All posts by TheNaturalMevs

The Washington Nationals are an on-fire, well-oiled machine

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We literally didn’t even have time to get the post up about last night’s walk-off win that gave the Nationals nine in a row; and they’ve tallied yet another one this afternoon to make it ten wins in a row.

Last night proceeded as if it was drawn up straight out of a Mike Rizzo wet dream. The Nationals won in the bottom of the ninth inning, 3-2. Bryce Harper led off the inning with a rip job single off a full-count pitch, his third hit of the game. Kevin Frandsen moved him to third with a single of his own. Then Anthony Rendon provided the big hit to give the Nationals what has seemed like a month of walk-off wins.

They’re 73-53, and as we predicted before the second half began; they’re running away with the National League east race. It’s over. They’re on one of those rare rolls that you see a team get on once every couple seasons – the Nationals have never played ball like this. Absolutely everything is working. The pitching staff is giving a quality outing each night and it seems like a different guy in the lineup steps up one game after another. Span, LaRoche, Harper, Rendon, Desmond, Ramos, Werth; they’re all taking turns carrying the torch. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

They’ve totaled five walk-off-wins in their last six games; this is not something you see often in the game. It is to be appreciated.

Chris Carter: All he does? HIT HOMERS!

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Back when I was a kid – Chris Berman used to have a line that anyone who loves sports will remember about former Vikings Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter. I guarantee someone out there more clever than me has used it when referring to Vernon Christopher Carter and his home run hitting ability.

That brings us to your Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten Memorial Player of the Week from last week. The award is not just about hitting for average or bringing varying degrees of good play to the table. It’s just about straight mashing. Carter has done that all season long, without being quite as terrible as he was last season during the process.

In the week that was that earned Carter the HHMWMPOTW honors, here’s what he did:

9 for 28 (.321), four home runs, nine RBI, 1.083 OPS

His .818 OPS for the season is up almost 50 full points from where he was last season. He has already matched his 2013 home run total with 29. And he’s cut his strikeout % from 36.2% to a sparkling 30.4%. So he still strikes out a shitload, but he’s improving! FanGraphs went as far as to do a post on what’s different for our chameleon first basemen/outfielder hybrid this season.

He’s actually been as valuable to his fantasy owners as Albert Pujols. He’s helping someone beat me in a fantasy league and keeping me in second in another.

Chris Carter. All he does is hit homers. And strike out some. And help people like me lose people fantasy leagues.

Anonymous Scout rips Bryce Harper, says Nationals may look to trade him

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Baseball Prospectus has a new feature that might be enough to get us to ante up for a subscription. The new feature is called “What Scouts are Saying”, and this morning in the Washington Post we were clued into an interesting tidbit offered by an anonymous scout.

Here’s the dirt:

He’s only 21 years old and there is a lot of talent there, but we are starting to reach the point where there may be cause for concern. He has not had a good year, and his hitting mechanics are all screwed up. It’s as if he is almost jumping at the ball. He comes out of his swing so hard and fast. He plays out of control all the time, in every facet of his game, and it’s clear he has become a distraction to Matt Williams. It would not surprise me if they end up trading Harper for a young arm and hold on to Denard Span.

You had to know something like this would surface. The problem with this is scouts often offer an opinion that frames the ‘right now’ in things rather than the big picture. When Harper was drafted they’re the same people who offered that he was the next Mickey Mantle with Joe Mauer’s hit tool. Hell, this scout that says this could be working as a dump truck dispatcher in a year’s time. It doesn’t really mean anything to be honest, but it’s interesting to note that insiders of the game really do see flaws in Harper’s mechanics and this is the first confirmation that; yes, Harper’s stock has fallen significantly.

A BP author responded in the comments section:

We’re providing these quotes to give the perspective that a lot of people in the industry have extremely different and varying thoughts on players. That’s the goal. This isn’t an article on our opinion or the value of Harper. It’s to show what others in the business think. And for what it’s worth, this particular individual wasn’t the only one who didn’t have a glowing review of Bryce. I caution people too…there’s a lot more information people “in” the game know than the public or even us at BP. I’m pretty sure nobody expected a number of the guys at the deadline to be dealt either (like Cespedes), but they were.

We love scoutspeak. We need more of it. Even if it’s like reading pro wrestling rumors.

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It’s Saturday, and summer is unofficially over. The kids are back in school Monday. If you try hard enough, you can feel the football nip in the air; which isn’t all somber unless you’re a diehard baseball fan.

It’s a weird slate for baseball today with a Clayton Kershaw start highlighting a schedule that sees no games before 4:00 PM ET and no games after 9:00 PM ET.

It’s still a Saturday, and baseball is still the grandest sport on earth. It won’t be long until fantasy baseball champions are crowned and the postseason field is defined. Until then, we hold it down; we wait and we watch for the moments of high drama.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers.

The Fiers that could burn during Milwaukee’s postseason run

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Mike Fiers must have some nasty shit. In today’s 6-2 Brewers victory at Wrigley Field, Mike Fiers struck out 14 Cubs in six innings. This has to go down as one of the most impressive pitching performances of the season, and I can’t wait to see the BBREF game score with how it stacks up to Max Scherzer’s 14 strikeout performance on the same afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The one thing the Brewers lack is any type of ace with shutdown stuff. They have a nice staff compiled of guys you would consider two’s, three’s, and four’s. But prior to today you wouldn’t think there was anyone in the group capable of this – Fiers was only getting a crack at the rotation because Matt Garza is injured.

