April 17, 2014

‘Damaging’ Media and MLB Free Agents: Is Scott Boras Right?

“I am angered that numerous baseball executives have blatantly and intentionally violated our collective bargaining agreement by offering to ESPN comments about free agent values of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. These statements undermine the free agent rights of the players and depress the market values.”
Tony Clark, Executive Director of the MLB Players’ Association

I’ve read a couple of interesting articles lately about player compensation in the MLB. A debate on the topic started this winter when draft-pick compensation rules were limiting free-agency spending, and the discussion has become much more aggressive this last week.

A slew of articles, particularly this one by Jon Heyman, caught my attention. They cover the feud between Scott Boras, the MLBPA, and big media and the MLB. An interesting twist, Heyman’s includes a direct response to Buster Olney’s controversial April 9th piece on the MLB market’s puzzling lack of employment for household-known, free-agent players.

This discussion is a complicated one. The battle they’re discussing maybe new, but the labor war in Major League baseball is not. It had just temporarily fallen off the front page, but it seems like it’s ready to return.

The words between Olney and Boras are nothing new, and this latest feud follows the same controversy we saw erupt from the Prince Fielder anonymous comments Olney released to the world.

For the most part, coverage on MLB labor relations has been lighter over the past few years. There hasn’t been much fruitful to talk about aside from drug testing, as the sport has enjoyed such wild growth. There’s not much to argue about when both sides are fat and happy.

But, as we’ve seen in the past, media coverage will spike on this silent battle during certain periods. Sometimes it’s topics like drug testing, player safety or expansion that attracts the spike in media coverage. But more often in this sport, it’s antitrust and anti-competitive practices that are the spark.

Scott Boras’ clients Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew are unemployed. And many of his other clients (Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse) have reeled in much less wealth than they expected based on spoils comparable players took home in past years. Because they’re well-known players, that are worth millions of dollars on the open market, there’s already something fishy in the air. No doubt, the draft-pick ties to players that turn-down qualifying offers has a significant effect. But is this keeping Morales and Drew unemployed? How? Even Nelson Cruz, whose image was crippled by PED use and his price tag plummeted due to draft-pick compensation inked a one-year $8 million contract.

There’s already some tinder here for a smoldering fire. Buster Olney’s article though, provided enough gasoline to illicit a loud response from an already-fired-up Scott Boras and representatives of the MLBPA. Now, there’s more serious courtroom talk than usual. 

The Background

Let’s go in order.

Scott Boras strongly dislikes Buster Olney, and believes he has been burned a lot lately by the negative publicity Olney points at his clients.

 Numerous articles have been published this winter and spring about the obvious effect draft-pick compensation has had on free-agent player salaries. The league is going younger, as players effective ages are increased with every new injury, physical talent is at its peak during the early/mid 20′s, and poorer young players have much more incentive to play harder than older free agents that have already accumulated a $100 million worth of comfort.

Last week, Olney proposed the already well-known theory that the MLB’s labor rules are favoring owners/investors/derivative holders relative to players/agents (also other investors and other derivative holders).

Olney observed that brand-name free agents like Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew weren’t signed this offseason, despite displaying the characteristics that would earn them hefty amounts of open-market money in past winters. For instance, they both have above-average wOBA figures for their positions.

To answer the question why? And, to see if the answer supported the theory on the table, Olney interviewed a number of powerful executives and team officials with insider information.

What Olney failed to adequately illustrate to his sea of readers, is that he offered only a one-sided  account of a two-sided war. And because that one-side he offered had insider information, and because one of this conflicts WMD’s is media airwaves, he got shelled.

Boras and the MLBPA fired back at Olney, ESPN, and big media’s marriage with big leagues.

Did Olney’s Article Undervalue Morales and Drew?

He also happens to be the agent of Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew, two players that Olney specifically involved in his article appraising their value, that only included interviews from an opposite side of a business deal.

Last year, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales were both approximately three-win players in terms of Baseball Reference’s rWAR methodology. However, there was a range in their values based on other calculations. They were within 1.6 of that mark according to the algorithms by Fangraphs (fWAR) and Baseball Prospectus (WARP).

Cleveland Indians intern Lewie Pollis calculates that the open market pays about $7 million for each win (adding 1.0 rWAR). We’re talking about $/WAR, which is an effective representation of the value of a player’s marginal product of labor/performance. And what Pollis found is that team’s pay about $7 million dollars for each win they buy on the open free agent market, in the current baseball economy.

Tom Tango’s projection algorithm doesn’t estimate what free-agent players will get like Pollis’ does, it instead estimates what they should get based on their adjusted predicted performance. Essentially, Tango finds that players who sign free-agent contracts, consistently perform below standards. It’s worth noting that this behavior is consistent with economist Edward P. Lazear’s theories on long-term-contracted workers shirking/slacking once they have guaranteed money, and are being paid closer/above the value of their marginal product of labor. In fact, the MLB labor economy so closely fits his model that steeper earnings paths are generated by service-time-based, and players peak in performance in years 2-4 in service as predicted.

Anyway, I used both of these methodologies to calculate what we should expect Morales and Drew to be paid on the free agent market. And then, I compared my findings with the salary estimates stated by the eight baseball officials in Olney’s April 9th interview.

My findings are in the following three tables. The first two tables provide estimations for what we can expect Morales and Drew to earn based on Tom Tango and Lewie Pollis’ methods. The third compares the mean salary estimations for each player with the average figure that the interviewed executives provided in his article.

