Tag Archives: Christian Yelich

What the Phillies need from Bryce Harper in 2020

A year ago at this time, Kayla and Bryce Harper were still going through the process of deciding where they wanted to spend the bulk of the prime years of their adult lives.

Not only where would the outfielder play his baseball games for the next decade or so, but where would they have children, raise their family, and involve themselves in the community?

The Harper’s chose Philly, setting off a surge of enthusiasm within the frustrated fan base. He would join fellow newcomers Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and David Robertson with a refurbished Phillies squad for the 2019 season.

Finally, after seven years out of the playoffs, the Phillies would return to play in October baseball.

As we now know, it didn’t work out as planned. Robertson pitched in seven games before his season ended with an elbow surgery that may keep him out for all of 2020 as well. McCutchen was lost for the year at the start of June with a torn ACL in his left knee.

The Phillies struggled to an 81-81 finish, continuing a now eight-year streak of non-winning seasons. They also finished the year in fourth place in the NL East Division standings, 16 games behind the division champion Atlanta Braves, a dozen in back of the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals, and eight games off the pace for the final NL Wildcard playoff berth.

In his first season with the Phillies at age 26, Harper slashed .260/.372/.510 with 35 home runs, 36 doubles, 114 RBIs, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases.

Harper joined Baseball Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Chuck Klein as the only players in Phillies franchise history to record a season with at least 35 homers, 100 RBIs, and 15 steals. Only Jim Thome, who blasted 47 long balls back in 2003, ever hit more home runs in their first season with the ball club.

Performing consistently in clutch, Harper provided a .357 batting average with runners in scoring position, the fourth-best mark in the NL. He was also fourth with 15 game-winning RBIs, a personal career high. His overall 114 RBIs were also a career best.

In all of baseball, Harper was one of only two players  with at least 30 homers, 110 RBIs, and 95 walks. His total of 99 walks was fifth in the National League. He recorded a five-hit game at Colorado on April 19, the first Phillies player in seven years to reach that total.

Harper was the first Phillies player since Pat Burrell in 2002 to reach 70 extra-base hits and 110 RBIs in the same season. His 42 extra-base hits at home was the second-highest ever at Citizens Bank Park behind only the 44 ripped by Chase Utley back in 2006. He became the first Phillies player since Jayson Werth in 2010 to deliver at least 290 total bases.

Prefer your stats with a more analytical slant? Harper finished with a 4.2 WAR value, second on the club only to Realmuto’s 4.4 mark. Harper’s 5.54 Win Probability Added was the second-highest of his eight-year career, behind only the 6.18 mark that he put up in his 2015 NL MVP season with Washington. In all of Major League Baseball, only MVP’s Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger and NL finalists Christian Yelich and Anthony Rendon finished with a higher WPA mark.

On August 15 against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, Harper provided the season’s single biggest highlight when he delivered a walkoff grand slam. He delivered that unforgettable blast against a southpaw specialist, Derek Holland, who hadn’t allowed a home run to a left-handed hitter in the previous 261 plate appearances against him.

In fact, those lefty pitchers didn’t bother him much at all relative to other left-handed hitters. Harper homered 15 times off southpaws, the second-highest figure  in baseball behind only Bellinger. From August 3 to the end of the season he hit .348 with nine homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.194 OPS against lefties.

Defensively, Harper was consistently outstanding, and became a finalist for the NL Gold Glove Award in right field. His 13 outfield assists equaled the total of his prior three seasons combined, and were tied for the NL lead, just one off the overall MLB leader. His nine defensive runs saved ranked third in the National League.

So, what more does Harper have to do for his part in the 2020 season in order to help finally push this club to a contending level? It should be obvious at this point. The answer is, of course, nothing. That’s right. Nothing.

If Harper stays healthy it would not be at all surprising that in his prime at age 27 and with a full season in Philly under his belt, we could see him take his game to an even higher level in 2020. In fact, Harper should enter the season as a leading contender for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

That is really all the Phillies need from Harper in 2020, and it is largely out of his hands. That factor of his remaining healthy, avoiding anything more than a couple of minor physical tweaks here and there. He stays healthy, he will do his part.

In order to finally record not only their first winning season since 2011, but to reach the postseason and bring the excitement of October playoff baseball back to South Philly this year, the Phillies need more from everyone else but Harper and Realmuto.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Five Phillies have been named the NL Most Valuable Player

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Klein was the National League MVP in 1932 and finished as runner-up in both 1931 and 1933

 

Major League Baseball will conclude the process of handing out hardware to the 2019 award winners on Thursday with the naming of the National and American League Most Valuable Players.

In a televised announcement on the MLB Network beginning at 6:00 pm EST, the official BBWAA award winners will be announced.

