It is clear that some baseball players refuse to participate in the Home Run Derby because they are afraid of the negative impact it will have on their swing during the second half of the season.

Clearly, guys like Alex Rodriguez, who are paranoid, and even players who have experienced negative results like David Wright and Bobby Abreu are off-base.

For there is no apparent correlation between participation in MLB’s signature event and future results.

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

The reason they used projections, as opposed to actual results, is very reasonable.

For one thing, if a player over-performs his true talent level in the first half, he stands a better chance of being selected to the Derby.

Naturally, if he is over-performing, he is likely to face a regression to his true talent level in the second half of the season.

Based on their expected Marcel projections, the Home Run Derby hitters seemed to outperform their preseason Marcels every year except 2008, 2004, and 2002 (though the latter two only showed small differences).

In other words, it doesn’t look like derby participants play any worse in the second half of the season (on the whole). If you’re looking for the results in terms of percentages, 57 percent of derby participants outperform their projections in the second half.

Another theory might be that players who last longer in the Derby or hit more home runs during it are more likely to decline.

Yet the study done by THT says that no matter how long a hitter lasts or how many home runs he hits, there is still no sign of a second-half decline.

So why do some hitters continue to be afraid to participate?

Well, for one thing, because the 50 percent mark often occurs a couple weeks before the All-Star Break, “first half” totals can look inflated if compared directly to “second half” totals.

Also, the 2008 results are recent and fresh in everyone’s memory.

But perhaps the best explanation for why the fear continues is that once players start talking and complaining, it makes other players less likely to want to participate and draws more attention to the situation, creating a snowball effect.

So while the conventional wisdom might support sluggers who refuse to participate in the derby due to fear of negative results, the data simply does not agree.

If only perception wasn’t reality, we might see the A-Rods participating in the Home Run Derby.

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