There’s a perception that participating in the Home Run Derby makes a player more likely to have a poor second half, with the people who put forth that argument focusing on a handful of prominent cases for support.
However, as Derek Carty of The Hardball Times showed in a study last year, reality doesn’t match perception:
Despite conventional wisdom, it doesn’t look like derby participants play any worse in the second half of the season (on the whole). If you’re looking for the results in terms of percentages, 57 percent of derby participants outperform their projections in the second half.
He also found that even when participants advance to the later rounds of the Home Run Derby or hit an exceptional number of homers during the contest “we still don’t see any signs of a second-half decline” from the whole sample size being studied.
I’m just fine with players turning down Home Run Derby invites for whatever reasons–because, really, who cares?–but to blame the contest any time a participant has a poor second half is off base.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.