As has been the case all week, the IBWAA (internet writers/bloggers) named their winners during the afternoon.

 

This year’s three finalists for the BBWAA honors in the National League are outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger of the LA Dodgers, third baseman Anthony Rendon of the world champion Washington Nationals, and outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, the latter of whom as last year’s winner.

Over in the American League the finalists are third baseman Alex Bregman of the pennant-winning Houston Astros, shortstop Marcus Semien of the Oakland A’s, and outfielder Mike Trout of the LA Angels. Trout is a two-time AL MVP and four-time runner-up for the honors.

My thought is that Bellinger will win the NL MVP honors. But my pick would be Rendon. The Nationals turned their season around after a miserable first seven weeks, put up the NL’s best record over the final four months, and won the first world championship in franchise history. Rendon’s productive bat and outstanding play at the hot corner were keys.

In the American League, there is little doubt that Trout is baseball’s best all-around player. But this is not the “Most Outstanding Player” award, it’s for the most valuable. The Halos finished 18 games below the .500 mark and in fourth place. Bregman is similarly outstanding, and his club won. But he was surrounded by easily the best and deepest lineup in the league.

Semien is nowhere near as well known in wider baseball circles. However, his value to the NL West runners-up in leading the small-market Athletics to the postseason for a second straight year is worthy of the award: 33 homers, 83 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, 123 runs scored and outstanding defensive play at shortstop helped add up to 8.1 total WAR. He would be my choice.

The origins of a formal Most Valuable Player in baseball can be traced back to the 1911 season, and an early automobile manufacturer by the name of Hugh Chalmers.

Chalmers company presented a vehicle to the player with the highest batting average after the 1910 season. For 1911 he instituted the Chalmers Award, with a baseball writer’s committee formed to select what was described as the “most important and useful player to the club and to the league“.

The Chalmers Award was handed out following the next four seasons from 1911-14, and the winners are a who’s who of Hall of Famers: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, and Eddie Collins. As World War I began and national attention diverted to the effort that summer, the award was discontinued after the 1914 season.

The American League decided to hand out an award beginning in 1922 to “the baseball player who is of the greatest all-around service to his club“. It was voted on by a baseball writer’s committee, and players were only allowed to win one time.

That award lasted for seven seasons. Hall of Famer George Sisler won the first, and Johnson took the honors in 1924. A pair of legendary New York Yankees stars, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, won the award for the 1923 and 1927 seasons. The first Philadelphia ball player, Mickey Cochrane of the Athletics, won the final award in 1928.

The National League followed suit in 1924 with an award that lasted through the 1929 season, but the NL allowed a player to win multiple times. This resulted in Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby winning in both 1925 and 1929.

For the 1931 season, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) began to hand out the honors that have lasted through today.  In the NL, the Phillies’ Chuck Klein won in 1932 and finished as runner-up in the voting in both 1931 and 1933.

Philadelphia Athletics ball players captured the first three AL awards, with pitcher Lefty Grove winning in 1931 and then slugger Jimmie Foxx taking it in 1932 and 1933. The A’s would get one more AL MVP winner before leaving town, with southpaw pitcher Bobby Shantz earning the honors in 1952.

Foxx would win again in 1938 for his performance that season with the Boston Red Sox. He is one of only four three-time winners in the American League, joining Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez. Trout will try to join that list tonight.

In the National League, Barry Bonds captured the award seven times. Next in line are a list of four three-time winners including Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, and Albert Pujols.

The other three-time winner in the NL is the greatest player in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history, Michael Jack Schmidt.

Mike Schmidt won the National League Most Valuable Player award for his performances in the 1980, 1981, and 1986 seasons. Ernie Banks in 1958-59, Joe Morgan in 1975-76, Dale Murphy in 1982-83, Bonds in 1992-93, and Pujols in 2008-09 are the other back-to-back NL winners. Yelich will try to join those ranks tonight. Bonds also had a stretch of four straight wins 2001-04.

A pitcher with the 1950 Phillies “Whiz Kids” National League championship club, Jim Konstanty was honored with the NL MVP that season, and remains the only reliever to ever win the Most Valuable Player honors. Konstanty received 18 of 24 first-place votes that year to win comfortably over Musial.

How did a relief pitcher capture the honors? Well, it would be hard to argue against Konstanty’s value to the NL pennant winners. He won 16 games and recorded 22 saves while tossing 152 innings and allowing just 108 hits across 74 games, all out of the bullpen.

With Klein, Konstanty, and the three Schmidt honors, that leaves two more Phillies National League Most Valuable Players. Those two were teammates who captured the honors in back-to-back seasons.

In 2006, first baseman Ryan Howard, who had won the NL Rookie of the Year award the prior season, won in a reasonably close vote over Pujols. Howard received 20 first-place votes while Pujols got the other 12, with Howard winning the overall vote by 388-347.

