The MLB Home Run Derby has been an All-Star week staple for decades and just the pure thrill of watching the best sluggers in the game absolutely tank balls 400 plus feet is truly something special. Notable winners of this great event include Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, David Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes, Mark McGwire, Vlad Guerrero, and of course, Ken Griffey Jr. With the Home Run Derby taking place at Nationals Park, players are sure to send plenty of balls into the DC night. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best Home Run Derby performances of recent memory. Although some of these players did not end up winning the event, their power did not go unnoticed.
10. Aaron Judge: 2017
The show that Aaron Judge put in on 2017 was simply astounding. The 6’7″ 282 Baby Bomber hit 47 total home runs and made it look easy. His effortless and powerful swing sent Marlins Park into a frenzy with a number of tape measure shots and hits well over 100 miles per hour off of the bat. A player of Judge’s size and ability is extremely rare and we should just appreciate his style of play, even if you hate the Yankees.
9. David Ortiz: 2010
Even though this man has given me nightmares and PTSD from his display of power against the Yankees, David Ortiz was truly one of the most powerful players in the league. Ortiz won his only home run derby in 2010 and put on a show. He hit 21 total homers in the first two rounds, which was good enough to advance to the finals. Ortiz ended up defeating Hanley Ramirez by the score of 11-5 in the championship round.
8. Yoenis Cespedes: 2013
Yoenis Cespedes won the 2013 Home Run Derby without even being selected to the All-Star game. How do you like them apples? Cespedes sent balls into orbit at Citi Field while he was a member of the Oakland Athletics and defeated Bryce Harper 9-8 in a nail-biting championship round. He hit 17 homers in the first round and this was all before he joined the Mets. Now he’s been nicked by the injury bug and the Mets definitely miss him.
7. Prince Fielder: 2009 & 2012
Prince Fielder’s performances in 2009 and 2012 were both extremely impressive. Fielder sent balls flying all over the park and was the only one to win the derby as a member of a team from each of the two leagues. It’s honestly such a shame that his career ended so early. His power and presence on the field are missed by baseball fans everywhere.
6. Robinson Cano: 2011
Robinson Cano put on an absolute show with his father pitching to him at Chase Field in 2011. His incredibly quick hands and exit velocity helped him win the event but his performance the year after was purely abysmal. Cano only hit four home runs and didn’t get past the first round. Yikes.
5. Todd Frazier: 2015
When Todd Frazier was a member of the Cincinnati Reds, they were enduring the beginning of the dark ages. However, he gave the hometown fans something to cheer about as he belted 39 home runs and beat Joc Pederson in the championship round 15-14. He was just the second player to win the derby in the friendly confines of his own park.
4. Bobby Abreu: 2005
At the time, the record in the Home Run Derby was 28. Abreu hit 24. In the first round. He finished with a total of 41 and made the crowd at Comerica Park go absolutely crazy. Abreu’s raw power was truly something to see and he made it look easy.
3. Ken Griffey Jr: 1994, 1998 & 1999
The swing, the backward hat, and just an all-around legend. Junior put on an absolute clinic in the years that he won and it’s only fitting that he won it THREE times. He represented the game of baseball in the 1990’s and his swing is one of the most iconic and picturesque things in the world. Seriously though, if I got the chance to see this man play in person, I probably would have lost it.
2. Giancarlo Stanton: 2016
I’m going to keep this simple. 61 home runs and 20 of them in the final round. Stanton launched balls out of Petco Park without much effort. His raw power is unlike anything we’ve seen and he hits the ball anywhere from 100-120 miles per hour off the bat with his extremely explosive and dangerous swing. There are plenty of near 500 foot shots in Stanton’s future. Mark my words.
1. Josh Hamilton: 2008
Josh Hamilton did not win this derby. However, how he got to it is an amazing story. Hamilton was a draft bust with a drug addiction problem and he was out of baseball from 2004-2006. When the 2008 season rolled around, Hamilton had 95 RBI’s before the All-Star break. The derby was held at the Old Yankee Stadium and he almost tore it down early.
Hamilton launched 28 home runs in the first round alone and there were a few that had a projected distance of well over 500 feet. Some of those balls almost flew out of the stadium. That type of raw power at the old stadium had probably not been seen since Babe Ruth and it’s only fitting that Hamilton blessed the House That Ruth Built with one last display of jaw-dropping tape measure shots.
Hamilton lost to Justin Morneau 5-3 in the championship round but the effort and story of how Josh Hamilton wowed New York City is the reason why his performance is number one on this list.