2014 Home Run Derby: Rain Delay Dampens Twitter Activity

A 54-minute rain delay at Monday night’s Home Run Derby did not stop 10 of Major League Baseball’s biggest sluggers from mashing some baseballs. The delay did, however, keep audiences away from Twitter. According to Canvs, our proprietary social analytics tool, this year’s competition saw a 23% decrease in reactions, which we define as a tweet containing an emotion, and a 14% decrease in overall tweets compared to 2013’s Derby. This year’s Derby featured many interesting story lines, including a new format, Yoenis Cespedes defending his 2013 title, a disappointing performance by breakout star Yasiel Puig, and polarizing play-by-play announcer, Chris Berman. We used Canvs to investigate the effects of these subplots on audience sentiment and uncover key insights about the event’s top moments.

Apathy and Negativity About the New Format

The 2014 Home Run Derby featured a new bracket-style format, which ensured that an American League player would face a National League player in the final round. The format allowed only 7 outs per round instead of the usual 10 and rewarded the top first round performers from each league with a bye until the semifinals.

While the new format was a major story leading up to the Derby, it attracted less than 1% of overall reactions. Those who tweeted about the format were frustrated that it may have hurt the players it was designed to help. Half of mentions about the format occurred between 11:10pm and 11:20pm, when Jose Bautista and Giancarlo Stanton (the two bye recipients) were ousted after waiting over an hour between at-bats. During that 10-minute span, 38% of reactions fell into the “worst” or “sucked” categories.

Puig’s Failure Drives More Reactions Than Cespedes’ Success

Cespedes defended his 2013 title by handily defeating Todd Frazier, nine dingers to one, in the final round. Cespedes, who became the first player to win back-to-back Derbies since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-1999, managed 28 home runs overall. Puig, who received the most All-Star votes of any National League outfielder, did not manage a single home run.

Interestingly, Puig attracted by far the most reactions of any player, despite hitting only once in the first round. Puig was mentioned in 12% of total reactions (16,601 reactions), compared to  Cespedes’s 7% (9,528 reactions). Most of the conversation about Puig was sarcastic in light of his high expectations.

Over half of reactions mentioning Cespedes came between 11:40pm and midnight ET, just after his victory. During that period, 45% of reactions fell under the “congrats” category in Canvs.

Cespedes’s tweet at 11:01pm ET (in the middle of the competition) was the most retweeted tweet about the event.

Chris Berman Draws Sharp Sentiment Divide

The always-controversial play-by-play announcer drew 1% of total emotional reactions to this year’s Derby. 18% of reactions about Berman expressed “love," while 38% of reactions about Berman fell into the “worst” or “sucked” categories.

Next Year’s Derby

Though the rain adversely affected Twitter activity, the Derby still attracted passionate sentiment about the league’s biggest power hitters. We will almost certainly see Cespedes attempt to defend his title in 2015, but future of the bracket-style format remains to be seen. Whatever happens, there is only one event where we get to see baseballs fly 500 feet every year.

Additional reporting by Griffin Gold

Tweet Source: Nielsen. Relevant Tweets captured from three hours before, during, and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time