The Home Run Derby: Prince Fielder, David Ortiz and 10 Best Performances
The Homer. The Deep Drive. The Long Ball.
Pitchers fear it, chicks dig it and fans love it.
On July 11, all of baseball will be subject to the spectacle as a sea of sluggers duke it out for Big Fly supremacy.
Let's take a look "back back back" at the 10 best performances of the perennial fan favorite.
10. Ryan Howard 2006: 23 Home Runs
Showing that consistency often pays off over explosion, Howard went 8-10-5 in the three rounds, beating out David Wright.
Wight went off for 16 in round one, but Howard prevailed 23 to 22 total and five to four in the final round.
9. Prince Fielder, 2009: 23 Home Runs
Fielder put on a show in his rivals’ house at the Cardinals' Bush Stadium. He and Nelson Cruz had an epic duel throughout the day.
Head-to-head, they were tied in the first round at 11 before Fielder beat him six to five in each of the final two rounds to take home the championship.
8. Jason Giambi 2002: 24 Home Runs
"The Great Giambino" was a home run short of sweeping all three rounds.
His opening round of 11 was one fewer than Sammy Sosa, and he smoked the former champ in the final round, seven to one.
7. Ken Griffey, JR. 1998, 1999: 19 and 16 Home Runs
By being the only participant to win in back-to-back years, Griffey beat out fellow 500 home run club members Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome.
More importantly, he is the only slugger other than Thome in the aforementioned list not linked to steroids. It is great to look back and see a clean player win over the juicers, two years in a row, no less.
6. Sammy Sosa 2000: 26 Home Runs
Sosa dominated the field in Atlanta.
His total was 14 more than the next highest, and he beat out Griffey nine to two in the Championship round to stop a Griffey three-peat.
5. Albert Pujols 2003: 26 Home Runs
Pujols did not come home with the Derby Championship, but was the People’s Champ.
"The Machine” had four more total homers than winner Garret Anderson. He also had by far the longest shot of the night—a 478-foot whopper.
4. Miguel Tejada 2004: 27 Home Runs
In a derby with 500 home run club members in Barry Bonds, Jim Thome, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, it was the Orioles’ shortstop that came through with the biggest performance (enhancers).
Tejada had a solid seven home runs in round one before exploding in round two for 15 dingers and finishing off Lance Berkman five to four in the final round.
3. David Ortiz 2010: 32 Home Runs
Round-by-round, “Big Papi” had the most consistent totals of any derby. Most guys put on a huge show in one of the first two rounds before petering out. Ortiz had eight in round one, 13 in round two and 11 in the final round to beat out Hanley Ramirez.
It will be interesting to see if sluggers start pacing themselves to be more competitive at the end, taking a page out of Papi’s book.
2. Bobby Abreu 2005: 41 Home Runs
Ironically, this was probably Abreu’s last stand as a power hitter. The record-setting performance gave fans something to remember, though, as he crammed an MVP-caliber season’s worth of big flies into one Derby.
Abreu had only six home runs the rest of that year and has not hit more than 20 in a season since. However, on this night in Comerica Park, Abreu was the best power hitter in the game.
1. Josh Hamilton, 2008: 35 Home Runs
Hamilton set a derby record with 28 home runs in round one. Many of them were moon shots approaching or eclipsing 500 feet, soaring majestically in old Yankee Stadium’s final All-Star weekend.
With an attempt to preserve his energy, he stopped only four outs deep in the second round. Morneau may have won out in the Finals, but it is Hamilton’s performance that will be remembered by baseball fans.