There’s a reason that when Major League Baseball takes a break for the All-Star Game, there’s only one other activity aside from the game itself that anyone cares about. It’s the Home Run Derby, and for good reason; it’s impossible not to get excited by the sight of baseball’s deadliest power hitters crushing baseballs into the night.
Sometimes, like with Josh Hamilton in Yankee Stadium in 2008, the power display is more memorable than the game itself. Twenty-five years ago, in 1989, we saw the best of both worlds. Bo Jackson, inarguably one of the finest physical specimens to ever play the sport, homered in both the Derby and the game itself, earning himself the All-Star MVP and making him one of the very few players to ever go deep on multiple days of the All-Star break. Along with Willie Mays, he is one of only two players to ever homer and steal a base in an All-Star Game. In his short time in the majors, Jackson’s power feats became legend, including hitting the longest homer in Royals history in his first month in the bigs; becoming the first righty hitter ever to reach the upper deck of Minnesota’s Metrodome in 1989; hitting what was at the time the longest home run in Texas history, off none less than Nolan Ryan; and, reportedly, hitting massive home runs in batting practice while swinging left-handed.
Though Jackson’s prime was unfortunately cut short due to a hip injury suffered while playing in the NFL, we’re still talking about in awe, decades later, about his raw physical skills, and one can only wonder what might have been had he been able to stay healthy. With that in mind, today we’re taking a look at the 10 most powerful home run hitters of the last three decades, the players that pitchers hated to face for fear of serving up a ball that landed in the next county.
First, the criteria. We’re using the last 30 seasons of baseball, from 1985 through now. To qualify, a player must have had 2,000 plate appearances, or roughly four full seasons, and we’ll sort it by fewest plate appearances required per home run. With apologies to Bo, Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Jr., Adam Dunn and others, here are the 10 biggest home run threats of the last 30 years.
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