Why hot homer hitters go cold 

August, 1, 2011

Sure, it was charming that Robinson Cano won the All-Star Home Run Derby with his father, Jose, pitching to him. But now the Yankees second baseman must face the dreaded Home Run Derby curse: Every year, it seems, derby participants lose their power after the break. You might recall Bobby Abreu cracking a record 41 dingers in the 2005 derby, only to hit six more the rest of that season. In fact, of the 40 derby contestants from 2006 through 2010, only 13 saw their home run rates improve after the exhibition, according to the ESPN Stats & Info blog. Max Kaplan of AccuScore, the sports forecasting company, recently studied the phenomenon and concluded, "The Home Run Derby curse is real."

Except that it's not -- which presents a huge fantasy opportunity for you. We'll get to that in a second, but first let's talk about our old friend regression to the mean, the actual culprit behind the derby "curse."

Peter Keating

ESPN Senior Writer
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. His column, The Numbers, appears in every issue.