9 Ballplayers Struck by the MLB Home Run Derby Curse

home run derby curse

Have you ever heard of the Home Run Derby curse? It’s the idea that, after players compete in the derby prior to the Midsummer Classic, their production drops off in the second half of the season. And it’s not a myth. It’s a real, measurable phenomenon.

Since 2000, the batting average, on-base percentage, and especially isolated power of players who participated in the derby all dropped noticeably in the second half of the season relative to their numbers in the first half. Whereas their average ISO (which is basically the percentage of at-bats in which a player gets an extra base hit) of participants is .278 prior to the All-Star break, it is .252 after the All-Star break. Meanwhile, the ISO of the rest of the league remains basically constant from the first half of the season to the second half of the season.

But what’s that? You don’t like the isolated power stat? Okay, that’s fine. So how about just looking at slugging percentage, which measures power by showing how many bases a player earns per at-bat. On average, over the last decade or so, participants in the HRD have seen a drop of .130 points in their combined slugging percentage, from .562 before the break to .432 after the break.

So what’s the cause of the derby curse? Nobody knows for sure. Some say that trying so hard to hit only home runs ruins their swings and alters the way they approach at bats. Others say the home run derby wears them out while other guys are getting some R&R. And I say it might have something to do with the fact that the guys who are selected for the home run derby might be having statistically abnormal seasons heading into the break (which is why they are selected for the derby in the first place), and then after the break they come crashing back down to their normal production levels—i.e., they regress back to the mean.

Whatever the case, though, the “curse” is a real thing. And today we’re going to take a look at some of its most notable victims since the dawn of the new millennium. Have a look…

Tags: baseball, curses, Home Run Derby, MLB, mlb all-star game,

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