Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez declined a Derby invitation because he worried that the event would affect his swing. That concern has grown around the game since 2005, when then-Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu hit 24 home runs in the first round of the Derby and won the event with a record 41 homers.Abreu hit 18 home runs in 397 plate appearances before the All-Star break that season, then hit only six homers in 322 plate appearances in the second half. Brewers fan Scott Segrin of Germantown, Wis., on his blog "In-Between Hops," analyzed evidence of a post-Derby slump and found it was mostly myth. According to Segrin, over the last five years, the 40 Derby participants hit .066 home runs per plate appearance while slugging .570 before the event, then hit .061 home runs per plate appearance while slugging .550 after the break. In recent Brewers history, a players' success in the Home Run Derby seems to be inversely proportional to their success in the second half. Prince Fielder didn't seem affected by last year's Derby after being ousted in the first round. He hit 29 home runs before the All-Star break and 21 after in 75 fewer at-bats. In 2003, when then-Brewer Richie Sexson hit only one home run in the Derby at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, he hit 25 first-half homers and 20 in the second half. But Carlos Lee opted out of the 2006 Derby after his second-half struggles in 2005, when he finished third in the Derby. He hit 22 home runs in the first half of 2005 and only 10 in the second half in 60 fewer at-bats. "I don't think [Braun] is going to be affected," Yost said. "[Players] pretty much understand the anatomy of the home run swing, and you do tend to overswing a tad bit, but you just wear yourself out. I've seen guys who are just so worn out when it's all said and done. "It's hard, though. You think it's easy, but it's not. You're standing there in front of a sold-out crowd and you're trying to hit homers and you don't want to get yourself embarrassed. It's extremely difficult."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.