I’m pretty sure that someone did a study about whether it was fact or fiction that Home Run Derby participation ruins a player’s swing, but I can’t seem to find it right now. So instead, here’s what Two Guys From ESPN, Nomar Garciaparra and John Kruk, had to say on the subject during a conference call:
Q. Nomar, Matt Kemp is doing this for the first time. Maybe he’s not your traditional slugger type body type. He might be more your body type. So speaking from experience, how does this kind of event mess around with your swing or is that kind of an overrated thing that gets talked about too much?
Garciaparra: Well, first of all, I wish I had his body type. I don’t think we’re the same body type. Are you kidding me? Wow. I don’t think it will mess with his swing. I think the hardest thing and the important thing is you’ve got to be big and strong for this event.
It is totally different when you’re in batting practice you can kind of get into rhythm. The pitcher’s throwing the ball and you’re going. In batting practice they say don’t look at the ball. You’re supposed to just hit. You can kind of get in that rhythm.
Here it’s swing, watch, tend to sit back in the box and let’s swing as hard as you can again. Step out, get back in the box. That is difficult to do as a hitter. That takes a lot of sheer strength body wise all through the body.
When I look at the way Matt Kemp is built, he has that. So I think he’ll be all right. The difficult thing is to get away from all the emotion that’s surrounding it. Get away from the anxiety, because that is all going to be a part of it.
You realize there are thousands and thousands of people in the stands. All they’re doing is focused on you and watching. All eyes are on you in this one swing and every one you do. I know it’s like that during the season, but this is a totally different way to do it. There are nerves, anxiety, adrenaline, and you have to combat all of that, especially for your first time. But I think he has the body and strength to do it.
Q. Is the talk about how swings get messed up from doing this overrated?
Garciaparra: I think so. I think the All Star’s just a unique thing. When you do that, you go out there and swing and swing hard. At this level to be successful if you’re an All Star, you know what you have to do to get back on track.
Kruk: I agree with Nomar. I think every player that’s ever played from a guy that hits two home runs a year to a guy that hits 50 home runs a year, they have a point in batting practice where they’re trying to hit home runs.
Tony Gwynn every once in a while would try to do it too, and he used to hit .380 every year. Didn’t do too much to his swing. Everyone does it, so it doesn’t mess up your swing.