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Ramos comes through with go-ahead hit against D'Backs


Ramos comes through with go-ahead hit against D'Backs

Since the Nationals traded for Wilson Ramos back in 2010, he has shown flashes of All-Star capabilities as a catcher who can at times look like one of the best hitters in the league at his position. Injuries have always been his problem, at least until this year.

Ramos has been in the lineup more often to this point of the season than in any since 2011. But for whatever reason, his offensive numbers just haven't lived up to what many thought he would produce if given the fortune of good health.

That was not the case on Tuesday night, as Ramos drove in two runs in the bottom of the eighth to push the Nationals to a 5-4 victory over Arizona and snap a four-game losing streak along the way. He poked a single to right field off Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez that was just enough to bring Ryan Zimmerman home from third and Jayson Werth in from second.

"That was big because I helped the team to win this game. It was an important game for the team," Ramos said. "I just want to say thanks God and thanks to my family for their support. Like they say, after bad things good things come. That's very important."

Ramos reached base two other times on the night. He walked in the first inning off Patrick Corbin and singled in the third off Josh Collmenter. The 27-year-old catcher had not been on base three times in a game since July 5, and has done so just five times in 81 outings this season.

Ramos has been watching film of his swing in the 2011 season to help get back to basics and fix his approach.

"I was watching my swings from the 2011 season and that helped me. That helped me a little bit in my standing position. I did it today and felt more comfortable at the plate. I will stay like that for the rest of the season because I feel comfortable now," he said.

Ramos reached second base on his go-ahead hit thanks to a throw home by Ender Inciarte. Once on the bag Ramos clapped his hands and pointed to the dugout to celebrate. He explained why afterwards:

"Because every time I try to do my best, I try to help my team, and in this opportunity I did. It make me feel excited. In this moment, I have to enjoy it because this moment is not happening often. I have to enjoy it. I was trying to give more energy to my team. Everything I try to do is for my team, try to help my team win games."

Now he just hopes it will carry over to the next day, as the Nationals can use help on offense from anywhere they can get it right now.

"It made me so excited because I want to get my confidence back," Ramos said. "Now I will go back to sleep and try to have a good dream. That's good."

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

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.