Chicks dig the long ball. Even in the post steroid era home runs are one of the most exciting plays in sports, which makes it so surprising that the home run derby gets such a bad rap. The home run derby isn't perfect. The best players don't always participate. They're always tinkering with the format. Once Robinson Cano didn't even hit a single homer. But the tournament has had its share of moments over the past 20 years. Here are recaps on four of the most memorable:
4. 2005 Winner: Bobby Abreu, Stadium: Comerica Park
Prior to 2005 the record for most home runs in a single derby was 27 by Miguel Tejada. In 2005 Abreu hit 24 in the first round alone. His 41 total long balls are still a record for a single contest. He was Josh Hamilton before Josh Hamilton. What made his performance special was that he was the first player to hit that night. MLB should have canceled the rest of it right then and there. Abreu was never a power hitter outside of this night though. He finished 2005 with the same number of home runs (24) he hit in the first round. For his career he never hit more than 31.
3. 2015 Winner: Todd Frazier, Stadium: Great American Ballpark
The most recent derby was memorable for a few reasons. First of all Frazier became the second player ever to win the contest in his home ballpark. Secondly he won on a walk-off, which was an unbelievably cool way to end it. Just fast forward to the end of that video. But the biggest reason is because MLB finally changed the format to draw more interest. For the first time ever batters were placed into a bracket to face off single-elimination style. More importantly though was the time limit. Instead of receiving 10 outs batters received five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. This really helped the pace of the night and the format drew rave reviews. For this year's derby batters will receive four minutes instead of five.
2. 1999 Winner: Ken Griffey Jr, Stadium: Fenway Park
The height of the steroid era. McGwire. Sosa. Griffey. The backwards hat. The perfect swing. 1999 is very arguably the best home run derby of all time. It's strange looking back at the totals from that year though. Griffey ultimately won despite hitting just three homers in the first round, and 16 in total. The real story of the night however was McGwire, who hit 13 absolute bombs in the first round. This was the first derby since his record 70 homer season and he did not disappoint. Add in the fact this took place at iconic Fenway Park and it's one of the two best derbies ever.
1. 2008 Winner: Justin Morneau, Stadium: Yankee Stadium
When I hear the words home run derby the first thought that comes to mind is Josh Hamilton in 2008. In the first round that year Hamilton took 38 swings and hit homers on 28 of them. That's a record. It was in the final year of the old Yankee Stadium. It was at the height of his unbelievable return to professional baseball from drugs and alcohol abuse. 2008 was the greatest home run derby ever. But he didn't win. The derby makes slight changes to their rules nearly every year so it can get confusing but back in '08 the home run count reset entering the finals. After hitting 28 in round one a gassed Hamilton hit just 4 in round two before Justin Morneau edged him out 5-3 in the finals. Regardless of the defeat Hamilton's performance is the best and most memorable of all time.