Home Run Derby: Lefty’s Have It

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&#39t 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&#39t mean anything?

Last year&#39s winner did have some advice for his young teammate, however.

&#39Well, 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,&#39 said Howard. &#39Just to take pitches and try not to tire yourself out too early.&#39

Not that it worked.

&#39Yeah, that’s probably an understatement right now,&#39 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.

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