Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is HR Derby fantasy kiss of death?

The event is made for spectators but just occasionally spectacular.

It's the Home Run Derby, MLB's answer to NBA's slam dunk contest, which jumped the shark so long ago, Happy Days is almost off the hook.

But today's post is not about the relevance of the home run contest, per se. On its surface, it's a fine idea. There's nothing quite like the home run in baseball. And the long, majestic shots command attention even from the borderline sports fan.

What I'm not sold on the format, how the event seems to last longer than entire baseball games, not withstanding those where Steve Trachsel took on the mound.

More than once, it seems this contest has an adverse effect on a player's second-half output, and if you owned Bobby Abreu in 2005, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Abreu owned Detroit's Comerica Park, one of the longest parks in baseball, by hitting 41 HRs that night. No other players have hit more than 27 in a contest. 

But Abreu left his swing in Detroit and while he it 18 HR in the first half, only 6 HRs after the All-Star break had speculation rampant that the derby messed up his swing and he's really never quite been the same power hitter since. 

For all you Josh Hamilton owners out there, fear not. My crack staff did a little research back to 1999 and while there is a few instances, there's really no pattern of the Home Run Derby winner having a second-half power outage. Here's what I found.

2007: Vladimir Guerrero, Angels, 14 first half; 13 second half.
2006: Ryan Howard, Phillies, 28-30
2005: Bobby Abreu, Phillies, 18-6
2004: Miguel Tejada, Orioles, 15-18
2003: Garret Anderson, Angels, 22-7
2002: Jason Giambi,  Yankees, 21-19
2001: Luis Gonzalez, Diamondbacks, 37-20
2000: Sammy Sosa, Cubs, 23-27
1999: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners, 29-19

Only Abreu, Anderson and Gonzalez showed a significant decline, while three hit more home runs and two were almost identical.

So if you happen to have a Berkman, Braun, Uggla, Utley, Hamilton, Longoria, Morneau or Sizemore - and I suspect that's about 80 percent of you - it's not the kiss of death for your guy to catch fire Monday night at Yankees Stadium.

But just in case ... a first-round fizzle might be what you really want.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so if I have 3 of them I might be royally screwed then huh?