Tag Archives: Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper Makes his Triumphant Return to the Upper Deck

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Bryce Harper is no longer a stranger to struggles. He was dropped to seventh in the order this evening, and the Nationals found themselves in a 5-0 hole early against the Miami Marlins against left-hander Brad Hand.

Then Harper put on his cape and won the battle in a ten pitch at-bat with an upper deck three run home run. The Nationals would later get a grand slam from Jayson Werth to cap off a huge rally, overcoming the 5-0 deficit as well as a late 7-6 to win the game 10-7.

The home run was the 43rd of his career, and ninth against a southpaw. It was the 24th time he’s gone deep at Nationals Park.

Anonymous MLB Players are polled to the tune of interesting results

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Over the years – it has became a rarer and rarer occurrence for ESPN to have a feature that really reaches out and grabs you. Today, they posted an item that will be featured in the upcoming issue of ESPN The Magazine that is about as ‘must-read’ as it gets for a baseball fan.

Here’s what we learned (actually, we’ll highlight the graphic above since you know exactly what we learned):

  • 24% of polled MLB players feel Bryce Harper is the most overrated player in the game. He’s followed up closely by Yasiel Puig at 21%. I guess that means we have an affinity for overrated guys.
  • 81% of those polled feel baseball is ready for an openly gay player.
  • Best estimate at the percentage of players still taking PED’s is 9.4%.
  • Mike Trout was voted an overwhelming 56% as the best player in the game. Agree wholeheartedly there.
  • It’s about a split on if the polled players want Alex Rodriguez kicked out of the players union.
  • Clayton Kershaw has mad, league-wide respect.

In all, 143 players were polled. Any time we can get a look inside the mind of what those inside the game feel and believe, it’s worth reading. This would include takes from professional scouts, and it would certainly include players themselves like this poll did.

And as for the most important takeaway take from the whole bit – Bryce Harper has been a bit overrated so far – even if he’s been pretty good. If his career has one feel to it, that’s the word you might use to describe it. It’s not a bad thing because the best is yet to come.

Washington Nationals 2014 Team Preview

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It’s Bryce Harper’s age 21 season. This is his year. He’s the only choice to headline this post.

The 2013 was supposed to be the Washington Nationals year. We had them representing the National League in the World Series. We had Bryce Harper winning the MVP award. We had Davey Johnson – our dearly beloved little R. Lee Ermey-style manager riding off into a sunset cussing, and holding a trophy. We thought they would win 100 games. So what the Hell happened?

Things looked according to plan two weeks in last year. They swept the White Sox to move to 7-2, before getting swept at home by the Braves and eventually ending April with a 13-14 record. Bryce Harper went from tearing the cover off the ball to running into the right field wall in Dodger Stadium. Things continued to unravel all year long with blown leads by a shaky bullpen and questionable decisions by their Skipper that made observers question his sound-mind. By the time they were ready to start putting the toothpaste back in the tube, it was too late.

They would go on to a noble 86-76 finish. It displayed a lot of the fight and character left in the group that will take the field in 2014. A 23-11 run that began on August 20th scared the bejesus out of a couple other teams who were in the driver’s seat for the Wild Card spots. The Nationals were on fire. But it was too late to save themselves from the sins of their short past.

But all is not lost. They’ve got a new weird manager at the helm in Matt Williams. Bryce Harper’s knee is healthy, and as promised; he got as big as a house. The Nationals return an impressive core and GM Mike Rizzo made a few under-appreciated moves that will have this team knocking on the doors of contention again in 2014.

Major Off-season Moves:

  • Traded for LHP Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics.
  • Signed Nate McLouth to a two-year, $10.75 million dollar contract.
  • Traded for RHP Doug Fister from the Detroit Tigers.
  • Signed LHP Mike Gonzalez.
  • Traded for Catcher Jose Lobaton.

Perhaps we should all tamper expectations on everything until the Nationals show us that they’re ready for the big time – but what fun would that be?

The Nationals young star power is what intrigues us. From Harper to Strasburg to Rendon to Ramos to some of the guys in the minors like Lucas Giolito, A.J. Cole, and Brian Goodwin; Washington has a lot to like in their future if they can show us that we’re in the beginning of the run by making another one.

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Here’s a yoked Bryce Harper carrying some Girl Scout cookies

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Here’s one of the famous images making it’s rounds on the interwebs today. It’s Bryce Harper at Spring Training, presumably today, carrying two boxes of girl scout cookies.

Harper looks tremendous. We had not previously noticed a big difference in him, but when you look at this picture he looks like a power lifter. He also has tremendous taste in girl scout cookies, I believe that is thin mints and Samoans, and the fact that I can ID those at such a quick glance is why I look nothing like Bryce Harper right now.

