PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 10: National League All-Star Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies participates in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby at PNC Park on July 10, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Tonight Kyle Schwarber becomes the 8th Phillies player to ever compete in the HR Derby. Before him, Ryan Howard competed 3 times and then Jim Thome, Chase Utley, Bobby Abreu, and Rhys Hoskins all competed once as Phillies.

It will be Schwarber’s second time competing, as he was in the 2018 Derby as a member of the cubs. In that year he came 2nd, losing to Bryce Harper. Coincidently, he defeated Rhys Hoskins in the 2nd round that year, meaning 3 of the 4 semi-finalists that year are currently Phillies teammates.

The HR Derby began in 1985. It took nearly 20 years for the Phillies to get a representative. But in the 18 years since, they have now had 8 players in it. It has undergone many changes since the first year when it was one round and the most anyone hit was 6 home runs. Now, no one has failed to reach 6 homers since 2014, and players routinely hit 20+ home runs in a single round. They have changed the format too. Since 2014 it has had a bracket format, with players going head to head to see who advances to the next round.

This year Schwarber will face off with Albert Pujols in round 1. But we aren’t here to talk about tonight’s derby. Instead, let’s revisit the last 7 times a Phillies Player has competed in the HR Derby. Who put on a show? Who came up short? Who forgot they were mic’d up and cursed New Yorkers out on live TV? Let’s revisit the Phillies’ performances in past HR derbies.

You Shouldn’t Worry About Kyle Schwarber Competing in the HR Derby

  • Jim Thome (2004)

    Thome was the first Phillies player to ever compete in the Derby. He was coming off an unforgettable season where he slugged 47 homers. It was the year Citizens Bank Park opened. Thome had only recently hit the 400th HR of his career. Thome had 28 homers on the year coming into the derby. the circumstances around his HR derby participation were incredible.

    Unfortunately, his actual performance was far less impressive. The Pride Of Peoria hit only 4 homeruns in the derby. He finished in 6th place and was eliminated in the 1st round. The Derby itself was pretty entertaining. Barry Bonds put on a show, hitting one home run off the Minute Maid Park scoreboard, and also hilariously began the derby by being intentionally walked, which of course is something he was very used to by this point in his career.

    Miguel Tejada eventually won this derby. It was a memorable derby overall, just not for the Phillies or Jim Thome.

  • Bobby Abreu (2005)

    Now Bobby Abreu’s HR Derby performance was anything but forgettable. Not only did he win, but he set what was at the time the record for a HR Total in the derby with 41 total. A record no one would beat until 2016, when Giancarlo Stanton smashed it. But now, so many people have beat it that Abreu doesn’t even appear in the top 10 anymore.

    But at the time, it was incredible. No one had even reached 30 before him. And he went in and hit 41 of them. He started it by putting up 24 in the first round. The total record before him was 27. So in just one round he nearly hit more than every HR Derby participant before him. He slowed down a bit afterward, hitting 6 in round 2, and then 11 in the Final Round to beat Ivan Rodriguez.

    He hit 21 more homers than any of his competition. He put on a show, to become the first Phillies player to ever win the derby. He would not be the last, as we saw the next year.

     

  • Ryan Howard (2006)

    Ryan Howard wins 2006 Derby | 07/10/2006

    7/10/2006: Phillies slugger Ryan Howard tops David Wright in the final round to claim the 2006 Home Run Derby title at PNC Park

    It says a lot about Ryan Howard that winning the 2006 HR Derby was probably the least memorable part of his season. He put up what is still probably the best single season from any Phillies hitter. Swatting 58 home runs, winning the MVP, while hitting .313. Beating the hated David Wright in the finals of the HR Derby? The icing on the cake.

