Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long shook his head at the news that Robinson Cano had agreed to take part in Monday’s Home Run Derby in Anaheim.

“I would prefer he’s not involved in it, but that’s not my decision,” Long said, as reported by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

Now, if this is the showcase event for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, why would anyone associated with the game prefer his player not participate?

It’s because the prevailing wisdom is that it hurts a player’s swing. The negative results can prove costly to the participating player’s team in the long run.

Whether it’s fiction or fact, correlation or coincidence, conventional wisdom does seem to err on the side of having your star player stay far, far away from this event.

Just ask David Wright and Bobby Abreu.

Both players saw their power numbers decline after taking part in the derby. Was it the result of fatigue and/or bad habits resulting from having participated in the event, or something else?

Count Joe Girardi as one who believes in the former rather than the latter.

“I think it’s a lot of swings for a player; physically, I think it’s somewhat of a grind, but it’s an honor to be involved,” Girardi said. “If that in any way would fatigue him, then I would prefer that he didn’t get fatigued.”

Speaking of the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez has indicated that he wouldn’t take part in the derby due to concerns about the negative impact, though not necessarily due to fatigue.

“The effect in the second half might be more mechanics and potentially developing bad habits,” A-Rod said.

Meanwhile, three American League players committed to join Cano in the Home Run Derby on Tuesday: Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, Toronto’s Vernon Wells and Boston’s David Ortiz. 

Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins has declined to participate, though he says it’s just so he can have a day off.

The National League team has commitments from the Brewers’ Corey Hart, who is tied for third in the league with 19 homers, as well as the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday.

Two of the biggest power threats in the NL may not be allowed to participate this year.

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto, the NL home run leader with 21, has not been chosen for the game but could still get in through online fan voting or through player withdrawals.

Defending champion Prince Fielder of the Brewers did not make the NL All-Star Game roster.

So, is there any correlation between the derby and future performance?

The Hardball Times did a study last July, using projections rather than actual second-half performance as the parameter of the study.

Why? If a player over-performs his true talent level in the first half, he stands a better chance of being selected to the Derby. Because he over-performed, though, he’s bound to play worse in the second half.

The bottom line results indicate that, despite conventional wisdom, it doesn’t look like derby participants play any worse during the second half of the season.

Do the players who last longer in the tournament, including the winners, fare any worse for wear?

Nope. No matter how long a hitter lasts or how many home runs he hits, THT still didn’t see any signs of a second-half decline.

Since we all know that perception can be reality, I have an idea.

Since the event is sponsored by State Farm, perhaps an insurance policy protecting players against a second-half power decline would be the incentive some need to participate.


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