Journeyman Clint Robinson has more than exceeded expectations for the Nationals this season. During Friday night’s game, broadcaster F.P. Santangelo said how Robinson, when asked what the bench squad this season calls themselves, considers the bench “Regulars.” This is a reference to the excessive amount of injuries the depleted Nats have had to deal with during 2015; however, they have managed to stay in first place thanks to the production of their back-ups, especially Clint Robinson. The 30-year-old is in the midst of his first extended stay in the majors after being drafted in 2007 and navigating his way through about eight minor league seasons.On June 4th, the Nats trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th against the Chicago Cubs, and Robinson drew a walk to move the tying run to scoring position, the winning run on first, and allow Anthony Rendon a chance to win the game. It was not to be though, as Robinson took too big of a lead and this happened:
Through June 4th, Robinson appeared in 33 games, 22 of which were as a pinch-hitter. He was hitting .232 with three doubles and a triple, seven runs scored but only three RBI. He had a .605 OPS and a .277 BABIP (Batting Average with Balls In Play), and a measly 67 wRC+, all according to FanGraphs.
Since that infamous day, Robinson has stood-out as one of the Nationals’ top producers. When Ryan Zimmerman was forced to take yet another trip to the disabled list, Robinson has seen everyday playing time, particularly at first base. He’s hitting .286 with eight doubles, four homers, and 15 RBI. His OPS since then is .819 and he possesses a significantly increased .311 BABIP, along with a 129 wRC+. Granted, his continued success can mainly be attributed to his consistent playing time, he has still performed admirably for a man that was simply thrilled to finally make the opening day roster.Playing both first base and the outfield has provided Robinson with a chance to acquire more playing time as starters deal with injuries. He’s even filled in as a pitcher when duty calls.
For more on Clint Robinson’s journey to the big leagues, check out Chelsea Janes’ story.
As the Nationals recover from their plethora of injuries, including Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth tonight, they know that they have a reliable player eager to do what he can to help the team; an invaluable asset as the Nats look to secure the division in the final stretch of the season.
Tony Petitti. You probably haven’t heard of him. But as legendary Orioles PA announcer Rex Barney would say, “Give that fan a contract.” Well, Major League Baseball should reward their Chief Operating Officer with a nice contract, because he was the man behind the changes to this year’s Home Run Derby format.
“We got a lot of feedback from people saying not only they loved it, but their kids loved it,” Petitti said. “We looked at the components of a lot of things. We know how much people loves brackets in the NCAA… We felt strongly that we had to have a bracket, and then we focused on the timing of it…In the past years there was a lot of reasons to take pitches. That’s not necessarily the best presentation, so we took it out of the mix and made it a little more athletic, even a little faster.”
Baseball analysts agreed this was far and away the most exciting Derby of all time. On Twitter, there was even a comment to ditch the All-Star Game and have another one of these on Tuesday. What made it so special? In an ironic twist, baseball, the only major American sport played without a clock, had its premier pre-All-Star Game event saved by the implementation of timed rounds. Along with the clock, the bracketed format added to the excitement with players squaring off against each other, allowing for a buzzer-beater to happen in the sport of baseball. Whoda thunk it.
Hometown hero Todd Frazier had the crowd pumped early on in the event when he beat the clock as it went to triple zeroes, eliminating two-time Derby champion Prince Fielder. Veteran Albert Pujols knocked out youngin Kris Bryant, my pick Joc Pederson made quick work of Manny Machado, eliminating him in less than three minutes, and Josh Donaldson advanced to the semis past first-round opponent Anthony Rizzo. All of the upper seeds won, and I was 4/4 on my picks.As the second round, the semifinal round, commenced, many commented on what was unfolding. The vast majority of players from the All-Star teams were staying to watch, contrary to past years where many would leave. Some even went down, took showers, and came back onto the field to continue watching.
Advancing to the finals first was, of course, Frazier. The crowd erupted as he hit the home run that put the nail in the coffin for Josh Donaldson. With that, I was 5/5.
On the other side of the bracket, Pederson was the first lower seed to advance, as Pujols had trouble with his batting glove and could not muster the 12 home runs needed to tie. The Machine finished the round with 11, and I moved to 6/6 on my predictions. Also of note, the 130 homers hit in the first and second rounds were more than in any other derby as a whole; and there was still one more round to go.
The stage was set for what would become the most riveting, enthralling, captivating, Home Run Derby finales of all time. Joc Pederson used his four minutes efficiently, going yard time after time, and finishing his final round with a total of 14 home runs.The crowd was on its feet and Nationals star pitcher Max Scherzer was doing his part to get the crowd pumped as Frazier stepped to the plate. He had four minutes to drop at least 14 bombs, 15 if he wanted to win and avoid a swing-off round.
