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A 36-year-old starter debuts, eight things don't happen in the Home Run Derby, and Leonys Martin is a mason jar full of old rubber bands.

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Pipe Balls, the Home Run Derby Anti-Curse, and the craziest unwritten rule we've ever heard.

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July 14, 2014 1:29 pm

Notes About Baseball, 7/14


Rocco DeMaro

A conversation with the Mets catcher, plus a tour of baseball's outliers and aberrations for the week

The quality of catching in the National League is kind of nuts right now.

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Ben and Sam talk to Zachary Levine about ways that Major League Baseball could make All-Star week better.

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You fool.

So you want to bet on the Home Run Derby. Some people would judge you for that. I’m one of those people. Totally judging over here. But I do plenty of things that I could be judged for, so I won’t judge you for being judged. We’re all a little judgeable.

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Ben and Sam talk about the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, then discuss Chris Davis' comments about the home run record.

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How much would you have made if you bet every underdog?

In general, you shouldn’t bet on sports. But say you did.

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Ben and Sam discuss the evolution and future of on-field celebrations, then pick the players they'd most want to appear in the Home Run Derby.

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Which players will be staying at home this year who should be playing in Kansas City?

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July 11, 2011 4:06 am

Resident Fantasy Genius: The Home Run Derby Curse


Derek Carty

There's always chatter about a curse looming over those who participate in the Derby, but is it for real?

At the top of my list of guys to enter into trade talks for today: Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder, Matt Holliday, David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Rickie Weeks, and Robinson Cano. At first glance, that might seem like the most obvious list of guys you’d want on your team, but these are the eight players participating in the Home Run Derby tonight.

Around this time every year, we have to hear about the dreaded Home Run Derby Curse (or the Home Run Derby Hangover Effect) in which participants see their power decline in the second half. This rubbish usually comes in the form of anecdotal evidence like “Bobby Abreu hit 18 homers in the first half and six in the second.” This is easy enough to shake off, but other times we may be tricked into thinking it’s real by studies that look at all contestants but don’t consider proper context. This one in particular caught my eye this year:

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Another Home Run Derby requires another reminder--from the players, this time--that participation doesn't result in second-half slumps.

CLEVELAND— Sometimes, it happens just to break up the monotony of the day. At other times, it happens because natural competitiveness bubbles to the surface. Around any given batting cage, on any given day, a big-league team's pre-game batting practice can suddenly morph into an impromptu Home Run Derby.

Few Yankees are better in this setting than second baseman Robinson Cano, whose knack for squaring up the ball on the barrel of a bat translates into mammoth homers. Fans will get a chance to see it for themselves when Cano, who doesn't fit the mold of a typical slugger, takes part in the Home Run Derby.

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Hitters who appear in the Home Run Derby actually alter their swings in a good way.

Home Run Derbies have been around in some form for many years, but it officially became part of the All-Star Game festivities in 1985.  Since then, hitters have frequently blamed the Derby for messing up their swings.  Perhaps among the most notable is Bobby Abreu, who broke the record for the most home runs in the first round with 24 in 2005 at Comerica Park, but then struggled in the second half of the season with just six home runs after mashing 18 in the first half.  Of course, this reeks of selection bias as Abreu tied his career-high for first-half home runs in 2005.  Most hitters in the Home Run Derby are bound to be playing above their true talent level, and their subsequent regression to the mean in the second half is to be expected.  Instead, many have been victimized by their own confirmation biases, correctly noticing declines that were due to come whether the hitters participated in the Derby or not.

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