    Howard just snuck out of the first round. Of the 4 players to advance, he had the lowest total, with just 8 compared to David Wright’s 16. But as many know, the derby is a marathon and not a sprint. And while his competitors lost steam, Howard gained it. He led the way in round 2 with 10, which brought him into a tie with David Wright for the total, who only hit 2 in that round. They both advanced to the Finals. Wright went up first and hit 4. It took Ryan Howard only 5 of his 10 outs to get to 5 and win it all.

    No Phillies player has won the derby since Howard. But it is hard to imagine this years one going better for Phillies fans. Not only did he win. Not only was it close enough that many Philly fans could travel with he All Star game taking place in Pittsburgh this year. But he went through one of the most hated players in Philadelphia at the time to do so. Ask a Phillies fan what they think of David Wright and you will get an earful. It was good to see him swatted down by Ryan Howard.

  • Ryan Howard (2007)

    Vlad wins 2007 Home Run Derby | 07/09/2007

    7/9/2007: Vladimir Guerrero defeats seven other competitors to win the 2007 Home Run Derby in San Francisco

    Ryan Howard could not carry the HR Derby magic into 2007. He was a first-round exit this year, getting only 3. It was an important year for the Phillies for other reasons, with them making a miraculous run to win the NL East, and Howard’s teammate Jimmy Rollins winning MVP. But Phillies fans did not get the show in the derby they had gotten the previous two years.

    It broke up the Phillies two year HR Derby winning streak. But it began a long streak of the Phillies winning the NL East. I think any Phillies fan will take the trade. HR Derbies are fun. Rings and beating the Mets is better.

  • Chase Utley (2008)

     

    Chase Utley

    (Photo by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

    The part of Chase Utley’s HR Derby that people remember is not his performance. That part was mostly forgettable. He hit only 5 and finished in 7th place. What people do remember however is what happened when he was introduced. It was in Yankees Stadium. In case you didn’t know, Chase Utley is not a popular man in New York City. Predictably he was booed. To which Utley responded “Boo? F**K You.” while mic’d up. It was vintage Utley. And while some people with no sense of humor got upset about it, it was a great moment.

    This derby was perhaps more well known for the show Josh Hamilton put on. He hit a single round record 28 homeruns in round 1. That record stood until 2019 when both Joc Pederson and Vlad Guerrero Jr passed it in the 2nd round. Hamilton would not win the HR Derby though. As the first round used up all his energy. He went on to lose to Justin Morneau in the final round.

    Utley did not perform well in the HR Derby. But he came out of the year with something better, a World Series Ring. A World Series that led to another infamous hot mic moment for Utley at the parade. When Utley wasn’t winning a World Series, he spent most of his time making donations to the swear jar in 2008. No wonder he didn’t have the energy to perform very well in this HR Derby.

  • Ryan Howard (2009)

    Ryan Howard

    (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

    This would be the last HR Derby Ryan Howard competed in. It would also be the last time any Phillies competed at all for nearly a decade after this. They had gone 6 straight years having a representative. But from 2010 to 2017 no one from the Phillies competed. Howard put on a pretty decent show. He finished third after hitting 15 home runs in rounds 1 and 2. He couldn’t keep pace with Prince Fielder and Nelson Cruz. Fielder went on to be Cruz in the finals.

     

     

  • Rhys Hoskins (2018)

    Rhys finally broke a streak to get the Phillies back in the HR Derby. And he put on a pretty good show. He finished 3rd, but that’s only because he ran into Kyle Schwarber who put on even more of a show. The two faced off in round 2. Hoskins hit 20. But Schwarber just edged him out with 21. Funnily enough, Schwarber went on to lose to another future Phillie, Bryce Harper. So 3 of the final 4 in this HR Derby, and both finalists, currently play for the Phillies.

    Hoskins began the night with an upset win over the 1 seed. He faced off against Jesus Aguilar. The MLB Leader in Homers, vs the guy in the derby with the least homers before the break. And Hoskins pulled it out. And contrary to the popular belief that the derby breaks your swing, it seemed to get Hoskins going. After hitting 14 homers in the first half, Hoskins closed out the year with 20 more.