Derby history: Looking back at past slugfests

July 11th, 2023

Since 1985, many of Major League Baseball's most prolific home run hitters have competed on the All-Star stage in the Home Run Derby. Below is a look at the history of baseball's annual slugfest, which has undergone a number of format changes throughout its 30-plus years.

2023 T-Mobile Park
Winner: , Blue Jays
Runner-up: , Rays

Sixteen years after his father did so in 2007, Vlad Jr. became the second Guerrero to win a Home Run Derby crown. He took down Arozarena 25-23 in an exciting final round at Seattle's T-Mobile Park to claim the title. Guerrero finished with 72 home runs across three rounds in his second career Derby appearance. He routed the Dodgers' 26-11 in the first round, then took down hometown star in the semifinals, advancing to the finals with a "walk-off" swing in bonus time. 

All told, Guerrero hit 29,390 feet of homers during the Derby. He had the third-longest average home run distance (408 feet), topped out at 456 feet and hit balls harder than all but , averaging 104.7 mph on his homers and maxing out at 112 mph.

2022 Dodger Stadium
Winner: , Nationals
Runner-up: , Mariners

The story of the night heading into the 2022 Derby was Pete Alonso's quest for his third straight title. By the end, it was all about the two young superstars in Soto and Rodríguez. The two put on a show all night, but Soto walked it off in the final round with 19 home runs. He became the second-youngest winner in Derby history at 23 years, 266 days old -- just one day older than was when he won it in 1993.

J-Rod put on a show for the crowd, though, swatting two straight rounds of 30+ home runs to start, the first player to do so in Derby history. And he did it at just 21 years of age!

2021 Coors Field
Winner: , Mets
Runner-up: , Orioles

The COVID-19 pandemic put the Derby and the All-Star Game on pause for a year, but when festivities resumed in Denver, a familiar storyline resumed: Alonso was built for the Derby. The Mets slugger set a new first-round record with 35 dingers (and made the feat look impossibly easy) before adding 16 more in Round 2 to put himself back in the finals.

Mancini -- a remarkable story, considering he was just one year removed from a colon cancer diagnosis -- put up a massive total of 22 to kick off the final showdown, but Alonso went deep 17 times in regulation and then homered on all six of his swings to begin his bonus minute, making himself the fourth multi-time Derby winner with time to spare.

2019 Progressive Field
Winner: , Mets
Runner-up: , Blue Jays

Alonso edged out Guerrero in a thrilling final-round battle of rookie phenoms. Alonso not only won the Derby, but went on to hit a Major League-best 53 home runs in 2019. Those 53 homers were also the most by any rookie in big league history, eclipsing the mark previously set by Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. Though Alonso raised the trophy, the highlight of the event may have come in the semifinals, when it took Guerrero three rounds of swing-offs to finally outlast Joc Pederson, 40-39.

2018: Nationals Park
Winner: , Nationals
Runner-up: , Cubs

Fans had been begging for Harper to take part in the Derby since he first did in 2013, and the slugger did not disappoint in his first time back. After Schwarber set a bar of 18 homers in the final round, hometown star Harper cranked nine home runs in the final 50 seconds of regulation to pull even, eventually winning on the second swing of his bonus 30 seconds. Harper, the third participant in Derby history to win on his home turf, hit a 478-foot drive in the final round that was shorter than only one homer on the night -- a 479-foot shot from in the first round.

2017: Marlins Park
Winner: , Yankees
Runner-up: , Twins
Judge, who set a new rookie home run record in 2017 (52), easily bested Sano in the finals and crushed four home runs further than 500 feet. He became the fourth Yankees player to win the derby, giving the New York franchise more winners than any other club. This year marked the first live Derby broadcast that did not feature ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman.

2016: Petco Park
Winner: , Marlins
Runner-up: , White Sox
Stanton peppered Petco Park with baseballs en route to a Derby-record 61 homers. He logged the 10 longest home runs of the night, as well as the 20 hardest-hit blasts, topping out at 120.4 mph, per Statcast™.

2015: Great American Ball Park
Winner: Todd Frazier, Reds
Runner-up: , Dodgers
Before a home crowd in Cincinnati, Frazier edged past Dodgers rookie Pederson, 15-14, in the final round. This Derby marked the debut of timed rounds with bonuses for distance.

