Two days after the announcement of his selection to debut in his first career All-Star Game, Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig was named to the National League’s 2014 Home Run Derby roster. Puig, who has 12 homers to his name throughout the first half of the 2014 season, therefore, finds himself in the all-too familiar position of setting high expectations for himself. However, if the Dodgers have historically proven one fact during the All-Star break, it’s that expectations for the Boys in Blue to put on a show during the Derby are few and far-between, and have continued to grow even fewer over recent years.
We take a look at the five most disappointing Home Run Derby appearances by Dodgers.
5. Hee-Seop Choi, 2005, Comerica Park
The greatest appearance by a Dodger in the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby still makes the ‘Top 5 Worst’ list, and it was that of Hee-Seop Choi in 2005. The former first baseman, who had somehow achieved the feat of hitting six homers over a three-game series in June, 2005, knocked five homers out of Comerica Park in Detroit in the first round of the 2005 Derby. He would tie soon-to-be-forgettable-Dodger Andruw Jones with that number, which is more than twice that of any other Dodger on our list.
4. Matt Kemp, 2011, Chase Field
Few Dodgers have had as monstrous a season as Matt Kemp did in 2011. By the end of the year, he had smashed 39 big ones, and had brought a career-best 126 runners across home plate while scoring a career-best 115 runs. On paper, there were few reasons indeed why he would ultimately lose the NL MVP vote to Ryan Braun. It only made sense, then, that Kemp should partake in the 2011 Home Run Derby at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Expecting fireworks, however, fans were treated to nine outs before Kemp hit his first of just two home runs. Two. The total marked the low-count of the Derby, and set the stage for Kemp to try to improve for the following year’s Derby… or so he thought.
3. Matt Kemp, 2012, Kauffman Stadium
Kemp’s claim that “you all created a monster”, after losing out the 2011 NL MVP to Braun, held true. The Bison began the 2012 as an absolute terror, winning NL Player of the Week on opening weekend, and then again on the season’s second week. He also became the first Dodger to notch three straight multi-hit games to start the season since 2000. After recording his 11th homer of the young season by April 28, Kemp took Player of the Month honors. Despite dealing with hamstring issues for two months, Kemp’s start earned him a spot once again on the NL All-Star roster in Kansas City, as well as an invitation to attempt to avenge his 2011 Derby performance. By the end of the Derby, fans were shocked when Kemp had blasted one home run in the first round. The failed performance would prove prophetic for the remainder of his season, plagued with injuries and convincing many that Kemp had reached, and passed, his physical prime.
2. Mike Piazza, 1994, Three Rivers Stadium
In his rookie campaign in 1993, Mike Piazza easily won the hearts of Dodger fans, belting 35 homers and knocking in 112 RBI. The season earned Piazza a landslide NL Rookie of the Year victory and a Silver Slugger award. By 1994, Piazza was participating in his second All-Star game in the old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. Along with Fred McGriff of Atlanta, Dante Bichette of Colorado, and Jeff Bagwell of Houston, Piazza was also chosen to help the National League win their first Home Run Derby since 1990. Instead, Piazza was the only fellow on at the plate NOT to a hit a single home run. The National League would have to wait five years to win the Derby.
1. Mike Piazza, 1993, Camden Yards
Granted, being chosen to participate in the Home Run Derby as a rookie is no easy task. Prior to his 1994 No-Show performance, Piazza had set the ’93 Derby up as an appetizer. At Camden Yards in Baltimore, one year before his 1994 debacle, Piazza had already achieved the feat of being the only ball player not to hit a single homer in the Derby. What makes this performance worse than the 1994 showing worse, you say? In 1993, the National League was best-represented by an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, named Barry Bonds.
HONORABLE MENTION: Raul Mondesi, 1995. Mondesi knocked a pair of home runs out of The Ballpark in Arlington. The only reason he is not in the top five worst Dodger Derby appearance list is because the National League was absolutely clobbered by their American League counterparts that year, 40 homers to 12.