Home Run Derby Preview: 2009 Participants, Odds, and Past Champions

2009 Home Run Derby Participants, Betting Odds, Past Champions and Home Run Derby WinnersGrowing up, the Home Run Derby was always my favorite part of baseball’s All Star weekend. I used to love it.  I remember my dad telling me about the Home Run Derby TV show that he used to watch with the old stars like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle; and there was just something inherently exciting about seeing baseball’s biggest and best stars step up to the plate with one thing on their mind: swinging for the fences.

And, of course, this was back in the late 80s and early 90s when my love for the long ball was still untainted by steroids.  It was the same innocent awe with which I watched Big Mac and Sammy’s 1994 1998 (thanks Scott) pursuit of Roger Maris.

Times have changed now, and the home run isn’t quite what it used to be.  And neither is the Home Run Derby.  Maybe it’s because of steroids, maybe it’s just because I’m older, or maybe it’s because my childhood heroes like The Big Hurt and The Kid are no longer sweet-swinging for the fences the night before the All Star Game anymore.  For whatever reason, the Home Run Derby is no longer must-watch TV for me now.  I’m still interested in it, but I don’t plan my night around watching it.

With all that being said, I had the opportunity to re-watch last year’s Home Run Derby this past weekend.  They replayed it on either ESPN or the MLB Network, I don’t remember which one, but I sat through the first hour of it just so I could watch Josh Hamilton put on the most amazing 10-out sequence in the history of the Derby.  I didn’t get to watch the entire thing last year, but after seeing highlights and hearing people gush about it non-stop (especially here in Dallas), I had to watch.

And my goodness, it was everything it was cracked up to be and more.  I could not find the actual TV broadcast on YouTube, but there is plenty of amateur video available from people who were in the stands that night.  One of them is below:


I have never seen a baseball player in that kind of zone before.  And as the fans realized how hot Hamilton was, they seemed to cheer louder and louder with each successive blast.  As the announcers said repeatedly, Hamilton may have only broken Bobby Abreu’s single-round record by four, but the difference in the sheer power on display was night and day.  

009 Home Run Derby Participants, Start Time, Betting Odds | Past HR Derby Champions, WinnersJosh Hamilton wasn’t just hitting home runs, he was murdering baseballs and attacking bleachers.  He appeared to be doing it so effortlessly too.  And even though this comparison has been made millions of times over the past 16 or so months, I could not help thinking about how much Hamilton’s incredible story reminded me of one of my all-time favorite movies: The Natural.

Amazingly, Hamilton was not actually crowned the champion last year.  Justin Morneau of the Twins won it all (as you can see from the chart below).  But Morneau winning was simply a technicality based on the rules.  The lasting memory of the 2008 Home Run Derby was Josh Hamilton’s record first round, for everything it was and everything it represented.  We love baseball because it can provide such magical and majestic moments; last year, Josh Hamilton certainly provided that.

But that was 2008.  

Tonight, eight players will do their best to provide an encore to Hamilton’s marvelous performance from last year.  Here are the 2009 Home Run Derby participants:

2009 Home Run Derby Participants

American League Home Run Derby Participants

  • Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
  • Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
  • Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
  • Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Rays

National League Home Run Derby Participants

  • The Greatest Player Alive Today and Maybe Ever, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
  • Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies
  • Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

At first glance, one thing is pretty clear: this has to be the biggest disparity ever between the stature of the players competing for the AL and NL, respectively.  I have never been so underwhelmed at a Home Run Derby roster as I am looking at the AL.  In fact, there is not one guy in the AL that I’m looking forward to seeing.  All I hope is that Joe Mauer does incredibly well and then suffers a post-HR Derby dropoff like so many others have.  The same goes for Brandon Inge.  The best thing that could happen this weekend for the White Sox (who were screwed out of a couple additional All Star spots, damnit) would be Mauer and Inge screwing up their swings.  Come on guys…you can do it!

The NL, however, has the kind of stars that fans want to see in the Home Run Derby.  Albert Pujols will be competing in front of his home crowd, which is just great.  Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder are the kinds of behemoth mashers that harken us all back to the days and memories of guys like Babe Ruth.  

009 Home Run Derby Participants, Start Time, Betting Odds | Past HR Derby Champions, Winners

If the NL guys don’t hit double the amount of HRs that the AL guys hit, I’ll be surprised.

