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Jayson Werth goes after home plate umpire CB Bucknor after horrendously blown call in ninth inning almost costs Nationals

Jayson Werth goes after home plate umpire CB Bucknor after horrendously blown call in ninth inning almost costs Nationals

Jayson Werth was so fed up with homeplate umpire C.B. Bucknor at the end of last night's game against the Braves that he had to be held back from going after Bucknor as the umpires walked off the field. 

Werth was disgruntled the entire game because of how bad Bucknor's strike zone was. 

But what really sent Werth over the top was the final play of the game. With the Nationals clinging to a 3-1 lead (and trying to avoid another bullpen meltdown) with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, reliever Shawn Kelley appearded to have struck out Braves catcher Chase d'Arnaud as he swung and missed at a breaking ball. However, Bucknor said that d'Arnaud foul tipped the pitch and that the game was not over. 

The thing about it was d'Arnaud wasn't even close to tipping the pitch. Check it out for yourself. 

The play was even more bizarre because Bucknor didn't immediately or confidently make the call. He kind of signaled that it was a foul ball, and then kind of signaled that d'Arnaud was out. Then all the umpires came together and ruled that it indeed was a foul ball. A foul tip, by the way, is not reviewable under MLB's instant replay. Bucknor, a 20-year veteran umpire completely botched the call, and he got blasted by the Nationals Radio announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. Slowes called it a horrible job by the umpires, and Jageler called it embarrasing and that it would have been disgusting if the Braves had benefited from the call. 

During the umpire's conference on the field, the Nationals dugout had emptied as they were going through their normal handshake line after a win. Even the grounds crew thought the game was over as they were all out on the field. So after the Nationals players went back to the dugout, both team's relievers went back to their respective bullpens, and the groundscrew left the field, Kelley had to get d'Arnaud out AGAIN. Kelley threw him a nearly identical breaking ball, and d'Arnaud again swung and missed, so the Nationals held on for their 3-1 win. 

But what if the Braves had tied the game, or won the game after that? The thought of that is what had Werth so mad after the game that he ran in from left field to get in Bucknor's face. 

After the game, Werth of course was very critical of Bucknor. 

While Werth is 100 percent right about Bucknor, don't be surprised if he has a hefty fine or a suspension coming down the pike for the way he went after the umpire, or for his comments after the game. 

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Explaining my National League ROY ballot

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USA Today Sports

Explaining my National League ROY ballot

This was tight. Really tight. A category for the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. A category for the Nationals’ Juan Soto.

Sorting through 16 categories showed Acuna and Soto should have split the National League Rookie of the Year award. It also showed me a narrow advantage for Soto, which is why I voted him first, Acuna second and Dodgers starter Walker Buehler third. Once the votes from other members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America were added, Acuna won, Soto was second and Buehler was third. It wasn’t close. It should have been.

First, a thought about the general process here: Writers take this seriously. Once assignments for the awards are distributed, we start to talk about them in the Nationals Park press box. Even non-voters hop in on the conversation. Sympathies are relayed to those who have an extremely tight choice, as I did this season and last when I voted for MVP (I’m big in Cincinnati thanks to my Joey Votto selection).

I outline specific categories, talk to opposing players and managers and watch as much as possible in order to come to a conclusion. The only thing easy about voting for ROY this season was the chance to see the leading candidates often since one played here and the other is in the division.

I used 16 categories to largely determine my vote. They were as follows: OPS, OPS+, Baseball Reference WAR, Fangraphs WAR, Baseball Prospectus WARP, OBP, WRC+, SB, HR, late-and-close OPS, 2 outs RISP OPS, BB:K ratio, WPA, “Clutch”, WOBA, and an overall defensive mark.

There’s no perfect formula here. But, when looking through those, Soto took nine, Acuna six and one, Fangraphs WAR, was even. That, coupled with Soto doing this in his age-19 season as the league’s youngest player (Acuna was just 20, so, like everything else the leader’s advantage here is slight), and talking to others in the league, prompted me to vote for Soto.

Again, the gaps were minute. Baseball Reference’s WAR formula favored Acuna. Fangraphs had them even. Baseball Prospectus put Soto clearly ahead. Soto was significantly better in late-and-close situations. Acuna was better with two outs and runners in scoring position.

If Soto had a distinct lead anywhere, it was via command of the strike zone, which is currently his premier talent. His walk and strikeout rates were both superior to Acuna. When asked about Soto, opponents and teammates alike brought it up.

However, Acuna is the better defender and baserunner. Points back to his favor.

Soto was intentionally walked 10 times signifying what opponents thought of dealing with him. Acuna was intentionally walked just twice (though his spot in the order has some influence there).

This ping-ponging of qualifications could go on.

What the National League East has is two of the best players in baseball. Not just young players at this stunningly low age, but two of the best. Soto was fourth in on-base percentage and seventh in OPS in the National League when adjusted to be among the qualified leaders (an explanation from Baseball Reference: In order to rank the player, the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to the player's season total.). Acuna was eighth in slugging under the same adjustment.

The 2019 All-Star Game is in Cleveland. Expect both to be there and this to be just the beginning of them being measured against each other.

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Nationals' phenom Juan Soto finishes as NL Rookie of the Year runner-up to Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr.

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USA TODAY Sports

Nationals' phenom Juan Soto finishes as NL Rookie of the Year runner-up to Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr.

Despite a surprising, impressive and historic start to Juan Soto's career in Major League Baseball, the Washington Nationals' young star finished as the runner-up in the National League Rookie of the Year voting behind winner Ronald Acuña Jr. and ahead of finalist Walker Buehler, the league announced Monday.

For the Nationals' rising star who didn't shed his teenager status until after Washington's season ended, finishing second behind another similarly impressive player doesn't diminish his record-breaking accomplishments throughout the 2018 season -- so many of them related to being a 19-year-old rookie.

After the Nats called Soto up in the spring, he made his debut in the majors on May 20, quickly becoming famous for both his power and consistency and drawing countless comparisons to teammate Bryce Harper. He broke or tied too many records to list here -- but you can find them on NBC Sports Washington -- so we're highlighting the biggest.

He finished his rookie year with a .292 batting average, slugging at .517 and racking up 22 home runs, 70 RBI and 79 walks -- the most by a teenager in MLB history which also made him the only teenager with more than 60 walks in a single season.

Both the highest for a teenager in MLB history, Soto finished with a .406 OBP -- he's also the only teenager to break .400 -- and a .923 OPS, which put him second and third, respectively, among all NL hitters. He became the first teenager to finish with a slash line of at least .290/.400/.500 and the first rookie since Albert Pujols in 2001 to do it, according to MLB.com.

His three multi-home run games are the most by a teenager in MLB history, as are his multi-walk games (16). Soto also racked up 22 home runs this season, which tied Harper for second by a teenager, behind Tony Conigliaro with 24.

Soto started the 2018 season with the Class A Hagerstown Suns before getting bumped up to the Potomac Nationals (Class A-Advanced) and the Harrisburg Senators (Double-A) on his way to the majors.

With the Braves playing in the postseason before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, 20-year-old Acuña finished his rookie year with a slash line of .293/.366/.552, having a slight advantage over Soto in both batting average and slugging percentage. He also had the edge over the Nats rookie in home runs (26) and hits (127 vs. 121).

Winning the NLCS with the Dodgers before falling the World Series to the Boston Red Sox, Buehler was the lone pitcher in the NL Rookie of the Year race. The 24-year-old right-hander finished his first season with a 2.62 ERA on an 8-5 record. He struck out 151 batters and gave up 12 home runs.

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