Top Performances in Home Run Derby History

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Folks, the 2022 Home Run Derby is finished, and it was everything we could’ve hoped for. Pete Alonso didn’t make history by winning the event for the third time in a row, but he put on a show, as did a few other players.

Now we have to wait until the event in 2023. While doing that, we thought it was a good idea to get amped up by reviewing the players who have hit the most homers in a single Home Run Derby. As you’ll see, many of these performance have come since 2019, while none happened before 2016.

Related: Most All-Time Home Runs in HR Derby History

Top Home Run Derby Performances All-Time

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2019: 91 Home Runs

The show Vladimir Guerrero Jr. put on during the 2019 Home Run Derby was incredibly special…even though he didn’t go home with any hardware. This event ended in Alonso’s first victory, but many fans also walked away in awe of what Vlad Jr. had just done.

He posted a .741 OPS with eight home runs as a rookie through his first 253 plate appearances in the big leagues. However, his batting practice efforts were already legendary, and he immediately let loose in the first round, with a then-record 29 homers. He then hit another 29 in the second round, which led to a ridiculous back-and-forth battle with Joc Pederson. Vlad Jr. had set the all-time single-derby record for home runs before the finals even started. He finished with 22 in the finals, and Alonso bested him by one to take home the crown and the $1 million prize.

But still, Vladdy made his presence felt.

Julio Rodríguez, 2022: 81 Home Runs

Like other memorable Home Run Derby performances in the past, Julio Rodríguez didn’t win. However, he’s easily been one of the most talked about players since the event went down in Los Angeles. J-Rod eventually ran out of steam in the finals against Juan Soto (who we’ll get to in a bit), but this overall performance was built on the historic numbers he put up in his first two rounds.

How good was Rodríguez in his first two rounds? Well, the 63 total homers he clubbed were already the third-most dingers in a single Derby all-time. And he still had one more round to participate in. Although he ultimately fell short, hitting another 18 home runs was an impressive showing for someone taking part in his first Derby.

The Mariners outfielder had slugged 33,573 total feet of home runs, which equals about 6.4 miles. Let’s use some perspective to really think about how incredible this is. Go run a 10-K race, and then tack on another couple tenths of a mile. That’s the total distance of Rodríguez’s Home Run Derby performance. This number only trails Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who put up 38,641 feet off the strength of 91 dingers in 2019.

At the time of his appearance, the rookie was just 21 years and 201 days old. This made him the third youngest player to reach the finals. He was beat by Soto, who ended up becoming the second youngest Derby champion of all-time.

Pete Alonso, 2021: 74 Home Runs

After a one-year hiatus from the Home Run Derby because of COVID-19, Alonso headed to Coors Field without an All-Star selection. Since he was the defending champion, the slugging first baseman still got an invite to attempt a repeat.

And, my goodness did he make the most of his opportunity. He came out of the gates hot with 35 home runs, which was a single-round Home Run Derby record. He then got past Juan Soto in the semifinals and then walked it off against Trey Mancini in the finals to repeat as champion.

What’s interesting here is that for the second straight year, Alonso walked off as the winner, and the final score was the same — he slugged 23 in the finals, while his opponent slugged 22. After hitting 17 homers with a .477 slugging percentage before the Derby, Alonso went back to the New York Mets and slugged another 20 dingers with a .560 slugging percentage to close out the year.

Giancarlo Stanton, 2016: 61 Home Runs

Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby — an event it felt like he was built for — a year before he placed himself among the most home runs in a season ever with 59 in his 2017 NL MVP campaign. Maybe his domination at Petco Park was a foreshadowing of what was to come?

Some of the statistics he produced were just ridiculous. As noted by MLB.com, Stanton’s average home run distance was 446 feet, and his 61 dingers traveled a projected distance of just over 27,187 feet, which sussed out to 5.15 miles. The 20 hardest-hit home runs of the evening all belonged to him.

The right-handed slugger posted two rounds of 20-plus homers before defeating Mark Trumbo in the finals by a score of 17-14.

Joc Pederson, 2019: 60 Home Runs

So far in his career, Joc Pederson has collected one season of 30-plus home runs, and it happened in 2019 when he slugged 36 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit 20 of them in just 297 plate appearances prior to the All-Star break, so you know there was a chance he’d do something special here.

Pederson hit 21 homers in his first-round matchup against Alex Bregman, but it was what he did in the second round that was truly ridiculous. Yes, this is the other half of the insane back-and-forth second-round bout we talked about earlier. Vlad Jr. went first and tied his single-round derby record with 29 homers. That’s intimidating, but Pederson found a way to tie him and force a swing-off.

After an extra minute of swinging, they were tied again. After another three swings, they were still tied, and it wasn’t until the second three-pitch swing-off that pushed Vlad Jr. ahead of Joc by one. The final tally? Vlad Jr. hit a total of 40, while Pederson finished with 39. Unreal, and you can read more about this crazy Home Run Derby matchup here.

Trey Mancini, 2021: 59 Home Runs

It was virtually impossible not to root for Trey Mancini during the Home Run Derby after everything he’d gone through to get there. Remember, he missed the shortened 2020 season because of a cancer diagnosis, and he just came back to the Baltimore Orioles in 2021 to slug 21 homers with 71 RBI and a .758 OPS in 616 plate appearances.

