Examining the Home Run Derby Curse

Is the “Home Run Derby Curse” real?  In the past two years, both David Wright and Bobby Abreu experienced major second half power outages after impressive performances in the Home Run Derby (Abreu won the event while Wright finished second to Ryan Howard).  The post All-Star break home run struggles of Wright and Abreu led many to question whether success in the Derby has an adverse effect on a player’s power stroke once he returns to regular game action, as he would be trying too hard to hit homers rather than relying on his natural swing.  On Monday’s 411, Mike and Cory briefly discussed this subject.  Here’s a closer look.  Below you’ll find pre and post All Star break stats for both the Home Run Derby winners and runner ups over the past five years.  Keep in mind that the break is slightly more than halfway into the season, so first half HR and RBI numbers will often be greater regardless of any “curse.”

2006

Ryan Howard

Pre ASB:   .278 AVG 28 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB:  .355 AVG 30 HR  78 RBI

David Wright

Pre ASB:   .316 AVG  20 HR 74 RBI
Post ASB:  .305 AVG   6 HR 42 RBI

2005

Bobby Abreu

Pre ASB:   .307 AVG  18 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .260 AVG   6 HR  44 RBI

Ivan Rodriguez

Pre ASB:   .292 AVG  6 HR  32 RBI
Post ASB:  .252 AVG  8 HR  18 RBI

2004

Miguel Tejada

Pre ASB:   .311 AVG  15 HR  75 RBI
Post ASB:  .311 AVG  19 HR  75 RBI

Lance Berkman

Pre ASB:  .299 AVG  16 HR  59 RBI
Post ASB: .335 AVG  14 HR  47 RBI

2003

Garret Anderson

Pre ASB:  .316 AVG  22 HR  78 RBI
Post ASB: .313 AVG   7 HR  38 RBI

Albert Pujols

Pre ASB:   .368 AVG  27 HR  86 RBI
Post ASB:  .346 AVG  16 HR  38 RBI

2002

Jason Giambi

Pre ASB:   .318 AVG  22 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB:  .309 AVG  19 HR  51 RBI

Sammy Sosa

Pre ASB:   .307 AVG  28 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .264 AVG  21 HR  50 RBI

Besides Wright and Abreu, Anderson and Pujols, the 2003 finalists, are the only other examples of significant second half decline.  Of these four players, only Pujols is most known for his home runs.  Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were all excellent hitters the year they competed in the Derby, but homers were not their primary strength.  You can make a convincing argument that the high first half home run totals of Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were just as flukey as their second half home run drop.  But the drastic decrease in RBI specifically of Wright, Anderson, and Pujols do support the “curse” theory.

What have we learned from all this?  There’s just not enough evidence for us to directly blame the Home Run Derby for our fantasy star’s second half plunge, as there are plenty of other factors involved.  And for every Wright and Abreu, there’s a Howard, who hit an amazing 30 homers AFTER the break last year, and a Tejada, who was a model of consistency in 2004.  So don’t panic, Guerrero and Rios owners!  For now, it seems that the “Home Run Derby Curse” is just a myth.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com

1 Comment

I don’t know where to ask this.. but will a podcast be available for the All-Star Game 411 show?

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