It was a slow start and Frazier couldn’t get much going. Then, after his timeout (which he took with 2:35 to go and 5 homers), he fed off the energy of the Cincinnati fans and stepped it up a notch. He reeled off homer after homer, and closed the gap as time was running out. He hit his 14th, and had a chance to win it as the buzzer sounded, but the ball fell just short of clearing the wall.
However, because he had hit multiple home runs of 425’+, he had 30 seconds of bonus time. It took only one swing and it was all over. The stadium was pandamonium, and Frazier went wild. The players mobbed him, and Cincy’s own had won the masterful power display. I finished 6/7 on my picks, as I had Pederson beating Frazier instead.
Be sure to watch Frazier’s entire final round below.
This sets the bar quite high for the All-Star Game itself.
So while the Reds may not be doing so well this season, the Derby and their guy Todd Frazier certainly gave the fans something to cheer about.
Last Friday, the Nationals signed Dan Uggla to a minor league contract. Uggla, a now-journeyman player who hasn’t found a solid home since he was released by the Atlanta Braves, looks to earn some playing time at second base. However, with Danny Espinosa looking to be the one who will receive the majority of playing time there, this may just be a safety deal. Many Nats fans were more excited that the Twitter account, @FakeDanUggla, is now a Nat more than the real Uggla himself.
The following post was written by my good friend, Steve Miller, when Uggla was a member of the Miami Marlins. Steve said he would write about whoever hit that eyesore of a statue first in the new Marlins Park, and wouldn’t ya know, it was Uggla.
I hope you all have a Happy New Year, and thank you for reading this year! Good things are hopefully on the horizon in 2015!
I thought for sure that Giancarlo Stanton would be the first to drill the centerfield sculpture at Marlins Park, and had he not overshot the behemoth with a home run three weeks ago, he would have won my contest. But Dan Uggla beat Stanton to it by drilling the feature straight up on June 5th for his 200th career home run. And I am ecstatic that I get to write this blog post (over 1300 words) analyzing the strange stance and swing, among other things, of Dan Uggla.
Uggla was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 11th round of the 2001 draft, but never progressed in the Arizona organization and was never regarded as a high prospect. In 2005, he qualified for the rule 5 draft after not making Arizona’s 40-man roster, and was picked up by the Flordia Marlins. And the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2006, Uggla…
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I have finally gathered myself in the wake of the abrupt, disappointing finish to the Washington Nationals’ 2014 season. After the Nats were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants, I found myself in the same quandry I often find myself after the team I root for is no longer in contention: do I cheer for the team who beat us, so that we know our loss was not in vain? Or do we cheer against the team who ousted us; wishing that the next team will avenge our suffering?
I could not bring myself to root for those Giants, the now dynastic franchise which has won the Commissioner’s Trophy three of the last five seasons. Along with so many others, I hopped on the Royals’ bandwagon, hoping for a glistening end to their Cinderella story. Alas, it was not to be, and the Giants were victorious yet again.
Every time I attempted to voice my frustration through this medium on the internet, I found myself at a loss for words. It’s hard to describe the feeling of loss after being so attached to a team day after day for months on end, especially after the regular season had ended on such a tremendous note. With so many lofty expectations, and so many others who provided more in-depth analysis, I was simply left dumbfounded in the wake of the events.
Much has changed since the final out was recorded in the 2014 Major League Baseball season. Beloved first baseman Adam LaRoche parted ways with the Nationals and found a home with the Chicago White Sox. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins signed the richest contract in American sports history at over $320 million. The Athletics parted ways with one of their cornerstones, Josh Donaldson, and it seems their franchise has entered rebuilding mode.
The proverbial Hot Stove season of free agent deals and blockbuster trades is just heating up as the cold, brisk air envelops the country. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the off-season plays out, especially for the Nationals. They are looking to re-sign pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond, along with solidifying pitcher Doug Fister, but all three might be too steep of a price to pay. I’m sure Mike Rizzo has a plan in place, it’s just time for us to sit back and watch it all unfold.
The annual NatsFest is much earlier this year, happening on December 13th. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, so I’ll be anxious to hear how it goes from all those in attendance.
Check back in for more updates as the winter progresses. I’ve been busy writing numerous articles for my school’s sports website, so when I’m not busy, I’ll enjoy writing more about both the Nationals and the rest of Major League Baseball.
This post is more of a post to let you all know that yes, I am still alive. With AP testing and my high school baseball season all culminating in the last couple of weeks, it has been hard to find the time to really sit down and give the time due to writing a quality post. However, save for maybe finals week, I’m back now for the long-haul of the rest of the season. I do have a variety of posts I’d like to write, and I will be attending a game at Nats Park in the near future, so be sure to keep checking back in for the latest updates.
