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How the MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, from Washington to Los Angeles

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USA TODAY Sports

How the MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day, from Washington to Los Angeles

By Michaela Johnson

Every year since 2004, the MLB has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day to commemorate Robinson’s significant and historic effects on the game of baseball.

On opening day 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American Major League Baseball player, breaking the race barrier between the MLB and the Negro leagues of the time.

To honor Robinson, players and team personnel wear the number 42, a jersey number that has been retired from the league since 1997. Robinson was the first athlete in any sport to have his number universally retired.

In addition to playing in No. 42 jerseys, individual clubs and players have their own ways of celebrating Jackie Robinson.

The Nationals took part by holding their annual Black Heritage Day on the same day as Jackie Robinson Day. Nats skipper Dusty Baker, one of two Black managers in the MLB, talked about the significance of this day in a post-game press conference. “Every day is Jackie Robinson Day to me,” Baker said. “If  it weren’t for him I wouldn’t be in baseball and I wouldn’t be working as a player and I wouldn’t have a job.”

Outfielder Bryce Harper shared this photo of his custom cleats.

For you 42!🙌🏻 #JackieRobinsonDay • • • • • 🎨:@dezcustomz

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones explained what Jackie Robinson Day means to him in an interview with ESPN. “It's a celebration of a man that was ahead of his time and at the forefront for what he believed in,” Jones said. “I always try to ... understand what he's been through and try and treat baseball as the treat it really is.”

Jones also wore custom cleats for the day.

Thanks to @nikebaseball for these amazing shoes on Jackie Robinson Day.

A post shared by 10 (@simplyaj10) on

The Dodgers, with whom Robinson spent all ten years of his major league career, unveiled a bronze statue of his signature slide into home plate. The club has moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles since Robinson's time, but his legacy within the organization lives on just as strong. Robinson’s wife, daughter and a number of extended family members attended the ceremony. The statue at Dodger Stadium is the eighth statue of Robinson in the country, reportedly the most of any American athlete.

Former MLB commissioner Bud Selig officially stated the Jackie Robinson Day would occur annually on April 15 in 2005. The league-wide donning of No. 42 jerseys began in 2009 and has been a tradition ever since.

Here are some other examples of clubs and players honoring Robinson around the league:

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano: "Jackie is my hero."

The San Francisco Giants used Jackie Robinson Day to look forward to their own African American Heritage night. 

Indians manager Terry Francona put it best, saying, "In my opinion, this is the most important day we salute, or we honor, of any day of the year." 

More MLB: 10 INSANE BALLPARK FOODS YOU'LL SEE IN 2017

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

Remember when the Nationals put Trea Turner in centerfield so they could keep Danny Espinosa at shortstop?

Two years later it's Turner who leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR, as you surely know if you follow the Nationals on literally any social media platform. 

So while Juan Soto and Bryce Harper continue to dominate all of The Takes, it's Turner who's been the Nats' best position player this season. 

We'll start with some basics: 

Did you know that Trea Turner leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR? He's currently sitting at 2.4 WAR, above the likes of Brandon Crawford, Addison Russell, and Trevor Story, to name a few. (We'll ignore the fact that the top six shortstops in the A.L. all have a better fWAR.) He's a top-10 shortstop in baseball during one of the strongest eras in the position's history.

Even after a dreadfully slow start, Turner's still on pace to have the best season of his career. He posted a WAR of 2.9 last year and -- barring injury -- will realistically eclipse that by the All-Star game. 

At the plate, two stats jump off the page in regards to explaining Turner's stellar season. 

First, Turner is drawing a *bunch* of walks. His current BB% clip (10.6 percent) would be far and away the best of his career and up four percentage points from last year. It's a factor that helps explain - partially, at least - why his on-base percentage has risen and his BABIP has dropped. More walks mean fewer swings, fewer swings mean less contact, less contact means lower BABIP, etc. It's not the whole picture, but it's a big part of it. 

Secondly, Turner is making impressive contact on pitches out of the strike zone. FanGraphs calculates out-of-zone contact using a statistic titled O-Contact, which is a blessing considering some of the titles they choose to give their other stats. 

The average O-Contact across MLB in 2018 is 64.7 percent. Trea Turner's career O-Contact is 62.4 percent (although realistically it's closer to the high-50's - a small-sample-size from his abbreviated first season mucks up the number a bit). 

This season, Turner's posted an O-Contact of 69.3 percent. Not only is that 10 percentage points higher than his O-Contact from last season, but a top-50 clip in all of baseball. He's one spot ahead of Mike Trout!  Put both of these together with some encouraging Statcast numbers (rise in HardHit%, already matched his total 'barrels' from last season) and you can see why Turner's been thriving at the plate. 

Defensively, he's improved across the board as well. His UZR and DRS - considered the two most reliable fielding statistics, if such a thing exists - are both up from last year. He has the 10th-best UZR of all major league shortstops and ranks 1st in DRS. 

Last season, he finished 17th in both UZR and DRS (of all shortstops with at least 800 innings; Turner didn't log enough innings to be considered a qualified fielder). He ended the season with both numbers in the negative. 

You may be skeptical of defensive stats, which is fine. But if nothing else, the fact that Turner is turning literal negative stats into positive ones is encouraging. 

Lastly, Turner continues to be an elite baserunner. At this point in his career, his speed is arguably his best tool:

You'll note that purple dot allllllllllll the way on the right. That's Turner! Now, let's take a look at how his speed compares across all positions:

Essentially, Turner is faster than like, 98 percent of baseball. In fact, by Sprint Speed, he's the 6th-fastest player in the game. He also ranks 2nd across all of baseball in FanGraphs "Baserunning" measurements, only behind fellow teammate and mindbogglingly good baserunner Michael A. Taylor. 

So, Trea Turner an elite baserunner (maybe the best if you combine his raw speed with his baserunning stats), a top-5 shortstop in the field, and an All-Star at the plate. 

Juan Soto's been great and Bryce Harper is still extremely talented, but this year, Trea Turner has been the Nationals' best player. 

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