 

 Methodology 1 (Approximate Based on Observed $/Win)

 Player  fWAR  Estimated Total $alary  WARP  E$  rWAR  E$
 K. Morales  1.2  $8.4 (millions)  2.0  $14.0  2.8  $19.6
 S. Drew  3.4  23.8  2.9  20.3  3.1  21.7

 

Methodology 2 (Based on Predicted Player Performance)

 Player  fWAR  Estimated Total $alary
 WARP  E$  rWAR  E$
 K. Morales  1.2  $4.9 (millions)  2.0  $8.2  2.8  $11.5
 S. Drew  3.4  14.0  2.9  12.0  3.1  12.7

 

Sketchy Business? Estimated $alary Market vs. Olney Article

 Player  Mean Estimated $alary  Olney Mean $alary  Difference
 K. Morales  $11.1 (millions)  $6.9 (millions)  $4.2
 S. Drew  17.4   7.9  9.5

 

On the surface, Boras’ accusations/assertions are justified. And when we did deeper, they’re still justified, just less so.

We now see that the interviews were vastly more favorable for the team’s side of the deal than the free-agent player side. Not only were the commenters anonymous, their views were unchallenged by equally bullish estimates, and this elementary analysis shows that they followed their predicated behavior (bearish wage estimates).

In the ESPN article, Morales was appraised at $4.2 million below what he was worth in predicted salary, and Drew was appraised at a whopping $9.5 million below. Now, because there are only 8 observations, each person interviewed was anonymous, we can’t be too confident and weighting effectively is impossible. But these numbers do paint a picture. They clearly indicate that the article strongly devalued the two players. In Morales’ case, the highest estimate was $9 million, and the median was $7.25 million, which are both still significantly below his $11.1 million estimated salary.

In Drew’s case, he was even more drastically undervalued–over $9.5 million below what he’s projected to produce in 2014. His median was $7.5 million and most team officials suggested $7-7.5 million.

Of course, draft-pick compensation plays a huge part in player compensation as well. Here, both players turned down qualifying offers, tying them to first-round picks for 2/3 of the team that would bid for their services. So, signing them is essentially trading a draft pick as well, and picks in this range are generally worth between 0.5 to 1.8 fWAR over a six-year span.

Accounting for these issues helps explain Morales’ unemployment, and makes Boras’ argument less visible in this case. However, Drew’s nearly $10 million difference is hard to buy on those factors alone. And, as both players are still unemployed, there’s even a strong possibility that both players are seeing a much stronger effect from the negative media coverage.

Numbers aside though, the article even reads negatively regarding both players. For instance, Buster’s second interview question: 

Would the fact that they haven’t had a spring training and would need time to get game-ready factor into your offer? 

It’s just one sentence but if you read the entire article, you’ll see that there’s few positives that support the case to sign Drew or Morales.

To me, either free agent has plenty of enticing qualities if I’m trying to put together a winning team. Neither is my cup of tea, but I see enough skills and low enough cost to take a chance if I’m in GM shoes. Again, that’s what’s so puzzling now that they’re salary demands are so reduced.

Morales, though not a premium hitter, boats plenty of valuable skills in todays game. Having to spend his home games in the league’s two toughest parks on hitters during his MLB career hasn’t stopped him from posting a .207 ISO at home. And last year, while playing for a terrible lineup without protection, the switch hitter put together a .277/.336/.449 line. That kind of pop would translate nicely to Camden Yards or US Cellular for instance. And while his injury history is troubling, I wouldn’t be all too worried on a short-term deal. He played 134 games in 2012 and 156 last year.

As for Drew, I would pretty much discount the player he was up until 2011 when he fractured his ankle and tore multiple ligaments in a nasty injury. And judging by his short stays in Oakland and Boston, and the way he left Arizona, it doesn’t seem to be a sure thing that he’s good in the clubhouse. However, on paper, the player he is now is very useful. He plays positions up the middle with shallow talent pools, and he offers solid average or better defense all over the infield. He gets on base at a solid clip (.333 in 2013, .326 with the A’s in 2012) and he’s one of the relatively few available middle infielders that can give you a .150-.200 ISO while playing reliable defense.

 

Why? It’s Business.

Olney’s article was one-sided. After all, he did solely interview executives and team officials despite the topic being the market value of players. Obviously, as Econ 101 teaches, price is largely determined by supply and demand.

The interviewed executives had a clear, obvious incentive to provide low-ball salary predictions and estimates. It’s part of their job. They represent the teams that bid on these free-agent players, and are those directly involved in the deal. If they sign a player for less, they are rewarded for a job well done by their own employers:

Congrats Brian, my wonderful GM! You saved me a ton of money by signing Edwin Encarnacion well below the value of his performance. 

Or

You signed Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano and Rafael Soriano for how much!? You’re fired!

Or

John, you signed Manny Ramirez, Omar Vizquel and Sandy Alomar before arbitration eligibility. By taking some extra risk, we we will be vastly rewarded! 

You get the point. The guys Olney interviewed have strong incentive to undervalue both Drew and Morales. Major League Baseball is a show, and a public relations powerhouse.

Image matters for everyone, but especially ball players. It’s hard to hand someone a big contract ignorant of what the future brings.  So teams analyze players harder than anyone–as if they have tens of millions on the line. So, rumors aren’t harmless, and negative media certainly isn’t. Because public image is such a large part of the equation and there’s so much money on the table, articles like Olney’s on ESPN make the salary depression effect even more powerful.

Is it intentional? Most likely. It’s a poker game. There’s plenty of elbow-elbow, wink-wink, colluding going on. And there’s plenty of outright effort to beat the system. What would you do to make millions of dollars? Tens? Hundreds?

By gaining together, and using ESPN’s massive sounding boards to undervalue Drew and Morales as a group, downward pressure is placed on these player’s expected compensation–for the benefit of teams individually and also the owners as a whole.

If the contract values of players fall, the overall market price for their skills falls. This same effect is what makes the Yankees so dangerous in free agency, to not only small market teams but to themselves and the entire MLB. Because their pool of wealth is so much larger, if they bid $40 million higher than the next guy to get C.C. Sabathia, that pushes considerable upward forced on free agent prices for them and everyone else moving forward.

Obviously, to make it a more objective depiction, a neutral writer would provide a two-sided piece–or would at least explicitly acknowledge the bias.

