One of the most exciting all-star events in all of sports, the Home Run Derby is one of the plainest displays of pure human strength around.
The rules of engagement are simple, eight (usually behemoth) men compete in a batting practice-styled home run tournament to see which baseball goliath is able to crank out the most home runs. The event, which has been nationally televised since 1994, has produced some truly incredible moments and has showcased absurd amounts of strength.
From Josh Hamilton sending 28 first-round home runs careening towards the moon in front a soldout Yankee Stadium in 2008 to Ken Griffey Jr. nearly collapsing a warehouse with a 465-foot shot at Camden Yards in 1993, the Home Run Derby has always been a sight to see.
Being the avid lover of the event that I am, I pondered what an ideal derby participant would look like- which is when an even better idea hit me, the topic of this very article.
Who would win an All-Phillies Home Run Derby?
I know two or three names likely just flew to the forefront of your minds when posed with the question just now. Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard probably being chief among them.
The first requirement is at least one full season in a Phillies uniform. This should come as no surprise as it wouldn’t be much an All-Phillies derby with guys who weren’t Phils very long, would it?
The second and final requirement commands a bit more pop at the plate, as each contestant must have at least 30+ home runs in a Phillies uniform. There have been some serious SLUGGERS in the Phillies organization through the ages and I felt as though I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t include this stipulation. In the battle of Goliaths that is the All-Time Phillies Home Run Derby, there will be no “small fries” allowed.
Before I introduce the power bats to crack the roster, I’d like to highlight a few of the near misses.
Missed the cut
Chase Utley (2003-2015)
It wasn’t easy leaving ‘The Man’ out of the derby, admittedly. After all, Chase Utley has three seasons of 30+ home runs and is currently 6th on the Phillies All-Time home runs leaders list.
Although his slot in the all-time Phils homer list is nothing to scoff at, it speaks more to the longevity of his career in Philly more than it does sheer power. Following his final 30+ homer campaign in 2009, Utley never cracked the 20-homer plateau until his final campaign in 2018.
In the battle of the behemoths, Utley simply doesn’t carry enough pop to make the final cut.
J.T Realmuto (2019-Current)
Having quickly racked up quite the impressive trophy case by way of back-to-back Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove award, Realmuto sadly doesn’t qualify to take home the All-Time Phillies Home Run Derby honors.
Despite possessing enough strength and pop to hold his own in the event- in my opinion at least- Realmuto “only” recorded 25 home runs in his debut season in Philly, thus making him ineligible to compete.
Raul Ibañez (2009-2011)
While RAUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLL Ibañez does boast the resume to qualify, I don’t think the former all-star is in the same tier of power as those in the event.
Rhys Hoskins (2017-Current)
Sigh. It pains me to leave Hoskins out of the derby. He’s one of the biggest wells of power in the Phillies offense and may have even won the actual Home Run Derby outright in 2018 if it weren’t for an unreal performance by Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
When Hoskins gets a hold of a pitch, kiss it goodbye, but with just one 30+ home run season thus far in his career, he takes the back seat to more decorated veterans.
JUST KIDDING hahaha. Could you imagine? He’s totally in the event.
So, without much further adieu, let’s introduce the contestants. Just like the actual Home Run Derby, there will be eight participants.
Your cream of the crop:
Greg Luzinski (1970-1980)
Any slugger that has such a mean streak that he is referred to as “The Bull” has to qualify for the derby, right? If not, then his three 30+ home run seasons in Philly and absurd power certainly does.
Luzinski didn’t just hit home runs, he’d hit some absolute MISSILES, making MLB pitchers look like little leaguers along the way.
Not sure if he’d be my pick to win the All-Time Phillies Home Run Derby, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past him, either.
Cy Williams (1918-1930)
One of the relative unknowns among the competitors due to the age he played in, Williams shouldn’t be overlooked in the battle of the bashers.
The Indiana native led the league in home runs four times, all while donning the red pinstripes. Eighth on the Phillies all-time homer list, Williams also boasts a career-best 41 home runs in a single season.
Dick Allen (1963-1969, 1975-1976)
In addition to his otherworldly power at the plate, Dick Allen is perhaps best known for his record-shattering rookie season in 1964. In his first full season in the majors, Allen led the league in runs (125), triples (13), extra-base hits (80), and total bases (352); Allen finished in the top five in batting average (.318), slugging average (.557), hits (201), and doubles (38) and won Rookie of the Year.
