Happy Harperween! See what I did there? I took a popular holiday and changed some of the letters so that it commemorates the Major League Debut of one Bryce Harper. It works because Harper is also a super villain and therefore kind of frightening to us average, non-mutant folk.
Harper will start tonight for his Washington Nationals in leftfield and will hopefully immediately start scaring the b’jesus of every man, woman and child in the land.
The 19-year-old who was drafted first overall in 2010 has been playing his season thus far at AAA-Syracuse where he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in 82 plate appearances with a .250/.333/.375 slash line and one home run, so the move is somewhat surprising. Still, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is down with a shoulder problem and has been placed on the 15-day DL; Harper represents the best possible choice in the minors for Washington.
It probably shouldn’t surprise anyone, however, if Harper needs some time to adjust to the Majors. After all, in 229 plate appearances in the upper minors, Harper has a mere .330 wOBA with four home runs. Certainly not bad for someone at his age with his level of experience, but expecting him to come up and immediately be the most feared power hitter in the game is foolish. There will very likely be an extended period of time where he struggles.
Still, with Zimmerman out the last few games, the Nationals have been hitting Chad Tracy third in their lineup. Pretty much anything has to be an improvement over that.
FanGraphs takes a look at what you can expect from Harper.
From a fantasy angle, RotoGraphs has you covered.
And the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore has your human interest piece about Harper.
Speaking of debuts, the Angels have also announced the call up of uber-prospect Mike Trout from AAA-Salt Lake after the team announced the releasing of Bobby Abreu [AP]. Abreu, now 38, is not the once excellent player that he was, but in fact a mere shell of his former self. That and the Angels seem to have a myriad of DH-type players with Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and Vernon Wells already on the roster. There simply weren’t enough at-bats to go around.
How Trout fits in to the makeup of the Angels’ roster at this point is unknown. Vernon Wells is probably being paid too much money to not be playing every day and there still have to be enough at-bats at DH for both Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales. With Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter in the other two outfield spots, it’s difficult to see Trout getting regular playing time unless more changes are on the way. Hopefully the Angels won’t “Belt” Trout, because he is probably better off in the minors if the current roster construction isn’t conducive to him playing every day.
Having said that, Angels GM Jerry DiPoto told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that “Mike is going to play” even though manager Mike Scioscia said a few days ago that Trout would stay in the minors unless there was a “significant role for him.” This seems like it will end well.
Trout is in the lineup this afternoon against the Clevelands.
And the rest:
Delmon Young [AP] and his attorney [Matthew B. Mowery, Oakland Press] released statements yesterday evening and today the Tigers placed the troubled outfielder/DH on the restricted list [Jason Beck, Twitter]. Young was arrested early Friday morning after allegedly pushing a man to the ground while intoxicated and yelling anti-Semitic slurs at him.
Former Yankee first baseman Bill “Moose” Skowron has passed away at the age of 81 after a long battle with lung cancer [Aaron Gleeman, NBC Hardball Talk].
Major League umpire Jeff Kellogg is like Chuck Norris and Patrick Willis rolled into one. I give you Exhibit A:
Yep, that’s Kellogg tackling an errant fan on the field at Oriole Park last night. Don’t f**k with Kellogg.
Rockies righthander Jeremy Guthrie has been placed on the DL with a sprained right shoulder after injuring himself in a freak bicycle accident [Troy Renck, Denver Post]. You can take the player out of Baltimore, but you can never take the OriLOLe out of the player.
Speaking of the Rockies, they routed the Mets 18-9 last night, however, Mets outfielder Scott Hairston went 4-for-5 and hit for the cycle [Anthony DiComo, MLB.com].
Pirates outfield prospect Josh Bell has undergone knee surgery and will miss most of the rest of the season [Rob Biertempfel, TribLive]. Bell was drafted in the second round of last year’s draft by Pittsburgh but was considered a lock to turn down any offers and head to college. However, the Pirates ended up signing him for $5-million (a hefty price in that draft slot) and he has immediately become one of the top prospects in the organization.
Brad Lidge has been placed on the Dl with an abdominal strain [Amanda Comak, Twitter]. Young world-beater Henry Rodriguez is now expected to handle the closer’s role all by himself in Washington.
Speaking of the volatility of the closer position, the Angels have removed Jordan Walden from that role in Anaheim [Zack Meisel, MLB.com]. Former Jay Scott Downs has been named his replacement.
The #FreeBauer watch has heated up as the Diamondbacks appear close to moving Josh Collementer to the bullpen [Steve Gilbert, MLB.com].
Aubrey Huff, who was recently placed on the DL with anxiety issues, has released a statement thanking the fans for their support [CSN Bay Area]. I know we tend to make fun of Huff for not being a very good every day baseball player, but he seems like a pretty awesome guy.
Baseball Prospectus is killing it right now. Need evidence? The mustachioed wonder, Jay Jaffe takes a look at the successes and failures of pitchers who attempt to come back from labrum surgery and tries to find some comparable cases to ailing Yankees hurler Michael Pineda. Ben Lindbergh looks at what stats we can derive meaning from in April. Finally, Max Marchi takes a look at the ‘run’ stat.
Oh yeah, and Jason Parks wrote about Yu Darvish’s crazy arm-side breaking wunderpitch earlier in the week.
What happened to Heath Bell’s whiffs? [Jack Moore, FanGraphs].