7-15-09: 2009 All-Star Notes

Hello again everybody...

It's Friday!!!

Okay, I know it's not technically Friday, but since I have a 4-day weekend on-tap, it's my Friday.

As I mentioned on Monday, I still plan on blogging on Friday. Unless something comes up. Which is certainly possible, since I don't like to have set plans for long weekends like this. You just never know. And that's part of the fun.

So I'll apologize in advance if I don't come through on Friday. But for now, the idea is to blog as usual. We'll see!

Last night was the 2009 All-Star game in St. Louis, and the night before brought us the annual Home Run Derby. It was a princely Derby, and the AL continued their All-Star dominance. I'll discuss...

"I have suffered a great deal from writers who have quoted this or that sentence of mine either out of its context or in juxtaposition to some incongruous matter which quite distorted my meaning , or destroyed it altogether."
- Alfred North Whitehead (1861 - 1947), English mathematician who became a philosopher

I think what he's saying is that he doesn't like people that much... or something like that.

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So will you remember where you were when Prince Fielder won the 2009 Home Run Derby?

Right. Me neither.

I don't mean to be disparaging towards my friends in Wisconsin, but that wasn't exactly the dramatic outcome that MLB was hoping for. Ideally, they wanted Albert Pujols to win. Even going so far as to count a hit that a fan clearly reached over the wall to catch. I guess in the Derby that's a home run? Whether it was nerves, or just trying too hard, Albert couldn't get it done and bowed out after the second round.

If it couldn't be Albert, then MLB would've scripted it for native St. Louisian (Louisite? Louisi? Artist formerly known as being from St. Louis?), Ryan Howard. Howard grew up in St. Louis and attended Southwest Missouri State before signing professionally with the Phillies. Howard got into the second round fairly comfortably, but like Pujols wasn't able to advance to the Finals.

At that point it was down to Milwaukee's Prince Fielder and Texas' Nelson Cruz. Raise your hand if you knew who Nelson Cruz was prior to this Derby. Anyone? Anyone at all? Didn't think so. I saw the kid in Spring Training, and I still barely remembered him.

My feelings on Prince have been well documented in the blog. Nothing against his Brewer-ness, I'm just not a fan of him personally. But in the end he reigned supreme, so congratulations to him and Brewer fans everywhere.

But it got me to thinking. Last year's champ, Justin Morneau, had a less-than-stellar second half after his victory. And there's been rumblings over the years about guys wearing themselves out in that competition and having lousy second halves. So I decided to do a little research. Here are the first- and second-half splits for the last 10 Home Run Derby champions:

2008 - Justin Morneau
1st Half: .323, 14, 68
2nd half: .267, 9, 61

2007 - Vladimir Guerrero
1st Half: .325, 14, 75
2nd Half: .323, 13, 50

2006 - Ryan Howard
1st Half: .278, 28, 71
2nd Half: .355, 30, 78

2005 - Bobby Abreu
1st Half: .307, 18, 58
2nd Half: .260, 6, 44

2004 - Miguel Tejada
1st Half: .311, 15, 75
2nd Half: .311, 19, 75

2003 - Garrett Anderson
1st Half: .316, 22, 78
2nd Half: .313, 7, 38

2002 - Jason Giambi
1st Half: .318, 22, 71
2nd Half: .309, 19, 51

2001 - Luis Gonzalez
1st Half: .355, 35, 86
2nd Half: .290, 22, 56

2000 - Sammy Sosa
1st Half: .305, 23, 74
2nd Half: .338, 27, 64

1999 - Ken Griffey, Jr.
1st Half: .310, 29, 81
2nd Half: .255, 19, 53

So of these 10 champions, 7 of them had worse second halves than first halves. And of the 3 who either maintained, or improved their performance from the first half to the second half, 2 of them are known PED users (Sosa and Tejada). Of course, one of the guys who regressed in his second half is also a known PED user (Giambi).

And speaking of PED's, does anyone remember that Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs in 2001. 57?! I know he's got a rep as a "good guy", but when he hits 31 in 2000, and 57 in 2001 and doesn't hit more than 30 in any other year of his career, one starts to wonder.

Either way, a 70% clip over the last 10 years is statistically significant. If I really wanted to get into the numbers, I'd break down the first-half/second-half splits for all the participants of the Derbies. You could separate them by how deep they got in the Derby. You could separate them by known/suspected/non-PED users. You could have a field day with those numbers. Maybe if I get REALLY ambitious over my 4-day weekend. Maybe.

But as far as the winners go, the numbers clearly aren't in their favor. So if I was a Milwaukee fan, I'd be a touch worried about Prince. Especially since he was swinging out of his ever-loving shoes in the Derby. What are the odds he didn't pull a muscle or two there? I shudder to think.

As far as the All-Star game itself goes, it was the same ol', same ol'. The AL won 4-3, with Red Sox (whom I hate) closer Jonathan Papel-spaz getting the win, Minnesota's Joe Nathan getting a hold, and the Yankee's Mariano Rivera getting the save.

Papel-spaz gets a win, which Rivera saves. That's like an American nuclear (notice, only one "u" in nuclear) scientist sharing a Nobel Peace Prize with Kim Jong-Il. No? How about, that's like Jennifer Aniston sharing a Best Actress Oscar with Angelina Jolie. Better? It's like Terrell Owens sharing a MVP award with any quarterback he's ever played with. There we go. That's the one!

As for the rest of the players from my favorite teams...

Joe Mauer went 1-3 with a RBI double and a run scored. I was worried that all the stress of the Derby would get into Joe's head. I'm still a little worried, but he had a decent enough night last night to mitigate those fears somewhat.

Justin Morneau went 0-2. Not as good a game for Justin as last year's when he scored the game-winning run. But he was solid on defense at least.

Dan Haren pitched a scoreless fourth inning for the NL, giving up just one hit. I said it before, I'd have given Haren the start, but I'm biased like that. Lincecum gave up two runs in his two innings of work to start the game. Would Haren have done any better? Who knows? But I'd have given him the shot.

Justin Upton went 0-2 and was clearly just happy to be there. That has to be an overwhelming experience for a first-time All-Star. So I don't blame him for taking the collar.

Ultimately the game was harmless. At 2:31, it was downright fast-paced compared to recent games. There was only 1 error per side, so it was cleanly played. And in the end, the better team won. Sorry NL, but you're not there yet.

So the American League representative will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Like most purists, I hate that an exhibition game has this kind of meaning, but it's the rules, and they're not changing any time soon.

I can't imagine that there's one single person out there who says, "you know, I wouldn't have watched, but now that it determines home field for the championship series, I'm in!"

How much of the game did you guys watch? Are you only watching for your favorite players? Or are you genuinely interested in the game? I'd be curious to hear. Send me an email or attach a comment below.

That's going to do it for today. I'll be back on Friday (probably) with your usual dosage of DFTU goodness.

Until then, thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I just watched to see my players - Haren and Upton.