2013 Home Run Derby Winner: Will Contest Hamper Swing of Yoenis Cespedes?

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJuly 16, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 15:  Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics competes in the final round of the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on July 15, 2013 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Whether participating in the Home Run Derby affects a player's swing has long been debated.

So, when Yoenis Cespedes won the 2013 Home Run Derby on Monday, it was only natural for folks to question whether it would hamper his production in the second half of the 2013 season, especially given the superstitions that exist throughout Major League Baseball.

So, the question is, will it?

Well, it must be said that the concern over the drop in production of sluggers after the derby isn't just hocus pocus. Statistics show that there is indeed some validity to the theory.

As Bleacher Report MLB lead writer Jason Catania noted on Monday, a wealth of players have experienced drop-offs after participating in the derby the past five years.

Via Catania's report, six of the eight participants in 2012 needed more plate appearances per home run in the second half of the season than the first half (Jose Bautista could have been another, but he notched only 21 at-bats in the second half). In fact, this has happened to 32 of the 40 contestants in the past five years.

On the other hand, only two of the five champions in the past five years have experienced this drop-off (Justin Morneau in 2008, David Ortiz in 2010).

So, based on recent history, the derby winners are less likely to experience regression than the losers.

Of course, there are other factors to consider.

A player may be way over his head in the first half of the season, only to predictably slow down in the second half (i.e. the law of averages).

A player may also have a history of being a better first-half hitter than a second-half hitter. 

And while teams change at the trade deadline, a player may face more imposing pitchers in the second half or face pitchers who historically have his number.

So what does it all add up to for Cespedes?

Well, I must say, I don't see a drop-off in home run production for the 27-year-old slugger.

For one, he's hit a home run every 20.5 at-bats this season after smashing one every 21.2 at-bats last year, so he's not over-performing at a colossal degree.

Secondly, he was a monster in the second half of the 2012 campaign, hitting .311 with 14 bombs and 46 RBI after the All-Star break. He did that in 286 at-bats (20.6 at-bats per home run).

Plus, while there were some concerns about whether Cespedes could hit for contact at the major league level coming out of Cuba (and his .225 batting average this season seems to back that up to some extent), Cespedes did hit .292 last season. He's better than a .225 hitter. His production figures to increase after the derby.

So, there you have it. Cespedes will become the fourth derby champion in the past six years to avoid the derby "curse" this season.


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