With the news that Toronto Blue Jays slugger and all-time leading (one time) All-Star vote getter Jose Bautista (that was a mouthful) will be entering the 2011 All-Star Game Home Run Derby I have heard more than a few people mention the possibility of the dreaded “jinx”.  I am not sure where this started and there isn’t a worse crowd than the baseball world to bring out mostly unfounded superstition.

But I was bored and I thought I would give a lazy effort to see if there was any merit at all to this theory that a player will magically fall off after hitting in the derby.  For this exercise I must caution it is very rudimentary and doesn’t include a few things I was either not in the mood to look up like HR/FB ratio in the second half and overall FB% which would have given us a much better overall indicator of any supposed drop off.

Second a lot of players are just going to simply tire down the stretch and their homerun numbers suffer.  Third some of the players on this list aren’t really just homerun hitters and possibly had big first half numbers (hence, making the all-star game) that were never sustainable over a full season and thus the inevitable second half decline to bring their overall numbers back into line.

I included the past five HR derby’s and used the two finalists from each as presumably the longer you go in this competition the worse it will supposedly “wreck” your swing.  The “1st half” numbers are in bold and the “2nd half” or post all-star game numbers aren’t.

D.Ortiz 18 14 14 19
H.Ramirez 13 25 8 27
P.Fielder 22 14 24 12
N.Cruz 22 13 11 15
J.Morneau 14 26 9 28
J.Hamilton 21 18 11 22
V.Guerrero 14 26 13 20
A.Rios 17 20 7 41
R.Howard 28 11 30 8.8!
D.Wright 20 17 6 40
B.Abreu 18 18 6 44
I.Rodriguez 6 49 8 25

Again with a very basic look at the past five homerun derby finalists we see that of the twelve players involved seven had worse overall performances when considering AB/HR.  While it isn’t a comprehensive study I don’t feel that anything conclusive could be shown with the data presented nor did I expect it to. 

Some guys have hot second half’s like the unreal 2006 season by Ryan Howard (seriously, what a season!) and some guys were always going to fall off in terms of overall power (like David Wright in 2006). 

So for anybody thinking this could potentially ruin the best hitter in the game, think again.  If Jose Bautista goes on to a worse second half it will have nothing to do with a serious version of batting practise.  For those curious here are Jose Bautista’s current HR numbers heading into the all-star game. 

Bautista – 27 HRs, one every 10 ABs.

  1. uoduckfan33 says:

    I think, like you said, there will naturally be some drop off in the second half for a majority of the participants. And I think the main culprit of this drop off is probably selection bias. Homerun Derby participants are usually the top HR hitters in the game for the given season. Some of them may just be that good, but the majority are probably overachieving.

    Natural laws of regression suggest that anytime you take the top 10% of anybody for any stat in any season, that group of select players’ stats will drop as a whole by 10-20% the following season. I would assume this applies to half seasons, as well.

    Check it out: http://sportsstatsanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/laws-of-regression/

    Thanks again! Love the blog.

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