The Major League Baseball All-Star game has turned into a joke. It was the last real all-star game to have meaning; with the winning league’s team getting home field advantage for the World Series. But once the change was made, the Home Run Derby became the premier event during the whole all-star week. But even that could be changing as well.
As a kid, I was spoiled. I was able to see guys like Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes hit MOON SHOTS pitch after pitch, but now it seems that it may be changing. Yes, stars like Aaron Judge has done the derby, but look at what happened after that.
After winning the 2017 Home Run Derby in Miami, Judge struggled mightily. He hit .228 with 99 strikeouts in 241 at-bats. But one of the biggest story lines from Judge in a breakout rookie season when he won the American League Rookie of the Year award was when he struck out at least once in 37 consecutive contests, all post All-Star break. This is something that had to have caught the attention of other stars.
Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez came out recently and said “I just don’t want to do it. It’s a lot of stress, man. You’re hitting for two minutes straight, easy. Trying to hit the ball as far as you can. I remember seeing it the first time they did it when I wanted to do it and I said, ‘Thank God I didn’t do it’. It was just exhausting.”
Although he does not say “I am afraid it is going to mess up my swing”, it is something he, and everyone else considering doing the Derby should keep in mind. In a guy like Martinez’s case, just look at his career. He went from a guy who was struggling to stay in the bigs to hitting bombs day in and day out, thanks in part to a fundamental change, so why would he want to jeopardize going back to that?
By no means am I bashing Judge either. His numbers in 2017 were insane, but there was a decrease, and maybe the Derby had something to do with it.
The Home Run Derby used to feature eight of the best players in baseball, but that has slowly decreased to one or two bigger names, and it is quite depressing. It seems that the MLB’s Home Run Derby, could be on the down swing.