Hanley Ramirez is the power shortstop we recently watched place second to David Ortiz in the 2010 MLB Homerun Derby. He’s also another victim of the post derby slump. Many great players have experienced the post derby slump, in fact, it’s so prevalent that many ball players won’t risk even entering the derby for fear of the aftermath consequences.
There’s all kinds of wives tales in sports…”don’t have sex before you play or you won’t have your legs”, “never drink the night before a game”, and my personal favorite, ” Have sex at least 5 hours before you play, just to make sure you head is clear”…Some are nonsense, some are true, but very few are proven…Except perhaps, the home run derby curse.
For many hitters, the homerun derby takes them out of their hitting zone, they come out of their natural stance, throw their mechanics out of the wind and resort to violent uppercut hacks. I think the problem happens if they hit well in the derby. If they get on a roll and they get locked into that zone, a zone which is completely out of their in-game hitting mechanics, it can probably be fairly tough to get out that zone. There’s a reason other than money that the MLB season is a 162 game grind, the players, especially hitters need that time to develop a rhythm, and right now, Hanley Ramirez has completely lost his.
Ramirez is batting beneath the mendoza line and has just one homer since the Allstar break. In the month of July, Ramirez drove in just 4 RBI’s. Compare that to last year, when he drove in 106 RBI and was batting .342, winning batting titles and finishing second only to Albert Pujols in NL MVP, he’s not even the same player. In fairness to Ramirez, after the season he had last year, pitchers had a pretty thick book on him. Every pitcher in the NL knows better than to let Hanley extend his arms into his power zone, and he was already having a tougher season heading into the All Star break.
For some players the slump can actually work in reverse. David Ortiz was damn near on his way out the power hitter class before this year’s derby. Ortiz got his stroke back, winning the derby and he hasn’t looked back since. Since the Allstar game, it’s no longer David Ortiz, Big Papi is back. But Ortiz is an exception.
When Josh Hamilton put on an absolute show in the Homerun Derby they chanted his name in Yankee Stadium. The second half of that season saw him lose his bat and his power stroke. Ramirez is the latest victim, so now the so-called myth gains credence. If in fact there is an effect on players who hit well in the derby, it’s definitely something bettors will be taking into account, particularly if it’s a player like Ramirez, who’s relied upon to drive in runs.
Let’s keep it in perspective though, it’s only certain types of players that are susceptible to derby slump. Unfortunately, there’s no way a player can know if he’ll fall prey to it. For players, there’s also the chance it could turn their season around, it’s happened for some players in the past. Read more.