The 2005 MLB Home Run Derby was the night Bobby Abreu became a star.
Oh sure, he was widely regarded around the game, if not in Philadelphia, as one of the better players in baseball. In 2004, Abreu made his first All Star team, so it’s not like he had never been on the national stage before. Coming into 2005, Abreu was 31 and had accumulated a lifetime OPS of .929, with a slash line of .305/.412/.517.
He hit had more than 100 RBIs three times, hit more than 30 homers twice and batted over .300 in every season from 1998-2004, with the exception of 2001, when he hit .289 with a .393 on-base percentage.
Bobby Abreu was really good. But it wasn’t until the 2005 Home Run Derby that Abreu officially hit the big-time.
That was the night he became a superstar.
Forgive the grainy nature of the video. Remember, this was the dark ages of 2005 here.
In the first round that year, Abreu hit an astonishing 24 homers, besting Miguel Tejada’s previous record for home runs hit in a single round, which was 15. He finished with a then-record 41 overall, hitting another derby-record 11 in the final round.
He was the first player to hit that night. I’m still not sure why they didn’t just cancel the rest of the event rather than take another three hours playing the rest of it. I guess for sportsmanship-y reasons and such.
It was also the night Phils bullpen coach Ramon Henderson became a household name among Phillies fans, tossing pitch after pitch right into Abreu’s wheelhouse, one of which went 517 feet, the third-longest homer ever in the Home Run Derby up to that point.
Abreu said "I was feeling so good, I couldn't believe what I was doing in the first round," Abreu said. "It's tough to believe."
In all, ESPN estimated his 41 dingers traveled 17,565 feet. He spent 17 minutes at the plate in the first round, and even chipped his bat.
On a ball that went out over the center field fence.
Abreu would finish the 2005 season with 24 home runs, the last time he would make an All Star game.
But for one night, Bobby Abreu was the greatest power hitter in Major League Baseball, and became a superstar in the process.