The MLB All-Star Home Run Derby is one of the premier exhibition events in all of sports. As long as guys have been hitting dingers they have been brought together to see who could hit the most. While MLB continues to tinker to find the most effective and entertaining way to prove this, the home runs and the guys who hit them remain awesome to behold. Here are the greatest modern Home Run Derby performances in Major League Baseball history.
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Cal Ripken Jr., 1991: 12 Home Runs
The modern Home Run Derby began in 1985 with each batter getting two innings to hit as many home runs as they could. The format added a third inning in 1991 and Baltimore Orioles star Cal Ripken Jr. took full advantage, smacking a record 12 dingers into the stands at the Toronto Blue Jays SkyDome. It was the first time anyone ever hit double-digit home runs in a Derby.
This was Ripken at the absolute apex of his powers, exacly midway through his career in the midst of his second MVP campaign. Ripken, about to win his seventh Silver Slugger award, hit a career-high 34 home runs in '91, which was good for fourth in the league.
Albert Belle, 1995: 16 Home Runs
Albert Belle of the Cleveland Indians lost the 1995 Home Run Derby to the Chicago White Sox's Frank Thomas despite hitting one more home run (Thomas beat him 3-2 in the final round). Hitting more home runs than Thomas who was coming off back-to-back MVP seasons after leading the league in homers before that was quite an accomplishment.
Ken Griffey Jr. 1994, 1998 and 1999: 42 Home Runs
To watch Ken Griffey Jr. play baseball in the 1990's was to see the coolest anyone ever looked hitting a baseball in the sport's century-plus history. That perfectly tailored lefty swing helped the Seattle Mariners legend win three Home Run Derbys. He also led baseball in homers in three of those four seasons.
In 1998 he hit 19 home runs which was tied for the most ever in a single Derby with Larry Walker. To this day Griffey still has still hit the ninth-most home runs in MLB All-Star Home Run Derby history with 70 total.
Josh Hamilton, 2008: 28 Home Runs in the First Round
Josh Hamilton appeared in just one Home Run Derby. In 2008, his second year in the majors and his first year with the Texas Rangers, Hamilton burst onto the scene, got an invite to the Derby and rewarded MLB with an astonishing single-round record of 28 home runs.
Hamilton would end up losing to Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins who only hit 22 home runs total, but his mark was made. Hamilton would be MVP two seasons later and be out of baseball by 2016 because of drug problems.
Vladamir Guerrero Jr., 2019 - 91 Home Runs
Yet another runner up on the list. Vladdy Jr. would lose by just one in the final round against Pete Alonso, but the Toronto Blue Jays rookie hit a record 91 total home runs and a record 40 home runs in a single round thanks to a swing-off with with Joc Pederson.
Guerrero Jr. was a star. Two years later, healthy and playing in 161 games, he would lead baseball in home runs with a paltry 48 and finish second in MVP voting
Pete Alonso, 2021 - 74 Home Runs
After fending off Guerrero in the finals in 2019, Alonso put on another show in 2021. (The All-Star Game was canceled in 2020.) The New York Mets star hit 35 home runs in the first round (second all-time) and 74 total (second all-time).
Thanks to those two performances Alonso has the most homers in Home Run Derby history with 131 total dingers.