 

And that’s what Boras, and the MLB Players Union has a problem with.

Is Buster Olney out to get Scott Boras and MLB players? Of course not. However, it is worth noting that the richer, more powerful side of the owners and players battle is the former. And if I’m a media organization that is vying for an even larger cut of my already dominant market share, who is it in my best interest to side with?

More than anything, it’s the system.

Commenters on free agency are protected by anonymity, which does have its pitfalls. It keeps reduces accountability, and while this is an essential part of free speech and press, it’s also very exploitable. The imperfect information in the deal between free-agent player and employer team is unbelievably expensive and risky–lots of guaranteed money. Allowing either side a forum to influence the deal’s outcome and providing anonymity is a recipe for dirty pool.

 

What They’re Saying

As players are regulated to adhere to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules on drug testing, and draft-pick-tying, Boras believes franchise owners should be equally accountable for breaking league rules by suggesting lower player values and depressing markets/wages for players with damaging publicity.

In Jon Heyman’s article, Boras said that he plans on pursuing a grievance against the league, evening discussing the use of subpoena power to unearth the identities of the anonymous sources that provide these comments.

“It’s a clear violation of the CBA. As many as five executives continue to use ESPN as a conduit to violate the collective bargaining agreement…The bell is rung…Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew were damaged by these comments. The integrity of the game is challenged when players of this stature have yet to have a negotiation due to the system.”

 

Tony Clark and the MLBPA addressed the Commissioner’s Office as well, asking them to launch an investigation regarding the comments made in Olney’s article. Clark released this statement in a press release:

“I am angered that numerous, anonymous baseball executives have blatantly and intentionally violated our collective bargaining agreement by offering to ESPN comments about the free-agent values of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. These statements undermine the free-agent rights of the players and depress their market value. Today, I have called upon the Commissioner’s Office to investigate immediately and thoroughly the sources of these statements and to take appropriate action to enforce our agreement.”

 

Boras supported Clark’s earlier statements by stating his belief that there needs to be a “remedy” for the two free agents, and changes to the system overall.

As mentioned before, Boras has been vocal on this topic for a long time, and he’s already had his share of words with Olney. In his July interview with Tom Haudricourt, he discussed the similarly negative and anonymous comments clouding Prince Fielder’s image Olney posted on his blog. Boras pointed out, that both sides of the story weren’t adequately portrayed, and he painted Fielder as a victim:

 

“This stuff about a ‘bad body’ is bull…[Fielder] may be a thick guy but he’s an athlete. He certainly is not the worst first baseman in the league like they say. It’s all hearsay. I’m tired of unnamed sources…Nobody mentioned that he just tied the club record for consecutive games played…They didn’t talk about that…People who know Prince know about his work ethic, what he’s like in the clubhouse and the attitude he takes out there every day, wanting to win. It has nothing to do with his body type. All of those things boost his value.”

Boras is no stranger to airing his gripes, even when they seem to be a stretch, or overly dramatic. In this case, he has a firm leg to stand on, but it’s a difficult matter that doesn’t have a clean solution on the table.

 

Washington Nationals Walk-Up Music 2014

**List updated 04/14/2014**

It is a brand new season and we’re excited to hear which songs the Washington Nationals players have selected as their batting music. District Sports Page will do its best to keep up them, however, invite fans to help us out. Please feel free to comment on this post or tweet to @cnichols14 when you hear a new song.

In case you missed previous season’s songs, you can check out the 2012 walk-up music here and 2013 walk-up music here. A few of the songs from last year are still being used early in 2014.

Ryan Zimmerman at bat - Washington Nationals Home Opener v. Atlanta Braves, 4/4/2014

Ryan Zimmerman at bat – Washington Nationals Home Opener v. Atlanta Braves, 4/4/2014

Fans love walk-up music. It is always a popular topic on Twitter, Facebook and discussion boards. Some players select music that gets them fired up, suits them perfectly or even pokes fun of themselves (i.e. Matt Stairs two years using Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was“). It can be a small window into the player’s personality.

There are superstitious players that change their music when they are slumping at the plate. And some have a handful of songs that are used in rotation.

Some players stick with the same song season after season and even years after leaving the Nationals or baseball all together, fans immediately think of that player every time they hear the song (i.e. Chad Cordero and Metallica’s “King Nothing“).

Former National Michael Morse (now with the San Francisco Giants), had the team’s most eclectic taste in his walk-up music, thanks in part to his brother helping select songs. His most popular song was “Take on Me” by A-ha, which has now become the “fans’ Natitude anthem” and is currently being used as the Nats 7th inning stretch song. The music is usually cut off before it gets to the high part of the chorus, so the fans finish it off! It started in 2010, but finally caught on and fans voices are even heard on TV. Join in next time you’re at the park.

While on the topic of music, the Nats have used “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC to take the field for several seasons. That has changed for 2014. The Nationals are now jogging out to their positions to “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy. Personally, I wish the songs would remain the same because baseball is all about traditions and would like there to be a few traditions at Nationals Park.

All of the following songs have been confirmed through various sources including programs like Shazam, Soundhound, as well as players tweets, interviews, etc. We’ve included links to videos, however, remember that there is only a few seconds of the song used during the walk-up so it may sound different at the beginning at first. There is a lot of Natitude on the list!

Please help us keep list up to date and post additional songs that we may have missed in the comments.  Thank you! Enjoy!

