There has been much debate recently about the effect the Home Run Derby has on players who participate in it. Some players have declined to take part alleging that participating causes players to change their swings, which has an adverse affect on their subsequent performance. Many fans have expressed their opinion that their teams sluggers shouldn’t participate for the same reason. Other players and fans have poured scorn on the concept, pointing out that in fact it’s just an extension of batting practice that they undertake every day, and that any effect is mostly in the mind, or just an excuse to spare their blushes.
So, where does the truth lie? I decided to do some research into the subject, breaking the pre and post All Star Game performances of those who took part in recent Home Run Derbys. Before I began this research, I thought it was purely an excuse used by hitters for a poor second half, you guys can draw your own conclusions. Read on to see the pre and post All Star Game numbers for all the Home Run Derby participants in 2007.
Below are the pre and post ASG numbers for all the Home Run Derby participants in 2007.
Home Run Derby 2007
Pre ASG; 85 GP .325/.416/.547 14 HR 75 RBI
PostASG; 65 GP .323/.387/.548 13 HR 50 RBI
Pre ASG; 86 GP .294/.350/.520 17 HR 53 RBI
PostASG; 75 GP .300/.360/.471 7 HR 32 RBI
Pre ASG; 87 GP .341/.392/.573 15 HR 69 RBI
PostASG; 71 GP .338/.422/.651 21 HR 68 RBI
Pre ASG; 85 GP .310/.411/.516 16 HR 52 RBI
PostASG; 73 GP .349/.450/.631 16 HR 51 RBI
Pre ASG; 83 GP .295/.364/.581 24 HR 74 RBI
PostASG; 74 GP .243/.318/.384 7 HR 37 RBI
Pre ASG; 87 GP .284/.376/.620 29 HR 70 RBI
PostASG; 71 GP .293/.419/.614 21 HR 49 RBI
Pre ASG; 70 GP .256/.377/.555 21 HR 67 RBI
PostASG; 74 GP .280/.405/.611 26 HR 69 RBI
Pre ASG; 83 GP .367/.446/.604 13 HR 70 RBI
PostASG; 74 GP .358/.419/.585 15 HR 69 RBI
As you can see, outside of Justin Morneau and (famously) Alex Rios, all other hitters continued with similar production after the All Star Game, and in some cases (Howard, Holliday, Pujols) did much better than in the first half of the season.
Now of course those are only the numbers for the 2007 Home Run Derby, but I have looked back as far as 2002, and with the exceptions of David Wright (2006), Bobby Abreu, Pudge Rodriguez, Carlos Lee (2005), Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome Hank Blalock (2004) Garret Anderson, Jason Giambi, Jim Edmonds, Brett Boone (2003) Paul Konerko and Torii Hunter (2002) it seems that the myth of losing your swing is indeed a myth.
Then again you might say that those are some notable exceptions, and I would have to agree, however if you look at their careers as a whole then Ivan Rodriguez, Carlos Lee, Jim Thome, Hank Blalock and Jim Edmonds always see a drop in their production after the All Star Break. It definitely vaires from hitter to hitter, for instance David Ortiz took part in 3 consecutive derbies from 2004, and every year his production IMPROVED after the All Star Break.
So, I personally wouldn’t be too worried if your favourite player is planning to participate this year, but then again the numbers say that we can expect at least one of this year’s participants to suffer after July 14th. As it varies from hitter to hitter it would be hard to predict which participant that could be, unless of course someone wants to do a swing-by-swing analysis on all everyone taking part.. no takers..?