For the first time since the year 2000, the Cincinnati Reds will have a member of their roster competing in the annual Home Run Derby competition.
When Ken Griffey Jr. strode to the plate in Atlanta’s Turner Field with his hat backwards, Todd Frazier was just 14 years old. Of course, his baseball career was already more esteemed that many would ever be able to accomplish.
The Little League World Series Champion had proven he was a budding star on a national stage; he had met his boyhood idol Derek Jeter, and now, he gets to do both of those over again 14 years later.
In many ways, the fascination with the Home Run Derby is responsible for what occurred with baseball’s steroid era. No longer could fans just wait for that one night a year when players would demolish balls deep into the night; that had to be a daily occurrence.
This year’s field is as follows: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies; Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers; Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins; Justin Morneau, Colorado Rockies; Josh Donaldson Oakland Athletics; Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins; Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics; Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles; Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays.
With the new rule stating that at least one member of the hosting ballclub having to participate in the showcase, it assures that the Reds will be competing in back-to-back Derby’s for the first time since 1985-1986.
In the spirit of batting practice balls being launched into the night, let’s take a look at how the Cincinnati Reds have fared in their history at the Derby: (for sake of modernization, this will go back to 1985, when the format closest to what it is today began to form)
1985 – Dave Parker
Call it a coincidence, but the 1985 Home Run Derby took place in Minnesota as well. With Target Field not yet constructed, it took place inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Back in the initial stages of the Derby, there were no fancy tournaments that allowed for astronomical numbers to be put up, so having clubbed only six home runs, Parker was announced as the champion.
1986 – Dave Parker
The man nicknamed “The Cobra” returned to defend his crown in 1986 in a vastly different park than the one he had won in the season before. The Astrodome, the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” was a stadium ill-suited for men attempting to launch balls over the fence with the numbers telling the story.
For the entirety of the competition, there was a total of 15 home runs hit. Parker would club only three as the New York Mets’ Darryl Strawberry and the California Angels’ Wally Joyner would share the honor of champion, with each man only hitting four out.
Riverfront Stadium was the host of the 1988 festivities, but due to rain, the Home Run Derby never took place. Meaning, when Great American Ball Park hosts the contest next summer, it will be for the first time in the city of Cincinnati. (Barring the weather going rogue once again.)
1989 – Eric Davis
With a pre-historic format still in place, “Big Red” won himself co-champion honors with Ruben Sierra as both men managed to hit only three home runs at Angel Stadium.
Arguably, the ’89 field was one of the most powerful ever with Davis, Sierra, Bo Jackson, and Kevin Mitchell all competing. Had there been multiple rounds, the numbers would have certainly been drastically higher.
1991 – Paul O’Neill & Chris Sabo
Two of the odder selections in Cincinnati Reds Home Run Derby history participated together at the SkyDome in Toronto in 1991.
O’Neill would go on to lead all National League sluggers with five home runs, which would have been good to win most years, but Baltimore’s Cal Ripken Jr. who clobbered a then-record 12, outpaced him.
Every hitter’s worst fear when entering the Derby is putting up a goose egg and that is precisely what Chris Sabo delivered. Never known for his meteoric home runs, Sabo, in hindsight, seemed like an odd selection.
Serving as the most recent time two Redlegs have appeared, the pair of Cincinnati outfielders combined for all of five home runs.
2000 – Ken Griffey Jr.
In what would be his final Home Run Derby, Junior had finally crossed over to the National League side in 2000 when the contest was held at Turner Field in Atlanta. In would be his fourth consecutive appearance, and seventh overall.
After winning arguably the most popular Derby of all-time in 1999, Griffey came just a few homers shy of retaining his crown. Chicago Cubs’ slugger Sammy Sosa put on a show, mashing 26 home runs over the entirety of the contest in comparison to Griffey’s 11.
2014 – Todd Frazier
With a 10-man field and complex bracket all working against him, the “Toddfather” is considered an underdog. He will have his younger brother Jeff throwing to him, a Frazier-to-Frazier photograph certainly to come.
Tune in at 8 p.m. tonight as Frazier looks to become the first Red since Eric Davis in 1989 to raise the crown as Home Run Derby Champion.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds