Category Archives: Atlanta Braves

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


[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


[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


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


[Box Score]

“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


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


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.

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.

Mike Trout is making Father’s Day weekend all his


Last night – another big Saturday night in Mike Trout’s illustrious young career – turned out to be possibly his monster game on the young season. Sure, there was the grand-slam game against Chris Sale a week ago. There was the Saturday afternoon in the Bronx where he made the jungle his playground. But last night he really looked smooth and helped the Anaheim Angels earn a signature win 11-6 in 13 innings down in Atlanta over a first-place club.

Probably the easiest way to do the Trout highlight pack from last night is just straightforward, so here goes:

  1. He hit his 13th homer of the season, a no doubt blast to left field.
  2. Steals a bag – he still hasn’t been caught stealing this year – this will keep the Rotoworld forum nerds happy!
  3. Hit a two-run double in extra innings. I had actually fallen asleep during this.

Then I see here on the game today that he’s already crushed home run number 14 into the left field seats again on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN (that video to come when it’s available), added a single and was robbed of extra bases in deep right field by Jason Heyward.

As I’m wrapping up this post, John Kruk asks when people are going ‘drop the argument that he’s the best player in baseball and just go with it’. I have to say, Kruk is right. It looks as if Trout has overcame the worst slump of his young career and the numbers are returning to career norms (.300/.400/.500 with a .900+ OPS).

My first quasi-father’s day belongs to Mike Trout. He showcased every skill he has this weekend in Atlanta, and it looks like it will give the upstart Angels the series victory.

UPDATE MONDAY: Here is the highlight of Trout’s homer on Sunday Night baseball, and here is a post by Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs about why it’s a bad idea to pitch Mike Trout down and in at all.

Julio Teheran signs long-term extension with Atlanta


The Braves are doing their part to lock up their core and create a window to compete. They already signed Freddie Freeman to the long-term extension, making him the face of the franchise. They extended Jason Heyward two years – though this doesn’t really count as a long-term deal because Heyward was under team control for those years anyways with arbitration.

Today, they agreed to a six-year pact with pitcher Julio Teheran. Teheran is reportedly guaranteed $32.4 million in the deal.

I’m personally very impressed with Teheran and think he’s got a future ahead of him with All-Star appearances, and competing for Cy Young Awards. As a 22-year old he posted a flashy 3.20 ERA to go along with sparkling control that allowed him a 170 to 45 K to BB ratio.

And the best part of this deal? We’re probably going to get six more years of Bryce Harper-Julio Teheran duels. That figures to be must see television another 75 or so times it occurs.


Were the Braves drawing a line in the sand with Heyward & Freeman extensions?


Earlier in the week the Atlanta Braves made waves in the baseball world by signing Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward to contract extensions. Instead of just reporting the news that hundreds of other sites beat us to, we’ll try to react to something interesting and developing that is just now a footnote of this story.

FOX’s Jon Paul Morosi states that the Braves were signaling to the world their choice between Freeman and Heyward.

You could have described this as the Braves committing multiyear contracts to a pair of 24-year-old stars who already have earned their first All-Star selections. But the chasm of more than $120 million tells you what this really was: a choice between the two.


At first my intuition said to me that the Heyward deal was a simple two-year bridge to a longer term contract. It would allow the Braves time to see what happens with Heyward before guys like Dan Uggla come off the books – and rightfully so. As high as we once were on Heyward, he remains one of baseball’s great enigmas. He has lost a little luster on his once flawless diamond.

But Morosi just might be right. This is really going to follow one of two possible paths. Neither of which look like the long-term future of Heyward is a certainty in Atlanta. We see Heyward putting together the best full year of his career this season in Atlanta, and then in 2015 in his contract year he has a MONSTROUS season and plays himself into a contract the Braves now probably can’t afford. The other path would be if Heyward simply remains a solid player. At that point he’ll probably still ask for too much we assume, and Atlanta would allow him to seek a contract they don’t see him worthy of in another city.

By committing the big dollars to Freeman, Frank Wren has gone with the safer option. And the Freeman contract is unlikely to end badly. Even if his ceiling might be a bit lower than Heyward’s, his floor looks to be higher at this point. He has a future that should be full of All Star appearances, even if he never wins an MVP. If Heyward ever puts it all together, he’ll bring home that award. But he’s been puzzling at best during his short career.

Over the next few years it will be interesting to see how Atlanta attempts to manage this situation with Heyward.

