I call it the Bobby Abreu effect. It started in 2005, the same year Abreu posted an astonishing 24 home runs in the first round of the MLB Home Run Derby. Abreu would go to win the Derby with a grand total of 41, beating runner-up Pudge Rodriguez by 21 homers.
Prior to participating in the Derby, Abreu was having another solid year for the Phillies. He was hitting .307 and had an impressive 18 home runs. However those numbers drastically dropped after his Derby win as the outfielder would hit just six home runs to finish the year while his batting average in the second-half dropped to .260.
I remember this well because Abreu was a key part of my fantasy offense that year as I managed to enter the All-Star break atop my most competitive league. Abreu's second-half struggles, coupled with a disastrous end of the year for my pitching staff (I'm looking at you Matt Clement and Jeremy Bonderman), forced me to fight for the final playoff spot where I was easily cast aside.
Since this untimely turn of events I've been weary of owning any Home Run Derby participants. As a whole the data suggests the majority of Derby contestants continue into the second half unencumbered by their involvement. However digging a bit deeper there may be a reason to believe I'm not completely insane.
Instead of focusing on those that made early exits from the home run contest, I shifted my attention to the winners as well as the individual with the highest single round in the Derby. My reasoning being, these were the individuals that were most physically taxed by participating in the fan-friendly contest.
Since Abreu's 2005 performance only two of the 12 eligible players, Prince Fielder (2009, 2012) and Ryan Howard (2006), have hit more home runs in the second half. Furthermore Howard, Alex Rios (2007), David Ortiz (2010), and Robinson Cano (2011) are the only ones to raise their batting average following their Derby performance.
Now I don't completely buy into the "Abreu effect" or Derby jinx. Multiple reasonable explanations can help explain these swoons, whether it is fatigue, unrelated injury, fewer games, or even natural regression. However the medical side of my brain still has a sneaking suspicion that participating in the Derby has some kind of effect on a player.
The A's are hoping Cespedes, the 2013 Derby champ and single-round high-man, can buck the trend but he's already facing an uphill battle. Cespedes is nursing a sore left wrist, reportedly injured in batting practice prior to Friday's loss to the Angels. He's hoping to take live BP prior to Monday's game but the team is unsure if he will be available. As we seen with other sluggers like Jose Bautista and Mark Texieria, wrist injuries can be a big setback from homerun hitters, sapping them of their power. Keep a close eye on Cespedes over the next few days to see if a stint on the disabled list will be necessary. The Cuban outfielder has publically stated he doesn't believe the Home Run Derby played a role in his injury but I'll be watching him closely for the remainder of the season.
The Cardinals outfielder is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained right hamstring. Holliday had hoped the extended rest associated with the All-Star break would allow his leg to improve. The six-time All-Star has been relatively healthy throughout his career and has ended up on the DL just four times in eight years. However three of these four trips have been related to lower extremity issues, including hamstring and quadriceps strains. Before this recent injury, all of Holliday's problems had been with this left leg. A new injury on the opposite extremity is noteworthy, as Holliday must take the appropriate steps in his recovery to insure he doesn't place his previously injured leg at risk. He will eligible to return before the Cardinals begin an extended road-trip but don't be surprised if this lingers a bit longer than the allotted 15 days.
Andrew Bailey: Bailey's season is over after it was discovered he will need surgery to repair a torn labrum and shoulder capsule. He's expected to miss at least 12 months but history suggests it will likely take longer.
Rafael Betancourt: A bout of appendicitis has sidelined Betancourt, making Rex Brothers the Rockies new closer. Betancourt has been placed on the DL and will miss at least the next two weeks.
Clay Buchholz: A meeting with Dr. James Andrews went well as the renowned orthopedist confirmed what Boston medical personnel had already diagnosed. No structural damage was discovered and the team will continue to treat the pitcher for inflammation in his neck. With the diagnosis confirmed, Buchholz' next step will be a return to throwing. It seems reasonable to believe he would also require a minor league rehab assignment, meaning he remains several weeks away from a return.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez: Both Yankees players are currently sidelined with quadriceps strains. The fact that both players injured the same muscle is not surprising since both players are working their way back from lower extremity surgery. The quadriceps is the strongest muscle of the leg and plays a vital role in maintaining synchronicity between all the muscles in the kinetic chain of the lower extremity. While the chances of A-Rod playing this year continue to diminish, Jeter hopes the new injury is just a minor setback in his return. The Yankees captain must begin aggressively running the bases before he will be cleared, so closely monitor his activity throughout the upcoming week to get a better idea where he stands moving forward.
Matt Kemp: Kemp's rough 2013 continues after another injury has him sidelined. After missing time with hamstring issues and a problematic shoulder, Kemp turned his ankle in his first game back. The Dodgers are calling the injury a minor sprain and hope he can avoid his third trip to the DL. He was not expected in the lineup for Monday, making him a risky play for the week.