2011 MLB Home Run Derby: 15 Players We Would Have Loved to See in a HR Derby
Looking back at past lists of Home Run Derby participants, it's hard to believe that some of these guys ever warranted an invitation.
Hee-Seop Choi? Really?
Carl Everett, John Jaha and Damion 'freaking" Easley? What?
But the guy who takes the cake is none other than Ozzie Virgil Jr., who somehow finished as the runner-up in the 1987 Home Run Derby after swatting just two long-balls. It shouldn't have come as any surprise that Virgil struggled to hit them out of the park. After all, he hit just 98 career home runs.
But enough with players that SHOULDN'T have made an appearance in a home run contests. Let's talk about some guys who never had the opportunity (or who haven't yet) who would have been the perfect set of contestants.
There's some obvious guys, like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, but some others that wouldn't be the first names you'd think of when designing an all-time dream home run contests.
So, let's get into it and see who the 15 most deserving souls are that never took place in an official home run derby.
David Banks/Getty Images
Adam Dunn, eh?
Maybe in any other year, but not 2011, right? I mean, come on, the guy is hitting below the Mendoza line with just eight home runs. He strikeout total (110) is almost as high as his average (.166).
What could possibly make him warrant an invitation?
Believe it or not, Dunn is the active player with the most career home runs to never take part in a home run derby. Entering tonight's event, he has 362 career dingers.
My main reason for wanting to see Dunn as a part of the American League squad, however, is to see if his strikeout prone approach would carry over into an event where there's usually a guy above the age of 55 tossing pitches like it's batting practice.
If he whiffed more than once, maybe Jerry Reinsdorf would finally lower the axe on Kenny Williams.
How could you not want to see a guy whose nickname was "Hammerin' Hank" participate in the home run derby contest?
Aaron lived up to his nickname, slugging at least 30 home runs 10 times in a single-season, en route to a then-record 755 career homers.
Having a dream home run derby without Aaron would be like having a dream slam dunk contest without Michael Jordan. In other words, one not worth having.
As a side note, does anyone else think that it's crazy that Aaron was only six feet tall and weighed only 180 pounds? For that much power to come from somebody that small is just insane.
How could any dream home run derby be complete without the legendary Roy Hobbs?
No stadium lighting would be outside of striking distance, and at Chase Field specifically, the site of this year's home run derby and All-Star Game, Hobbs' sweet left-handed swing would do a number on their short 334 feet right-field fence.
Back in 2001, ESPN.com writer Bill Simmons wrote about Hobbs and what his stats from the mythical season portrayed in The Natural would have looked like.
Here's a snippet from that article:
"To answer the Hobbs question, you need to figure in a few variables:
The Knights called Hobbs up to the majors after the season started; once he joined the team, Pop buried him on the bench for the first few weeks behind Bump Bailey, even barring him from batting practice. So that cost Hobbs at least a month of the season before Bump Bailey's tragic death pushed him into the starting lineup. If you want to pinpoint an exact date for Hobbs' first game, following his four-homer barrage in Chicago—when Hobbs reunited with Glenn Close's character and snapped out of a long slump—the movie showed one of those highlight-newspaper clip montage scenes, and one of the papers said "July 5" on it. Since he'd been in the lineup for a few weeks, that means Hobbs probably didn't start playing every day until mid-May at the earliest. We also need to factor in his late-June slump (when he started dating Kim Basinger). The movie showed at least 17 to 20 Hobbs home runs during the season. Warrants mentioning. Without any protection hitting behind him in the Knights lineup, Hobbs probably drew a ton of walks (like Barry Bonds this season). Redford was painfully slow as Hobbs, so he didn't beat out many leg hits (think Ted Williams in the late-'50s). If he were hitting over .400 near the end of the season, they probably would have alluded to it in the movie. Hobbs missed three games in the final week with abdominal pains. And since baseball only played 154-game seasons back in the '40s, that means Hobbs lost out on another eight possible games.
So taking everything into account, I would imagine his stats looked something like this:
"Larrupin' Lou" holds the record for most grand slams, so it's not like he always sat shotgun to Babe Ruth's home run heroics.
Gehrig averaged 37 homers per season for the duration of his 17-year career, ending with 493 long-balls. Five times he hit at least 41 in a single season, and he hit 49 twice.
More impressive than the home runs, however, was Gehrig's career BB:K ratio of 1508:790. If he had participated in a home run derby, it would have been a painfully slow turn to watch.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
I'm sure I'm not the only one who has heard stories about the epic power displays that tiny Ichiro has put on in batting practice.
Rumor has it that he can direct his home runs to any field and that he's capable of reaching the upper decks. You would think that as he continues to age, power would replace speed as a major part of his game, but for all I know, he's planning on playing until he's 50, so he might very well be pacing himself.