Ian Desmond – One Sixteen by Trip Lee (feat. KB & Andy Mineo)
Ian Desmond – Sun is Shining (Smoke Out Dubstep Remix) by Bob Marley
Ian Desmond – My Conclusion by Stephen Marley Feat. Akon & Buju Banton

Danny Espinosa – Outside by Staind
Danny Espinosa – Simple Man by Shinedown

Kevin Frandsen – Snow (Hey Oh) by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Scott Hairston – Blue Sky by Common

Bryce Harper – Dark House by Katy Perry Feat. Juicy J
Bryce Harper – TaKillya by Vinnie Maniscalco
Bryce Harper – Flower by Moby
Bryce Harper – Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo Feat. 2 Chainz

Adam LaRoche – The Only Way I Know by Jason Aldean and Eric Church
Adam LaRoche – That’s My Kind Of Night by Luke Bryan

Sandy Leon – Watch Out For This [Bumaye; Daddy Yankee Remix] by Major Lazer

Jose Lobaton – Don’t Stop the Party by Pitbull
Jose Lobaton – Mi Chica Ideal by Chico & Nacho

Nate McLouth – Kyrie by Mr. Mister
Nate McLouth – Separate Ways (World Apart) by Journey

Anthony Rendon – No Competition by Bun B. Feat. Raekwon & Kobe
Anthony Rendon – Fire by Bun B Feat. Rick Ross & 2 Chainz & Serani

Denard Span – Gotta Have It by Kanye West and Jay Z
Denard Span – I’m Ready - The Diplomats
Denard Span – We Made It Freestyle by Drake Feat. Soulja Boy

Jayson Werth – Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
Jayson Werth – Warehouse by Dave Matthews Band
Jayson Werth – The Walking Dead Theme Song
Jayson Werth – Game of Thrones Theme Song

Ryan Zimmerman – This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
Ryan Zimmerman – The Downeaster Alexa by Billy Joel

PITCHERS:

Aaron Barrett – This Is What It Feels Like (W&w Radio Edit) by Armin van Buuren Feat. Trevor Guthrie

Jerry Blevins – Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones

Tyler Clippard – Ready or Not by The Fugees

Ross Detwiler – Wherever I May Roam by Metallica (pitching)

Gio Gonzalez – Trophies by Young Money & Drake (batting) [clean version]

Taylor Jordan – Collide by Skillet

Tanner Roark – Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue

Rafael Soriano – El Rey de Monticulo —”The King of the Mound” by Ediseuri Concepcion Mejia
(Story behind song)

Craig Stammen – Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Drew Storen – When the Lights Go Out by The Black Keys

Stephen Strasburg – Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Jordan Zimmermann – Hell On Wheels by Brantley Gilbert (pitching)

 

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Internet Baseball Writers Association of DC announces Washington Nationals 2013 Player Achievement Awards

The Washington, DC chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association is an organization composed of Internet writers, on-line media outlets, and bloggers.

In accordance with its stated goal of promoting the members of the association and increasing awareness and respect as active members of the media that cover the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball club, the DC-IBWA is pleased to announce its member-voted winners of the 2013 Player Achievement Awards.

Since District Sports Page is one of the four credentialed independent sites that cover the team, we’re allowed up to three votes. This year Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief and Alyssa Wolice, Staff Writer, submitted votes.

Please feel free to leave your opinion on the votes in our comments section!

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2013 WASHINGTON NATIONALS PLAYER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

Goose Goslin Most Valuable Player (Player most valuable to the success of the Washington Nationals):

1st: Jayson Werth (61 points, 7 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (39 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Jordan Zimmermann (23 points, 3 first place votes)

Others receiving votes: Ryan Zimmerman (8), Bryce Harper (4), Denard Span (3), Tyler Clippard (2).

Dave’s Vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Desmond. What Jayson Werth did this year was nothing short of phenominal.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Werth-Clippard.

Walter Johnson Starting Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a starting pitcher):

1st: Jordan Zimmermann (76 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Stephen Strasburg (42 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (18 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (8).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Gonzalez. The stoic righty from Wisconsin opened some people’s eyes this season, both in-market and nationally. He’s every bit as accomplished a pitcher as the other two and does nothing but pound the strike zone. something the other two could pick up on.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmermann-Strasburg-Roark.

Frederick “Firpo” Marberry Relief Pitcher of the Year (Excellent performance as a relief pitcher):

 1st: Tyler Clippard (78 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Craig Stammen (30 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Rafael Soriano (28 points)

Others receiving votes: Tanner Roark (3), Drew Storen (2), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen. Clippard was unhittable almost all year. Unless, of course, when facing the Braves. Will have to get over that mental hurdle.

Alyssa’s vote: Clippard-Soriano-Stammen.

Sam Rice Hitter of the Year  (Excellence in all-around hitting, situational hitting and baserunning):

1st: Jayson Werth (68 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd:  Ian Desmond (37 points, 3 first place votes)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (17 points)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (14), Denard Span (8).

Dave’s Vote: Desmond-Werth-Harper. Would you like to see Desmond work a few more walks? Sure. Would you like to see him not force the running game in certain situations? Yes. But his transformation from free-swinging hacker to party guy at the plate has been remarkable. If nothing else, this team can thank Davey Johnson for turning Desmond into the hitter everyone in the organization thought he was going to be. This, after Jim Riggleman almost ruined him.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Desmond-Zimmerman.

Frank Howard Slugger of the Year (Excellence in power hitting):

1st: Jayson Werth (76 points, 13 first place votes)
2nd: Bryce Harper (32 points, 1 first place vote)
3rd: Ryan Zimmerman (23 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Wilson Ramos (6), Ian Desmond (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zimmerman-Werth-Ramos. The last two months of the season makes you wish Zimmerman had been at full strength from the get-go. He’s a complete power hitter in the prime of his career and hopefully an off-season of rest and normal strength training will have him primed again next season.

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Zimmerman-Harper.

Joe Judge Defensive Player of the Year (Excellence in fielding):

1st: Denard Span (61 points, 12 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (34 points, 1 first place votes)
3rd: Wilson Ramos (18 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (7), Adam LaRoche (4),  Ryan Zimmerman (3), Danny Espinosa (2), Jayson Werth (1), Kurt Suzuki (1).