On a baseball related note – we just hope his swing plane hasn’t changed at all due to the muscles.

Part two of the Fanduel Preview Series (We’re part of it)

Part Two of the Fanduel Fantasy Baseball Preview Series deals with ‘players worth reaching for in a fantasy draft’.

If you’re getting ready for that fantasy draft (we have three next weekend), make sure you’re keeping up with the Fanduel series.

We’re a little surprised that no one considers taking Harper in round one a ‘reach’. It’s definitely classified as such. If he’s there and it’s the end of the first round and you’re deciding between him, a bat like Beltre, or an arm like Kershaw, you sir are about to reach. We say he’ll be worth it.

Our buddy writes for Rotoworld – the perks of such

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Thanks Mike!

It’s always nice to have friends in high places. One of my good buddies just saved me the trouble of my yearly tradition of dropping $8.99 on a fantasy magazine I’ll mostly only read in the bathroom and then go completely against on draft day.

Mike Rosenbaum (best known for his work at B/R’s Prospect Pipeline and The Golden Sombrero) and avid co-host of The Baseball Show Podcast with us has a feature article a few pages into this year’s edition of the Rotoworld fantasy fishwrap. Check it out:

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So when you buy this year’s copy of Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball, give Mike’s Top Prospects article a read. If you’ve spent any time here listening to the podcast in the past you know Mike is good shit when it comes to talking baseball and prospects.

And thank you Mike for the free schwag!

Bryce Harper will be at 100% to start Spring Training

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For most Major League players, they have the luxury of being at 100% physically at one point in the Major League season, and that’s spring training. From there, they’ll depreciate either slowly or quickly like a piece of used farm equipment. And whether we’re talking about the tractor on the farm or your team’s star left-fielder, depreciation is an ugly thing.

For the first time in what seems like forever, Bryce Harper is at 100% according to Nationals manager Matt Williams:

“As far as I know, he is full-go for spring training,” Williams said. “We’re going to monitor him, though. We’re going to see how his knee reacts. There’s no way, even in a rehab situation, there’s no way to really simulate a game or the stuff that we do on the field until you do it. That’s why guys go out on rehab and play games, because you just can’t do it. So we’ll monitor him every day. If we see anything that’s bothering him, we’ll modify his program first. And if we’ve got to hold him out a day, we’ll hold him out a day to make sure he’s ready to go. As of right now, he’s full-go.”

That’s great news. The only thing that can hold back Bryce Harper is staying healthy and logging his most important stat: games played. If he plays in around 150 games, you’ll see career numbers from him. With a talent like his, you’re only going to slump for so long until someone makes a mistake. As a fan of baseball and someone who would love to see Harper become the game’s brightest star, we are hoping he finds a way to dial it back, pace himself, and spend the majority of the season in the lineup.

Hopefully this is the last time we ever feel the need to mention ‘Bryce Harper’ and ‘depreciation’ in the same post.

Bryce Harper is packed and ready for Spring Training

 

We aren’t that far. As bad and as brutal as February is to the baseball fan, we can make it. More tweets like this from players all around the league will be rolling in more frequently as the days roll by. Once we get to March Madness, we’ve basically made it.

And it’s good to see a player like Harper reporting for duty early. Washington Nationals position players weren’t due in until February 18th. It’s safe to assume Harper is spending his Valentines Day in route to Viera, Florida. That’s the kind of player we like – a guy who shows up early ready to dig in and work on getting better.

Our Top 20 Fantasy Baseball Outfielders for 2014 & Commentary

You never lead with the top guy. Just one of the top guys.

You never lead with the top guy. Just one of the top guys.

Since we’re fantasy baseball nerds, we’ll be running down as much of a commentary as we can prior to your March fantasy drafts. If you’re having a draft before then, you’re violating a major man-law. Don’t do it. You’ll inevitably draft some guy who breaks his nads installing a hardwood floor or something. Here are our top-20 Outfielders for fantasy baseball 2014. We’re running this down similar to the guys at Razzball, though we could never pretend to be of the legendary status they’ve achieved.

1. Mike Trout: Until the younger bull knocks the old bull off the hill (Trout is the old bull in his age 22 season, didn’t you know?) you have to keep putting this guy here and leaving him alone. We just hope you were one of the lucky bastards who snagged him late and were able to keep him after that lackluster cup of coffee in 2011. That was so, so long ago. We figure Trout finally wins that MVP award, hits 30 homers, drives in around his career-high 97 and steals close to 40 while hitting around .320 again. No regression in sight.

