Does the Home Run Derby hurt players in the second half?

7/15/13 in MLB   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Blog Photo - Does the Home Run Derby hurt players in the second half?Over the past few years, a hypothesis has sprouted out claiming that participating in the Home Run Derby hurts a player during the second half of the year, that participating tires a guy out
and leaves him less fresh for the rest of the season. Normally that's not a theory worth testing, but as an Orioles fan, I'm irrationally terrified this will happen to Chris Davis.

To test this hypothesis, I took the last 10 Home Run Derby champions and compared their first half stats to their second half. Specifically, I looked at the three "slash" numbers: batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. I also looked at home runs per plate appearance. I used the ratio to control for the fact that there are more games played before the All-Star break than after.

The results are as follows.

    First Half Second Half
Year Winner BA OBP SLG HR/PA BA OBP SLG HR/PA
2003 Garret Anderson .316 .345 .597 0.057 .313 .344 .463 0.025
2004 Miguel Tejada .311 .358 .506 0.039 .311 .363 .566 0.056
2005 Bobby Abreu .307 .428 .535 0.045 .260 .376 .411 0.019
2006 Ryan Howard .278 .341 .582 0.089 .318 .509 .751 0.113
2007 Vlad Guerrero .325 .416 .547 0.045 .323 .387 .548 0.045
2008 Justin Morneau .323 .391 .512 0.038 .267 .350 .481 0.035
2009 Prince Fielder .315 .442 .614 0.071 .283 .377 .590 0.085
2010 David Ortiz .263 .384 .562 0.059 .277 .355 .498 0.047
2011 Robinson Cano .296 .342 .521 0.041 .309 .358 .547 0.046
2012 Prince Fielder .299 .380 .505 0.047 .331 .448 .558 0.047

The two really big drop offs were Anderson in 2003 and especially Abreu in 2005. After that, most of these guys stayed around the same level of production (Tejada, Guerrero, Ortiz, Cano), or at worst, got better in some areas but dipped in others (Morneau, Fielder in 2009). Fielder last year got a little better, while Howard went on a second half tear that took him to the MVP award. Overall, it doesn't look like there's a lot of truth to the theory.

However, let's take a second look at Anderson and Abreu. Those are among the "lesser" players on this list, such at it is. At the same time, neither were ever particularly known for hitting home runs. Anderson's career slugging was .461, making the first half of 2003 well out of line of the rest of his career. It would make sense than Anderson's power cooled off the rest of the year while the rest of his all-around game remained in tact. It's not as pronounced with Abreu, as his career slugging was .477, but it's still nearly 60 points behind his first half of 2005. His drop-off was pretty extreme, but without other evidence, it can't be concluded how much, if any, of it was due to the Home Run Derby.

Of this year's participants, three are slugging at rates much higher than their career averages. Pedro Alvarez's (.516 in 2013 vs. .446 career) totals are still flattened by an awful 2011, and at just 403 career games, is far from a finished product anyway. Michael Cuddyer (.568 vs. .461) has a huge discrepancy, but much of that could be attributed to playing in Coors Field now after playing most of his career in Minnesota. The player with the biggest difference though is, of course, Davis (.717 vs. .512), a whopping 205 points. In the end, there isn't enough data to make a firm conclusion, but it's something to look out for during the second half of the season.
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7/16/13   |   The_Real_Stoney   |   24042 respect

I think there are more real factors that occur which affect a player's 2nd half performance when compared to the effect of taking an extended BP for one night. The MLB season is loooooong.. And day after day after day of playing in the heat of July, August, early September can be taxing. Throw in the fact that by this time, teams have a better book on guys than they had early in the year. If a player is on a contending team and having a hell of a year, he's not going to see as many good pitches coming down the stretch. His opportunities to succeed are less and often times he's going to be seeing more specialists out of the pen in the middle and end of games.
I think those are aspects that impact a guy's numbers in a more tangible way

7/16/13   |   Jess   |   32868 respect

I've never actually watched the derby before, and caught a little bit of it tonight. I am one of those weirdos who doesn't mind Chris Berman. However, I was bored almost to tears. I'm a big fan of pitching (seriously...awed by it) and the HR derby is like boring ol' pre-game batting practice to me. I realize these guys are All-Stars; the best of the best. But...I've been to a lot of Mariners games, and I like to go watch them warm up, and the HR Derby was pretty much just like that. Reminded me of Kendrys Morales out there - more "pitches" go yard than don't. *yawn*

As for the stats above - I dunno...but if the answer is "yes", I'm glad none of my guys are there.

7/15/13   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
actually its boring, no much fun for tv... and the announcers just make up stuff to say...they could end this and it would not be missed....maybe the league of the winner would get home field advantage for the WS..

Chris Berman is just toooooo annoying.

7/15/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

actually its boring, no much fun for tv... and the announcers just make up stuff to say...they could end this and it would not be missed....maybe the league of the winner would get home field advantage for the WS..

7/15/13   |   Dan_B   |   1066 respect

I've always disliked players on my favorite teams being in the Derby.

7/15/13   |   kramer   |   11003 respect

Nice to see this actually drawn out.  As I figured, the guys who have won that were legitimate "power hitters" didn't fizzle out.  That only seems to happen to the guys who were never career home run machines.

Speaking of not being a career homer threat, I'm also under the belief that Cuddyer's numbers are inflated playing at Coors Field.  Anyone else see him being the guy that goes 0-fer tonight?

7/15/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Pat wrote:
Most of the players selected for the Derby are generally on an unreasonably high pace in the first half. Chris Davis, for example, could have a stellar 2nd half this year and still not match his first half numbers. The idea that players slump after the Derby is just one of those things that people love to make a fuss about, and/or an excuse that players like to use to get out of it.

Thus the test, to see if there was any truth to it. The answer appears to be mostly no.

7/15/13   |   Pat   |   5138 respect

Most of the players selected for the Derby are generally on an unreasonably high pace in the first half. Chris Davis, for example, could have a stellar 2nd half this year and still not match his first half numbers. The idea that players slump after the Derby is just one of those things that people love to make a fuss about, and/or an excuse that players like to use to get out of it.