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|
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.