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Astros: All-Star Alex Bregman to participate in the Home Run Derby

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HOUSTON, TX - JULY 10: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 10: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park on July 10, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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The All-Star break is approaching, and the Astros are well-represented in the festivities.

When the Astros wrap up their current homestand on Sunday against the Tigers, five of their players along with the coaches will make the journey to Washington D.C. to partake in the All-Star festivities.

While Verlander won’t make an appearance in the actual All-Star Game, we can expect the other four Astros will make a brief cameo. But the All-Star break isn’t only about the game; the Home Run Derby plays a big part of the festivities. And it is a reasonable probability Bregman will receive more screen time in the Derby than the Mid-Summer Classic.

Yes, the Astros’ third baseman will be part of the Home Run Derby this upcoming Monday as the fourth seed. He joins the following players in the contest.

  1. Jesus Aguilar

  2. Bryce Harper

  3. Max Muncy

  4. Alex Bregman

  5. Kyle Schwarber

  6. Javier Baez

  7. Freddie Freeman

  8. Rhys Hoskins

As our own Eric Huysman pointed out to me, a few first-time All-Stars are participating in the derby this year. Also, there is only one American League player, Bregman. So, Bregman will represent a whole league versus the seven National League players. In Eric’s words, this situation reminds you of the Jon Snow against everyone GIF.

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Athletics, the LSU product has put together a terrific season up to this point. In 414 plate appearances, Bregman has generated a 157 OPS+ with 19 home runs. To put into the numbers into context, his 19 home runs ties his career-high, in which he set last season. It took him 626 plate appearances to reach that total in 2017.

By the way, Bregman is the first Astro since Lance Berkman in 2008 to participate in the event. Here is the list of Astros who’ve participated in the event and the year.

Now, I understand some fans may be worried about Bregman’s appearance in the Derby. We all remember Josh Hamilton‘s notable drop in home runs following his 28 dinger outburst in the first round of 2008. A more recent example includes Aaron Judge.

But there is proof that the supposed Home Run Derby curse is mere fiction.

Over at the Society For American Baseball Research, or SABR, there is a fascinating study on the Home Run Derby. Published in the Fall 2010 Baseball Research Journal, Joseph McCollum, then-assistant professor of quantitative business analysis at Siena College, and Marcus Jaiclin, then-assistant professor of mathematics at Westfield State University, concluded in their study that the curse of the Derby was indeed fiction. Here is the closing sentence from their research.

"Certainly, some players will have a decline in power-hitting statistics from the first half of the season to the second after participating in the Derby, but it is clear from the analysis that this would have occurred for those players regardless of whether they chose to participate or not."

The two professors essentially compared multiple OPS splits across various datasets. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but I highly recommend you’d read it for yourself, even if the data is a bit dated as it goes back to the 2009 season.

Next: Astros: Justin Verlander is winless in his last five starts

Regardless of our opinion about curses, it is refreshing to see another Astro in the Home Run Derby. Like I stated earlier, Bregman is the first since 2008. It is about time that the Astros received even more screen time.

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