Sarris: Is the Home Run Derby curse real?

From SABR member Eno Sarris at The Athletic on July 2, 2019:

For a fun event, there’s a good deal of bellyaching that happens when a team’s star slugger gets picked for the Home Run Derby. Even science-minded fans have links to previous research at their fingertips — research that suggests that, yes, the Derby is bad for players, and that they, as a group, largely fail to live up to the expectations created in the first half.

The curse is real, suggests research we’ve seen in the past. And there are even practical reasons to believe that the curse might be real. Hitters that normally face high-90s fastballs and aim to hit high line drives are suddenly trying to hit home runs off of batting practice velocity. And they have to take so. many. swings.

“It’s a long, long night,” Mike Trout told Alden Gonzalez at ESPN. “A lot of swings.”

“It’s exhausting,” echoed former Derby contestant Adam Jones last week in San Francisco. “Derby guys have to take like two hundred swings. Batting practice is six swings a round, put a good swing on it, not about results.”

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Originally published: July 4, 2019. Last Updated: July 4, 2019.