Dear David Wright and Robinson Cano,
Please don't pick any of my guys for the Home Run Derby this year. More often than not they'll have trouble getting their swings back to normal and it really puts a damper on the second half of their seasons. Participants change their finely crafted and sharply tuned swings into ludicrous swats that the Sultan himself would be embarrassed for. They step up to the plate with only one objective, "hit that tiny ball as far as I possibly can." I'm actually surprised there haven't been any immediate injuries from players straining something from swinging too hard or better yet, I surprised guys don't literally swing themselves out of their shoes.
Though some players have a very successful second-half, others get stuck in the mud of a changed swing and have to get their power stroke figured out all over again. I call it Derby-itis. I've taken a closer look at the last three years of the Home Run Derby and each of the players who finished in the top three. The number sequence is as follows: Total season HRs / HRs before the Derby / HRs after the Derby / Number of games after the Derby before the player hit his next HR. Using this small sample, I have determined that the Home Run Derby is bad for fantasy baseball and possibly detrimental to the participant's career.
David Ortiz - 32 season / 18 before / 14 after / 10 games after the break
Hanley Ramirez - 21 / 13 / 8 / 16 games
Corey Hart - 31 / 21 / 10 / 1 game
Ortiz seemed to be OK after winning the Derby at Angel Stadium in 2010, though his number dipped only a bit, it took him about two weeks to get it back on track. Ramirez faltered and took quite some time to put one out of the park and Corey Hart's powerful year came to a screeching halt. His next HR may have been the first game back but his second didn't come until early August and the third wasn't until September. That's some big time Derby-itis.
Robinson Cano - 28 season / 15 before / 13 after / 5 games
Adrian Gonzalez - 27 / 17 / 10 / 14 games
Prince Fielder - 38 / 22 / 16 / 13 games
Another scenario with the winner fairing quite well, Cano maintained a steady average and it didn't take him much time to get going again. He hit his second post-break homer only 15 games later. Gonzalez is another victim of Derby-itis, his excellent June turned into a putrid July. His first post-break homer took a couple weeks and his second took another month. Fielder stayed a only bit closer to his first-half average but must have figured out a way around his issues because his 2012 numbers below are very strong.
Prince Fielder - 30 season / 15 before / 15 after / 14 games
Jose Bautista - 27 / 27 / NA / Injured, only 6 games played after ASG
Mark Trumbo - 32 / 22 / 10 / 1 game
Prince Fielder must have a switch he can turn on and off with his home run swing. A year after conquering Derby-itis, Fielder laughed in its face with a perfect 15/15 pair of totals. Jose Bautista injured his wrist which quickly ended his season. His power numbers were ridiculous, but his injury begs the question, did the Derby have anything to do with this? He felt something in his wrist after a swing that resulted in a long foul ball. His adjustments for the Derby may have caused something to change inside his wrist and he was having issues returning to his normal swing. It's a shame he went down but you can't rule out the long ball exhibition as a possible cause of injury. Trumbo had a very up-and-down year. When Trout was called up he went nuts, which helped his pre-break total but he took a nose dive afterwards and despite his early post-break success putting the ball over the fence (four homers in five games), he only managed six from mid-July until the end of the season.
Excluding Joey Bautista because of his injury, the average top-3 Derby finisher's numbers play out like this: 30 season / 18 before / 12 after / 9.25 games and an average pre-to post-break difference of six. If you see your players selected, it might be time to sell high and trade them away. I understand there are more games played before the Derby than after but if there wasn't such a consistency in the numbers, I wouldn't be writing this piece.
So once again Mr. Wright and Mr. Cano, unless you know for a fact that my guy is going to win this competition, please let him sit in foul territory with his camera and small children to be a spectator. Since I'm trying very hard to win my league, here are my suggestions for the 2013 Home Run Derby rosters, my players excluded of course. AL: Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion. NL: Carlos Gonzalez, Pedro Alvarez, Jay Bruce. It will be a miracle if I've correctly predicted the lineup but it can't hurt to take a shot.
I love you all...except Hawk Harrelson.