On Monday, I won a nice chunk of change betting on Ryan Howard to win the MLB Home Run Derby.
Am I clairvoyant (I knew you were going to ask me that)? Nope, I picked Howard purely because he is left-handed.
Nine of the last 11 Home Run Derby winners have been left-handed batters, with Miguel Tejada (2004) and Sammy Sosa (2000) as the only non-lefties since 1996.
It also seemed like a safe bet to go with a Philadelphia Phillie, since Bobby Abreu won it last year. Though Howard better hope he doesn't follow in Abreu’s footsteps.
Abreu hit 18 homers before the All-Star break last year (one every 17.9 at-bats), but he managed only six homers during the second half of the season (one every 44.2 at-bats), after winning the Home Run Derby.
Who said exhibitions don't mean anything?
Last year's winner did have some advice for his young teammate, however.
'Well, basically [Abreu] just told me to pretend that no one else was out there; that it was just Ramon [the pitcher] and myself, and just to get locked in that way,' said Howard. 'Just to take pitches and try not to tire yourself out too early.'
Not that it worked.
'Yeah, that’s probably an understatement right now,' Howard replied when asked if he was tired.
As a parting thought, there’s never been a season in which neither the AL nor NL MVP were selected as All-Stars. Over the past 14 seasons, only Juan Gonzalez (1996, Texas Rangers) and Chipper Jones (1999, Atlanta Braves) were named MVP in a year they were not All-Stars.