Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Home Run Derby hangovers

Bobby Abreu (unless he's changed his tune) blamed the Home Run Derby for screwing up his swing. Anecdotally, there are a few other guys who complained about the Derby. I would imagine that professional hitters, even if they do get themselves out of whack, would figure out the problem within a week or two. Still, let's look at the evidence.

Abreu was never a big home-run hitter (though he had a few big-time years). It's plausible that his line-drive oriented swing (as opposed to an upper-cutter like Ken Griffey Jr.) might get wonky. But, maybe Abreu just got old or regressed to the mean, and it's merely a coincidence that it happened shortly after the 2005 Derby. He hit 18 home runs that year before the break and only six after. He hasn't topped 20 since. Hmm, have we seen the same downturn from anyone else?

Well, 2006 winner Ryan Howard smashed something like 89 home runs after that year's break (or, about 30), so no help there. Last year, Vlad hit almost identical numbers before and after the break. In 2004, Miguel Tejada hit 19 after and only 15 before. You must go all the way back to 2003 to find a drop-off similar to Abreu's: Garrett Anderson hit only seven in the second half after launching 22 in the first.

I stopped looking around 1999, but I didn't see anyone else with an unusually large drop in performance. So, basically, the Derby curse looks unfounded. Maybe the guys that lost the Derby are the ones that truly messed up their swings, but I doubt (if I looked) that would be the case.

So, does this mean I think you should sell Josh Hamilton? I do, but not because of the Derby. He abused his body for a long time, may not be ready to go a full season, and his numbers are so insane they're likely unsustainable. If you can get a Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez (any news on his shoulder?) for Hamilton and a middling SS, do it.


Zachary Piso said...

Hey Mike,

Was heading through the bloglist and came across your article. First, I'd like to state that I enjoy your social commentary, and it's entertaining to hear people who preach freedom of religion then deny freedom of speech (or the press, but I mean, realistically, we aren't "press", we are baseball fans). Twenty-two comments on an editorial is great, and it's good to see some dialogue.

Secondly, I was wondering if you would want to run this post over at my site. We do a "Mythbusters" segment and it perfectly fits the bill. I would want you to plug your site incessantly and try to get as many rotonomics readers to cross over as possible though, as long as you are okay with that. And if you have one of those days when you don't feel like writing, we could throw you a post.

Zach Piso

Mike Bock said...

Go ahead. I actually used to blog extensively about religion/social commentary at my other blog (which has been mothballed for baseball season), so I don't mind being mentioned/referenced/included in other arenas.

Thanks for the praise.

david said...

I'm not sure if Zach's quip was directed at me or not. If it was, let me say that I never stated in the prior post that people didn't have a right to free speech. But, just because people can say anything they want, doesn't mean that they should. My primary point was that I thought ridiculing someone on the sole basis of a statement of their religious belief was, well, ridiculous.

As aside, how about that play by Tejada to throw out Morneau at first? I bring it up only because I just saw it as I was writing this. Not bad for an old man!

Zachary Piso said...

David, no worries it wasn't directed at anyone but rather the general tone of the comment section. Also, that was a phenomenal play and it made me feel guilty for bashing tejada's age the entire offseason.

david said...

I hear you about Tejada! I have been guilty of saying some not so nice things about him in the past, too. He sure made me eat my words with his play during the All-Star Game.