Dave’s Vote: Span-Desmond-Ramos. Denard Span is a musician in center field. He never looks like he’s giving full effort because he knows how to play out there and make it look easy. But when he does makes a difficult catch, it’s that much more spectacular knowing how easy he makes the tough look routine.

Alyssa’s vote: Desmond-Span-Ramos.

Mickey Vernon Comeback Player of the Year (Player who overcame biggest obstacle in the preceding season to contribute on the field):

1st: Wilson Ramos (52 points, 8 first place votes)
2nd: Jayson Werth (12 points, 2 first place votes)
3rd: Ross Ohlendorf (11 points)

Others receiving votes: Stephen Strasburg (9, 1 first place vote), Drew Storen (6), Ryan Zimmerman (5, 1 first place vote), Taylor Jordan (5, 1 first place vote), Fernando Abad (1).

Dave’s Vote: Ram0s-Ohlendorf-Werth. Can we get a full healthy season from Wilson Ramos next season? Pretty please?

Alyssa’s vote: Werth-Ramos-Ohlendorf.

Josh Gibson Humanitarian Player of the Year (Player who meritoriously gave of himself to the community):

1st: Ryan Zimmerman (55 points, 10 first place votes)
2nd: Ian Desmond (28 points, 31 first place vote)
3rd: Gio Gonzalez (16 points, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Bryce Harper (9), Adam LaRoche (3), Denard Span (2).

DSP Vote: Zimmerman-Harper-Desmond. Zimmerman quietly goes about his philanthropic business just like he does on the field and the clubhouse.

Alyssa’s vote: Zimmerman-Span-Harper.

Minor League Player of the Year (Minor league player most destined for big league success):

1st: Lucas Giolito (20 points, 4 first place votes)
2nd: Anthony Rendon (15 points, 3 first place vote)
3rd: A.J. Cole (19 points, 1 first place vote); Brian Goodwin (19, 1 first place vote)

Others receiving votes: Taylor Jordan (17), Zach Walters (16, 3 first place votes), Billy Burns (13, 2 first place votes), Tanner Roark (6), Robby Ray (2), Nathan Karns (2), Danny Espinosa (1).

Dave’s Vote: Giolito-Cole-Goodwin. Giolito didn’t disappoint this season in his 11 starts between the Gulf League and Auburn. The 19-year old has a big fastball and two other pitches projected to be plus in the bigs.

Alyssa’s vote: Goodwin-Giolito-Cole.

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SURVEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Which players on the 40-man roster at the end of the season are least likely to return in 2010? Dan Haren (12), Chad Tracy (9), Xavier Cedeno (4), Ross Ohlendorf (4), Danny Espinosa (4), Ryan Mattheus (4), Scott Hairston (3), Fernando Abad (3), Tyler Robertson (3), Chris Marrero (2), Mauro Gomez (2), Drew Storen (2), Steve Lombardozzi (2), Rafael Soriano (2), Jeff Kobernus (1), Tyler Moore (1), Corey Brown (1), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Abad, Cedeno, Haren, Mattheus, Ohlendorf, Robertson, Marrero, Tracy, Hairston, Brown. Obviously, some of these are veterans whose time have run out. Some are failed prospects. Some are journeymen. None will be particularly missed.

Alyssa’s vote: I realize that many in Nats country will disagree with me, but I would still argue that if the Washington Nationals can move his contract elsewhere, Adam LaRoche’s days in the District may be over. Bear in mind, however, that could be quite the “if.” After all, LaRoche signed a two-year deal last winter for a guaranteed $12 million in 2014 and, at the very least, a $2 million buyout in 2015. LaRoche has contributed very little to the batting order – in fact, his peak batting average all season fell shy of .270. While everyone and their mother seemed to shake off LaRoche’s sluggish start to the season with an excuse along the lines of “That’s LaRoche being LaRoche,” his numbers never rebounded – he finished the season with a slash line of .237/.332/.403.

2. Will the Nats sign Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to a long-term contracts extension before they reach free agency? Yes-both (9), No-both (0), Desmond only (3), Zimmermann only (2).

Dave’s Vote: Going out on a limb here, but I say they re-sign Zimmermann before he hits free agency, but Desmond waits and gets offers. If he has another big year in 2014, he’ll be poised to be one of the biggest free agents available at a very high-demand position.

Alyssa’s vote: Considering that Ian Desmond has two years left of arbitration, the Nationals are likely to do what it takes to come to terms on a contract extension before their shortstop hits free agency. Mike Rizzo has described Desmond as one of the team’s leaders and he has emphasized the importance of keeping home-grown talent in D.C. Desmond just missed the All-Star roster and finished up the season with 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .280/.331/.453 slash line. Keep in mind, there are few solid shortstops available on the market today and Desmond’s two 20-20 season seasons put him in elite company in the MLB history books.

Jordan Zimmermann could be a different story. While it is in the Nats’ best interest to secure a deal with this year’s 19-game-winner, Zimmermann’s strategy to hold off on a long-term deal last year could likely work again if he can boast similar numbers in 2014. With that said, the Nats can’t afford to let this year’s ace slip out of their grasp. Zimmermann finished off the season with a 3.25 ERA – a number that could have been significantly lower had it not been for a sloppy July. And, in many ways, he is getting better with time – he tossed the first two complete-game shutouts of his career – a one-hitter and a two-hitter – and his fastball consistently topped 95 in late September, while his slider reached 90.

3. What player was the biggest surprise for the Nats this season? Tanner Roark (7), Jayson Werth (6), Taylor Jordan (3), Ian Krol (1).

Dave’s Vote: Jayson Werth. I mean, seriously, who saw that coming. He put up the best season of his career and missed a month to boot. I had serious doubts the power would come back after yet another wrist injury last season. If he’s 80 percent of this next year the Nats will be in good shape.

