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Home Run Derby: no Red Sox, no problem

Posted by David Sabino  July 15, 2013 12:29 PM

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JimRice.jpgThe most exciting part of Major League Baseball’s All Star extravaganza takes place at CitiField in Flushing tonight as some of baseball’s best sluggers duke it out in the Home Run Derby. This season there will be an infusion of youth into the event as players like Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez, Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes, Baltimore’s Chris Davis and Washington’s Bryce Harper (the first-ever Nationals representative) square off for baseball’s power-hitting supremacy.

While there are no Red Sox participating in tonight’s festivities, only the Blue Jays (13) Mariners (12) and Orioles (12) have been represented more often than Boston, including Hall of Famer Jim Rice, (above, right) who finished in a tie for second place behind Dave Parker in the very first derby back in 1985. Given recent history and the team's recent struggles, perhaps sitting this one out is for the best.

Many a slugger has gone into a protracted power-slump following the contest that alters the approach of most of the participating batters. The last three participating Red Sox, David Ortiz (twice) and Adrian Gonzalez, each suffered a serious decline in home run production following successes in the Home Run Derby, Ortiz in 2010 when he won the title, and both Ortiz and Gonzalez in 2011 when Gonzo went neck-and-neck with Robinson Cano, only to fall one home run shy of the championship.

Following Boston’s 11 appearances in the Derby, only two players, a much younger Ortiz, whose rate dropped from 15.62 pre-Derby in 2005 to 10.5 post-Derby, and Nomar Garciaparra whose 1997 contest in Cleveland consisted of just 10 fruitless swings—enjoyed a substantial improvement in at bats per home runs after the contest. Worst hit by their appearance were Carl Everett in 2000 (24 home runs in 330 at bats before the derby, just 10 in 231 after) and Mo Vaughn in 1995 (24 HR in 312 PA before, 15 in 324 PA after).

Here are the At Bats per home run rate of Red Sox hitters from before and after their participation in the Home Run Derby:
HRDerby.jpg

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Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

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