2. Andrew McCutchen: There’s just no reason to move an MVP much when he’s entering that magical age-27 season. He wasn’t as Heavenly as his 2012 last season, but he was still remarkable and helped owners win a lot of leagues. What is there to say that hasn’t been said (that’s what we hate about these rankings at the top, everyone has these guys up here). McCutchen is a Ferrari, get him in your garage if you can.

3. Carlos Gomez: This is the guy we’re pretty proud of. He was our major sleeper heading into 2013, and he finally put it all together. What we love about Gomez is he’s a guy who seems to want those stats for you. He steals bases when his team is up big, he challenges for the extra base, he isn’t happy settling with that three-hit night. He plays the game hard and we think the power could enjoy another slight up-tick in 2014. The only thing about Gomez that sucks is when he takes away home runs from your other fantasy players playing center field. He owes Jay Bruce several.

4. Giancarlo Stanton: Big Mike struggled last season hitting .249, but he’ll enter 2014 with major motivation: play so well he can escape Miami for greener pastures and a mega-deal soon following. This will be the year that he eclipses 40 home runs if anyone does in the National league. This will be a .900 OPS season. This will be the year he finally plays like a first rounder. As they say on eBay, bid with confidence.

5. Carlos Gonzalez: 2010 seems so long ago when he finished third in MVP voting. Since then he’s missed time each season but was still spectacular when he was on the field. The only question with Gonzalez is health, if you believe he can stay healthy he will be stellar and steady. He’s not going to go out there and hit .260 at Coors Field. It’s just not going to happen. A solid first-round guy if he can play in 140-150 games.

6. Adam Jones: He’s in a great lineup, he’s in a nice hitter’s park, he’ll be just 28, and he’s baseball’s closest present-day version to Eric Davis. What we like most about Jones is his games played the past three years: 151, 162, 160.

7. Bryce Harper: Someday soon the nagging injuries that drive fantasy owners like us nuts will end, and Bryce Harper will have the biggest numbers of his young career. It’s not too much to ask for a player like Harper to post an average in the .280-.290 range with upwards of 35+ home runs and over 100 RBI and runs scored. We don’t look for him to steal many more than 10 – he’s bulked up – but that power is coming in a big way. He hit .344 and 9 HR in April last season. If he can put that together over a full year like he’s going to try to do……

8. Jacoby Ellsbury: We don’t like that he’s turning 30. We don’t like that he misses monstrous amounts of time about every other season. We do like that he is in that hitter’s park in the Bronx and think he offers 20-50 potential. Solid bet to be very good in the near-term. I want no part of him in a year or two though.

9. Jay Bruce: The Reds are going to have an average year. Jay Bruce is going to have a career year. He’s entering his age-27 season. He’ll get as close to 40 home runs as he has yet and he’ll hit around .275, and with Bruce what you’re buying is the consistency. A lock for 30+ home runs and 150 games played. His slumps will make you want to drown kittens. His hot streaks are other-worldly.

10. Ryan Braun: He’s really not going to miss a beat when he returns from his little hiatus in 2013. He’ll be the same old Braun, which is video-game numbers. It won’t be his career year, but short of that you’re getting one of the top sluggers in baseball with some steals, albeit a few less steals and probably a few less homers. All things considered, a guy we would love to have; even with the cheating!

11. Justin Upton: So now the world knows that he’s not the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr., and that’s okay! What Upton is, is just a pretty good player. And he’s going to be more comfortable in his second season in Atlanta. Something about Upton worries us a little bit; but when we think about it it’s just the poor taste he left in our mouth in 2012. Even then, he was pretty solid. He’s deserving of this high ranking.

12. Shin-soo Choo: He’s going to score a lot of runs out in that Texas heat and don’t be surprised if his numbers improve across the board in a lineup full of threatening hitters.

13. Yasiel Puig: There will be no in between for Puig in 2014. He does not simply maintain; he either becomes full-fledged fantasy superstar or completely collapses in his sophomore campaign. We’re talking .240 or .315ish with power and steals again. Either way, it’s going to be VERY entertaining. Biggest risk factor of anyone in these rankings.

14. Jose Bautista: He may be quickly approaching his decline. He is at an age where it is reasonable for a lot of players to lose bat speed and miss time to injuries. But we believe enough in Joey Bats’ skills to say he will provide one more glorious summer in the sun for fantasy owners. A return to the 30′s in HR, 100 RBI, and an OPS in the .900s for those that believe.