Alyssa’s vote: This one is a bit of a no-brainer – the Nats’ biggest surprise this year has been 26-year-old right-hander, Tanner Roark. Roark finished the season with a 7-1 record and a 1.51 ERA over 53 ⅔ innings. In his short stint, he struck out 40 batters and kept the Nats close enough in the wild card hunt to keep things interesting through the late summer. Roark is certainly a candidate for a starter role next season, but it will be interesting to see if he can enjoy such success after facing opponents for a second and third time. After all, something doesn’t quite add up – this year, he recorded a 9-3 record with a 3.15 ERA at Triple A before his Aug. 9 promotion; however, in 2012, he was 6-17 with a 4.39 ERA. While that, of course, offers signs of development and improvement, it will be interesting to see whether his mid-80s slider continues to dazzle or players will figure out his pitching arsenal.

4. What player was the biggest disappointment for the Nats this season? Dan Haren (9), Danny Espinosa (6), Denard Span (2), Adam LaRoche (1).

Dave’s Vote: Espinosa. This is the second year in a row I’ve voted for Espinosa. It’s a damn shame he’s going to let pride ruin his baseball career. If he’d had the shoulder surgery last August the Nats would have gotten him back healthy at the All-Star break and he wouldn’t have broken his wrist. Now, he’s going to lose three seasons to what should have been a very fixable injury.

Alyssa’s vote: I think Denard Span takes home the title this year. Yes, his 29-game hitting streak brought fans back into the game at a time when the Nats weren’t playing meaningful baseball. And, yes, he had that fantastic catch against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 14. But, those are essentially the only noteworthy contributions Span made this year – a year in which he was expected to be an explosive add for the Nats’ batting order. It’s true, players often struggle when adjusting to a new league, but Span’s hitting woes – particularly against left-handers – has been a bit mind-boggling. That’s not to say his dismal season is enough to warrant a trade – after all, his fielding has helped make up for what his bat has been lacking – but his .327 OBP is hardly what the Nats expected when they slated Span to be their leadoff hitter. Span’s speed on the base paths saved him a bit – he recorded 11 triples and stole 20 bags. But now, it’s up to Span to prove 2013 an outlier as he enters his second full season in the National League next year.

5. Who is your favorite professional Nationals writer? Adam Kilgore (7), Amanda Comak (4), Mark Zuckerman (3), James Wagner (1).

Dave’s Vote: Zuckerman. I’ll just re-post what I said last year — Mark’s perspective having been with the team since Day One is invaluable. It’s obvious from the community he’s built at Nats Insider that D.C. baseball fans appreciate his style and openness in covering the team. Because of his unique situation, he can blend analysis, commentary and opinion in his game stories much easier than the other beat writers, and his work is better for it — and better for the fans.

Alyssa’s vote: Adam Kilgore, for sure. That’s not to say there aren’t other quality writers on the Nats beat – there certainly are – but no other writer brings out the Nats’ personalities quite like Kilgore.

6. Who is your favorite non-professional Nationals writer? Harper Gordek-Nationals Baseball (2), Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball (2), Citizens of NatsTown (2), Dave Nichols-District Sports Page (1), Luke Erickson-Nationals Prospects (1), Joe Drugan-The Nats Blog (1), Luigi deGuzman-Natstradamus (1), Nationals Archive (1), Nationals 101 (1), Sharkadina (1), Nationals Arm Race (1).

Dave’s Vote: Patrick Reddington-Federal Baseball. Patrick chronicles the daily, hourly and really, up-to-the-minute dealings of the Nats in such excruciating detail that it’s hard to fathom how he does it. His daily links post alone must take two hours to produce, let alone transcribing EVERY SINGLE radio, tv or podcast spot that has anything to do with the Nats. Then he conducts a live Game Thread and still manages to get a recap out minutes after the game ends. He’s a true workhorse for the advancement of dialog about the Nationals.

Alyssa’s vote: It’s honestly terribly difficult to pick a favorite Nats blogger, but I’d have to say I really admire the work that everyone at The Nats Blog has done this season. Both Joe Drugan and Erin Flynn provide very well-crafted game recaps that do more than simply rehash big plays – their writing styles make it clear that they still have fun reporting on this team, even when the Nationals offered plenty of reasons to be frustrated beyond recovery.

I’ve also burnt many an hour on the Nationals Archive website – and all of their Twitter feeds – so they certainly deserve a mention.

__________________________

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats, Caps, and Wizards and covers college football and basketball for the Associated Press. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Nationals coverage on Twitter @NationalsDSP or @DaveNicholsDSP.

Alyssa Wolice is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page, covering the Nationals and Wizards. As a former production assistant, she covered the Nationals, Redskins, Capitals, Wizards, D.C. United and local collegiate teams. You can follow her on Twitter @awolice.

Jake Johansen Looking like a Draft Steal for Washington Nationals

Back in June, when the Nationals used their top draft pick on Jake Johansen, I thought to myself “the Nationals amateur scouting department is at it again.”

Even now that they’re winning, and signing free agents tied to compensation picks, the Nationals are still managing to take home the best young talent in each years draft class. After raking in all-world prospects like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman during their early, sub-500 seasons in DC, they’ve taken home Anthony Rendon, Brian Goodwin, Alex Meyer, Lucas Giolito with much weaker draft slots picks in recent years.

They’ve also used their scouting department to extract great value from areas most organizations traditionally struggle in. They found ace-level pitcher Jordan Zimmermann at UW-Milwaukee, a DII program, former P-Nats catcher and on-base machine David Freitas at U Hawaii (sent to Oakland in the Kurt Suzuki deal), and took top outfield prospect Michael Taylor in the 6th round of the ’09 draft, when few pro clubs were even giving him work outs. In the mid to late rounds of recent drafts, they’ve snagged top arms like Tommy Milone (10th round in 2008), Taylor Jordan (9th round in ’09), Nate Karns (12th round in ’09), Aaron Barrett (9th round in ’10), and Robbie Ray (12th round in ’10), as well as slugging first baseman Tyler Moore (16th round in ’08).

