Does the Home Run Derby Really Impact Second-Half Performance?
Before writing this article, I had set out to prove that the Home Run Derby has no effect on a participant's second-half performance.
But after crunching the numbers, I'm not so sure.
Over the past decade, players competing in the Derby have seen their first-half at-bat-per-home-run ratio increase, on average, from 14.2 to 15.6 in the second half. This means they are going an extra 1.4 at-bats between dingers after the All-Star break.
But maybe that's normal; maybe all players get tired as the season wears on.
Well, not necessarily.
Over the same time period, all of Major League Baseball has seen a decrease in AB/HR ratio from 32.2 to 32.0. This means they are going 0.2 at-bats fewer between blasts in the second half.
In fact, since 2000, the only year during which Derby participants experienced an increase in power after the contest was 2001, when the likes of Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were competing.
I wonder why.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball as a whole saw, a rise in power during the second half six times.
Maybe the most publicized drop-off in power after the Derby was Bobby Abreu in 2005. He won the contest with a record 41 homers and went on to see his AB/HR rate balloon from 17.9 to 44.2.
But that's actually unusual. Six of the past 10 Derby winners have seen their rates improve in the second half. For example, Prince Fielder went from hitting long balls once every 14 at-bats before the All-Star break last year to once every 11.8 afterwards.
So maybe the key is to win the thing.
Or maybe there's a whole different kind of factor at play here. As a friend of mine pointed out, "Derby participants are more likely to be having great first halves, which do not correlate to their full season norms. So they are more likely to regress to the mean to get back to their norms."
That may be true with players like Joe Mauer and Brandon Inge, but what about perennial power hitters like Lance Berkman and Miguel Cabrera, who have seen unusual drops during the second half?
Common sense tells me that taking an extra session of batting practice, which essentially is what the Derby is, shouldn't have a negative impact on players that take part in BP every day.
No matter what your feeling is on this topic, however, I think most baseball fans can agree that the Derby is too long. We don't need to hear Chris Berman yelling, "Back, back, back!" in different languages for three straight hours.
So the solution may be to just shorten the event to two rounds with four participants. You may even be able to attract bigger names who won't be as scared of a shorter Derby's effect on their second halves.
Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .
Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report's New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.
Jordan can be reached at email@example.com
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