A five-tool player in every sense of the phrase, Allen played nine eventful seasons in Philly. He registered three seasons of 30+ homers and had two top-ten MVP finishes for the Phils.
It’s a shame he was practically run out of town due to the racial harassment and abuse he received from fans- both home and away- but he eventually got his justice when he was voted the AL MVP with the ChiSox in 1972. Allen hit 37 home runs and drove in 113 RBIs that year.
There are some heavy hitters in this derby- literally, haha- but I think the 7x All-Star Allen stands as a pretty good bet to win it all.
Pat Burrell (2000-2008)
Add another behemoth to the fray. Pat Burell hit 20+ home runs in all eight seasons he spent in Philly, including 33 dingers for the World Series-winning club in ‘08. His 251 home runs rank fourth on the all-time Phils list.
Chuck Klein (1928-1933, 1936-1939, 1940-1944)
Arguably the best pure hitter in the event, the former Triple Crown winner Chuck Klein makes his way into the All-Time Phillies Home Run Derby.
Though he power waned as his career went on, Klein had plenty of power in reserve to begin his career. Through his first five full seasons with the Phillies, Klein crushed 180 homers and finished in the top 2 in MVP voting three times(!)- taking home the honors in 1932.
Bobby Abreu (1998-2006)
Winner of the actual 2005 Home Run Derby, Abreu makes the final cut for the Phillies version. One of the most talented five-tool players in Phils history, Abreu has more than enough pop to compete with some of the other big guns on the list.
In his derby victory in ‘05, Abreu launched the third-longest shot in event history at 517-feet. So, yeah, he stands as a pretty strong dark horse in this competition.
Jim Thome (2003-2005, 2012)
Thome led the league in home runs with 47 in 2003 and hit 42 in 2004- proving he belongs with the big dawgs in this event. His isolated power of .281 is best of all players on this list, as is his 13.28 at-bats per home run ratio.
Known to be a fairly reserved guy, don’t allow that to trick you into overlooking him in this derby. Thome is a true heavyweight at the plate.
Bryce Harper (2019-Current)
Despite only playing one year with the team thus far, Harper notched both event qualifications in his inaugural Phils season.
Fresh off his record-shattering $330M, 13-year contract with Philly, Harper wasted no time establishing himself as the face of the franchise. Harper belted 35 home runs last season, his third 30+ homer season in just eight big league seasons.
Additionally, like Bobby Abreu, Harper has also already achieved glory in the actual Home Run Derby after winning the tourney in 2018. And, because we love you here at PSN, here’s the footage of his walk-off victory:
One of the most prolific sluggers in the game today, Harper is absolutely lights out when he has it rolling and should cause each of the fellow competitors to be a bit nervous as he steps to the plate.
Ryan Howard (2004-2016)
Another former Home Run Derby winner, Ryan Howard was an easy choice to compete in the event and my personal favorite to win for those wondering.
With the exception of maybe Mike Schmidt, I don’t think any else is even in the same tier as Howard as far as pure power. His 58 single-season home runs is still a Phillies record and are tied for the 11th-most in league history(!).
Aptly nicknamed the Big Piece, Howard AVERAGED 50 home runs per season from 2006-2009, making a home run look as routine as a fly ball along the way.
The former MVP was the driving force behind the most productive era in Phillies history, which he capped with a WS title in 2008.
An absolute mountain of a man, Howard should be no underdog in this event.
Mike Schmidt (1972-1989)
This should come as no surprise, as he is by far the greatest player to ever don a Phillies uniform, but Mike Schmidt makes the All-Time Phillies Home Run Derby roster as the likely heavy favorite.
And, why shouldn’t he be? Schmidt stands as a distant first on the all-time Phillies homer list with 548 and boasts 13(!) seasons in which he hit 30+ home runs, including three 40+ dinger campaigns.
To say he is one of the most powerful athletes to ever play still wouldn’t truly explain just how strong Schmidt is and I don’t think there is a man better suited for a Home Run Derby than Mike Schmidt.
So, now that we’ve laid out all the contestants, who do YOU think would win the Phillies All-Time Home Run Derby? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to share this with your fellow Philly faithful’s so they can chime in as well!
Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports