Slow and Steady wins the race. The moral of the famous Aesop fable never rings more true than the MLB Home Run Derby. This years Home Run Derby got the old wheels a turning in my head, and lead me to write the following article about the last 6 seasons of Homerun Derby statistics.
The 2003 Home Run Derby in Chicago, IL might be the most interesting of the bunch. This year featured a tournament style with the top 4 in the first round advancing to the semi finals. Jason Giambi powered his was to the semis with 12 longballs with Garret Anderson notching 7 and the pair of Cardinals, Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds only garnering 4 a piece. Then the four were paired off in twos. Giambi and Pujols (Edmonds had one more HR in the season than Pujols thus making him the ‘3 seed’ and Pujols the ‘4 seed’) and Anderson and Edmonds. Giambi powered another 11 dingers, but it wasn’t enough to beat Albert’s 14, Pujols Advances. Anderson tallied 6, Edmonds tallied 4, and Anderson advances. Giambi at this time had 23 Homeruns, Pujols 18 and Anderson just 13. But due to the format Giambi is left out of the finals. Pujols 14 were huge and he looked to be in control going into the finals. But, Anderson hit 9 homers to Pujols’ 8 and Anderson holds up the trophy. Slow and Steady wins the race.
2004’s Homerun Derby was the most cut and dried of all of them, but the pattern holds true somewhat. First round statistics moved Rafael Palmeiro (9), Barry Bonds (8), Miguel Tejada (7), and Lance Berkman (7) to the semis. Tejada (15), and Berkman (10) advaced. Berkman hit 4 in the finals and Tejada hit his derby ending 5th round tripper (not really a round tripper since he didn’t have to run the bases but whatever) with 5 outs to go. While Tejada wasn’t the leader in round 1, he found his stride and won the Derby…. Slow and Steady wins the race.
2005. Ok, this one blows my theory completely out of the water… Bobby Abreu dominated. 24 in the first round (unheard of at that time), 6 in round 2 and 11 in the finals. He was edged by Pudge Rodriguez 8-6 in round two, so he didn’t completely dominate ALL the rounds..so I guess you could say…slow and steady won that race.
2006 – Ok back on track now. David Wright crushed 16 home runs to advance to round #2 but then only hit 2 and managed to make the finals due to more total HRs for the derby. David Ortiz had 10 homers in round but only 3 in round 2 and missed the finals. Miguel Cabrera has 9 in the first and 6 in the second for a total of 15 and missed the finals. Ryan Howard was 1 homerun away from missing the second round, but crushed 10 in the second and 5 in the final to outlast Wright 5-4 and hold up the hardware. Slow and Steady wins the race.
2007 – The slowest first round of any of the studied Derbies saw 3, 5 Homerun performances by Alex Rios, Vladimir Guerrero, and Matt Holliday and 2, 4 homerun outings by Pujols, and Justin Morneau. Rios hit 12 in round two to Pujols and Guerrero’s 9. Guerrero’s total put him in the finals against the hot swinging Rios and he won it all 3-2. Simply Put, slow and steady wins the race.
And now… for 2008. This one proves my theory right here. Josh Hamilton bashes 28 balls out of the ‘House that Ruth Built’ 5 more than the other three semi finalist combined (Morneau (8), Berkman (8) and Ryan Braun(7)). Then he trails off with 4 in the semis. Morneau advances, hitting 9 in the semis and defeating Hamilton 5-3 in the finals, which saw Hamilton trail off once again. Slow and Steady wins the race.
So there you have it. Barring Abreu’s studly effort in 2005, 5-6 MLB Homerun Derby winners were not the front runners of previous rounds. In all 6 cases no one has won every round. If I could hit home runs out of a major league stadium, and made it to the homerun derby….I might think twice before trying to break a single round homerun record..because, you know, I like to win, and from what I’ve found….
Slow and Steady wins the race.