But this is something to keep an eye on we would suggest. Fiers has done stuff similar to this before; in 2012 he struck out 10 on three different occasions. Milwaukee has to keep a guy like this in the rotation and consider him being one of the fellas they roll out should they sneak into the postseason. They lack a stopper and even though it was the Cubs, they’re not a bad offensive team. This is something to keep an eye on as baseball heads towards October.

Bryce Harper visits the Dunkin’ Donuts sign in Queens again

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Bryce Harper has been here before.

We ask you to think back to a time when he was on top of the baseball world. It was April of 2013, and he homered off the Dunkin’ Donuts sign in right center field at Citi Field. he hit two monstrous home runs that day.

Thus far in his young career, he has homered against the Mets more than any other team. He has half his home run total this season against New York. Dillon Gee kept throwing balls right down the pipe, and Harper connected with one of his longest home runs of the year.

It was a picture perfect night for Washington, as they won the game 4-1 with Stephen Strasburg throwing seven great innings.

Also, we won a Home Run Derby on MLB ’14 The Show with Harper tonight. Here’s a shot of that:

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Throwing it Around

There are so many good links we need to put here on this Thursday. It’s not easy running your own business and maintaining your own baseball blog, but someone has to do it. Here are some good links from the past few days that you may have missed, but you should read if you have the time:

-Javier Baez’s first Wrigley Field home run. [Chicago Now]
-A roster of 25 Adam Dunn’s on Out of the Park Baseball. [FanGraphs]
-Jonah Keri takes a look at Bryce Harper’s scary year three struggles. [Grantland]
-Carlos Gonzalez & Troy Tulowitzki, done for the year once again. [Hardball Talk]
-Google has already awarded Mike Trout with the 2014 MVP award. [USA Today]
-Baseball has a new commissioner, and his name is Rob Manfred. [NY Times]
-Joe Posnanski weighs in on Bryce Harper’s 2014 season. [NBC Sports]
-Pedro Martinez wants Clemens and Bonds in the Hall. [Surviving Grady]
-Mike Fiers went off today, 14 strikeouts in six innings. [Brew Crew Ball]
-Building around Giancarlo Stanton is a big priority. [Fish Pond]

You can’t knock Bryce Harper’s power to all fields

In the Nationals 7-1 victory on Tuesday evening, Bryce Harper hit another ball out to left field. It was the fourth in his career at Citi Field. It should be no secret that he absolutely kills the Mets.

And when you scroll back through Harper’s career homers, he’s hit a fair number of home runs to straight away left field. Of all the parts of Harper’s game that you wish maybe were a little different, the one thing the scouts have been right about is his auspicious power to all fields. He’s just as likely to homer the other way as he is to any part of the park.

Harper now has five home runs on the season and 47 in his career.

Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten Memorial Player of the Week: Caleb Joseph?

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Caleb Joseph hammered the ever loving piss out of the baseball this past week. He hit the ball so hard so frequently, we’ve brought back one of our favorite features from the past on the blog.

Caleb Joseph is a 28 year-old rookie catcher who entered the week with three career home runs. He’s hitting .227 on the season and the chances are if you were in a pay phone booth and he knocked on the window and told you he needed to use it, you wouldn’t realize it was a big league player and you would keep talking.

Here’s what he did this past week:

8 for 18 (.444), Five home runs, nine RBI, a double, 1.778 OPS and that’s without anyone bothering to walk him.

That was career games 49 to 53 in the career of Caleb Joseph. He’s unlikely to ever have a run again in his career where he homers in five straight (he went 1 for 4 without homering today). Hell, he’s unlikely to ever appear on this blog again. But for what he did this past week, he’s brought back the HHMWMPOY. And it’s back to stay.

A Bucket List Item Sits in the distance

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Here’s an image you’re likely to see repeated many times over between now and next July when the Cincinnati Reds host the 2015 All Star Game in the Queen City.

I’ve waited my entire life for this game to come to Cincinnati. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll pay for everything, but I have to be there in some form for all the festivities, game included.

As for reviewing the logo, they could have done a bit more with it; but it’s clean and I like it.

Now all I need is Jay Bruce to have an All-Star season and rebound from his 2014 campaign and be there to come full circle in his career. That Home Run Derby in that bandbox has his name written all over it.

Atlanta’s panties in a bind over Bryce Harper’s gamesmanship

The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals locked up in a late night game that didn’t get underway until almost 11 PM on the east coast due to a lengthy rain delay. The Nationals won the game 4-1 in 11 innings, but as it often happens when two rivals get together, the final score was the secondary story.

I didn’t notice this while watching the game live, but saw a tweet from David O’Brien that alerted me about it. Bryce Harper appeared to scuff the Braves ‘A’ behind home plate before stepping into the batters box every time up.

Of course, this sent Braves fans into an uproar. Saying that Harper didn’t respect their logo (he doesn’t need to), and generally leading them to say that the kid lacks all kinds of respect and whatnot.

I think it’s great. For all the unbecoming things Harper has accomplished this season – hitting .250, getting hurt a lot, base-running blunders what seems like every other night – this is what’s great about the kid. He isn’t stupid and is simply stirring up the rivalry. Of course he probably has programmed himself to hate playing Atlanta, especially in Atlanta; a team that has been the Nationals very own House of Horrors.

At the end of the day, baseball is entertainment. Some argue that it’s not entertaining enough. They’re nuts, of course. But that’s what people say. When something like this goes down, it should make the public crave more of these two getting together. Like, what the Hell is going to happen tonight when they face off on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after they’ve had a night to sleep on Harper scuffing their prize logo?

Good for Harper.