As of right this minute, the Nationals are a half game back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Nats defeated the Mets today 6-3 behind a solid outing from Jordan Zimmermann and a monstrous performance by Wilson Ramos at the plate. He led the way by going 2-3 including a walk, double, and 4 RBI. Ian Desmond left his own stamp on the game, launching a mammoth solo home run over the visitor’s bullpen in left field.
The Braves rallied late and earned a win over the Cardinals today. As one fan put it on Twitter, the Nats can’t seem to beat the Braves even when they aren’t playing them. With the win, as I said, the Braves hold a half game lead over the Nationals.
On the injury front, Gio Gonzalez is the latest National to land on the Disabled List. He has shoulder inflammation, but an MRI revealed no structural damage, which is a huge relief for the Nats, meaning that he won’t need surgery. Gonzalez has struggled this year though, not earning a win in his last five (5) starts. Hopefully after this stint on the DL he will take the rest of the season in stride and turn out more consistent pitching performances.
Adam LaRoche made a surprise appearance on the MASN broadcast of today’s game and said that he hopes to resume playing on Sunday. This is another good sign for the Nats who will regain a consistent starter at first base. Nothing should be taken away from Tyler Moore though, who started there today and made this fantastic catch to sit down the first batter of the game and made this fantastic catch to sit down the first batter of the game.
We will see how the Nationals fare over the next couple of weeks. They open a three game series tomorrow against the Cincinnati Reds before hitting the road for four games against the Reds’ NL Central foe, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nats return to DC following that series for a 9 game homestand: three against the Marlins, three in an inter-league matchup against the Rangers, and then three against the Phillies.
More to come on here as more transgresses!
The Nationals have suffered yet another blow to their already depleted roster. Bryce Harper had surgery today to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, an injury he suffered while sliding into third base last week. The injury adds Harper to the already plentiful number of Nationals who are out with injuries: Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Doug Fister, Scott Hairston, and now Harper.
Some have been quick to criticize Harper’s overly-aggressive playing style, which has been a roller coaster of its own over the past two weeks. Harper was benched for a lack of hustle after he failed to run out a ground ball, and now he has found himself on the Disabled List after showing too much hustle. Harper does exhibit warning signs as a player, but as a 21 year old with relatively little Major League experience, it is obvious that he still has much to learn. He probably did not need to take third base on a bases-clearing hit as a double would have still produced the same result, but if Harper hadn’t been injured, we would be talking about how much hustle he showed and that he put his team in a better chance to add to their lead. Situational awareness also factors in when you realize that his hit gave the Nats a sizable lead, but at the same time, Harper was playing the style of baseball he is accustomed to playing.
Hopefully in the future, Bryce will learn how to corral his enthusiasm and filter it into creating a more positive result for both him and his team. Until then, we can only hope that his thumb heals quickly. And for that matter, that all the other injured Nationals have a speedy recovery.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, there is this pesky thing which sometimes gets in the way of recreational activities. School. Needless to say it has been a busy past couple of weeks since I last posted about the reaction to my push-up video, and much has transpired since then. Let’s get ourselves caught up:
- First and foremost is the most exciting news. My dad received two tickets to Opening Day at Nationals Park for his birthday, which means he and I will be taking in all of the April 4th festivities! I will be sure to take lots of pictures and report back on all the happenings. Sadly, it’s against the Barves (yes, that was on purpose), but Opening Day is Opening Day and I can’t wait to be apart of it.
- Once again this year, Sports Illustrated has chosen the Washington Nationals as their pick to win the World Series. As many of you may remember, they also chose us last year and some blamed the disappointing season on this “curse.” We will see how the year plays out and if, hopefully, they will be correct.
- From a roster standpoint, the most notable move of the month was new manager Matt Williams’ decision to send Ross Detwiler to the bullpen to begin the season. Many presumed he would take over the role of 5th starter behind Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, and Fister, but that was not to be. Rather, it is still a competition between last season’s two star rookies, Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark (pronounced Row-ark).
- Doug Fister will likely start the season on the disabled list after suffering a strained lat as Spring Training came to a close. Hopefully he recovers quickly and can get back as soon as possible. On a positive note, barring anything drastic happening in their exhibition game against the Tigers this Saturday, this will be the most serious injury coming out of Spring Training. Needless to say, the Nationals were pretty lucky in not suffering any major/serious injuries.
- On a personal note, the high school baseball season is already underway. It feels good to once again be playing baseball myself. I’ll keep you all updated on how we do as the season progresses.
Only four (4!!!!) more days until the Nats open their season away against the Mets on Monday. We’ve been waiting long enough, let’s get started.