By the way, Ichiro has 91 career home runs as of Monday, which is only nine fewer than Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista has since the start of the 2010 season.
Surprisingly, Frank Robinson only led the league (any league) in home runs once, during 1966, his Triple Crown season with my Baltimore Orioles.
Fortunately, that didn't put any dings in his confidence, as Robinson slugged 586 home runs during his 21-year career, including 37 per season for the first 11 years of his career.
Obviously, "Crash" didn't perform too well on his trip to "the Show."
Poorly enough, anyways, to get sent back down to the minors, where he became a career minor-leaguer. Fortunately, his bad fortune allowed him to become the all-time career home run leader for the lower level of baseball.
Still, with his pitch selection and batting eye, it would have been nice to see him tackle a home run contest, either a major or minor league affair.
As I see it, there's only one thing that could have gotten in his way of winning...his temper.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I can't imagine a participant who is more worthy of a home run derby invitation than the Babe. And can you think of anyone who would be more fun?
He'd be like David Ortiz...on crack!
I can just imagine him swaggering up to the plate with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, a flask in his back pocket. Maybe a couple of beautiful ladies waiting on-deck with some hot-dogs.
I'm sure the day where Harper is a regular participant in the big-league home run derby, but for now, I think there aren't too many players I'd rather see take part in the event.
Even if he is only at Double-A.
It's pretty tough for a kid with the kind of expectations he's been saddled with to live up to the hype, but that's exactly what he's done, hitting a combined .320 between Low-A and Double-A, slugging 14 home runs and driving in 48 runs while swiping 20 bases.
Harper is a primary reason why MLB should consider having a minor league home run derby that could take place before the Futures Game, or maybe even allow one top prospect to take part in the big-league version.
Aside from the "Home Run Derby" show that pitted Killebrew against Willie Mays in a 1960 made-for-television affair, "Killer" never took part in a MLB sanctioned home run contest.
Which is a darn shame, considering he is responsible for more dented windshields and more batting practice souvenirs than just about any player in big-league history.
Killebrew slugged 573 career home runs, topping 42 home runs in a season a ridiculous seven times.
There is no crying baseball, but there is one fictional lady who I would love to see partake in the annual home run derby.
Few women were as prolific with the long-ball as Dottie Hinson, the main star of the 1992 classic "A League of Their Own."
Geena Davis slid perfectly into the role of Hinson, bringing the perfect amount of swagger and showing it's not only possible for chicks to dig the long-ball, but also for them to draw a solid amount of male attention.
It didn't hurt that she had spent years honing her physique with years of hard labor on a chicken farm in Oregon.
Stanton is another guy who we'll likely see participate in the home run derby in the future, but I can say that I would have much rather seen Stanton take part this year than Rickie Weeks.
Stanton's home run's are massive things. He hits the ball harder and farther than just about any other player in baseball. At 465 feet, he has the seventh longest home run of the 2011 season, and according to ESPN.com's Home Run Tracker, only two of his 18 home runs have measured at LESS than 400 feet.
On average, his homers travel 414 feet.
And any guy who's capable of sending a ball out of Dodger Stadium would get my vote into the contest.
Howard may rank 59th all-time on the career home run chart, but anyone who saw him play knows that his raw power was as good as anyone who ever played the game.
I guess it comes pretty naturally when you are 6'7" and weigh close to 260 pounds.
For a big guy, Howard was incredibly athletic. In fact, he was drafted by the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors, who were more than just a little interested in adding a guy with his size and gracefulness to their starting five.
Howard's most memorable home run came while playing for the Washington Nationals. On April 25, 1970, he crushed a ball 500 feet to left-centerfield in RFK Stadium. The seat has been permanently painted to commemorate the bomb.
He also hit a ball that was estimated to have traveled 560 feet, in Pittsburgh's Forbes Field.
Years before he was making his turn as David Palmer, the most dignified POTUS in television history, Dennis Haysbert was showing off his "marbles" as Indians slugger Pedro Serrano in the epic 1989 baseball flick "Major League."
Serrano was easily the top home run hitter of the franchise's run, despite his mystical attempts to become a more peaceful person.
And teamed with Jobu, his powerful bat, Serrano would have been quite a site to see in any home run derby, provided the birds stay out of his path of destruction.
Williams would be the perfect contestant based solely on the fact that he provided one of the top moments in All-Star game history with his walk-off home run that won the 1941 contest for the American League.
Williams also hit 521 home runs during his career that counted, but few were more impressive than that one in Tiger Stadium in '41.
Of course, considering Williams was such a stickler about hitting, he probably wouldn't have chosen to take part in the event, for fear that it would have done the same thing to his timing and mechanics that we saw happen to Bobby Abreu.