Essentially, while under new hard-slotting rules and with lesser picks and lesser resources in general at their disposal, the Nats are still able to get it done.

This June, saddled without a first-round pick because of an (ill-advised) Rafael Soriano contract, they still took home the draft’s most gifted young athletes. They got a 6’6″ flamethrower out of Dallas Baptist in the second round, and then took the utterly underrated and supremely-toolsy Drew Ward in the third round. They followed those two gems with a bunch of other great picks, taking Cody Gunter, a smart third-baseman with thunder in his bat, crafty little southpaw David Napoli, and PAC-10 workhorse Austin Voth.

[Read more...]

NATS: Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby

New York Mets Captain David Wright selected Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper to participate in the National League Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game along with Colorado Rockies teammates Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

Gonzalez leads the National League with 24 home runs, while Cuddyer has 15 on the year and the 20-year-old Harper and Captain Wright each have 13.

The 2013 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 15.

Bryce Harper sporting his fantastic stirrups (1st inning) - Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/22/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Bryce Harper sporting his fantastic stirrups (1st inning) – Atlanta Braves v. Washington Nationals, 8/22/2012. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

NATS: Vote for Ian Desmond! #DesiIn13

The Deadline is quickly approaching so get voting! Deadline is this, Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Vote Ian Desmond in the 2013 All-Star Game Final Man Vote! VOTE HERE. Or text N1 to 89269.
***There is no limit to the number of votes.***

Desmond All-Star Final Vote Logo

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:
From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#DesiIn13) will be tabulated as part of the overall vote total used to determine the AL and NL winners. Fans may follow @MLB on the popular social networking service for the latest standings updates in advance of the 4 p.m. ET balloting deadline.

Washington Nationals send Harper, Zimmermann to MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball announced the players selected to play in the 2013 All-Star Game, to be played at Citifield, Queens, New York Tuesday, July 16.

The Washington Nationals will be represented in the starting lineup by Bryce Harper, the youngest All-Star since Ken Griffey, Jr. in 1990. He will be joined by starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Harper was elected by the fan vote.

Harper missed over a month with an injured right knee, but he overtook Justin Upton in the final fan balloting to earn a spot in the N.L. outfield alongside the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez and the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran.

Ian Desmond was left off the N.L. team as shortstop reserves Jean Segura of Milwaukee and Everth Cabrera of the Padres were those teams’ sole representatives.

Desmond will be part of the N.L. final vote, along with Freddie Freeman of Atlanta, Adrian Gonzalez from the Dodgers, Hunter Pence of the Phillies and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers.

 

NATS: Vote Washington Nationals for 2013 All-Stars

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be held at CitiField in New York City on July 16, 2013.

2013 All-Star Game Logo

Fans can cast their votes up to 25 times at MLB.com until Thursday, July 4 at 11:59 p.m. ET to make Nationals like Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, Wilson Ramos and Jayson Werth All-Star starters.

Washington Nationals Walk-Up Music 2013

**List updated 09/17/2013**

(NEED:  Perez, Brown and Leon)

It is about time that we posted the list of music used by the Washington Nationals players so far this season! In case you missed you last season’s songs, you can check out the 2012 walk-up music here.

Adam LaRoche - Chicago White Sox v. Washington Nationals, 4/9/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Adam LaRoche – Chicago White Sox v. Washington Nationals, 4/9/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Fans love walk-up music. It is always a popular topic on Twitter, Facebook and discussion boards. Some players select music that gets them fired up, suits them perfectly or even pokes fun of themselves (i.e. Matt Stairs two years using Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was“). It can be a small window into the player’s personality. Ryan Mattheus has told fans that he won’t use another song until he finds one that “fires him up” like “Firework” (he has used since the minor leagues).

There are superstitious players that change their music when they are slumping at the plate. And some have a handful of songs that are used in rotation.

Some players stick with the same song season after season and even years after leaving the Nationals or baseball all together, fans immediately think of that player every time they hear the song (i.e. Chad Cordero and Metallica’s “King Nothing“).

Former National Michael Morse (now with the Seattle Mariners), had the team’s most eclectic taste in his walk-up music, thanks in part to his brother helping select songs. His most popular song was “Take on Me” by A-ha, which has now become the “fans’ Natitude anthem” and is currently being used as the Nats 7th inning stretch song. The music is usually cut off before it gets to the high part of the chorus, so the fans finish it off! It started in 2010, but finally caught on and fans voices are even heard on TV. Join in next time you’re at the park.

All of the following songs have been confirmed through various sources including programs like Shazam, Soundhound, as well as players tweets, interviews, etc. All of the songs have been used at one point throughout the 2013 season. We’ve included links to videos, however, remember that there is only a few seconds of the song used during the walk-up so it may sound different at the beginning at first. There is a lot of Natitude on the list!

Please help us keep list up to date and post additional songs that we may have missed in the comments.  Thank you! Enjoy!

POSITION PLAYERS:

Roger Bernadina – My Time (feat. Jeremih) by Fabulous
Roger Bernadina – The System by Popcaan

Corey Brown- NEED

Ian Desmond – One Sixteen by Trip Lee (feat. KB & Andy Mineo)
Ian Desmond – Warriors by Ky-Mani Marley
Ian Desmond – Church Clap by KB (feat. Lecrae)
Ian Desmond – The Saints by Andy Mineo (feat. KB and Trip Lee)

Danny Espinosa – Battle Scars by Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian
Danny Espinosa – Walk by Pantera
Danny Espinosa – Turn the Page by Bob Seger
Danny Espinosa – Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant

Scott Hairston – Top Down by Swizz Beatz
Scott Hairston – Blue Sky by Common

Bryce Harper – Flower by Moby
Bryce Harper – Coming Home by Diddy (feat. Skylar Grey)
Bryce Harper – It’s Tricky by Run D.M.C.
Bryce Harper – America by Ray Charles (used on 4th of July)
Bryce Harper – Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Bryce Harper – Tik Tok by Ke$ha
Bryce Harper – Jump Around by House of Pain
Bryce Harper – Roar by Katy Perry

