Category Archives: Atlanta Braves

Bryce Harper’s Sunday Home Run in Atlanta may be proof he’s back

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All of Bryce Harper’s home runs go here.

This one leaves the park off some poor schmuck who pitches for the Braves named Joel De La Cruz. It scorched into the seats at 105.4 MPH. This is important because all of the scribing on the internet tells us that Bryce Harper’s improved exit velocity on batted balls lately means he’s healing up.

This should mean huge things for the month of September and of course he’s going to hit like eight home runs in a postseason series, it’s coming. The Nationals however blew this game and lost 7-6 in Hotlanta.

This home run was Harper’s 22nd of 2016 and his 119th of his career.

Happy Dansby Swanson Day!

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It’s Dansby Swanson debut day down in Atlanta. He’s already on the board with his first hit.

As always, the scouting report from Baseball Prospectus on our boy Dansby:

Scouting Report: If you find beauty in the simple things, you will very much enjoy Swanson’s swing. It’s very quiet with little to no wasted movement, and it stays—and gets through—the hitting zone with minimal effort. He can afford to do this because of how strong his wrists are, and the above-average bat speed allows him make hard contact all over the field. He’s a smart, selective hitter, and while he will never be among the league leaders in walks, he’ll draw his fair share. There’s enough strength and leverage here to project some power, but the swing is conducive to hitting line drives, so expecting more than 45-grade pop is expecting too much. He does help compensate for the “lack” of pop with the ability to steal bases, as he possesses the kind of speed and instincts you see in guys who steal 20-plus bases.

Swanson is still relatively new to shortstop, but you’d never know it watching him. He’s a plus runner, and his instincts are excellent, so he’s able to get to pretty much anything hit to either side. He also charges the ball well, and his above-average arm is accurate with a quick release. Is he Francisco Lindor? No. Is he a better defender than Alex Bregman and Brendan Rodgers? You betcha.

He’ll be the cornerstone of the Atlanta Braves for a number of years in their new park. Here’s another scouting report over at Fangraphs.

Happy Dansby Swanson day, all.

Corey Seager sits atop the Baseball World

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I think at the moment, this is the best player in the National league. Well, I’ll preface that; best offensive player for you Kershaw ball washers. But Seager is more fun to watch.

I honestly owe this one to Vin Scully. About a month ago I made a promise to myself I was going to start watching more Vin Scully and Dodger home games. Until that point, I had not really focused on Seager’s game.

It didn’t take long to see what all the hype was about.

Yes, everyone will talk about Seager’s three-homer game during his rookie season that happened on Friday night. And it spawned into a five-home run weekend. But for me, it was seeing some little things like his composure, the smooth stroke, the home run off a Kevin Siegrist, a Javier Lopez (two nasty lefties whom lefties don’t think about homering off of) or getting Thor Syndergaard on a night when no one is getting much. It’s seeing Seager battle a 10-pitch at bat and work a walk when the Dodgers are down ten runs at Wrigley Field and about to get swept. He simply never gives away an at bat. I never saw that because I was watching so much Harper, Correa, Trout, Betts, Bogaerts; you name it.

So here are the two others Seager hit. He has twelve home runs since May 11, the most in baseball by any player. He’s going to assault Nomar Garciaparra’s record of 30 home runs by a rookie shortstop as long as he stays healthy and he’s going to do it in a big home ballpark.

The Dodgers won the game 12-6. They completed the sweep of the lowly Braves.

By far and going away, right there with my favorite player in the National league to watch at the moment. Special, special young player. Oh, and Vin Scully is on the call again tomorrow night.

Last night, Corey Seager was the magic inside Dodgers Stadium

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Yesterday early on in my day, I made the decision that with my wife and daughter out of town on the Jersey Shore; I was going to turn out all the lights and watch some late night Dodger baseball. And what a good decision it ended up being. I simply cannot think of a more relaxing thing in life than a dark room, a fan blowing and just me alone with Vin Scully.

I also had the feeling early on that something magical was going down at the Splendid Lady in Chavez Ravine. My gut and intuition as usual, were right.

Corey Seager hit three majestic home runs, and the Dodgers topped the Braves 4-2. I passed out before the third one happened. But just look at these beauties:

Corey Seager is going to be a very special player in this game. And when I awoke this morning, I felt about as refreshed as a guy can feel. It’s probably because my wife and daughter didn’t wake me up at 7:30. But when I got some charge to my phone and saw not only that Muhammad Ali had died; but that Corey Seager had hit three home runs on Friday night, I realized last night was a night in sports I’ll remember forever.

Bryce Harper’s 100th career home run is a Grand Salami

You knew after having this decal on his bat knob (how awesome is Bryce Harper for using an emoji on a damn bat), that he wouldn’t be stuck on 99 career home runs for long. He was simply waiting on one of his old rivals; Julio Teheran, to bring out the very best in him.

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It was Harper’s fifth career home run off Julio Teheran. He has now hit five off Teheran and five off Tom Koehler, the most against any pitcher in baseball.