15. Jason Heyward: We don’t really plan to target him – which is why he’ll inevitably break out. If that’s not a good enough reason, keep in mind he’s playing for a monster contract. If you believe what the scouts originally said about Heyward back entering 2010, that huge year is coming this year or next.

16. Allen Craig: The guy with two first names always wrecks shit when he’s in the lineup. He’s a .300 hitting machine in a baseball town where everything seems to line up nicely for that organization. He’ll probably have a DL stint included, but if you can weather that storm you’ll get a .300 average, 20+ homers, near 100 RBI, and peace of mind rotating him between OF and 1B.

17. Matt Kemp: Another guy we don’t want to own, in part because his risk is not worth the overpay it will take to land him on draft day. If for some reason the bargain exists in the middle rounds – take a flier on the guy. The decline might only be a season or two away, but for now Kemp has something to prove and will be taking the field for a team with World Series expectations. It should be a nice year for the back of his baseball card.

18. Starling Marte: A lot of people out there will shy away from putting Marte in their top-20 because it’s too out on a limb. His power numbers should improve and he’ll be a realistic possibility for a 20-40 season. His average should not dip much further than .280 because speed like his doesn’t slump. An .800 OPS player who will be 25. The soon to be Pirates outfield of Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco could be a lot of fun.

19. Yoenis Cespedes: Why do I feel like the guy is probably older than his listed age of 28? He’s probably like 34, but these damn Cubans are ageless wonders with their chicken blood voodoo cocktails. If you want a projection on him an average of his first two seasons is fair to expect: 25ish HR, .265-.270, 81 RBI, 12 steals, 70 runs.

20. Domonic Brown: The bottom line is power comes at a premium these days in baseball. Gone are the days where any number of middle infielders slug 27 home runs for you and drive in 80-plus. For that, you’ll need to pick up a guy like Brown who should continue to hit home runs in bunches. If it wasn’t for an injury he would have easily entered the 30-homer club. He’ll be inducted in 2014.

The Washington Nationals 2014 ZiPS Notes

Dan Syzmborski over at FanGraphs released the Washington Nationals’ ZiPS projections for 2014 today. Here’s some stuff we found interesting or of note:

  • Bryce Harper: .279/.363/.523, 28 HR, with 15 steals. I’ll take the OVER on the long balls and the UNDER on the steals. He’s bulking up for a reason. Harper comes complete with a 4.9 WAR and his #1 comp is Kal Daniels. Before you snicker or grimace like I first did, remember that Kal Daniels had nice seasons in 1987, 1988, and 1990. Albeit, Bryce Harper’s expectations are just much higher and he’ll need to be better than Daniels ever was.
  • Ian Desmond checks in as the second best hitter: .269/.315/.439, 20 HR, 23 steals, and a 3.5 WAR. Desmond is a nice little player all around.
  • Anthony Rendon got the Jeff Blauser comp. Blauser was a pretty damn good hitter, all things considered.
  • Another comp worth noting is that of Stephen Strasburg. They say he will be Mark Prior, making 26 starts, striking out 164 in 149 innings of work. He is projected for a 2.83 ERA and 3.8 WAR. Also with the same WAR projection is Jordan Zimmerman.
  • A.J. Cole earned a Zach Greinke comp.
  • Switch-hitting 24 year old Zach Walters: 20 HR, .247/.276/.443, we don’t see Walters having that kind of impact in the upcoming year.
  • Ryan Zimmerman is compared to Pinky Higgins (his first season came in 1930). Zimmerman is projected for his steady Eddie 3.4 WAR. Pinky Higgins probably has the biggest boner right now.
  • As pointed out by this comment, the Nationals are projected for a 43 WAR; or 91 overall wins. This is the highest projected amount so far. I’m bullish on the Nats again this year, though I think Matt Williams is a real wildcard as manager.
  • The new addition Doug Fister is projected to lead the team in innings at 192, worth a 4.0 WAR and earns the John Burkett comp. John Burkett was an RBI Baseball legend.

We’ll try to do a few more of these as the weeks go onward. Obviously with the month of February being here we have nothing better to do than tally a few notes on interesting (albeit conservative) projection systems like ZiPS.

Examining MLB Futures Odds

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As much as I like to gamble, and as good as I can be at forecasting the sport of baseball; I’ve never been able to talk myself into laying money on a team to win the World Series or the pennant or anything of the sort. I think the reason for it is I’ve seen too much baseball. Too many things have to truly align. No matter how good a team really is; that team will need a fair degree of luck to simply reach those heights. When I start thinking about that, it scares me away.

Now, one of the MLB futures odds that I do like to look at every year are things like the NL and AL home run champion and the Cy Young in respective leagues. That’s something I feel like a handicapper can have an outside shot at really nailing on a gut feeling.

