BALTIMORE – Once it was revealed that Rhys Hoskins would participate in his first Home Run Derby next Monday in Washington, D.C., the obligatory talking point came up: Will the derby negatively affect Hoskins’ swing?
It’s a question that gets asked every summer to every player who competes in the event because of the notable cases of players struggling in the second half after cranking homers in the derby.
The most relevant Phillies example was Bobby Abreu in 2005, when he set a then-derby record with 24 home runs before hitting just six in 73 games after the All-Star break.
But for every Abreu-like example, there’s a player whose power didn’t fall off a cliff after he participated. It’s a lot like the constant arguing over infield shifts. Most observers tend to notice the trend only when it’s negative, only when it doesn’t work.
Count Gabe Kapler among the non-believers in the Home Run Derby curse.
“I understand why people think about that but I think it’s a story that the baseball world tells itself,” Kapler said Thursday before the Phillies took on the Orioles.
“Ryan Howard is a perfect example. Ryan Howard competes in a Home Run Derby, wins a Home Run Derby, hits a bazillion home runs in the second half. As many cases as you can find on the side of a guy’s swing not being perfect after the Home Run Derby, you can find as many cases of a guy excelling in the second half.
“I don’t believe that the act of participating in a Home Run Derby makes your swing worse.”
For a more detailed explanation of why the Derby curse is overblown, take a look at this piece from MLB.com’s Mike Petriello.