Here is Harper’s 100th regular season homer, in grand fashion:

And it seems like just yesterday that we started doing these posts when Harper launched his first one back in 2012 against the San Diego Padres at Nats Park. MLB.com was nice enough to put a video together of every one of Bryce Harper’s home runs.

The Nationals won this game 7-2 behind seven-plus strong innings from Stephen Strasburg.

With many players, it’s hard to say if they’ll hit hundreds more. With Harper, you know we’re going to be doing about 400 more of these posts, which is astounding.

In Honor of Opening Day, Bryce Harper homers again

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Bryce Harper loves Opening Day, and he even loves Julio Teheran more. When those two things come together, it’s like a magical conjunction for the 23-year old phenom. In his first at-bat of the 2016 campaign, Harper started off just as he did last year homering off Bartolo Colon.

He worked an excellent at bat and capped it off with another home run in his short but illustrious career. It was the fourth home run he’s hit on Opening Day in his career. He has this act down.

The Nationals won the game 4-3 in 10 innings, rallying to tie it at 3-3 in the ninth off Atlanta’s embattled closer, Jason Grilli. Here’s to making 49 more of these posts this year.

While you were watching College Football, Bryce Harper took Shelby Miller deep

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[Nationals 8, Braves 2]

Bryce Harper got the Nationals off and running last night when in the third inning, he catches some type of 89 MPH slider from Shelby Miller down in the zone. It lands in the seats in left center field to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead, his 33rd home run of the season.

Harper is now hitting .337 on the season with 100 runs scored even.

He’s hurting the Braves in this series no matter how they try to deal with him. He became the first player in about a century on Thursday night to have four walks, four runs scored, and a run batted in when the Nationals won 15-1.

Bryce Harper reminds everyone that he still loves mashing Julio Teheran

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[Nationals 5, Braves 2]

Julio Teheran and Bryce Harper have quite a history. They don’t like each other, to put it bluntly. Last night in Washington was possibly the Nationals’ game of the year, and we saw the whole thing.

Harper kicked off scoring by unloading on a full count pitch, and it was another monster shot that landed in the upper deck in Washington for his 32nd home run of the season.

The Nationals would rally down 2-1 to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, and in the tenth frame they got a three run walk-off home run from Michael Taylor to win the game. In a great turn of events, the Mets lost a Jacob DeGrom start in extra innings in Miami to the lowly Marlins. The division race stands at five games.

Bryce Harper is up to an 8.0 fWAR on the year.

Poor Giancarlo Stanton

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Note to the Marlins – when Giancarlo Stanton homers; especially twice – you should win more often than you lose.

The Marlins dropped another one tonight. The headlines are all about Stanton’s 474-foot blast that landed in the camera well in center field; another rarely-reached spot in a park that he’s touched now with a baseball. That blast tied the game at 3-3.

Earlier in the game, he hit a blast off Julio Teheran to tie the game at 2-2.

It has to be frustrating playing for a 16-20 team that has floundered and underachieved all season. Stanton leads the National League in RBI but the Fish refuse to gel. After a while it just wears on a guy, no matter how many times he makes the SportsCenter Top 10 with his titanic video-game blasts.

That makes ten home runs on the season now for Stanton. He’s probably going to keep doing it too. He has 25 home runs of 450 feet or more since 2010. That’s ten more than any other player in baseball in that span of time.

Bryce Harper Hits a Saturday Afternoon Walk-Off, Sixth Home Run in Three Games

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[Box Score]
[WaPo]

“It’s not that I’m hot, it’s just how I hit the ball,” Bryce Harper told Ken Rosenthal shortly after walking off some poor soul named Cody Martin (who looked like he had semi-decent stuff). It doesn’t really matter right now what kind of stuff you have. Bryce Harper is on one of the most incredible hot streaks in modern baseball history.

And we think anyone who has watched the last few days kind of had a feeling after Jayson Werth struck out, runner on first; that Harper was going to put one in the seats to end the game.

No one, will ever forget this Ruthian run that Harper has put together at age 22. No matter what happens from here.

It was Harper’s 11th home run of the season, his 66th of his career. He’s not going to be stuck in the 60’s for too long if he keeps at this pace. He now leads the National league in home runs and walks, is second in runs scored and RBI, and fourth in runs scored.

Unanimous NL MVP selection if he doesn’t get hurt.

Bryce Harper homers twice more; cannot be stopped right now

[Box Score]

Fangraphs recently pointed out that Bryce Harper is getting his pitch, staying on it longer, and not missing them. They of course went into a detailed explanation of the ‘why’ behind the fury you’re seeing.

Tonight he tagged poor Eric Stults and some guy trying to just get through his first major league inning named Williams Perez (Perez recorded one out). Two more home runs, ten on the year, and he surpasses a guy named Mark McGwire as the youngest player in baseball history to hit five home runs in two games.

Harper completely took the game over to get the Nationals back to .500, displaying more power to all fields. There isn’t much more to be said other than I’m not sure you’ll ever see a guy this white hot at the plate. This is the pinnacle of ‘locked in’.

