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Way to go, kid! Young enjoys little brother's HR


Way to go, kid! Young enjoys little brother's HR

Dmitri Young might have been the happiest fan at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.

The former Tigers designated hitter had a good view of his little brother Delmon's home run during Detroit's 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL championship series.

Watching Delmon play in Detroit for the first time, Dmitri, 12 years older than his brother, was in the 25th row behind home plate. He captured video of the solo shot, starting with the crack of the bat.

``I put my phone up and bam!'' Young said with an ear-to-ear grin later in the game. ``I'm real proud of him.''

Dmitri Young, 39, was a two-time All-Star who played in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit (for five seasons) and Washington from 1996-2008. He was a career .292 hitter with 171 homers, 301 doubles and 683 RBIs.

The elder Young was the 2007 NL comeback player of the year after bouncing back from personal, professional, legal and substance-abuse problems to hit a career-best .320 and become an All-Star for the second time.


MAKING IT WRIGHT: Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright is coming off one of the worst starts of his career. Still, he said it had nothing to do with end-of-the-year fatigue in his first season since missing all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery.

Wainwright allowed six runs over 2 1-3 innings in falling behind Washington 6-0 in Game 5 of the NL division series. St. Louis pulled off a stunning rally and won 9-7, getting him off the hook.

Wainwright said part of the problem was location - three pitches left up in the strike zone in the first inning were hammered. Familiarity might also have been an issue, considering Wainwright faced the Nationals twice late in the season and in Game 1 of the NLDS.

``I may have fell into a pattern,'' he said. ``I may have gotten a little predictable there.''

The right-hander will get a chance to redeem himself Thursday night in Game 4 of the NLCS against San Francisco.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said he's seen no signs of wear and tear even though Wainwright, counting the playoffs, has topped 200 innings in his comeback season. He was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA during the regular season.

``We've watched him close and those warning signs that we've been looking for really haven't jumped out,'' Matheny said. ``And we're going to continue to watch him close just like we do every other pitcher.''


WHERE'S ROBBY? Robinson Cano ended the season on a torrid hitting streak that helped the New York Yankees edge Baltimore for the AL East title.

The playoffs have been an entirely different story.

Cano was hitless in 29 consecutive at-bats, a postseason record, before his ninth-inning single off Detroit left-hander Phil Coke in Game 3 of the AL championship series. The four-time All-Star was 1 for 14 (.071) through the first three games of the series and 3 for 36 (.083) in the postseason.

A striking slump for a guy who batted .615 over the last nine games of the regular season to finish at .313 with 33 homers and 94 RBIs.

``If you talk about one guy struggling in our lineup that might be the most shocking, it is definitely going to be Robby Cano,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday. ``He's run into some bad luck and at times he chased some pitches. But you hope the hit he got off a lefty - a lot of times you say a lefty gets a hit off a lefty, that's what's going to get him going. You hope that's it.''

Cano, a .258 career hitter in the postseason before this year, was hardly the only Yankees slugger struggling at the plate. New York was batting .200 in the playoffs, including .196 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees hit .182 while dropping the first three games of the ALCS to the Tigers.

Game 4 was postponed Wednesday because of a forecast for heavy rain and rescheduled for Thursday at 4:07 p.m. EDT.


BUMGARNER OUT: Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't ruled out starting Madison Bumgarner again in the NL championship series. It won't happen in the next two games, though.

Bochy said after Game 3 that Tim Lincecum will start Game 4 and Barry Zito in Game 5.

``We feel it's time to get Madison a little break,'' Bochy said.

Bumgarner won 16 games for the NL West champs this season but has struggled mightily in the playoffs, with an 11.25 ERA in two starts. He lasted just 3 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the NLCS, giving up six earned runs in a 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

``Well, I don't think I'm concerned to a point where we don't plan on using him,'' Bochy said. ``He's on the staff. He had a hiccup his first start, actually the last couple. He's getting out of sync with his mechanics a little bit.''


SEASONED SKIPPER: Often criticized during an uneven regular season, Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been hailed in Michigan for making all the right moves during the postseason.

``When you're in a passionate town like we're in, and the people have so much passion for baseball, you are going to have to live with a lot of negatives and a lot of positives,'' Leyland said. ``You get both of them. You get positives and you get negatives and you have to learn to roll with that punch.''

Leyland deflected credit he's been getting to a pair of former managers on his staff, third base coach Gene Lamont and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

``All three of us were with the Pittsburgh Pirates,'' Leyland said. ``It hasn't been easy in Pittsburgh. The economics were not good. They could not go out and get players.''

Leyland leads active managers with 1,676 wins in the regular season, a total that ranks him 15th on the career list.

He is managing in the playoffs for the third time with Detroit and seventh time overall in 21 years. Leyland led the Pirates to three consecutive NL East titles from 1990-92, left to lead the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship in 1997 - his first year with the franchise - was Colorado's manager for only one season and helped the Tigers reach the 2006 World Series during his first year in the Motor City.

``I am fortunate to have been around a lot of good people,'' he said. ``And, it all boils down to the same thing at the end: Get good players, you have a chance.''

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

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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 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.