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MLB announces new timed home run derby format

The home run derby is about to get a whole lot more complicated.

Major League Baseball announced Sunday that the league is changing the format for the annual competition held the night before the All-Star game.

This year's home run derby held at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park will feature a seeded eight-player bracket along with timed rounds that could include bonus time based on home run distance.

Gone are the lengthy rounds that featured players not swinging at four or five pitches for every one that they swung at as well as players taking water breaks in the midst of a long hot streak at the plate.

Instead of a set number of "outs" each round, players will have five minutes from the release of the first pitch to hit as many home runs as possible with the potential for up to 90 seconds of additional time based on long-distance homers. Similar to clock-stoppage rules in other sports having qualifying actions late in halves, the home run derby timer will only pause in the final minute after a home run is hit. The clock will stand in suspension until a player takes a swing that does not result in a home run.

The tiebreakers have also changed. If two players finish a round even, there will be a 90-second swing-off absent of any stoppages with "successive three-swing swing-offs until there is a winner," if the tie remains unbroken.

Yoenis Cespedes is the two-time defending home run derby champion and could become the first player to win the event three years in a row, if he participates. Ken Griffey Jr. is the only player to ever win three MLB Home Run Derby titles.

At least one of top home run hitters will not participate. MLB home run leader Giancarlo Stanton is out for 4 to 6 weeks after having surgery for a broken hamate bone on Sunday. That could open the door for the Reds' own Todd Frazier, who is currently second in the league with 25 home runs and finished as the runner-up to Cespedes in last year's event.

The Angels are one of five teams to produce three home run derby champions (1986 - Wally Joyner, 2003 - Garret Anderson, 2007 - Vladimir Guerrero) while the Dodgers have never had a player advance beyond the opening round. Yasiel Puig participated last season, but failed to hit a home run.

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