Each year before the MLB All-Star Game, the league’s best sluggers come together for an annual home run hitting contest. Since its humble origins in the early 1980s, the Home Run Derby has become a fan favorite, and is one of the most-watched events broadcast on ESPN.
The popularity of the event should not be all that surprising. Everyone loves to watch people hit home runs. Chicks dig the long ball, after all.
Sometimes, though, things don’t always go according to plan. Even some of the best home run hitters can have an off day. So, in honor of this year’s competition, we present to you five of the worst Home Run Derby performances of all time.
Mike Piazza (1993/1994) – 0
When thinking about the great sluggers of the 1990s, it’s hard to ignore Mike Piazza. The former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher produced some of the all-time greatest offensive stats for a player at his position. In 1993, Piazza had 18 home runs coming into the Home Run Derby at Camden Yards. Unfortunately, he failed to hit a single home run in the contest. The next year at Three Rivers Stadium, Piazza wanted to prove the previous year was just a fluke. Once again, Piazza put up a goose egg. He never competed in another Derby after that. Apparently he learned his lesson.
Jim Thome (1997) – 0
A Home Run Derby in front of your hometown fans seems like a dream come true, but Jim Thome’s 1997 performance at Jacobs Field became more of a nightmare. Thome came into the contest with 24 home runs and a staggering .628 slugging percentage. Sadly for him, the Indians first baseman could not hit one over the wall, finishing with 0 home runs for the day. At least Thome was able to redeem himself the following year, hitting a respectable 17 home runs at Coors Field and finishing second to Ken Griffey, Jr.
Troy Glaus (2001) – 0
Look, Safeco Field in Seattle is not the easiest place to hit home runs. Still, you’d think that would be a non-issue for a slugger like Troy Glaus, who led the AL with 47 homers the year before in 2000. Despite coming into the Derby with 22 long balls, the Angels third baseman failed to hit a single homer. Things did not get much better for Glaus in his 2nd Home Run Derby with the Blue Jays in 2006, where he managed to hit only one. Hey, at least it’s a little improvement!
Bret Boone (2003) – 0
This third-generation big leaguer really came into his own with the Seattle Mariners in the early 2000s (perhaps with a little ‘help’). The all-star second basemen probably wishes he could forget his 2003 Home Run Derby performance, however. Not only did Boone hit a grand total of 0 home runs, he actually swung and missed at a nice pitch right down the middle from former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Said Boone of his performance: “I hit pretty good, though. I think I was 8-for-10 with a couple of doubles thrown in.”
Jason Bay (2005) – 0
In honor of the World Baseball Classic, the 2005 Home Run Derby featured eight players from different countries. Jason Bay represented his native Canada, which was mere miles away from Comerica Park in Detroit, where the contest was held. Maybe it was the added pressure of representing his homeland, but the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder was not able to muster up a single homer. To his credit, after the game Bay admitted, “I’m probably not the ideal Home Run Derby guy.” You might be onto something, Jason.
Mark McGwire (1998) – 4
Who could forget McGwire’s classic 1998 season, where he finished the year with 70 home runs, smashing Roger Maris’ record of 61? Fans expected big things from the slugger at that year’s Home Run Derby. However, even in the thin air at Coors Field, Big Mac could only produce a measly 4 home runs. Better than nothing, but not quite what fans were hoping for.
Sammy Sosa (1999) – 1
Sosa was right there with McGwire throughout that 1998 season, finishing that year with an equally amazing 66 home runs. The long balls continued for Sosa the next year, coming into the Home Run Derby with 32 homers. That year at Fenway Park though, he only managed to hit 1. Maybe Sosa needed a little more cork in that bat?
Robinson Cano (2012) – 0
We have to give Cano some props: he was the winner of the 2011 Home Run Derby, after all, where he hit 32 homers. The following year, however, the Yankees second baseman put up a poor title defense. He was the only player not to hit a home run in the competition.
Can’t get enough Home Run Derby? There’s a Sporcle quiz for that.