With the Home Run Derby right around the corner, O’s fans have someone to cheer on for the first time since 2016. Trey Mancini announced last week that he will be taking part in the contest despite being still less than a year removed from his fight with colon cancer. Already an inspiration to so many, Mancini continues to defy the odds, showing that this disease will not define his career.

Trey will enter the contest as the 6 seed, tied with Pete Alonso with 15 home runs on the year. Behind them are Juan Soto and Trevor Story, two young players known for hitting long balls but who are underachieving this year. Due to his seeding, Mancini will face off against Matt Olson of the Oakland A’s. Olson’s 21 home runs this year will certainly make him the favorite in this first round matchup, so it will be an uphill battle for the Oriole first baseman. Fortunately, Baltimore’s history may bode well for Mancini.

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The Home Run Derby has been around since 1985. In that time there have been 36 contests won by 32 different players. Two of those players have been Orioles, making Baltimore one of 10 teams to have multiple Home Run Derby champions. Those winners were Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1991 and Miguel Tejada in 2004.

Ripken’s victory was a bit of a surprise considering that he was never known for his overwhelming power, but rather for his consistency. It was especially shocking considering that the last time he had participated in the Home Run Derby he finished in last place, hitting just one home run in 1985. But in ’91 Cal got a taste of some Oriole magic as he mashed 12 home runs, easily defeating his seven opponents. The next closest competitor was Paul O’Neill of the Reds, who hit just five.

Tejada’s win was a bit more complicated. In a three-round format the Oriole shortstop was forced to face off against names like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and his teammate Rafael Palmeiro. He barely made it out of the first round, hitting seven home runs and tying for third place out of the eight participants. He then dominated round 2, crushing 15 long balls and sending himself into the final against Lance Berkman. Berkman went first and hit four homers leaving Tejada with a seemingly easy task to win it all. He only needed five of his allotted ten outs to outdo Berkman, bringing the crown back to Baltimore.

More recently the O’s haven’t found quite as much success. Baltimore sent players to the derby each year from 2013-2016 but none of them were able to win it all. In fact, none were even able to reach the finals.

First was Chris Davis, who was in the midst of an incredible breakout season when he received his invitation. At the time of the all star break, Davis was mashing an incredible line of .315/.392/.717. Not to mention his 37 home runs were good enough to tie Reggie Jackson’s MLB record for the most homers hit prior to the all star break. Needless to say, he was the favorite entering the derby.

He lived up to expectations in round one, tying Bryce Harper for second place with eight home runs and earning a spot in the second round. Unfortunately his run ended there as a dreadful four long balls in Round 2 left him last of the four semifinalists. That being said, Davis stood little chance of winning even if he had been on his A-game throughout the competition. No one was going to beat Yoenis Céspedes and his 32 total home runs (not to mention he only used 5 outs in the last round).

The 2014 Home Run Derby brought more disappointment for Orioles fans. It began when Nelson Cruz, who was in the midst of a season reminiscent of the one Davis had the year before, declined to participate. Adam Jones came to the rescue, however, earning a spot with his 16 long balls prior to the all star break. He impressed in the first round, finishing second out of the American League hitters with four home runs. But unfortunately for Jones, the new bracket format in which hitters from each league went head to head forced him to compete against the unbeatable Céspedes. The A’s outfielder made quick work of his Orioles counterpart, defeating him by a score of 9-3. Let’s consider ourselves fortunate that Mancini won’t have to compete against Céspedes this year.

2015, the year Orioles third baseman Manny Machado made his appearance in the derby, was the first time the current Home Run Derby format was used. Outs were replaced with a four minute time limit and the bracket style tournament was used for all three rounds, rather than just the later rounds as it had been the year prior. These changes resulted in a huge increase in the total number of home runs hit, making the competition more enjoyable for fans. In fact, there were more than twice as many home runs hit in 2015 than there were the year before.

Unfortunately, these changes did not end up benefiting Machado. Despite finishing with the fourth most home runs out of the eight competitors, Machado lost to Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson by a score of 13-12. In prior years Manny may have been able to advance to the second round, but a tough draw in the initial round of the bracket proved fatal to the third baseman’s Home Run Derby crown aspirations.

Finally we get to 2016, Mark Trumbo’s turn at the Home Run Derby, and the last time an Oriole participated. In a year filled with “Trumbo Jumbos”, the Baltimore slugger entered the competition as the number one seed, taking on Corey Seager in the first round. Despite hitting an impressive 15 home runs, Seager was unable to outmatch Trumbo, who hit home runs on each of his last 11 swings. His final swing of the first round sent the ball 479 feet, the longest home run of the day by someone not named Giancarlo Stanton, and sent him into the semifinals.

It was there that Trumbo’s day would end, however. He was matched up against Stanton, who launched 17 home runs, averaging an incredible 460.7 feet per dinger. Trumbo gave it his best shot but fell three long balls short, bowing out of the competition before reaching the final as Orioles had done in each of the three years prior. Still, Trumbo’s showing was the most impressive by a Baltimore player since Tejada in ’04 and since he won’t have to face off against Stanton, if Mancini can replicate it, he has a good shot at taking home the crown.

It’s been five years now since Baltimore has sent someone to the derby and seventeen years since that someone was able to win. I’d say that’s a long enough wait. Though it won’t be easy, the Orioles’ past success gives reason for optimism that Trey will advance at least beyond the first round. Let’s hope that he can do that and more. Birdland could sure use something to celebrate in a year like this. What could be more inspirational than our courageous hometown hero beating the odds once more?

Luke Rollfinke
Luke Rollfinke

Luke Rollfinke is a student at Vanderbilt where he is pursuing a career in sports journalism. A recent graduate from the Friends School of Baltimore, Luke has spent his entire childhood in Charm City and is a devoted Orioles fan. In the past, he has written for SB Nation and has worked closely with Ravens columnist John Eisenberg. From nights at Camden Yards to Sunday afternoons watching NFL Redzone, Luke eats, sleeps, and breathes sports. He is excited to bring his perspective to BSL.