also sharing a team name? Yes. But as someone who watched MTV Rock & Jock Softball three decades ago, I’ll probably give Home Run Derby X a try, even if it’s not necessarily for me.