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Derby Curse? Nah

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Another reader requested piece today: testing the myth (or is it) of homerun derby participants changing their approach and suffering second half regresses.

Taking the combatants from 1998 through 2007 (84 total) I looked up their first half and second half OPS (with help from user SaberToothedPie) to see if the players really did suffer a let down post derby. Why not homeruns? Because for one the games are disproportioned and 15 homers in the second half is actually more impressive than 15 in the first half on a rate scale. Hitters also can have their ratios like HR/FB% regress or progress, meaning homeruns just even out over the 162 game season. Instead we're looking at an outline of their entire offensive performance, or at least a summed up version.

Year Player PreASBOPS PostASBOPS NET W
2007 Morneau 0.944 0.702 -0.242
2007 Ordonez 1.05 1.004 -0.046
2007 Rios 0.87 0.831 -0.039
2007 Guerrero 0.962 0.935 -0.027 W
2007 Fielder 0.996 1.034 0.038
2007 Howard 0.933 1.016 0.083
2007 Holliday 0.964 1.073 0.109
2007 Pujols 0.886 1.097 0.211
2006 Wright 0.961 0.844 -0.117
2006 Dye 1.043 0.965 -0.078
2006 Cabrera 0.998 0.998 0
2006 Tejada 0.871 0.886 0.015
2006 Glaus 0.859 0.879 0.02
2006 Berkman 1.011 1.078 0.067
2006 Ortiz 0.996 1.121 0.125
2006 Howard 0.932 1.259 0.327 W
2005 Abreu 0.955 0.787 -0.168 W
2005 C. Lee 0.864 0.747 -0.117
2005 I. Rodriguez 0.761 0.697 -0.064
2005 A. Jones 0.93 0.911 -0.019
2005 Choi 0.777 0.814 0.037
2005 Ortiz 0.982 1.024 0.042
2005 Teixeira 0.93 0.982 0.052
2005 Bay 0.93 0.998 0.068
2004 Blalock 0.941 0.743 -0.198
2004 Thome 1.059 0.868 -0.191
2004 Sosa 0.939 0.777 -0.162
2004 Bonds 1.421 1.421 0
2004 Tejada 0.887 0.902 0.015 W
2004 Berkman 1.008 1.024 0.016
2004 Palmeiro 0.771 0.825 0.054
2004 Ortiz 0.954 1.021 0.067
2003 Edmonds 1.066 0.864 -0.202
2003 Boone 0.963 0.815 -0.148
2003 Anderson 0.943 0.807 -0.136 W
2003 Delgado 1.053 0.965 -0.088
2003 Giambi 0.966 0.898 -0.068
2003 Pujols 1.121 1.084 -0.037
2003 Sheffield 1.019 1.028 0.009
2003 Sexson 0.889 0.98 0.091
2002 Konerko 0.949 0.743 -0.206
2002 Berkman 1.053 0.901 -0.152
2002 Sosa 1.059 0.911 -0.148
2002 Hunter 0.911 0.78 -0.131
2002 Sexson 0.882 0.847 -0.035
2002 Giambi 1.032 1.035 0.003 W
2002 A. Rodriguez 1.008 1.023 0.015
2002 Bonds 1.342 1.432 0.09
2001 L. Gonzalez 1.189 1.032 -0.157 W
2001 Boone 0.945 0.956 0.011
2001 Glaus 0.877 0.922 0.045
2001 Helton 1.09 1.148 0.058
2001 A. Rodriguez 0.993 1.052 0.059
2001 Sosa 1.126 1.225 0.099
2001 Giambi 1.082 1.202 0.12
2001 Bonds 1.314 1.455 0.141
2000 E. Martinez 1.114 0.883 -0.231
2000 Everett 1.05 0.831 -0.219
2000 Guerrero 1.131 1.004 -0.127
2000 Delgado 1.185 1.069 -0.116
2000 C. Jones 1.023 0.913 -0.11
2000 Griffey 0.935 0.952 0.017
2000 Sosa 0.962 1.138 0.176 W
1999 Surhoff 0.923 0.737 -0.186
1999 S. Green 1.047 0.889 -0.158
1999 Griffey 1.024 0.882 -0.142 W
1999 Bagwell 1.109 0.968 -0.141
1999 Burnitz 0.998 0.886 -0.112
1999 Garciparra 1.054 0.988 -0.066
1999 Walker 1.188 1.135 -0.053
1999 Jaha 0.981 0.956 -0.025
1999 Sosa 0.972 1.036 0.064
1999 McGwire 1.027 1.236 0.209
1998 Thome 1.09 0.792 -0.298
1998 Griffey 1.061 0.876 -0.185 W
1998 Lopez 0.937 0.789 -0.148
1998 Easley 0.876 0.731 -0.145
1998 McGwire 1.252 1.189 -0.063
1998 A. Rodriguez 0.94 0.894 -0.046
1998 Palmeiro 0.959 0.928 -0.031
1998 C. Jones 0.955 0.946 -0.009
1998 Alou 0.975 0.988 0.013
1998 Castilla 0.926 0.98 0.054

Above you see the 843 players, their first and second half OPS, a "net" column (second half OPS - first half OPS) and a "W" column - only the players who won that derby have a W listed. 50 of the 84 players either saw no post-derby gain or suffered an OPS drop, meaning only 34 had positive post-derby experiences.It's important to note that Ivan Rodriguez played in all of 10 games following the derby, hence his absence.

So can we predict a fall off for some of the contestants in tomorrow's derby? It seems quite likely that at least a few will have lower second half OPSes, but correlation doesn't always stem from causation, so while people may think the derby affected a player, there's nothing too conclusive to be drawn, despite only a .443 R2 between first half and second half OPSes which I actually figured would be a bit higher.

Hrd_medium

To see if this is regular or not we took the top 50 homerun hitters from 2007 and compared their first and second half OPSes - since in the end we are talking about some of their power hitting brethren who, again in theory, didn't "mess up their swings" or anything of the sort. The R2 of the first and second half OPSes: .344.

Top50_medium

That means your average HRD participant actually has a better chance at maintaining his first half OPS than your top 50 homerun hitters, at least in 2007.