The Nats were destined to get an Uggla Win

I watched a lot of this one on the side last night, and it was a wild one. You look at the final score of 13-12, and you can venture to guess that some odd things happened.

Washington came in to this game having lost six straight contests (Matt Williams is so terrible), and found themselves in a 9-1 hole in the third inning.

In this game:

  • The Nationals got home runs from Denard Span, Jose Lobaton, and Dan Uggla. The Uggla bomb was the kill shot. I bet Jason Grilli feels like he slept with a Sasquatch woman last evening.
  • Julio Teheran started for the Braves, and highly-regarded Nationals prospect A.J. Cole made his big league debut for the Nats.
  • Luis Avilan and Jason Grilli blew this lead allowing six runs; they were collectively worse than Blake Treinen and Tanner Roark who did everything they could to keep the Nationals on their losing streak.
  • Freddie Freeman and A.J. Pierzynski had four hits each.
  • Look at what Lobaton, Span and freaking Uggla did as far as damage! Thirteen hits, three homers, nine batted in.

So the Nationals are off the schneid. We actually aren’t going to say that this is the win that turns their season around. They’re still in deep shit, and Matt Williams is still their skipper.

But it’s a wild game with an ending that was obviously destined to be ‘Uggla’. I bet Uggla felt good doing that to the team that cast him aside without concern.

Jason Heyward says the Braves limited him as a hitter

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Let me preface this post by saying I have zero doubts you’re about to see the best Jason Heyward you’ve ever seen in 2015. No one; and I mean no one out there has the ability to polish a turd up nicely and have it work out like the damn St. Louis Cardinals. They’re going to find a way to fix this guy and turn him into a really good all around player. He may come close to reaching the lofty expectations scouts once set (and his first half of his rookie season was phenomenal).

But I take issue with Heyward saying the Braves hitting him lead-off limited his power:

When describing how stymied he felt at times batting leadoff for the Atlanta Braves, Gold Glove-winning outfielder Jason Heyward borrowed an analogy from the field. It’s playing long toss and really wanting to cut loose with a full-strength throw but having to hit a target 90 feet away.

“You feel like there’s a governor on you and you’re not letting it ride,” Heyward said. “You have to think of other ways.”

Greg Walker was one of the shittiest hitting coaches in big league history. If you’ve followed the Braves even on a surface level the past few seasons, you know he had his hand in fucking up a number of big league hitters and doing more harm than good to their approach.

Fredi Gonzalez also jerked Heyward around from day one – platooning him with replacement level players and hitting him all over the damn lineup instead of penciling him in the top five and leaving him the Hell alone. This is where I figure Heyward began to get lost deep in his own mind and naturally tinker with his approach which was best in the minors and the first half of his rookie campaign.

But Jason Heyward’s power was stymied because of his own fidgety ass movements in the box, all the movements in his hands and uncomfortable demeanor and stance. If Heyward let a hitting coach change him to the point where he couldn’t really functionally be the player he was, it’s his own fault. I’m pretty sure if he took his own approach out there and succeeded, a hitting coach would do a good job of doing no more than reminding the successful young player of the things he already knew. That’s really the job of a hitting instructor anyways.

Every time I watched a Heyward at-bat the last few years I just couldn’t believe what I saw. His plate discipline had eroded, he was taking fewer walks, swinging at more pitches, neglecting to use the entire field and rarely hitting balls hard. He didn’t handle breaking balls particularly well, leading to a sharp decline in the number of fastballs he saw.

I realize this is someone they said would be the gem in all of the game in a few years, and I realized that something had gone terribly wrong along the way more likely than Heyward being a bust.

Heyward seems to be a fragile player mentally – that’s the type of statement bloggers get in trouble for saying – but it’s something I’ve picked up on. He needs his confidence rebuilt, and I think over time in St. Louis some big hits in big moments for a successful organization are going to help accomplish that.

Heyward can’t fully blame the lead-off spot for the lack of pop in his bat. His own swing he developed over time and his approach were just as much the culprit.

And in closing, Fredi Gonzalez is the worst manager in baseball. Train-wreck hire from day one; if Bobby Cox could have hung on another five years, Heyward would likely still be in Atlanta and a perennial All-Star. Nothing good comes from Fredi Gonzalez.

Bryce Harper hits a monster home run off Craig Kimbrel

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Bryce Harper’s power has fully returned. As evidenced by this swing against his greatest nemesis, he might still have holes in his swing; but Craig Kimbrel found a part of the zone where such a hole does not exist.

The Nationals lost the game 6-2, and this came in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation. But Harper has taken some impressive pitcher’s deep this season, with the last two being Kimbrel and Clayton Kershaw.

It’s the classic power vs. power match-up that people always want to see at the park. Possibly the most-feared right-handed closer in the game against the young phenom made famous from his pre-highschool YouTube home runs. He was previously 1 for 7 with five strikeouts against Kimbrel, and it looked like he was headed for a sixth.

The home run was the 12th of Harper’s 2014 season and 54th in his career.