Since its inception in 1985, the Home Run Derby has been a fixture of the MLB All-Star festivities. On Monday at Dodger Stadium, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso looks to become the first player to win the derby three consecutive years, and join Ken Griffey Jr. as the only players to win the derby three times at all.

Including Alonso, the Mets have had nine participants all-time in the Home Run Derby – Darryl Strawberry (1986, ’90), Howard Johnson (’89, ‘91), Bobby Bonilla (’93), David Wright (’06, ’13) and Alonso (’19, ’21). Let’s take a look a back and see how they all fared over the years. But with the derby having changed formats over the years, a quick refresher on the different eras.

In the early years from 1985-1990, players were separated into American League and National League sides. Each player was given two innings to hit as many home runs as possible before reaching five outs. An out was defined as any swing that wasn’t a home run. The winner was the player who hit the most total homers in the two innings.

From 1991-2005, the Derby became a three-round contest. The number of home runs hit reset each round, so you couldn’t carry a big performance forward. This was more of the tournament-style Derby where the top four from round one advanced to round two, and then the top two from the second round went to the finals. Players had 10 outs in each round. From 2006-13, homer totals didn’t reset before the second round, but did for the finals, meaning the top two hitters from the first two rounds combined went to the finals.

After a short-lived head-to-head format in 2014, the modern timer-and-bracket system was introduced in 2015, which saw home run totals skyrocket.

1986 – Darryl Strawberry

In the second-ever Home Run Derby, held at the Astrodome, Strawberry competed in a field of only six players – Wally Joyner, Jesse Barfield and Jose Canseco from the AL, and Dave Parker and ex-Met Hubie Brooks in the NL. Strawberry hit four in his two innings, the most of any NL player, but tied with Wally Joyner, the Angels’ rookie sensation who went on to hit 204 home runs in a 16-year career. Strawberry and Joyner were declared co-champions, the only time that has ever happened.

1989 – Howard Johnson

In the midst of his second of three 30-30 seasons for the Mets, HoJo competed for the NL at Anaheim Stadium on a team with Eric Davis, Glenn Davis and ex-Met Kevin Mitchell against the AL’s Ruben Sierra, Mickey Tettleton, Bo Jackson and Gary Gaetti. Johnson hit only two home runs, but that was the second-most in the derby behind champion Eric Davis, who hit three.

1990 – Darryl Strawberry

The 1990 Home Run Derby may very well be the worst derby of all-time. Held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, eight players combined to hit five home runs. No wonder why MLB changed the format in 1991. Strawberry was joined by Griffey Jr., Canseco, Cecil Fielder, and Bonilla in hitting 0 home runs in their two innings. Champion Ryne Sandberg hit three, while Mark McGwire and Matt Williams each hit one.

1991 – Howard Johnson

For the second straight year, the Mets had an entrant hit 0 home runs, this time Johnson. HoJo went on to lead the NL in HR (38) and RBI (117) in 1991, so I’m sure the sting was short-lived. In the new format, Cal Ripken Jr. was the champion, hitting 12 total home runs.

1993 – Bobby Bonilla

The first met to advance out of the First Round, Bonilla clubbed a total of five home runs in two rounds, which was not enough to advance to the finals, eventually won in extra rounds by Juan Gonzalez. This came during Bonilla’s best post-Pirates season, during which he hit 34 home runs for the Mets, and posted 3.2 bWAR, the last time in his career that he eclipsed three wins.

2006 – David Wright

After having five participants in the first eight Derbies, the Mets went 13 years before Wright put on a show in Pittsburgh in 2006. Wright hit 16 home runs in the first round, the third-most in a round ever to that point. After just two in the second, he advanced to the finals, where he squared off against Ryan Howard, who beat him 5-4 in the finals. Wright, who had 20 home runs in the first half of the season, hit just six in the second half and shied away from doing the Derby again for many years.

2013 – David Wright

When the All-Star Game came to Citi Field, Wright returned to the Derby to give the hometown fans someone to root for. However, he hit only five home runs in the first round, and was eliminated along with Pedro Alvarez, Prince Fielder and Robinson Cano. Interestingly, the 2013 Home Run Derby featured future Mets Cano, Michael Cuddyer and Yoenis Cespedes, who won his first of two Derby crowns.

2019 – Pete Alonso

In Cleveland as a rookie in 2019, Alonso became the first met since Strawberry to win the Derby, and the first outright. He out-slugged Cleveland’s Carlos Santana 14-13 in the first round, then beat Ronald Acuna Jr. 20-19 in the second. Meeting Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the finals, Alonso won 23-22 for three straight squeakers to take the victory.

2021 – Pete Alonso

After 2020’s Derby was canceled due to the pandemic, Alonso returned to defend his crown in Colorado last year. He scored a comfortable 35-28 win over Kansas City’s Salvador Perez in the first round, then eeked past Juan Soto 16-15 in the second to advance to the finals against Trey Mancini. Once again, Alonso won the Derby with a 23-22 win.

In 2022, Alonso is slated to face Ronald Acuna Jr. in the first round of the Derby at Dodger Stadium. The winner of that round advances to face the winner of the Corey SeagerJulio Rodriguez matchup. Will he win an unprecedented third-straight derby?

One comment on “Mets in the Home Run Derby

  • Mike W

    The youngster beat him. I personally thought Alonso put too much importance on the home run derby. He was harping about it for weeks, while he was mired in a home run drought. I know he was doing for a good cause for his foundation though. J Rods pitcher was throwing most of them to the exact same spot.

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