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Redmond introduced as Marlins' manager

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Redmond introduced as Marlins' manager

MIAMI (AP) At his introductory news conference Friday, new Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond engaged in the traditional ritual of donning the team jersey for photos, then sat down at a microphone and announced he would keep his shirt on while taking questions.

His pants, too.

As a backup catcher for the 2003 Marlins, Redmond took batting practice naked in an indoor cage to help the team shake a slump. The ploy worked, and the Marlins went on to win the World Series.

Now he's back in Miami and eager to be remembered for more than ``the nudity incident,'' as Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest called it.

``That was a thing I did to get a laugh, and it still gets laughs,'' Redmond said with a laugh. ``But if you ask any guy on that team about that, they'd all say the same thing - it did its job. It kept us loose, and as crazy as it is, it worked. At the time, we needed it.''

Redmond, who spent the past two years managing Class A teams in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, signed a three-year contract. He replaces Ozzie Guillen, fired last week following one dismal season in Miami.

After Guillen flopped as a big-name, headline-making manager, the Marlins went the other direction with his replacement. Redmond, who spent 13 years in the majors as a backup catcher, wryly said he has only two followers on Twitter - in part because he has never tweeted.

He becomes the Marlins' fifth manager since mid-2010, and Beinfest said they've finally found a keeper.

``This man is universally respected and liked throughout baseball,'' Beinfest said. ``This is a major win for us in a lot of ways. Mike is going to have so much support from people he has touched in the game that it is going to be tough for him not to succeed.''

Redmond, 41, recalled that even in his first minor-league season in 1993, his baseball card said he would ``be a coach when his playing days are over.''

``I sat on the bench a lot,'' Redmond said. ``It's well documented. And I watched. I learned. I asked questions. I pumped my teammates up. I did the things I knew would help a team win. And now as a manager, I know what to do. I know what buttons to push, and I can't wait to get going. I wish spring training started tomorrow.''

First he must complete a coaching staff. Joe Espada was retained as third base coach, Reid Cornelius was retained as bullpen coach and Perry Hill was hired as first base-infield coach. Batting coach Eduardo Perez and pitching coach Randy St. Claire will not return.

Redmond signed his first professional contract with the Marlins in 1992, the year before their first game, and he played with them for seven seasons.

He was the backup catcher to Ivan Rodriguez on the 2003 team, and the story of Redmond taking batting practice naked has become the stuff of franchise legend.

``It was just one of those days, man,'' Redmond said. ``I just got up and grabbed my bat, and off I went.''

When the Marlins began winning, he took BP nude for about a week straight to help them rebound from a poor start to the season. He went without clothes again to help them end a slump in August.

Beinfest, who was then with the Marlins, said the high jinks were revealing regarding Redmond in more ways than one.

``You could do that but have no impact. He had a way where the timing was correct,'' Beinfest said. ``It's very hard to lead from the bench. This guy was a leader. To be able to lead a championship-caliber team from the bench and have the respect of the guys playing every day speaks a lot to what he's about.''

Redmond said that while his sense of humor is a plus as a manager, he takes winning and losing very seriously.

``As a player I was a guy who kept guys loose. As a manager I'm still that guy,'' he said. ``At the same time I'm a leader and a competitor, and I have a lot of fire. Ask any guy I played against.''

Redmond wore his gaudy 2003 World Series ring to the news conference as a reminder of the franchise's past glory. The Marlins were a bust in their new ballpark this year, finishing last in the NL East at 69-93, their worst record since 1999.

``To the fans: Things are going to get better,'' Redmond said. ``I'm going to get it done.''

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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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