GDB 92.0: Fresh off a home run derby win, will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. heat up in the second half for the Toronto Blue Jays?
Photo credit:Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing4 months ago
What an All-Star Break.
It was a treat for Toronto Blue Jays fans as they got to watch Vladimir Guerreo Jr. mash 72 home runs during the Home Run Derby winning the title for the first time. He did it in a triumphant fashion, too.
He smashed 26 home runs to Mookie Betts’ 11 in the first round, then in round two, he was up against Julio Rodriguez — the Seattle Mariner in front of a Seattle crowd who just hit a record 41 runs in the first round.
Guerrero topped him by one, and earned a berth into the finals. It was tense as The Big Man was clearly gassed, but he still blasted 25 over the wall. AL East foe Randy Arozarena, who Vladdy was up against, could only muster 23 home runs.
With his win, Guerrero Jr. joined his father, Guerrero Sr., as the first father-son duo to win home run derbies.
The whole event got me thinking: how do home run derby winners typically fair before, and after the event?
Here are the numbers of each of the last 10 winners of the event:
Shown are the splits for the past 10 home run derby winners before and after the All-Star break. Stats via Baseball Reference.
Over the last five years, only five home run derby winners’ numbers have improved in the second half of the season after winning a home run derby. Pete Alonso (2021), Bryce Harper (2018), Yoenis Cespedes (2013, 2014) and Prince Fielder (2012) all seen anywhere from small, to major jumps in their numbers.
The long-standing trope around baseball is that there is a curse for the players who win the home run derbies, but based on these numbers alone, I’m not sold that it’s the case. In fact, it actually seems like a number of these players benefited from winning the derby. Look at Pete Alonso as recently as 2021, where his OPS jumped from .802 to .921 after the All-Star break, or Prince Fielder, who climbed from .885 to 1.006. Those are significant numbers.
The MLB themselves took a look at the supposed derby curse in a 2021 article citing two reasons why it’s not a thing: one, being that “the ‘first half’ isn’t really a half,” with the second being that “you often get chosen to be in the Derby because you’re having a great first half.”
Which Vladdy the Blue Jays get will undoubtedly be a story to follow. His first-half OPS of .787 is the third lowest mark of any derby winner in the last year with Yoenis Cespedes’ marks of .714 and .741 in 2013 and 2014 being the lowest.
Historically, Vlad’s numbers have remained near the same in the first half vs. the second half. His first-half OPS of .869 has fallen to .839 over the second half, but given that his numbers this season have been well below his career average in terms of slugging, OPS and OPS+, I think we’re going to see a strong second half from the slugger.
First pitch: 7:07 p.m. EST
Toronto Blue Jays: 50-41, 7.0 GB, – WCGB, +34 DIFF.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 52-39, – GB, +2.5 WCGB, +27 DIFF.
Moneyline: TOR -167; ARI +157.
TOR: Jose Berrios RHP – 8-6, 18 GS, 108.0 IP. 3.50 ERA, 3.95 FIP 1.139 WHIP, 8.4 SO/9, 2.4 BB/9.
ARI: Ryne Nelson RHP – 5-5, 18 GS, 93.2 IP. 5.19 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.431 WHIP, 6.2 SO/9, 2.8 BB/9.
Need to bide the time until first pitch?
Tune into the latest edition of Blue Jays Nation Radio as the crew talks about the Jays’ over the All-Star break.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached -by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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