2014: Target Field
Winner: , A's
Runner-up: Todd Frazier, Reds
Cespedes joined Griffey Jr. as the only Derby contestants to successfully defend their titles, winning for a second consecutive year by defeating Frazier, 9-1, in the final. His 28 total homers were double the next closest slugger (Jose Bautista, 14).

2013: Citi Field
Winner: Yoenis Cespedes, A's
Runner-up: Bryce Harper, Nationals
Cespedes captured his first Derby crown in his second Major League season since defecting from Cuba. He became the first non-All-Star to win the event.

2012: Kauffman Stadium
Winner: Prince Fielder, Tigers
Runner-up: , Blue Jays
Fielder became the Tigers' first and only Derby winner with his second victory in 2012. He's also the only Derby participant to win in both the American and National Leagues, or for multiple teams, for that matter.

2011: Chase Field
Winner: , Yankees
Runner-up: , Red Sox
Cano closely outhit Gonzalez, who was representing the rival Red Sox, with a 12-11 victory in the final round at Chase Field. His father, former Major Leaguer Jose Cano, pitched to him.

2010: Angel Stadium
Winner: David Ortiz, Red Sox
Runner-up: , Marlins
Ortiz defeated his former and future Boston teammate Ramirez in the 2010 Derby, dedicating the victory to the late Dominican Republic native Jose Lima, a former Major League pitcher who passed away earlier that season.

2009: Busch Stadium
Winner: Prince Fielder, Brewers
Runner-up: , Rangers
Fielder joined his father as the second member of his family to compete in the Derby, but he did something the elder Fielder never accomplished -- he won it. They're the first and only father-son duo to ever participate.

2008: Yankee Stadium
Winner: Justin Morneau, Twins
Runner-up: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
While Morneau took home the night's top prize, Hamilton stole the show by belting a first-round record 28 home runs, including a run of 13 on consecutive swings. Only one player had ever hit that many in a full Derby before (Bobby Abreu, 41 in 2005).

2007: AT&T Park
Winner: Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
Runner-up: Alex Rios, Blue Jays
Guerrero took home his first Derby victory by hitting 17 homers and defeating the Blue Jays' Rios in the final. Despite fans packing into McCovey Cove outside the Giants' home ballpark in kayaks and rafts, none of the participants hit a "splash hit."

2006: PNC Park
Winner: , Phillies
Runner-up: , Mets
Howard dropped six balls into the Allegheny River -- four on the fly, two on the bounce -- en route to a Derby victory. This year's competition shook up the rule book with players posting the highest totals across Rounds 1 and 2 advancing to the finals, rather than resetting the tally each round like in previous years.

2005: Comerica Park
Winner: Bobby Abreu, Venezuela (Phillies)
Runner-up: Ivan Rodriguez, Puerto Rico (Tigers)
Abreu never hit more than 31 home runs in a season, but he topped that in one night, establishing new records with 41 total homers and a 24-homer first round for his native Venezuela. The eight players represented their home countries in 2005 as part of a promotion for the inaugural World Baseball Classic.

2004: Minute Maid Park
Winner: Miguel Tejada, Orioles
Runner-up: Lance Berkman, Astros
On a night in which all three active members of the 500-home run club participated -- Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds -- in addition to two more future members (Jim Thome and David Ortiz), it was Berkman and Tejada who shined, dueling to an eventual Tejada win at Minute Maid Park. Tejada slugged a then-record 27 homers, which would hold for just one season before Abreu shattered his mark.

2003: U.S. Cellular Field
Winner: Garret Anderson, Angels
Runner-up: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Pujols and the Yankees' Jason Giambi each lit up the scoreboard in the first two rounds, but Pujols was bested by Anderson, 9-8, in a dramatic final round in Chicago's South Side. Anderson later became the second player to win the Derby and be named Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game.

2002: Miller Park
Winner: Jason Giambi, Yankees
Runner-up: Sammy Sosa, Cubs
Sosa out-hit the field with 12 homers in Round 1, but he ran out of gas in the finals, losing 7-1 to Giambi in Milwaukee.

2001: Safeco Field
Winner: Luis Gonzalez, D-backs
Runner-up: Sammy Sosa, Cubs
Giambi hit a then-record 14 home runs in the first round, but couldn't keep pace with Gonzalez, whose six homers in the final round clinched it.

2000: Turner Field
Winner: Sammy Sosa, Cubs
Runner-up: Ken Griffey Jr., Reds
Making the second of five Derby appearances, Sosa came away with his only win in 2000. This year's event established a four players per league format.

