By Cliff Corcoran
The T-Mobile Home Run Derby will take place Monday, with many of the game's top sluggers participating. Included in the eight-player field are defending Derby champion Giancarlo Stanton, Major League home run leader Aaron Judge, National League home run co-leader Cody Bellinger, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano, who trails only Judge in average exit velocity this season, and Judge's teammate Gary Sanchez, who leads the Major Leagues in average home run distance among qualified players this season.
Over the past 32 years, the Derby has done an excellent job of involving most of the top home run hitters. Looking at the career leaders in home runs from 1985 -- the year of the first Derby -- to the present, every one of the top 15 players on the list participated in at least one Derby, as did 25 of the top 27. However, a few players still managed to slip through the cracks. Since 1985, 75 players have hit 300 or more home runs in the Major Leagues. Sixty-three of them participated in at least one Home Run Derby, including legends such as Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and David Ortiz. Here are the dozen who did not, either because they declined or circumstances didn't line up. Let's give them their due now.
12. Steve Finley (304 homers)
A five-time Gold Glove winner who stole 320 bases in his 19-year Major League career, Finley isn't best known as a home run hitter, but he did top 30 homers four times, maxing out at 36 in his age-39 season, the last of which was a walk-off grand slam that clinched the National League West title for the 2004 Dodgers. Finley is one of just eight players in Major League history to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases in his career.
11. Raul Ibañez (305)
The late-blooming Ibañez didn't have a qualifying season until he was 30 and didn't hit 30 home runs in a season until he was 34. He only reached that mark twice, hitting a career-high 34 with the Phillies in his lone All-Star season in 2009 at the age of 37. Unlike Finley, the home run was Ibañez's calling card, never more than at the tail end of his 2012 season with the Yankees. His last home run of that regular season tied a game against the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth that he later won with a two-out walk-off single in the 12th. In Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Orioles, he hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth, then won that game with a 12th-inning walk-off homer. Then, in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Tigers, he hit another game-tying shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
10. Curtis Granderson (306)
Granderson is one of three active players on this list, but his chance to participate in a Home Run Derby has likely passed. Granderson made the All-Star team three times in five years from 2009-12, hitting 30, 41, and 43 home runs in those seasons.
9. Scott Rolen (316)
Though Rolen averaged 29 home runs per season from 1998-2004, topping 30 thrice, with a high of 34 in 2004, he was better known for his all-around play and, specifically, his elite defense, which earned him eight Gold Gloves, than for his power. Late in his career, a 34-year-old Rolen was the only player the Blue Jays gave up to acquire the next man on this list.
8. Edwin Encarnacion (327)
The Major League home run leaders since the start of the 2012 season are Chris Davis and Encarnacion with 211. From there, it's a long drop to Nelson Cruz at 192. Encarnacion has been an All-Star three times during that span, including 2014, when his Blue Jays teammate Jose Bautista was the AL Derby captain, but Encarnacion suggested he would decline his teammate's invitation to participate in the Derby before a strained hamstring settled the matter. Encarnacion also declined to participate last year. It's unclear if Encarnacion could ever be persuaded to participate, but at 34, he's not getting any younger, though he is working his way up this list.
7. Derrek Lee (331)
The perfect season for Lee to participate in the Derby would have been 2005, when he had a monster season, finishing with 46 home runs, the Major League leads in total bases (393), slugging (.662), OPS (1.080) and OPS+ (174), and finished third in the NL MVP Award voting. However, that year, to promote the inaugural World Baseball Classic the following spring, the Derby was given an international flair, with the Derby field comprised of a lone representative from each of eight countries. In a field that included five NL players, Mark Teixeira, who led the AL with 25 home runs at the break, was the United States' lone representative.
6. Jeff Kent (377)
Kent is the all-time home run leader among second baseman, having hit 351 while playing the position (2011 Derby winner Robinson Cano is second with 283). However, he only topped 30 in a season three times, with a high of 37 in 2002. And while he was a five-time All-Star, 2002 was not one of those years.
5. Aramis Ramirez (386)
Over a 10-year span from 2004-13, Ramirez averaged 33 home runs per 162 games. However, he only stayed healthy enough to top 30 homers in a season three times, doing so in the first three seasons of that run, with a high of 38 in 2006. Ramirez also made just three All-Star teams and, like Kent, was not an All-Star the year of his most prolific home run output.
4. Andres Galarraga (399)
One of the original Blake Street Bombers, Galarraga revived his career in the mile-high air in the mid 1990s, hitting 216 home runs in the Rockies' first six seasons, including three straight seasons of 40 or more from 1996-98 topped by an NL-best 47 in 1996. He didn't just hit them in Denver, of course. Galarraga's grand slam off the Marlins' Kevin Brown on May 31, 1997, is believed to have been the longest home run ever hit in the Marlins' original ballpark, then known as Pro Player Stadium. Historian Bill Jenkinson estimated it at 509 feet, though ESPN's Home Run Tracker calculated it to be just 468 feet, more than 100 feet shy of the initial estimations.
3. Alfonso Soriano (412)
Soriano fell one home run shy of a 40/40 season in his second full Major League season at the age of 26. Four years later, he moved to the outfield and got that 40/40 season by stealing 41 bases and hitting a career-high 46 homers in his lone season with the Nationals. From 2002-08, Soriano averaged 40 home runs per 162 games and 36 taters per season, making the All-Star Game in all seven seasons. Yet, despite all of those All-Star appearances, his plentiful roundtrippers, and his all-or-nothing approach at the plate, he never participated in the Derby.
2. Adrian Beltre (450)
Beltre led the Majors with 48 home runs in 2004, finished second in the NL MVP Award voting, and not only wasn't in the Derby, he didn't even make the All-Star team. His five years in the wilderness of Safeco Park followed, but when he reemerged with the Red Sox in 2010 -- making his first All-Star team -- he effectively declined a Derby invitation even before being invited. Three 30-homer seasons with the Rangers followed, plus a fourth last year, but Beltre remains the most prolific active home run hitter never to participate in a Home Run Derby. Now that he's 38 and struggling to stay healthy, it seems likely we'll never get a chance to see Beltre take a knee in the Derby.
1. Adam Dunn (462)
The only players to hit more home runs over the course of Dunn's 14-year career (2001-14) than Dunn himself were Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. Dunn topped 40 home runs six times, including five years in a row, four of them with exactly 40 roundtrippers, with a high of 46 in the first of those five seasons. Over a seven-year span from 2004-10, he averaged 40 home runs per season, then, after an inexplicably awful 2011, hit 41 in 2012. However, he only made two All-Star teams. His first came in his age-22 season, before he had hit 40 home runs in his career. His second and last came 10 years later in 2012, by which point young sluggers such as Mark Trumbo were stealing his thunder. Of course, Trumbo never hit a 530-foot shot like this famous 2004 blast by Dunn off Jose Lima.
The Big Donkey's homers were as notable for their distance as their frequency, but he retired at the age of 35. He thus remains the most prolific home run hitter of the Home Run Derby era never to take his hacks in the contest.