As for how the futures look right now in baseball, here’s a few highlights:

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers are 7/1 to win the World Series as of today. Throw a $100 on the Dodgers, and if everything goes right in October and Yasiel Puig is spraying Clayton Kershaw with champagne and riding Tommy Lasorda around the clubhouse like a midget, and you’ll walk away with $700. Not a great payoff for a lotto ticket. I feel like you’re better off taking that $100 and parlaying it on three teams to win on one given night. The pain and anguish is much quicker that way instead of a long and agonizing crawl to your loss.
  • The Detroit Tigers are not far behind at 8/1. I feel that the Tigers are loaded enough, sure. But a gut feeling tells me they’re not winning it all in their first year under Brad Ausmus.
  • The best value may very well come from teams like the St. Louis Cardinals or Washington Nationals at 11/1, or the Boston Red Sox at 12/1, though I don’t feel a repeat.
  • The New York Yankees equal their rivals at 12/1.
  • The Cincinnati Reds check in at 20/1 to win their first title since 1990. Vegas sees their chances equal with that of the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants.
  • The longest odds? The Houston Astros are 250/1. Please save your money.

As for the Home Run and Cy Young Odds, those aren’t out yet (boo). I’ll give you my early favorites to take home the crowns though – and this is subject to change obviously between now and April.

NL: Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt, Jay Bruce

AL: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder

NL CY: Stephen Strasburg

AL CY: Justin Verlander

It will be interesting to see where the odds come in on these players as the season draws closer.

Bryce Harper is given Las Vegas Model Chandler Bat for Christmas

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Favorite player tweets a picture of something while I’m in Christmas service. Because player is my favorite, I look at my phone and have to look at the picture.

Favorite player gets very cool Las Vegas model bats from bat company out of Philadelphia. Look closely folks, the Las Vegas strip is featured on the trademark area of those bats.

Favorite player lives a charmed life. Is it spring training yet?

Is this Bryce Harper’s Final Home Run of 2013?

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Though I thought he would finish with at least twice this many round-trippers this season, Bryce Harper has reached 20 home runs in his age 20 season. The Nationals beat the Marlins 3-2 tonight at Nationals Park in Washington, with Harper’s three-run home run in the first inning totaling their entire offensive output for the night.

The Nationals have been baseball’s best team over the last month, and although it looks to be too little too late, it’s going to be a small happy ending on the career of Davey Johnson. Harper has had a tough season, and there have been times when we thought he should have played that he didn’t. He’s still earned some respect by gutting it out for the most part this last month and playing out the string with some dignity for his team. His OPS sits at .892 as the night closes. That’s a pretty great sophomore season.

Harper’s shot came off Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez. The last time he hit a home run off Alvarez it landed off the BlackBerry sign in Toronto. With just over a week of regular season left, Harper looks to close a chapter on his career and begin a long winter of hopefully becoming baseball’s best player in 2014.

It was a Magical Day in Washington D.C. Today

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On the heels of one of the most tragic days ever in the nation’s capital – a day that the Nationals game was rightfully cancelled – the Nationals played a doubleheader that ended up being their most magical day of the season.

They entered the ninth of their afternoon game down 5-3, and with Craig Kimbrel entering the game it looked to be lights out on the game and possibly the entire season. But the sun shined especially bright in the sky, and luck shined on the Nats. A Denard Span bouncer went through the legs of the great-gloved Andrelton Simmons with the Nationals down 5-4. That allowed the Nats to win 6-5.

The Nats then took the nightcap 4-0 with Tanner Roark throwing seven shutout innings. The Nationals are 4.5 games out of the Wildcard race with 11 left to play.

  • Denard Span had hits in both games, extending his hitting streak to an MLB best 28 games on the season.
  • Bryce Harper had a couple of knocks and a couple of runs in the second game.
  • Ryan Zimmerman homered again.
  • The Nationals wore Navy caps during batting practice.
  • It was the first time in his career that Craig Kimbrel had given up three runs in an outing.

I was at the Navy Yards just a few weeks back in my visit to Washington. We walked around near it after the game. It’s a quaint little area that will make for a great living spot for people that want to be around the park in DC in the future. It seemed relatively peaceful. And as horrible as this tragedy that so many are numb today in today’s sick world was unspeakable and cowardly; I feel like it helped bond a city and it’s new team today. The Washington Nationals made the people of that city forget about the ruin that had happened just a day before, even if it was just for a minute.

Good for the Nats. They’re not going to catch anyone, but they’re finally playing like the team they should have been all year.