Juan Uribe hits a legendary home run to win the Dodgers an unbelievable game


[ESPN Los Angeles]

They don’t get much bigger then the two-run shot that Juan Uribe hit in Los Angeles to send the Braves home and send the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory and the NLCS. I’ve seen enough. It’s the Dodgers year.

It wasn’t like they drew it up. Freddie Garcia matched Clayton Kershaw for six innings. The Dodgers gave up the lead in the 7th inning, and trailed by that score until the bottom of the 8th when Yasiel Puig came to face David Carpenter. Carpenter got a couple great pitches by Puig for strikes and in a two-strike count, Puig energized the Dodgers as he’s done time and again this year.

Freddie Freeman was not guarding the foul line in a no-doubles defense, and Puig laced a double down the line that was cut off by Jordan Schafer – and Puig’s incredible speed was evidenced by legging out the double. Uribe failed to get down a couple of bunts and reminded the world that he could be the worst bunter among regulars in the big leagues.

A few seconds later, Uribe caught a letter-high fastball from Carpenter that landed in the Dodgers bullpen. If you’ve been watching baseball for any amount of time, you knew that was a crushing blow. The Braves were broken with that moment.

Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth, blew away Schafer, Heyward, and Justin Upton and the Braves season was over.

There is a magic surrounding the Dodgers. Carl Crawford hit two home runs in this game to put the Dodgers ahead 2-0 early, but the Braves battled back opportunistically when the Dodgers made mistakes in the field, namely by Adrian Gonzalez.

This loss is not an indictment of the Braves honey bear manager, Fredi Gonzalez. He’s definitely horrific, and it’s not surprising that his teams seem to always face this collapsing fate. But the Braves and Gonzalez couldn’t have managed this much differently. Carpenter was throwing gas. Sometimes, Juan Uribe just homers.

The Dodgers await the opponent they will devour, either the Cardinals or the Pirates. Whoever it is will be next to be fed to the monster that is the LA Dodgers.


The Los Angeles Dodgers are The Real Deal


[Box Score]

The Dodgers proved that they’re the team to beat in the National League last night, by overcoming an early 2-0 deficit to the Atlanta Braves and a rocky start by Hyun-Jin Ryu in his playoff debut to win 13-6 in the first Dodger Stadium playoff game of 2013.


  • Julio Teheran came out throwing hard, but was leaving balls down the middle of the plate. The Dodgers did exactly what they needed to do in facing him by having quality at-bats and not panicking when they fell behind early. Teheran worked himself into a high-stress inning in the bottom of the 2nd, and with the bases loaded Ryu hit a line drive that almost got over the head of Justin Upton. The poke by the pitcher got the Dodgers on the board, and they never looked back. The next hitter up (Carl Crawford) hit a three-run home run into the right field bullpen, Dodgers lead 4-2.
  • The Braves proved to be nothing if not resilient. Ryu made a few blusters to let them back in it. He missed first base on what should have been a double play and errantly threw home on a tapper back to him. The Braves tied the game at 4-4, and then the Dodgers bats continued the outpour.
  • Yasiel Puig had three hits, line drives to left-center, center, and right field. He scored three times and drove in three runs. Here’s one of those rapier shots. In true Yasiel Puig fashion, he has six hits in his first three postseason games.
  • Hanley Ramirez is absolutely on fire. The Dodgers heart of the order is laying waste to the Atlanta pitching staff; factor in that Juan Uribe also hit a home run and that’s a pretty terrifying four bats in the middle of the Dodgers order.
  • The Dodgers really got into the Atlanta bullpen. Jordan Walden had to throw an extended workload and Alex Wood was in long-relief. That should give the Dodgers an edge today if things are close in a late situation. Conversely, the Dodgers had to use Kenley Jansen to close out the game because Atlanta mounted a min-rally in the ninth.
  • The game didn’t seem the same without Vin Scully calling it. It just didn’t feel right watching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium of such magnitude without Vincent narrating it.

The Dodgers go with Ricky Nolasco tonight and the Braves counter with Freddy Garcia. Freddy Garcia was throwing in the big leagues the year I got my driver’s license. I don’t see how Atlanta could win this game with the way the Dodgers have been swinging it, unless of course the game of baseball decides to rear it’s ugly head and they beat themselves. I bet on the over 7.5 in this one tonight at 9:30 at Chavez Ravine. It’s going to be another late night.