The news over the last weekend that San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner wants to participate in the annual All-Star Game Home Run Derby this year has been met with some enthusiasm and some reservation. Buster Olney loves the idea and discussed it today on his ESPN Baseball Tonight Podcast, also getting the opinions of producer Josh Macri and his other guests including Jerry Crasnick from the great state of Maine.
San Diego, which hosts the All-Star Game this year, is a difficult park to hit home runs in. Had the game been in Coors Field in Denver, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, or Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, or a host of other hitter friendly parks, perhaps I could see really getting excited about it. According to an article on fantasy baseball ballparks, which I think has application and relevance to real-life play, Petco Park in San Diego ranks 29th out of 30 ballparks in terms of being hitter friendly. As it stands, I err on the side of caution and consider the risk far riskier than the rewards.
One of the biggest concerns over his participation should be evident: the power production of those batters that do participate tend to have less than productive at bats after the All-Star Game. I don't have any numbers or evidence other than general recollection, but it seems like if you took a five year sample, the results would show that home run production, among other offensive numbers, is probably below that of their pre-All-Star Game totals. Especially in a post-steriod era, where recovery times tend to be longer. There is obviously no precedent to suggest how a pitcher would respond but given how fragile some of them are, concerns over muscle strains among other injuries must be paramount.
On the other hand, perhaps an alternative to full participation in the Home Run Derby could be considered? Perhaps the top five pitchers with home runs could enter into a one round, winner-take-all derby of their own? Selection of the pitchers to battle it out could take the total home runs from either April to 1 July of the current season, or from after the All-Star Break the previous season to 1 July of the current season. They could either go first (starting at 7 pm Eastern) with the real Derby starting at 7:30. Or, the pitchers could bat in-between rounds of the official Derby, providing entertainment, fewer commercials (please), and allowing the contestants to get that much more rest? If it gets fans interested in seeing these guys hack, perhaps it might stave off the seemingly inevitable idea of the DH in the National League, which this blogger and baseball fan thinks would be a detriment.
Some articles: Bleacher Report; ESPN; Sports Illustrated; and Washington Post.
Thanks for stopping by.
All links accessed 6 June 2016.