As the second half begins, a PSA about the Home Run Derby “curse”

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I don’t mean to alarm you, but during the second half of the baseball season, you will come across articles citing the Home Run Derby as the sole reason for a player’s second-half struggles. It happens every year. It will happen again this year, and it will continue until the universe experiences heat death. By simple probability, at least one participant in the Derby (but often half) will have pronounced difficulty in the second half, which causes writers to go scrambling for explanations. Rarely is that explanation “regression after an unsustainable first half”.

In the Fall 2010 Baseball Research Journal, Joseph McCollum and Marcus Jaiclin studied the effect of the Home Run Derby on participants and found no statistically significant results.

Home Run Derby curse, fact or fiction? We have no choice but to conclude that it’s fiction. If we consider all the ways that the statistics should behave if there is no curse, we find that they consistently match that model. Certainly, some players will have a decline in power-hitting statistics from the first half of the season to the second after participating in the Derby, but it is clear from the analysis that this would have occurred for those players regardless of whether they chose to participate or not.

McCollum and Jaiclin are not the only ones. Derek Carty looked at the numbers at The Hardball Times in 2009 and also found no reason to think the Derby is a saboteur. A study posted yesterday at FanGraphs reached the same conclusion.

Friends don’t let friends make wildly unsubstantiated claims about the coolest baseball event of the summer.

Yankees sign CC Sabathia to one-year, $10 million deal

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Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Yankees have re-signed left-hander CC Sabathia to a one-year, $10 million contract. The deal does not come with options and is still pending a physical, which is expected to take place later today.

Sabathia, 37, is poised to enter his 18th season in the majors and his 10th in New York. He went 14-5 in 27 starts with the 2017 Yankees, improving on his 2016 totals with a 3.69 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 148 2/3 innings. He provided a welcome boost in the playoffs, too, keeping the Yankees alive in an ALDS Game 5 clincher and returning in Game 3 of the ALCS with six shutout innings.

The Yankees weren’t Sabathia’s only suitors this winter, which comes as little surprise given the southpaw’s durability and consistency on the mound, to say nothing of the leadership role he’s assumed in the Yankees’ clubhouse. From Sabathia’s agent, Kyle Thousand (via Joel Sherman of the New York Post):

There were very competitive offers out there that really made CC take his time. In the end, he feels there’s unfinished business to attend to. Loves his teammates, clubhouse and the moves the Yankees are making this offseason. [He] wanted to come back for his 10th season with the Yankees.

Chris Cotillo of SB Nation adds that the Yankees had freed up the $10 million for Sabathia’s contract after trading Chase Headley to the Padres last Tuesday. The club is expected to continue pursuing additional pitching depth this offseason, and has been linked to names like Zack Greinke, Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole so far.