In 2009, Brandon Inge failed to hit a home run at the Home Run Derby. In 2012, Prince Fielder came home with the Detroit's only Home Run Derby crown after hitting 28 of them. Those might be the most memorable highlights (or lowlights) of the team's appearances in the event, but do you know what went on the other years?
Unsurprisingly it doesn't take that long to browse through the Tigers' history during the 28 years of the Home Run Derby's existence. For a good half of those years, the team wasn't much to write about. More to be suffered to increase one's character than enjoyed for baseball aesthetics, really. Fortunately in recent years, Tigers fans have had a rooting interest more often both on the field during the season and during the All-Star Game festivities.
I spent a few minutes this morning browsing MLB.com's Home Run Derby History to bring you the highlights -- and lowlights for the Tigers.
Fielder may have had a slow start, hitting only five homers in the first round to barely avoid a swing-off. But he picked it up after that, with 11 in the second round and 12 in the final for 28 total. It was his second time winning the Home Run Derby title.
No Tigers who were current at the time played, but Fielder did have nine home runs as a Brewer. He was eliminated in the second round with nine total. Robinson Cano won with 32.
Miguel Cabrera's last entrance into the contest resulted in a second-round bounce. He hit 12, but David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez both surpassed that number in the second round alone in a rather high-scoring affair. Ortiz won with 32.
The Home Run Derby Tigers fans will never forget. Brandon Inge was named an All-Star after the fan vote (remember Bran-Torino?) He should have stayed out of the Home Run Derby, as he laid a goose egg. Future Tiger Fielder won the event with 23.
Magglio Ordonez won the batting title that year with a .363 batting average. Apparently the Home Run Derby didn't mess up his swing any. Then again he only hit two shots before being eliminated in the first round with the lowest total. Fielder made his first appearance in the event, becoming the first Fielder in 14 years, by the way. He was knocked out in the first round with three. Vlad Guerrero won the big trophy with a 3-2 victory in the finals, but Alex Rios finished with a contest-high 19.
Two years before he became a Tiger, Miguel Cabrera made it to the second round with a total of 15 as a Florida Marlin.
This one will probably bring out the warm fuzzy feelings in a lot of fans -- at least the ones who were around before 2006. That's because Comerica Park was the host of the All-Star Game, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez represented the Tigers. He advanced to the finals, falling to Bobby Abreu, 11-5. Pudge had 20, good for second place in total number. Abreu had 24 in the first round alone and 41 for the contest.
The Dark Ages of Tigers baseball, indeed. The Tigers lost more than 1,000 games from 1994-2004, and 1994 was a strike-shortened season! In 1998, the only season a Tiger made an appearance, Damion Easley hit two in the first round at Coors Field -- but hey, Chipper Jones only had one. Ken Griffey Jr. won with 19 total. In 2002, current-Tiger Torii Hunter hit three home runs as a Twin in his only appearance. But he didn't get past the first round.
Fielder the first: Cecil Fielder hit four home runs during his final appearance in a Home Run Derby. Future Tiger Juan Gonzalez won.
Cecil Fielder also hit four. Chris Sabo and Howard Johnson were shut out, and Cal Ripken Jr. won with 12.
It's not just Inge putting up goose eggs! Cecil Fielder didn't get a single home run in his first appearance in the Home Run Derby. To be fair, the rules were different back then. It was a two-inning, five-out per inning contest. Ryne Sandberg won with a grand total of ... three(!). Fortunately Fielder saved his home runs for when they counted. He hit 51 that year, then a remarkable figure before the Steroids Era made the number seem insignificant. For a young Tigers fan who missed out on 1984, 1990 was a season of bliss, even if the team finished sub.-500.
Mickey Tettleton became the first Tiger to make an appearance. He hit one. He beat Minnesota's Gary Gaetti's zero. I mention that mainy because it was always a fun name to say. I think I collected his baseball cards.
No Tigers, no television, and in 1988 thanks to rain, no Home Run Derby either. Dave Parker won the first Home Run Derby, with six at the Metrodome.
So there you have it. Twenty-eight years of history, and only a handful of Tigers players ever competed.
At 8 p.m. Monday, Prince Fielder will try to earn his second title in as many years. ESPN will show the event live.
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