Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Don't Worry About Papi's Win

Many fans might be worried about David Ortiz' win in the Home Run Derby on Monday night, as there seems to be a stigma attached to doing so. Fans remember Bobby Abreu's drop in home run numbers in 2005 after his win with the Phillies.

But history says you should have nothing to worry about. My friend Dan sent this to me this morning, a breakdown on the past winners since 2000 and how they did the rest of that season, from Home Run Derby's Wikipedia page.

2009: Prince Fielder
The Brewers first baseman saw his home runs per at bat increase from one for every 14 at bats in the first half to one every 11.79 in the second half. It was modest, for sure, but made him a vicious power threat down the stretch (Babe Ruth’s career home run/at bat ratio was 11.76).

2008: Justin Morneau
Had four homers and 18 RBIs in the first 13 games of the second half and finished with a remarkable 61 RBIs in 65 games after claiming the derby title in Yankee Stadium. (Josh Hamilton, who stole the show that year with awesome early-round performances before finishing second to Morneau, hit .366 in September of that year.)

2007: Vladimir Guerrero
Hit .353 with eight home runs and 28 RBIs in August and went deep once every 20 at bats after winning the crown in San Francisco, compared to once every 22 at bats in the first half.

2006: Ryan Howard
Perhaps the best case there is for inclusion in the exhibition, Howard hit an astounding .355 with 30 homers and 78 RBIs after the All-Star break. His OPS jumped from .923 to an otherworldly 1.259 en route to the National League MVP Award.

2005: Bobby Abreu
This is the guy many bring up to support their claim that the derby destroys hitters. His home run production did drop dramatically after winning the event in Detroit (six home runs after the break), but from the end of July to mid-September he raised his average from .288 to .300 and his OPS of .929 in August was his second-best mark for one month that year. He certainly didn’t disappear.

2004: Miguel Tejada
The then-Orioles shortstop batted .311 in the first half of the season, and .311 in the second half. His slugging percentage before the break was .506. After claiming the Home Run Derby in Houston? .566.

2003: Garret Anderson
He reached the 30-homer mark just once, so it was hard to call Anderson a real home run hitter and when he hit 22 in the first half of the year it was a bit of an aberration. The longtime Angel was more of an average hitter (.285 or better in 12 of 14 seasons at one stretch) and showed it after winning the derby by hitting .350 in August (with a still solid four home runs).

2002: Jason Giambi
Amid perhaps his best season as a Yankee, Giambi was remarkably consistent, posting a 1.032 OPS in the first half and a 1.035 mark in the second half. Yet, some two months after he sprayed balls all over Miller Park to take the crown, the one-time MVP had his best stretch, batting .388 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs in September.

2001: Luis Gonzalez
In his best season as a pro (57 homers, 142 RBIs), Gonzalez did see a dip after hitting 35 dingers before the break. Much of that had to do with the fact that his walks began to skyrocket as pitchers worked around him. Still, he managed to hit .313 with 10 homers in August and then had perhaps the biggest bloop single in major league history that October to slay the Yankees.

2000: Sammy Sosa
Firmly nestled in his multi-year home run binge with the Cubs, Sosa had one of his best second halves after winning the derby in Turner Field. He had 13 homers and 29 RBIs in August and raised his OPS from .922 in the first half to 1.138 after the intermission.

And congratulations to Joe Girardi, the first AL-losing manager in the All-Star Game since Mike Hargrove lost in 1996. Here's Tom Verducci's take on why it's his fault the AL lost, one I agree with.

That just means the Red Sox can sweep the World Series at Fenway this time.

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