Everybody digs the longball.
Yankees rookie Aaron Judge has hit more home runs this season, 26, than anyone else entering Tuesday night. His phenomenal power begs the question: Will, or should, he participate in the Home Run Derby?
Judge has yet to make a decision on whether to participate in the annual event the night before the All-Star Game, but he may be the star that the Derby needs and wants.
With less than two weeks before the All- Star break, he ranks third all-time behind Mark McGwire (33 in 1987) and Jose Abreu (29 in 2014) for most homers by a rookie in the season’s first half. He’s averaging a home run every 10 at-bats, the highest ratio among any of the past decade’s eight Derby winners.
Although Judge would be favored to win, recent history indicates that maybe it’s OK to skip it, especially as these Yankees aim to make a serious postseason run.
Each of the past three Derby winners saw their home run production drop in the second half of the season. Last year, the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton hit 20 homers before the break, launching one out every 13 at-bats. Afterward, his rate dropped to one every 19 at-bats.
Todd Frazier, then of the Cincinnati Reds, saw his ratio plummet from one every 13.7 at-bats to 27.7 in 2015. Back in 2014, when Yoenis Cespedes was with the Oakland Athletics, his AB per HR ratio took a hit as he adjusted to a midseason trade to the Boston Red Sox.
There are exceptions, however. Prince Fielder hit more homers (24) in the second half of the 2009 season for the Milwaukee Brewers after winning the Derby. He also matched his first-half home run total (15) in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers after winning the Derby a second time. Los Angeles Angels great Vladimir Guerrero’s AB per HR ratio increased a bit after he won the Derby in 2007, as well.
Judge still leads the American League in All-Star voting as the ballots are set to close Thursday night.