The five most entertaining Home Run Derbies of the past 20 years
In the law of things that are most fun, it goes: day at the beach, endless pile of candy that you have to eat your way through and watching home runs. And thanks to the T-Mobile Home Run Derby, baseball Christmas meets baseball Mardi Gras meets baseball heaven all in one day.
But human nature requires us to rank things in list format. And so, without further adieu, our ranking for the five most entertaining Derbies of the last 20 years.
5. Josh Hamiliton - 2008
Though Hamilton didn't win the Derby, he still put on one of the greatest shows you'll likely ever witness. After overcoming personal issues to return to the Majors in 2007, Hamilton went on to break out with a 32-HR, 130-RBI performance with the Rangers in 2008.
Of course, he nearly matched that dinger total in one round of the Home Run Derby. While Justin Morneau and Lance Berkman tied for second in the first round with eight home runs a piece. Hamilton hit 28, including thirteen in a row.
This was the NBA Jam on-fire guy playing slow pitch softball.
Unfortunately for Hamilton, he came down with dingeritis (a feeling of lethargy brought on by too many dingers), leading him to hit only four home runs in the second round. He then lost, 5-3, to Morneau in the final round.
4. Ken Griffey Jr. - 1998 and 1999 (tie)
Sure, Ken Griffey Jr. won the 1994 title (when the game featured the AL vs. the NL with the winning player crowned for hitting the most in a single round of dingers), but the more modern idea with multiple rounds was featured in 1998 and '99. And there couldn''t be a better spot to watch Ken Griffey Jr., the man with the prettiest swing you ever did see, bash bombs.
'98 saw him defeat Jim Thome, 19-17, in an incrediby close contest in Coors Field -- otherwise known as the Home Run Mecca.
The next year saw him in Fenway Park's friendly climes. With the Green Monster looking down upon him, Griffey rebounded from a poor first round (only three home runs) to hit 10 in round two before defeating Jeromy Burnitz, 3-2.
While the entire world loves Ken Griffey Jr., at least one fan in attendance at 2016's Derby wished the outcome was a little different.
I think I just won Shirseymon Go pic.twitter.com/Jj342vZBY0- Michael Clair (@clairbearattack) July 11, 2016
3. Yoenis Cespedes - 2013
In just his second big league season, and long before his enjoyment of high octane motor vehicles was a well-known baseball meme, Cespedes had already made a name for himself as one of the most exciting players in the game. On the grand stage of the Home Run Derby, he doubled down on fun.
Yo hit 17 home runs in the first round, more than doubling Bryce Harper's grand Derby entrance of eight.
And while Harper would best best him in round two, 8-6, the two would square off in the final. Again, Harper hit eight -- showing some amazing consistency -- Cespedes just barely squeaked by with nine.
Not being enough, Yo came back the next year to win it all over again.
2. Todd Frazier - 2015
While home runs are great, even they need freshening up sometimes. After all, you can only eat so many cookies in a row (18) before you need to wash them down with some milk. So last year, the Derby introduced the countdown clock. Would it ruin the event, people wondered. Would anyone hit a home run with so much pressure, they asked.
The answer was: No, absolutely not; and, oh my goodness, so many homers! Plus,we had never before considered the possibility of basketball-style buzzer beaters making every round filled with as much tension as a Game of Thrones season finale. If the Home Run Derby used to be "The Fast and the Furious," this was "Fast 5" -- the best in the franchise.
With Albert Pujols and Frazier already hitting buzzer beaters, Frazier had 30 seconds left in the final to break a 14-14 tie with rookie Joc Pederson to take the title in front of his home fans. Could he do it?! Could he do it?! Yes, he did it.
1. Giancarlo Stanton - 2016
There is simply no other answer. In the space of 13 1/2 minutes, with a couple of timeouts thrown in there for good measure, the Marlins Masher, the Home Run Humdinger, the Colossus of Crush smashed 61 home runs.
That's how many Roger Maris needed in a full season.
That's one less than Yoenis Cespedes hit in his two Derby victories. (Sure, it was different format. But this was one night.)
Even in a competition that exists just to highlight dingers, Stanton's were the dinger-est.
Stanton had the 10 longest home runs, and 18 of the 19 longest. He's unreal.- Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 12, 2016
At times, it looked like he didn't even get all of the ball and they still would smash up against the Western Metal Supply Building.
This was the home run singularity. And it was beautiful. With the Marlins hosting the All-Star Game next season, it would be shocking for Stanton not to be there. I can't wait to see this all over again.
And again. And again.