The home run derby is kind of dumb and long and usually pretty boring. But for whatever reason, last night’s long ball competition was fantastic; possibly the best in the event’s history. Baltimore’s Mark Trumbo finished in either third or fourth place, depending on whether you go off total homers or just homers in the semi-finals. It was an impressive showing amidst a field of ridiculously strong sluggers, but of course it won’t approach the all-time great showings: 2013 Yoenis Cespedes, 2008 Josh Hamilton, 2005 Bobby Abreu or even 2016 Giancarlo Stanton.
However, it may stick out in the history of Orioles competing in home run derbys. Trumbo’s 30 DONGS are the most by a Bird in the competition, but he didn’t win. So, where does he sit when it’s all said and done?
Below are my rankings, which are based off of totally arbitrary reasoning. For reference sake, the derby began in 1985, I was born in 1993 and the first derby I remember is 2002, that was in Milwaukee when Sammy Sosa was hitting balls to the moon and flipping bats. That said, here is where the O’s line up in my head:
1. 1991 Cal Ripken Jr, The SkyDome, Toronto - 12 home runs, first place
OK 12 does not seem like enough to merit the top spot, but Ripken was the first guy to hit double digit bombs in the competition’s history. Period. In fact, it was the first time anyone hit more than six! The next closest person to him in ‘91 was the Reds Paul O’Neill with five. It was a blowout.
2. 2004 Miguel Tejada, Minute Maid Park, Houston - 27 home runs, first place
This was one of those performances that hasn’t aged well. At the time, Tejada’s 27 DONGS were the most ever in the history of the competition, but that number has gone on to be more and more inflated each year, with Stanton holding the new mark of 61. Still, he won so he goes into second.
3. 2016 Mark Trumbo, Petco Park, San Diego - 30 home runs, eliminated in semi-finals
As mentioned before, Trumbo’s 30 are the most by an Oriole and, in a vacuum, he technically had the best performance of any Baltimore hitter. Some of the home runs he hit are still going. That was the first time I recall a ball being hit onto the roof of that building in left field at Petco Park. Had he even made it to the final I may have bumped him to second, but results do matter. However, this was a job well done.
4. 2004 Rafael Palmeiro, Minute Maid Park, Houston - 14 home runs, third place
In the same competition that Tejada would go on to win, fellow Oriole Palmeiro had a nice showing. At the time he was 39 years old and may have been assisted by some, uhh, supplements. But he gets points for beating out fellow old man Barry Bonds who was still knocking them out of the park with regularity in games that counted at this point.
5. 1996 Brady Anderson, Veterans Stadium, Boston - 11 home runs, third place
Anderson competed in the home run derby during his magical ‘96 season in which he ended up with 50 DONGS while slashing .297/.396/.637. He did not win, but it’s cool that the sideburns got to be put on a national stage like that.
6. 2015 Manny Machado, Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, 12 home runs, eliminated in first round
Machado ended up getting knocked out by Joc Pederson in the new format of the home run derby last year. Pederson hit one more long ball than Manny that round but, for me, 12 bombs was impressive from the O’s young stud. He doesn’t have a swing built for the derby but did well to not pull a 2005 Jason Bay goose egg. It wouldn’t bother me to NEVER see Machado in this thing again. Just keep that doubles stroke in tact and cheer for your teammates, Manny. OR do whatever you want, I don’t control you, man!
After that, they all sort of blend together, but just so you have all of the appearances of of O’s in the home run derby, here is a full list from oldest to most recent:
1985 (Metrodome, Minneapolis): Ripken, one home run, last place
1992 (Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego): Ripken, four home runs, tied for third
1993 (Oriole Park at Camden Yards): no O’s competed, but it is the only home run derby in Baltimore and Griffey hit the warehouse!
1997 (Jacobs Field, Cleveland): Anderson four home runs, fifth place
1998 (Coors Field, Colorado): Palmeiro, 10 home runs, fourth place
1999 (Fenway Park, Boston): B.J. Surhoff, two home runs, seventh place
2006 (PNC Park, Pittsburgh): Tejada, three home runs, tied for sixth
2013 (Citi Field, New York): Chris Davis, 12 home runs, fourth place
2014 (Target Field, Minneapolis) Adam Jones, four home runs, eliminated in second round
Who do you think had the best performance ever by a player wearing an Orioles jersey or cap or whatever weird stuff they are using that season? Does winning matter or is it simply the number and distances of your DONGS? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for reading!