McDonnell: The overblown fallacy of the Home Run Derby hangover

From SABR member Wayne McDonnell Jr. at on July 15, 2013:

A quarter century after the first and only season of “Home Run Derby” aired on television, Major League Baseball implemented its own version of a home run derby in 1985 at the 56th annual All Star Game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. However, the rules were vastly different than what we are accustomed to in the modern version held on the Monday before the All Star Game. The 1985 Home Run Derby featured five players from both leagues and it wasn’t viewed as an individual contest. The two-inning event featured the American League vs. the National League with each of the participants receiving five outs per inning.

Throughout the years, the rules have dramatically changed and the structure of the Home Run Derby is far more attractive and competitive than it was in 1985 when Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds hit six home runs in two innings to lead all of the participants. Today, we have seen the likes of Josh Hamilton hit 28 mammoth home runs into the upper deck at the old Yankee Stadium in one round and Prince Fielder consistently hit 450 foot home runs into the fountains at Kaufman Stadium. The Home Run Derby is no longer an exhibition or casual athletic competition highlighting a particular skill. It has become a wildly popular spectacle that astonishes baseball fans from all corners of the world.


Participation in the Home Run Derby has always raised several legitimate questions for ball players regarding second half performances, mechanical adjustments and the fatigue factor. Are Home Run Derby participants susceptible to injuries due to the violent torque and constant trunk rotations in an abbreviated period of time? Do they develop bad habits as they are trying to lift and pull baseballs in an attempt to hit more home runs?

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Originally published: July 16, 2013. Last Updated: July 16, 2013.