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Why You Don’t Want Your Favorites in the Home Run Derby

The Home Run Derby is one of the most amazing spectacles in all of sports. To see some of the best baseball players crush long ball after long ball is incredible to watch. It is an event truly for the fan, and nothing is better than seeing a player from your favorite team in the Derby, right? Maybe not.

The participants for this year’s derby are Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Mike Moustakas, and Miguel Sano from the American League and Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Bour, Cody Bellinger, and Charlie Blackmon from the National League. Each of these players have put up strong numbers so far this year. However, don’t expect their big numbers to continue.

Participants’ Numbers Decline After All-Star Break

Over the past five years, participants in the Home Run Derby have had their numbers show significant decline after the All-Star break. The participants in the Home Run Derby have had their average go from 16.9 at bats per home run before the break to hitting a home run every 22.6 at bats after the break. During that stretch from 2012-2016, the number of at bats per home run has not improved after the All-Star break during any season. Of the 42 participants in the Home Run Derby over the last five years, only nine have actually improved on their at bats per home run.

Their power numbers are going down, but maybe their batting average is getting better? The batting average over the past five years for players who took part in the Derby has gone from .288 to .265, the average going down over 10 points in batting average each and every year. 15 of the 42 players have had their batting average drop over 50 points. So basically, there is better than a 1 in 3 chance a player in the derby will completely drop off in terms of hitting.

Home Run Derby Participant Averages
YearAt bats/HR before breakAt bats/HR after breakBatting Average before breakBatting Average after break

 Comparison to Other Power Hitters

Taken from power hitters who did not participate in the Home Run Derby, the comparison between Home Run Derby contestants and non-Home Run Derby contestants shows that the decrease in power and average isn’t typical among those who didn’t swing for the fences during the All-Star break. The at bats per home run average over the last five years went from 14.9 before the break to 14.3 after the break, roughly the same. The non-participants improved on their number of at bats per home run in three of the five seasons, including large improvement the last two years.

Batting average tells the same story as well. The batting average over the five years for non-participants raised from .277 to .278, again staying about the same. Power hitters who don’t do the derby have improved their batting average after the break every year.


Non-Home Run Derby Participant Averages

YearAt bats/HR before breakAt bats/HR after breakBatting Average before breakBatting Average after break



The number of home runs being hit tells a story as well. The number of home runs hit will naturally going to go down as there are more games played before the break. However, the Home Run Derby participants decrease by far more than those who didn’t compete. The average home runs hit before the break for those who played in the derby was 19.2 per player as opposed to 10.4 per player after the break. For non-derby-ers, the average per player went from 21.6 before the break to 17.1 after the break. You can count on the number of home runs hit by derby participants to be cut in half, whereas other power hitters can expect close to the same number.

Comparison of Home Runs per Year

YearHome Run ParticipantsNon Home Run Participants


Please Don’t Play

Although the Derby is an exciting piece of baseball, it may be better served if your favorite player sits it out. The new format makes it fun and exciting. However, I’m not sure it is best for the players. If your team is still competitive, hopefully you don’t have a star competing in this year’s show. I don’t know why those who participate have decreasing numbers. Maybe they should take a rest and try to figure it out.

Featured Photo By Arturo Pardavila on Flickr (Original version)UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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