Top 5 Home Run Derby Performances of All Time
Also known as the Midsummer Classic, the MLB All-Star Game is just five days away. With so much hitting power on the field, you’d expect high-scoring games. But in recent years, pitching has dominated. In fact, the past eight All-Star games have resulted in a combined nine or fewer runs. We’re hoping for a higher-scoring affair this year in Minnesota at Target Field, but the place for guaranteed bombs is the Home Run Derby. Some of the best sluggers in the game, including Jose Bautista, Yasiel Puig, and last year’s champ Yoenis Cespedes, will be battling one another in this year’s derby. Here’s a look back at the top 5 home run derby performances of all-time.
5. Mark McGwire, Fenway Park, 1999
Prior to admitting to steroid use, Mark McGwire was considered to be the modern-day Babe Ruth. Big Mac, playing for the Cardinals at the time and coming off a historic 70 home run season, blasted a then-record 13 homers in the first round of the 1999 Home Run Derby in Boston. And, they were awe-inspiring. One registered at 488 feet–it went over the Green Monster and an adjacent parking garage and then hit a billboard. McGwire should have won the derby just for that! Unfortunately, he didn’t even make it into the final round, and Ken Griffey Jr. took home the trophy.
4. Sammy Sosa, Miller Park, 2002
Like Big Mac, Sammy Sosa–playing for the Cubs at the time, put on a legendary show at a home run derby. Like Big Mac, Sosa didn’t win the competition. The number of home runs that Slammin’ Sammy hit in Milwaukee wasn’t noteworthy; rather, it was the distance that they traveled. The homers averaged 477 feet, and seven of them exceeded 500 feet. One of them hit Bernie Brewer’s slide. While Brewers’ fans normally booed Sosa for being a member of a division rival, they couldn’t help but applaud his effort.
3. Robinson Cano, Chase Field, 2011
Named after the great Jackie Robinson, Robinson Cano, playing for the Yankees at the time, belted a total of 32 homers in the 2011 Home Run Derby in Phoenix. That’s tied for third most overall. The night was even more memorable because Cano’s father was the pitcher. After hitting a 12th home run in the final round to seal his victory, Cano jumped into his father’s arms. A great Father’s Day gift even though it was a few weeks late.
2. Bobby Abreu, Comerica Park, 2005
Bobby Abreu, playing for the Phillies at the time, hit a derby-record 41 home runs in Detroit. Although he hit 24 of those in the first round, he displayed superior endurance by belting another 11 homers in the final round to win the trophy. Will any of this year’s derby participants come close to or surpass Abreu’s feat?
1. Josh Hamilton, Yankee Stadium, 2008
You’d think that Abreu should earn the top spot on this list, primarily for blasting the most derby homers. But, the way that Josh Hamilton–playing for the Rangers at the time–hit a record 28 home runs in the first round was epic. There was a stretch of 13 straight bombs. There were five balls to the upper deck. There were three that topped 500 feet. Fans chanted his name. This feel-good story about a former addict needed a happy ending–unfortunately, Justin Morneau defeated Hamilton in the final round.
(Image courtesy: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)