MLB Home Run Derby – Historical Perspective

I put together a database for the participants of the home run derby, which began in 1985. It includes total home runs hit during the derby, amount by the player up to that point in the season, and career home runs per plate appearance, which I will use as my measure of a home run hitter. The data come from mlb.com and baseball-reference.

10 Worst Home Run Hitters in Home Run Derby History:

B.J. Surhoff
Joe Mauer
Hubie Brooks
Alex Rios
Wally Joyner
Damion Easley
Brandon Inge
Brady Anderson
Steve Garvey
Bobby Abreu

10 Best Home Run Hitters in Home Run Derby History:

Mark McGwire
Ryan Howard
Sammy Sosa
Juan Gonzalez
Barry Bonds
Jim Thome
Albert Pujols
Alex Rodriguez
Albert Belle
Jose Canseco

10 Worst Home Run Hitters to Win:

1986   Wally Joyner
2005   Bobby Abreu
1990   Ryne Sandberg
2003   Garret Anderson
1985   Dave Parker
1991   Cal Ripken
2001   Luis Gonzalez
2004   Miguel Tejada
1989   Ruben Sierra
1987   Andre Dawson

Best Home Run Hitter to Not Win:

Jim Thome: 1997, 1998, 2004

Participants to Not Hit a Single Home Run:

Year Player
1989 Gary Gaetti
1990 Jose Canseco
1990 Ken Griffey Jr.
1990 Cecil Fielder
1990 Darryl Strawberry
1990 Bobby Bonilla
1991 Howard Johnson
1991 Chris Sabo
1993 Mike Piazza
1994 Mike Piazza
1996 Greg Vaughn
1996 Gary Sheffield
1997 Jim Thome
1997 Nomar Garciaparra
2001 Troy Glaus
2003 Bret Boone
2005 Jason Bay
2009 Brandon Inge

Average Rank for 1st-half of Season Home Run Totals and Career Home Runs per Plate Appearance within Derby Participants of the Same Year:

Season Career
Losers 4.5 4.7
Winners 4.2 4.4

Average Total of Home Runs in 1st Half of Season and Career Home Runs per Plate Appearance:

Season Career
Losers 21.4 0.048
Winners 22.1 0.046

Participants by Team:

Seattle 12
Toronto 11
Baltimore 11
Atlanta 10
Chicago Cubs 10
Houston 10
Oakland 10
Boston 9
Detroit 9
Milwaukee 9
St. Louis 9
Texas 9
Cincinnati 8
Cleveland 7
Colorado 7
San Francisco 7
Minnesota 6
New York Mets 6
Philadelphia 6
Chicago White Sox 5
Los Angeles Dodgers 5
Florida 4
Montreal 4
New York Yankees 4
Angels 4
Pittsburgh 3
San Diego 3
Arizona 2
Kansas City 2
Tampa Bay 2

Participants by Handedness:

Left 68
Right 118
Switch 18

Average Number of Home Runs By Year:

1985 3.30
1986 2.50
1987 2.00
1989 1.75
1990 0.63
1991 3.38
1992 5.00
1993 4.13
1994 3.50
1995 6.13
1996 5.90
1997 5.90
1998 8.20
1999 6.20
2000 7.75
2001 8.25
2002 9.00
2003 10.75
2004 11.00
2005 13.50
2006 10.88
2007 9.25
2008 13.13
2009 10.25
2010 11.88

This one is a little misleading because up until 1996, there was only one round. Then, from 1996 through 1999, there were 10 players instead of eight, with only the top four advancing. This meant six players were only allowed one round to hit home runs instead of the current four. There have been eight participants and three rounds since 2000.

If you would like to know any more about this information, let me know.

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