1999: Fenway Park
Winner: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
Runner-up: Jeromy Burnitz, Brewers
Griffey won his second consecutive Derby crown and third overall. McGwire impressed, clubbing 13 home runs in the first round and tying Griffey with 16 total, but was eliminated in the second round by Burnitz.

1998: Coors Field
Winner: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
Runner-up: Jim Thome, Indians
The 1998 Derby marked the first live telecast of the event, as fans tuned in to see Griffey win his second trophy. Griffey almost didn't participate, but he was booed in batting practice the day prior and ultimately changed his mind.

1997: Jacobs Field
Winner: Tino Martinez, Yankees
Runner-up: Larry Walker, Rockies
Martinez surprised by outlasting decorated sluggers such as Frank Thomas, McGwire, Griffey and Walker to become the first Yankees player to win the Derby. This year featured six representatives from the AL and four from the NL.

1996: Veterans Stadium
Winner: Barry Bonds, Giants
Runner-up: Mark McGwire, A's
Fans were treated to a three-round showdown between two of baseball's most prolific home run hitters when Bonds defeated McGwire in the 1996 contest, which featured an expanded 10-player field. Bonds trailed by two homers with one out left in the finals, then homered on three straight swings for the win.

1995: The Ballpark in Arlington
Winner: Frank Thomas, White Sox
Runner-up: Albert Belle, Indians
The AL dominated for a fifth consecutive contest in 1995, slugging 21 homers to the NL's nine, and Thomas took the top prize in a tight race with Belle. Thomas is one of three players (also, Anderson and Cal Ripken Jr.) to win the Derby and homer in the All-Star Game.

1994: Three Rivers Stadium
Winner: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
Runner-up: Fred McGriff, Braves
Thomas launched a 519-foot homer that reached the upper deck in center field, and Griffey won his first of three Derby crowns in the 1994 contest.

1993: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Winner: Juan Gonzalez, Rangers
Runner-up: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
Griffey became the first player to hit the B&O Warehouse across Eutaw Street from Camden Yards, but Gonzalez won the Derby, defeating Griffey in a sudden-death swing-off. The event was first televised in 1993 on tape delay.

1992: Jack Murphy Stadium
Winner: Mark McGwire, A's
Runner-up: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners
McGwire, who would eventually set a new single-season home run record with 70 in 1998, won his first and only Derby in '92. 

1991: SkyDome
Winner: Cal Ripken Jr., Orioles
Runner-up: Paul O'Neill, Reds
The Derby expanded to a three-round format in 1991, where players had 10 outs to hit as many home runs as they could with the top four advancing to Round 2 and the top two squaring off in the final. Ripken won the Derby in the midst of his AL MVP Award-winning campaign. He was the first player to win the Derby and the All-Star MVP, as well as the first Derby winner to also homer in the All-Star Game.

1990: Wrigley Field
Winner: Ryne Sandberg, Cubs
Runners-up: Mark McGwire, A's; Matt Williams, Giants
The 1990 Derby was a subdued affair, with the eight-player field combing to hit just five homers throughout the contest. The Cubs' Sandberg won with three in front of a friendly crowd at Wrigley Field. Griffey made the first of his record eight Derby appearances in '90. From 1985-90, the Derby's eight to 10 contestants were given two innings of five outs to hit as many home runs as possible for their respective leagues.

1989: Anaheim Stadium
Winner: Ruben Sierra, Rangers; Eric Davis, Reds
Runners-up: Glenn Davis, Astros; Howard Johnson, Mets; Kevin Mitchell, Giants
Sierra and Davis split the prize in 1989 with three home runs each for their respective leagues, with a trio of sluggers tying for second.

1988: Riverfront Stadium
Canceled due to rain

1987: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Winner: Andre Dawson, Cubs
Runner-up: Ozzie Virgil, Braves
Dawson went deep four times, accounting for half the home runs hit by the field of four. Virgil came in second with two long balls.

1986: Astrodome
Winners: Wally Joyner, Angels; Darryl Strawberry, Mets
Runner-up: Dave Parker, Reds
Strawberry and Joyner led the way with four jacks each, and the NL won, 8-7, thanks to Parker's runner-up three homers.

1985: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Winner: Dave Parker, Reds
Runner-up: Five players tied at four
Seven-time All-Star Parker emerged from a 10-player field that included four future Hall of Famers -- Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, Carlton Fisk and Sandberg -- to win the inaugural Home Run Derby with six homers.