In fact, here are the 2009 Home Run Derby odds and betting lines, at least from one guy.  Most of the odds I’ve surveyed have been very similar:

  • Home Run Derby Favorite – Albert Pujols: +200
  • Ryan Howard: +250
  • Prince Fielder: +350
  • Adrian Gonzalez: +500
  • Carlos Pena: +600
  • Nelson Cruz: +800
  • Joe Mauer: +850
  • Brandon Inge: +1000

As you can see, not a whole lot of balance.  But no one cares who wins the Home Run Derby between the AL and NL; we all just want to see someone put on a magnificent show or see a couple of guys provide some drama by matching eachother HR for HR until the end.  And if it’s the great Pujols in front of his home fans, even better.  

Here are the particulars for tonight’s festivities:

2009 Home Run Derby Quick Preview

The final link above is the the Wikipedia page for the Home Run Derby, which provides the history of the event as well as a breakdown of every past derby.  Below, I have re-created the table of past Home Run Derby champions.  Tonight beginning at 7:00 ET, we’ll get to see which NL star will add his name to the list…because let’s be honest, if one of the guys from the AL wins it will be a monumental upset.  (Go Mauer and Inge!!! Help swing the balance of the AL Central with your Home Run Derby title and subsequent second half swoon!)

Home Run Derby Past Champions: All-Time List of Winners

Year Home Run Derby Champion Team Total Home Runs Ballpark
2009 Someone from the NL     Busch Stadium (STL)
2008 Justin Morneau Minnesota Twins 22 Yankee Stadium (NY)
2007 Vladimir Guerrero LA Angels 17 AT&T Park (SF)
2006 Ryan Howard Philadelphia Phillies 23 PNC Park (PIT)
2005 Bobby Abreu Philadelphia Phillies 41 Comerica Park (DET)
2004 Miguel Tejada Baltimore Orioles 27 Minute Maid Park (HOU)
2003 Garret Anderson LA Angels 22 U.S. Cellular Field (CHI)
2002 Jason Giambi New York Yankees 24 Miller Park (MIL)
2001 Luis Gonzalez Arizona Diamondbacks 16 Safeco Field
2000 Sammy Sosa Chicago Cubs 26 Turner Field (ATL)
1999 Ken Griffey, Jr. Seattle Mariners 16 Fenway Park
1998 Ken Griffey, Jr. Seattle Mariners 19 Coors Field (COL)
1997 Tino Martinez New York Yankees 16 Jacobs Field (CLE)
1996 Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants 17 Veterans Stadium (PHI)
1995 Frank Thomas (Yeeessss!) Chicago White Sox 15 The Ballpark (TEX)
1994 Ken Griffey, Jr. Seattle Mariners 7 Three Rivers Stadium (PIT)
1993 Juan Gonzalez Texas Rangers 7 Camden Yards (BAL)
1992 Mark McGwire Oakland A's 12 Jack Murphy Stadium (SD)
1991 Cal Ripken, Jr. Baltimore Orioles 12 Skydome (TOR)
1990 Ryne Sandberg Chicago Cubs 3 Wrigley Field (CHI)
1989 Eric Davis Cincinnati Reds 3 Anaheim Stadium (LAA)
1988 canceled due to rain     Riverfront Stadium (CIN)
1987 Andre Dawson 4 4 Oakland Coliseum (OAK)
1986 Tie (Wally Joyner, CA; Daryl Strawberry, NYM)   4 Astrodome (HOU)
1985 Dave Parker Cincinnati Reds 6 Metrodome (MIN)

Enjoy the derby tonight everyone.  I doubt we’ll see anything like what we saw from Josh Hamilton last year, but the trio of Pujols-Howard-Fielder should at least be good from some compelling long ball drama.

* – Josh Hamilton photo credit: Deadspin

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. Tigers fan says:

    why is this article so biased. the nl is nothing special at all, albert pujols is having a good year. so what. its the career stats that matter anyway, in which his arent that great. so whoever wrote this is an idiot…period.

    • @Tigers fan, thank you for your completely objective comment. And I’ll second that the author of this piece is an idiot… Who is this basement-dwelling peon anyway?

      I think if you look at the article, you’ll see that it’s not just me who thinks the AL has no shot in the Home Run Derby tonight. Everyone oddsmaker I’ve seen has the four NL guys with better odds to win than the four AL guys. Tell me one 1-on-1 matchup where an AL guys would be favored over an NL guy.

      And, upon re-reading your comment, you claim that Pujols’ career stats aren’t that great. Honestly, I should have just deleted your comment as spam (or simply for being idiotic); but we appreciate all of our commenters so I did not want to do that. But really? Pujols career stats are not that great?

      I think any objective observer would easily be able to pick out the idiot here…

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