Mets, Yanks no derby strangers
Amazins ever-present in early competitions
The year 1986 was a great one for the Mets. That, of course, was the last time the team brought the World Series trophy to Queens. It was also the last time any Met took home even a share of the Home Run Derby title. Here’s a look at each of the four Mets to have ever competed in the derby, including the team’s lone co-champion.
The Mets slugger tied with California Angels rookie Wally Joyner as co-winner of the ’86 competition at the Astrodome in Houston. More memorably, one of Straw’s four blasts that year connected with a speaker dangling from the roof. Not so memorable was the 1990 derby, in which only five total hits cleared the wall at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Strawberry didn’t hit any of them.
HoJo made his two All-Star appearances during his derby seasons, entering the break with more than 20 homers each time. He tied for third in 1989 at Anaheim Stadium by swatting two homers. The ’91 derby at Toronto’s SkyDome finally saw the type of power numbers expected from such a competition, but Johnson wasn’t responsible for any of them. He failed to hit one out of the park.
Bonilla made a little noise at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards during his lone appearance in the derby, reaching the second round of the competition before being eliminated by the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. and the Rangers’ Juan Gonzalez, who won the whole thing. He finished with five long balls, tied for third with the Giants’ Barry Bonds.
Mets fans looking to see the 2013 NL team captain win this year had better hope that the third baseman learned from his ’06 experience at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. Wright led after Round 1 with 16 dingers, but his production fell off from there. He hit two the next round and held on to reach the finals, but the Phillies’ Ryan Howard out-homered him 5-4 in the finals to take the title.
Bombers boast 3 champions in past 16 years
This may come as a surprise, but it took the Yankees until 1997 to send a representative to the Home Run Derby. They’ve certainly made up for lost time; three of the four Yankees to participate in the competition have won it all. Here’s a look at all four Yankees to compete in the derby.
Tino Martinez (1997)
In the midst of his best season, Martinez had already swatted 28 homers by the time the All-Star Game came to Jacobs Field in Cleveland. He put up the second-best totals in rounds 1 (5 HRs) and 2 (8 HRs), but it was the Rockies’ Larry Walker who put up nine in each round entering the finals. But by the last round, Walker seemingly ran out of gas, and the Yankee outslugged his Colorado counterpart, 3-1.
In his first year in pinstripes, The Great Giambino flexed power throughout the ’02 competition at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, mashing a total of 24 homers over three rounds to top the field. The following year at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Giambi hit 12 homers in Round 1, and 11 in Round 2, but couldn’t overcome eventual runner-up Albert Pujols’ 12 homers in their semifinals matchup. He settled for third.
Nick Swisher (2010)
The only Yankee to compete but never win since the competition was first held yearly beginning in 1985, Swisher only launched four homers in the first round at Angel Stadium in Anaheim to finish sixth. With 15 homers up to that point in the season, Swisher still can fondly remember the 2010 break thanks to his first — and thus far only — All-Star appearance. Or maybe not; he struck out in his only at-bat.
Cano felt right at home at Arizona’s Chase Field in ’11, belting eight homers in the first round, 12 in the semifinals and another dozen in the final to narrowly outduel the Red Sox’s Adrian Gonzalez. Apparently, Cano used up all of his Home Run Derby power that year, because he put up a goose egg last year at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. He’ll become the Yankees’ first three-time participant Monday night.