Worst Home Run Derby performances
Most disappointing Home Run Derby performances
There have been many horrific performances in the 30-year history of baseball's Home Run Derby (including the remarkable 1990 contest in which more contestants didn't homer than did), but many of those no-shows have been relatively no-name hitters. This is a list of the most disappointing performances in Derby history, highlighted by sluggers who came into the contest with the highest expectations only to leave with embarrassment.
1986: Jose Canseco, 1
In the second year of the contest's existence, Jose Canseco came into the Derby slugging .526 and with 23 HRs. He must have forgotten to bring his "vitamins" to the Astrodome, though, where he hit only one over the fence. Even the Bad News Bears hit more round-trippers in their exhibition game against the Houston Toros at the dome. Canseco happily would have taken that performance four years later, though, where he came out with zero.
1990: Cecil Fielder, 0
Cecil Fielder had a remarkable 28 HRs for the Tigers at the break in 1990, leading the American League. He tallied exactly 28 less than that at the 1990 Derby at Wrigley Field. We can cut him some slack, though. Apparently someone with Nolan Ryan-like skills was throwing the pitches that night, as there were more contestants (five) that didn't hit a home run than did (three). And there were only four dingers hit the entire contest. Fielder managed to make up for his performance a year later in Toronto, notably hitting two bombs that reached the SkyDome restaurant deep in center field.
1991: Howard Johnson, 0
Howard Johnson is one of the greatest Mets of all time, ranking third on the franchise lists for home runs, RBIs, doubles and stolen bases. Epitomizing typical Mets fashion, though, Johnson choked when it mattered (or really didn't matter actually). HoJo led the NL in HRs at the break in '91 but smacked all 10 of his balls into the outfield grass for a solid zero total. Just like his lone Derby appearance, Johnson has appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot once and also delivered a goose egg on the vote tally.
1992: Fred McGriff, 3
Fred McGriff entered the 1992 All-Star break tied with Gary Sheffield with 18 HRs to lead the NL, but the two failed to get past the first round of the competition. McGriff failed most spectacularly, as the hometown slugger only gave away three souvenirs into the hometown stands at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. At least he managed to beat out one contestant, a home run hitter by the name of Barry Bonds.
1993: Mike Piazza, 0
Mike Piazza was slugging .539 with 18 HRs going into the 1993 contest at Camden Yards and walked out with exactly zero. But he was determined to show it was a fluke by competing again in 1994. It wasn't. Piazza became the only player in MLB history to flub multiple derbies so miserably and was so embarrassed by the performances that he never competed again. In fact, Piazza declined repeated requests by MLB to take part in the 2005 contest as Italy's representative to promote the World Baseball Classic (causing MLB to label Netherlands Antilles native Andruw Jones as a representative of the European nation).
1997: Jim Thome, 0
Jim Thome had 24 HRs and was slugging an incredible .628 going into his first Derby in front of the hometown fans at Jacobs Field in 1997. Thome didn't provide the Indians' drummer with much to beat about, though, hitting zero homers. The Thomenator was back the next year in Colorado, where he redeemed himself with 17.
1997: Nomar Garciaparra, 0
In 1997, hype was growing about young Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who would go on to win Rookie of the Year honors. The voters must have glossed over his big zero in the Derby at Jacobs Field, however. MLB brought him back two years later to compete in the 1999 Derby at Fenway, where he promptly hit two. The sluggers in '97 must really have felt the pressure of the Century 21 contestants; six of the 10 competitors hit two or fewer home runs.
1998: Mark McGwire, 4
Mark McGwire always will be known for his 1998 season, but his '98 Home Run Derby was one to forget. Even the thin Rocky Mountain air at Coors wasn't enough to help Big Mac with his whoppers. McGwire only managed four.
1999: Sammy Sosa, 1
Coming off his incredible 1998 season, Sammy Sosa didn't seem to miss a beat early in 1999, smacking 32 dingers to lead the NL before the ASG. At Fenway, though, he managed just one, 13 fewer than Jeromy Burnitz, one less than B.J. Surhoff and equal to John Jaha, a player so forgettable he accidentally was left out of his team's media guide that year.
2005: Jason Bay, 0
Canadian Jason Bay must have had Roberto Luongo protecting the outfield wall in 2005. Representing the Great White North while the Derby was still in its United Nations format, Bay rung up a complete game shutout. Afterward, the lanky outfielder admitted, "I'm probably not the ideal Home Run Derby guy." NL manager Tony LaRussa must have been watching closely, because the next night, Bay was the only player on either roster not to appear in the All-Star game.
2006: Troy Glaus, 1
Troy Glaus was slugging .518 and had 23 HRs heading into the All-Star Game in 2006 but only mustered up one measly shot in the Derby, finishing dead last. He at least managed to double his career Derby total, having hit one in 2001 as well.
2007: Prince Fielder, 3
Like father, like son. Prince Fielder, who had 29 HRs before the All-Star break in 2007, commemorated his father's 1990 stinkbomb by detonating one of his own. The younger Fielder hit only three in San Francisco to finish tied for second to last. Fielder tied fellow slugging first baseman Ryan Howard, which is especially remarkable considering both are severe pull lefty hitters, and the short distance to right was expected to cause plenty of ripples in McCovey Cove. Fielder got his redemption two years later, though, winning the 2009 Derby.
2012: Robinson Cano, 0
After winning the derby in 2011 with a whopping 32 homers, Yankees second basemen Robinson Cano defended his title in poor fashion, getting blanked in the first-round. As American League captain, Cano picked the hitters on his team and caught flack from the host fans of Kansas City for snubbing Royals slugger Billy Butler. Booed throughout his plate appearance, Cano was the only player not to hit a home run in the competition.