Jeff Kobernus – Like Whaaat by Problem (feat. Bad Lucc)

Adam LaRoche – My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean
Adam LaRoche – In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
Adam LaRoche – Copperhead Road by Steve Earle

Sandy Leon – NEED

Steve Lombardozzi – Cinderella Man by Eminem [Clean Version]
Steve Lombardozzi – Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen

Chris Marrero – Don’t Stop The Party by Pitbull

Tyler Moore – Take A Little Ride by Jason Aldean
Tyler Moore – Muckalee Creek Water by Luke Bryan
Tyler Moore – Pirate Flag by Kenny Chesney
Tyler Moore – Drivin’ Around Song by Colt Ford feat. Jason Aldean

Eury Perez – NEED

Wilson Ramos – Ponme to Eso Palante by El Chuape
Wilson Ramos – Wepa by Gloria Estefan

Anthony Rendon – Still D.R.E. by Dr. Dre (feat. Snoop Dogg)
Anthony Rendon – I Run by Slim Thug

Wil Rhymes – Walk by Pantera

Jhonatan Solano – Pata Boom by Rafy & R La Fama

Denard Span – Bugatti by Ace Hood [Clean Version]
Denard Span – We Still In This Bitch by B.o.B. (feat. T.I. and Juicy J) [Clean Version]
Denard Span – Believe It by Meek Mill (feat. Rick Ross) [Clean Version]
Denard Span – Shoutout by Birdman (feat. French Montana and Gudda Gudda) [Need Clean Version]
Denard Span – Gotta Have It by Kanye West and Jay Z
Denard Spam – Tom Ford by Jay-Z [Clean version: clean lyrics]

Kurt Suzuki – Small Axe by Bob Marley
Kurt Suzuki – Jammin‘ by Bob Marley
Kurt Suzuki – Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Kurt Suzuki – One Drop by Bob Marley
Kurt Suzuki – Night Nurse by Gregory Isaacs

Chad Tracy – Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker

Zach Walters – Anything Could Happen (Remix) by Ellie Goulding

Jayson Werth – Burn It Down by Linkin Park
Jayson Werth – Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
Jayson Werth – Warehouse by Dave Matthews Band
Jayson Werth – Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin
Jayson Werth – The Walking Dead Theme Song
Jayson Werth – Game of Thrones Theme Song

Ryan Zimmerman – Radioactive by Imagine Dragons
Ryan Zimmerman – So Good by B.o.B
Ryan Zimmerman – Whatever You Like by T.I.
Ryan Zimmerman – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) by Fall Out Boy
Ryan Zimmerman – Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (feat. T.I., Pharrell)

PITCHERS:

Fernando Abad – Deliverance by Bubba Sparxxx

Tyler Clippard – Ready or Not by The Fugees

Xavier Cedeno – Limbo by Daddy Yankee

Erik Davis – No Leaf Clover by Metallica

Ross Detwiler – Wherever I May Roam by Metallica (pitching)

Zach Duke – 2 x 4 by Metallica
Zach Duke – When the Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin

Gio Gonzalez – House Party (feat. Young Chris) by Meek Mill [clean version] (pitching)
Gio Gonzalez – Standing Ovation by Young Jeezy (batting)
Gio Gonzalez – On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons (batting)

Dan Haren – Dirty Harry by Gorillaz (pitching warm up)
Dan Haren – One More Chance/Stay With Me Remix by Notorious B.I.G. (batting)
Dan Haren – Electric Feel by MGMT

Taylor Jordan – Collide by Skillet

Nathan Karns – La Grange by ZZ Top

Ian Krol – Avicii vs Lenny Kravitz by Superlove

Ryan Mattheus – Firework by Katy Perry

Ross Ohlendorf - Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen

Tanner Roark – Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue

Henry Rodriguez – Energía by Alexis & Fido

Rafael Soriano – El Rey de Monticulo —”The King of the Mound” by Ediseuri Concepcion Mejia
(Story behind song)

Craig Stammen – Eye of the Tiger by Survivor

Drew Storen – Bad Company by Five Finger Death Punch
Drew Storen – When the Lights Go Out by The Black Keys

Stephen Strasburg – Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

Jordan Zimmermann – Hell On Wheels by Brantley Gilbert (pitching)
Jordan Zimmermann – Son’s Gonna Rise by Citizen Cope (batting)

 

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Washington Nationals Minor League Update for the Week of 4/21/13

Welcome back to District Sports Page’s weekly Minor League Update. Throughout the regular season we will continue to post up-to-date stats and brief scouting reports on the hottest and coldest prospects in the Nationals’ minor league system. We also will track the progress of top-rated players, and give injury and suspension updates.

So far this season, the Nationals’ minor league system has continued to be one of the most productive and exciting in pro baseball. Flashy young stars like Brian Goodwin and Anthony Rendon are off to loud starts, while an arms race of young pitchers has torn-through opposing lineups, resulting in heaps of strikeouts.

Things got even more interesting on Saturday though. The Nationals announced that they had promoted Rendon, who is widely considered one of the premier prospects in minors, to Washington to make his highly anticipated MLB debut. While the former  Dick Howser Award winner was originally slated to spend at least the first few months of the regular season in the minors at double-A Harrisburg, Ryan Zimmerman’s recent injury and Rendon’s hot-hitting apparently forced the front office’s hand. Regardless, this is yet another exciting development in a system full of exciting developments. Rendon follows a long line of homegrown stars on the Nats big-league roster, graduating after the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper and others.

Though Rendon’s promotion has grabbed the attention of the Nats faithful, the club has plenty of other thrilling minor-league storylines. Here are a few of them–hot off the presses:

[Read more...]

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