History of the Toronto Blue Jays Participating in the Home Run Derby
Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
4 months ago
The first-ever Home Run Derby hosted by Major League Baseball dates back to 1985 when Dave Parker won the first contest at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the former home to the Minnesota Twins. Since then, numerous Hall of Famers and power hitters from across the league compete each year and try to take home the honour, including the likes of Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Sammy Sosa amongst others.
No Blue Jays-affiliated player has ever won the contest until this year, where Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bested Randy Arozarena in the final round with 25 home runs. Even the ‘Skydome’ hosted one Home Run Derby back in 1991, where Ripken Jr. took home the win.
With that being said, let’s take a look at every player who donned the Jays’ uniform at the event and how they did in the event.
Jesse Barfield – 1986
The first ever Blue Jays player in the home run derby was outfielder, Jesse Barfield, working the event in his first year as an All-Star where he would eventually lead the entire MLB in home runs with 40 knocks.
With a format revolving around two innings where each player was only allowed five outs per inning, Barfield had two home runs at the Astrodome, finishing second in the American League while Wally Joyner and Darryl Strawberry both took home the win.
George Bell – 1987
Not to be outdone by his battery mate, George Bell decided to take part in the festivities, with the righty-batter on track to take home the AL MVP award that year on his way to a .957 OPS with 47 home runs and an A.L. leading 134 RBI’s.
Bell would collect one home run at the Oakland Coliseum, with Andre Dawson taking home the gold with four home runs on the day.
Joe Carter – 1991 / 1992 / 1996
During the Blue Jays World Series winning era, it was veteran Joe Carter who became the Jays representative at the home run derby, taking part in three different seasons. This is where the format changed, turning into a tournament style with three rounds and attempting to hit as many home runs before running into ten outs.
At the Skydome in 1991, Carter would collect two home runs but would fall ten shy of Cal Ripken Jr., who took home the win on Canadian soil. Carter would return to the derby the next year, doubling his previous year’s total and finishing the day with four knocks. That year, it was Mark McGwire taking home the win at Jack Murphy Stadium, home to the San Diego Padres at the time.
Fast forward to 1996, Carter suited up for his last home run derby, finishing tied with Jeff Bagwell with two home runs at Veteran’s Field, with Barry Bonds collecting 17 home runs, setting a new derby record.
Shawn Green – 1999
In his last season with the Blue Jays, Shawn Green suited up in the Home Run Derby, as the Illinois product had a great season with Toronto and earned his first all-star appearance. While Ken Griffey Jr. took home the win at Fenway Park, Green finished the contest by collecting two home runs on the day.
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Carlos Delgado – 2000 / 2003
One of the top sluggers in Blue Jays history, Carlos Delgado took part in two Home Run Derbies through his 12 years with the organization.
In 2000, Delgado advanced to the second round after a five-home run performance in the first, with the slugger eventually falling to Ken Griffey Jr. with just one homer compared to the Mariners legend’s three knocks. Sammy Sosa would eventually win the day.
Three years later, Delgado put up just two home runs at U.S. Cellular Field, failing to advance out of the first round while Angels slugger Garret Anderson took home the win over Albert Pujols by a score of 9-8 in the final round.
Troy Glaus – 2006
In his first season with Toronto, Troy Glaus was named to the all-star game as a member of the Blue Jays and decided to suit up in his first-ever Home Run Derby. He would collect just one home run in the first round and be eliminated under the adjusted format, where the home run total was only reset prior to the final round versus a round-by-round basis seen since 1991.
Álex Ríos – 2007
In his fourth season in the big leagues, Álex Ríos was named to his second (and final) all-star game with the Blue Jays and decided to suit up in the Home Run Derby while only having 28 career home runs heading into the season.
Ríos would collect five homers in the first round and 12 in round two, leading the charge with his 17 knocks heading into the finals. Facing Vladimir Guerrero, Ríos only mustered two home runs against the future Hall of Famer, with Guerrero taking home the win at AT&T Park. For his credit, Ríos collected 19 home runs throughout the tournament, which was the highest total amongst the rest of the field.
Vernon Wells – 2010
Three years after fellow teammate Ríos got close to winning the tournament, Vernon Wells decided to suit up for the home run derby, his second appearance at the all-star game and also his last season with the Blue Jays before being traded.
Wells would collect two home runs in the opening round but would fail to advance, with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz besting Hanley Ramirez in the final with 11 home runs and 32 throughout the whole contest.
José Bautista – 2011 / 2012 / 2014
In 2010, José Bautista burst onto the scene with the Blue Jays, amassing a league-leading 54 home runs that saw him earn the Silver Slugger Award. In 2011, Bautista didn’t lose his touch for the home run ball, cracking another 43, which once again led the MLB. With such power, Bautista would enter three Home Run Derby’s over the next four years, although the righty-batter was never able to take home the win.
In 2011, Bautista would fall short in the first round with just four knocks while he drastically improved in 2012, finishing runner-up to Tigers slugger Prince Fielder, losing 12 to 7 in the finals. After a one-year hiatus, Bautista returned to the derby in 2014 and hit the most home runs amongst A.L. hitters in the opening round, getting a bye to the semi-finals where he would lose to eventual winner Yoenis Céspedes.
Josh Donaldson – 2015
After a blockbuster trade the offseason prior, Josh Donaldson had a tremendous 2015 season in his debut year with the Blue Jays, earning the A.L. MVP Award while collecting 41 home runs, 123 RBIs, and a .939 OPS.
Donaldson would take part in the 2015 Home Run Derby and would be paired off against Anthony Rizzo in the first round, besting the lefty-slugger 9-8 and advancing to the semifinals. This would be the end of the road for the “Bringer of Rain” however, as he would drop a 9-10 score to Todd Frazier, who would later go on to win the entire derby.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 2019 / 2023
Heading into the 2019 season, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was one of the most prolific prospects in the game and was ranked #1 by MLB Pipeline. The Montreal-born slugger would make his debut toward the end of April and while he wasn’t named to the all-star game, the Jays’ righty-batter decided to suit up for the Home Run Derby and did he ever make a great first impression.
In the first round, Guerrero destroyed 29 home runs against future teammate Matt Chapman and would advance to the semi-finals, where he would collect 40 home runs, a single home run record within the derby until Julio Rodríguez one-upped him this past tournament with 41. Guerrero and Joc Pederson went into three separate overtime swing-offs in the semifinals, with each player technically breaking the record until Guerrero ended up the solo winner by the end. After an impressive showing, Guerrero would eventually drop the final round to Pete Alonso by a score of 23 to 22 but would take home the honour of the most home runs in a single showcase with 91 home runs, a record that still stands.
After four years, Guerrero decided to partake in the festivities again and was paired up against derby newcomer Mookie Betts in the first round, with Guerrero winning 26 to 11. In the semi-finals, Guerrero went second against hometown favourite Julio Rodríguez and was able to beat the 2022 Rookie of the Year in the bonus round, adding one extra homer to win 21 to 20. He wouldn’t get too long of rest, as he was right back in the batter’s box in the finals against Randy Arozarena, where he started the affair with 25 home runs. Arozarena put up a solid effort but while Guerrero was able to get an additional 30 seconds due to hitting two home runs longer than 440 feet, the Rays right-hander fell just two short in an exhilarating finish that saw Guerrero become the first Blue Jays slugger to ever win the Home Run Derby, as well becoming the first father/son duo to win the derby (as his father won back in 2007, edging out Ríos for the win).
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