Of all the sluggers who entered the 2021 Derby, there probably weren’t many expecting Mancini to be the one to face Alonso in the finals. But that’s what made it so much better. He found himself in tight battles all night, beating Matt Olson in the first round by a score of 24-23 and then ousting Trevor Story in the second round, 13-12. He was the first one to swing in the finals against Alonso and put up a gaudy number of 22, but it wasn’t enough to keep the champ from defending his title.

Pete Alonso, 2019: 57 Home Runs

The 2019 All-Star break was right in the middle of a memorable rookie season for Alonso. He was named an All-Star for the Mets and entered the breather with 30 dingers under his belt. That was a new franchise record for rookies, but he didn’t stop there, as he now holds the Mets’ single-season home run record and the MLB rookie record with 53 homers.

With those 30 first-half dingers in his back pocket, Alonso secured the second seed in the competition, and it was a night of close calls for him. First, he defeated Carlos Santana by a score of 14-13 before sending Ronald Acuña Jr. packing with a 20-19 win. And then, of course, he walked off with a 23-22 victory over Vlad Jr. to add his name to MLB’s Home Run Derby winners.

Kyle Schwarber, 2018: 55 Home Runs

Kyle Schwarber home runs from the leadoff spot are awfully fun to watch, but we’ll take them during the Home Run Derby any day, too. The night belonged to Bryce Harper, as he won the Derby at Nationals Park, but Kyle Schwarber put on a show in a stadium he’d call home in just three seasons.

His first-round win came against Alex Bregman. Schwarber bested him by a score of 16-15, and Bregman’s last swing of the round fell just a couple of feet short of tying things up. He and future teammate, Rhys Hoskins, linked up for a memorable semifinal matchup, which ended with Schwarber winning 21-20 in walk-off style. And at that point, it was the first time a hitter slugged at least 20 homers in the semis, and they just so happened to do it against one another.

He faced Harper in the final and launched 18 dingers (with 16 of them going into the second or third deck, according to Jayson Stark), but it wasn’t enough, and you’ll see why below.

Juan Soto, 2022: 53 Home Runs

Although Juan Soto came in a distant second regarding total home runs hit in the 2022 Home Run Derby, he did what was necessary to advance and eventually win. José Ramírez led off their head-to-head matchup with 17 homers, which was the lowest total of all participants. Soto simply hit 18 and provided a great bat flip to celebrate the occasion.

He then faced Albert Pujols in a surprise Round 2 matchup. The young outfielder did the same thing, walking it off by beating the soon-to-be Hall of Famer, 16-15. The finals pitted him against Julio Rodríguez. Once again, Soto delivered by beating his counterpart, 19-18 to bring home the hardware.

What’s interesting here is that Soto’s longest home run was 482 feet. It was the longest homer of the entire event. He also hit the longest homer of the 2021 event, which checked in at 520 feet at Coors Field. There’s a trend going on here.

Only Juan Gonzalez won the Derby at a younger age than Soto, and he joins Bryce Harper as the two Nationals players to win the event. He’s also the first Dominican-born player to come out victorious since Robinson Canó in 2011.

Aaron Judge, 2017: 47 Home Runs

Don’t you just love it when a rookie bursts onto the scene and also shows out during the All-Star break festivities? Aaron Judge eventually broke Mark McGwire‘s MLB rookie home run record with 52 dingers in his own AL Rookie of the Year campaign for the New York Yankees. But on this night at Marlins Park, he nearly matched his eventual 2017 homer total.

Judge’s best performance came in the first round, as he beat Justin Bour by a score of 23-22. He then followed that by eliminating fellow 2017 Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger, 13-12 in the semifinals before taking the crown by besting Miguel Sanó, 11-10.

The outfielder slowed down his regular-season homer production in the summer months, with just 10 total homers in July and August, but he eventually found his groove again in September by hitting 15.

Juan Soto, 2021: 46 Home Runs

Do you know that myth about the Home Run Derby messing up the swings of participants? It had the opposite effect on Juan Soto. He came into the 2021 event as the eighth and final seed after hitting just 11 homers in the first half. The left-handed hitter went back to the Nationals and slugged 18 homers in the second half despite getting 10 fewer plate appearances than he did prior to the All-Star break.

The game-changer? It had to be the Derby. Soto was immediately put to the test at Coors Field in the first round, facing Shohei Ohtani. It took a couple of swing-offs, but Soto bested the top seed (which included a 520-foot blast that was the longest of the night) and earned the right to face Alonso in the second round. He slugged 15, but the defending champ ended up winning by hitting 16 of his own.

Bryce Harper, 2018: 45 Home Runs

This performance allowed Harper to win the Home Run Derby in his home stadium, making it just the third time that’s happened in Derby history (Ryne Sandberg did it in 1990 and Todd Frazier did it in 2015). He squeaked by Freddie Freeman in the first round, winning 13-12, and while he beat Max Muncy in the semifinals by the same score, he reached that number with a minute to spare on the clock.

Harper prevailed against Schwarber in the finals, but it wasn’t without drama. With a minute left, the left-handed slugger was staring at a nine-homer deficit. He then tied Schwarber with nine straight homers before the buzzer and eventually took home the crown in extra time.

Who Will Join in on the Home Run Derby Fun?

There have been so many memorable performances in recent years, and it seems as though a lot of it has to do with the revamped format. It’s amazing to see how this event has evolved over the years, especially with how players have made our jaw drops, even when they’re constrained by a clock. Watching someone else add their name to this list (whether it’s for the first time or doing it again) almost feels like a certainty at this point.

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