Tag: Sports and STEM

Will David Ortiz’s Home Run Derby Success Lead To a Second-Half Slump?

Most baseball fans believe success in the Home Run Derby translates to a power outage in the second half of the season. Josh Hamilton in 2008 comes to mind, but it would be foolish to make assumptions based on that one particular instance.

To answer this presumption, I tallied the first and second half home run totals of each Home Run Derby winner since 2000. The results may surprise you.

The following table shows the pre and post All-Star Break at-bat per home run rate (AB/HR) of each player in the season they won the Home Run Derby. (Note: an AB/HR rate of 14.0 simply means the player hit a home run once every 14 at-bats.)


2009 Prince Fielder 14.0 11.8
2008 Justin Morneau 26.1 28.7
2007 Vladimir Guerrero 22.2 20.2
2006 Ryan Howard 11.3 8.8
2005 Bobby Abreu 17.9 44.2
2004 Miguel Tejada 24.6 15.6
2003 Garret Anderson 17.2 40.5
2002 Jason Giambi 14.3 12.9
2001 Luis Gonzalez 9.4 12.7
2000 Sammy Sosa 14.7 9.9


Of the last 10 Home Run Derby winners, six of them went yard more frequently after winning the contest.

While most of the AB/HR rates didn’t change all that much, there were three major outliers.

In 2005, Bobby Abreu hit a homer once every 17.9 at-bats before the All-Star Break. In the second half, that number ballooned to 44.2.

Garret Anderson displayed a similar regression after his Home Run Derby success in 2003. After going yard once every 17.2 at-bats in the first half, his AB/HR rate sky rocketed to 40.5 following the Mid Summer Classic.

Miguel Tejada’s Home Run Derby title in 2004 translated to big time power, as his AB/HR rate dropped from 24.6 in the season’s first half to 15.6 after the All-Star Break.

After averaging the totals over the last 10 years, the data revealed that winning the Home Run Derby generally had very little effect on a player’s AB/HR rate.

If anything, the success rendered a slightly better AB/HR rate, as the 10 Home Run Derby champions combined to average one home run per 15.7 at-bats prior to the All-Star Break, while posting a 15.3 rate following it.

If we count only the players who hit the most homers in each Home Run Derby (opposed to the actual winner), the results are very similar. Despite Josh Hamilton’s power drop-off (17.9 AB/HR pre ASB, 22.5 post) following his 35-HR show in 2008, the average AB/HR rate dropped from 15.6 (pre ASB) to 14.9 (post ASB).

So what does this all mean?

Well, despite what some people may tell you, David Ortiz’s success in the 2010 Home Run Derby isn’t a good reason to trade him in your fantasy league. In fact, Papi’s highest home run totals by month are September, August and July, and his career AB/HR rate following the All-Star Break (15.2) is better than his first half total (17.3).

Bottom line: Big Papi could be in for a big second half, and his success at the Home Run Derby isn’t going to change that.


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MLB Home Run Derby: Why the Biggest Sluggers Have Nothing To Worry About

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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