One of the highlights of the Major League Baseball All Star break is the Home Run Derby, which takes place the night before the All Star game. One of the chief detractors from the contest is that those hitters who participate invariably wind up suffering during the second half of the regular season. This year is proving to be no exception.
We can start with this year’s winner, Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds. At the All Star break, he was batting .284 with 25 home runs and 57 RBI. Since then, Frazier is hitting only .169 with just two homers.
Albert Pujols of the Angels is another competitor who has seen his numbers take a major hit. The first baseman was hitting .255 at the break but had belted 26 homers and drove in 56 runs. Since then, he has gone yard only four times and has just 10 RBI. In his last seven games, Pujols is hitting only .214. His team has suffered, too. After blowing by the Houston Astros to take the lead in the AL West, the Angels have lost seven of their last nine games and trail Houston by two games.
Not all of the contestants have fallen flat on their collective faces. Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays has hit .290 since the All Star break with eight homers and 20 RBI. Before participating in the Home Run Derby, the third baseman had a .293 average with 21 homers and 60 runs driven in.
So, why do all the contestants seem to tail off after the Derby? Most believe it is because they wear themselves out, taking too many swings. Up until this year, the Derby was lasting well over three hours. Batters were given 10 “outs”…if a ball did not leave the yard, it was considered an out. If a batter got on a roll, he could drive five or six in a row into the stands.
Some changes occurred for this year’s Derby. The eight hitters who agreed to participate were seeded. Once a hitter surpassed his opponent in number of home runs hit, the round was over. The big change is that the Derby was “timed” this year. Each player had an amount of time in order to hit as many homers as he could. Then, again, “bonus” time was added for every home run hit over a certain distance. Hitters could also take a time out to re-focus.
Is there more changes to be made in order for a batter not to “wear” himself out? Why not make it “three” outs and you are finished? Or, maybe cut the time. Only thing about that is some hitters had their “pitchers” getting ready to throw as soon as a ball left the yard. Or, maybe, MLB could just “scrap” the whole idea. I would hate to have owners tell their players they can’t participate because it would ruin their entire season.
Here’s a thought: How about a “Classic” Home Run Derby, where the participants were retired hitters? Who would not want to see a rematch between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Or, Reggie Jackson and Adam Dunn?
Papa’s Tidbit — Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers went on the disabled list on July 4 and when he did, he was leading the American League in hitting with a .350 average. Over one month later, Cabrera is still leading the league in hitting! The second place hitter, former teammate Prince Fielder, is hitting .339. The problem lurking for Cabrera (since he is still not ready to return) is that he may not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting championship. Melky Cabrera did not have enough plate appearances in 2012 to qualify for the batting title because of a suspension. His teammate at the time, Buster Posey, won the title.