The following year, shortstop Jimmy Rollins predicted before the season began that the Phillies were “the team to beat” in the NL East Division. The club had fallen short despite contending over the prior half-dozen years, and had not won a division crown in 14 seasons.

JRoll backed up his prediction with an MVP performance. He became the first player in big-league history to record 20+ home runs (30), doubles (38), triples (20), and stolen bases (41) and scored 139 runs. Despite such an outstanding season, Rollins win was tight, edging out Matt Holliday of the Rockies by 353-336. Rollins received 16 first-place votes to 11 for Holliday.

A pair of current Phillies players have National League Most Valuable Player awards in their home trophy case. Andrew McCutchen won the award in 2013 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing third in both 2012 and 2014. Bryce Harper was the unanimous winner in 2015 as a member of the Washington Nationals.

Who will be the next Philadelphia Phillies player to take home the NL Most Valuable Player Award? At just age 27, Harper would seem to be the most logical candidate. If he can do it, he would add his name to a list that includes just 11 players in winning the award multiple times during a career.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

 

MLB Final 2019 Power Ranking

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Bob Melvin guided the Oakland Athletics into the MLB playoffs for the fifth time in nine years at the helm, and his club finished on top of the regular season Power Rankings

 

Well, we’ve finally reached the end of the six-month long Major League Baseball regular season. The statistics have been tabulated, and it is now time to reveal my final 2019 MLB Power Ranking.

After ascending to the pinnacle of the rankings for the first time all season back in mid-September, the Oakland Athletics have edged out their American League West Division rival Houston Astros for the top spot.

The A’s were the top defensive team in baseball this year based on the qualifying component for that category in the rankings formula (see below.) They were also fifth in pitching and eighth in offense, and were tied for the third-best win-loss record over the last 30 days of the season.

Houston was tied for the best record over those last 30 days. The Astros finished third in both offense and pitching. It was Houston’s 11th-ranked defense that allowed Oakland to slip past them for the top overall spot.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who held the status as top team in the National League for most of the summer before yielding that place to the Atlanta Braves, have finished the year as the NL’s top-ranked ball club.

The Dodgers had the top-ranked pitching staff and the fifth-ranked offense. They also finished with the third-best record over the final month of the season. If the Dodgers have a possible Achilles heel heading into the postseason it would be their 20th ranked defense.

Entering the MLB postseason, the Dodgers are the favorites to three-peat, capturing their third consecutive NL pennant. If the accomplish the feat, Los Angeles will advance as National League champions into the World Series once again.

The Dodgers have not captured a world championship since the 1988 team led by Orel Hershiser and Tommy Lasorda were spurred on to an upset victory over Oakland by Kirk Gibson‘s historic Game One walk-off home run off Dennis Eckersley.

I have seen a number of outlets and writers installing the Astros, who won the first World Series crown in franchise history back in 2017, as prohibitive favorites this year.

The rankings show that Houston indeed deserves to be considered one of the strongest favorites once again. But the statistics and game results reveal that the Athletics deserve to be at least considered as a co-favorite.

One major problem for Oakland? They have to face the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished fourth in these final rankings, in a winner-take-all American League Wildcard Game. And as we all known, anything can happen in just one game.

The Rays will be a tough out. Tampa had the second-ranked pitching staff and were one of those teams tied with Oakland for the third-best record over the most recent 30 days. The two teams should provide some real playoff drama.

The National League Wildcard Game will feature the Washington Nationals hosting the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew rallied after the loss of NL MVP candidate Christian Yelich for the season due to injury to finish tied with Houston for the best record in all of MLB over the final month.

However, the host Nationals have the sixth-ranked offense and eighth-ranked pitching staff. If they can get past Milwaukee, the Nats will make for a very difficult opponent for the Dodgers in an NLDS.

Two teams who will not be in the MLB postseason this year are the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indians. And yet those two clubs finished seventh and eighth-ranked overall, showing that they each had playoff-caliber talent.

Arizona won 85 games, finishing 21 behind the Dodgers in the National League West Division standings. The Dbacks were four games behind Milwaukee for the second NL Wildcard playoff berth.

The Indians won 93 games, but finished eight in back of the 101-win Twins in the American League Central Division. The Tribe also finished three games behind Tampa Bay for the second and final AL Wildcard berth.

The Philadelphia Phillies, my hometown team, slumped to 16th place in the final 2019 MLB Power Rankings. This was after the club had occupied the 14th slot over the last couple of months.

As I have stated during each period, my personal feelings have no bearing on these MLB Power Rankings. Instead, each team’s position is all about actual performance: their results in the standings, as well as in the key statistical categories.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

The formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched and evaluated to see if it can be improved upon.

Currently, that formula is made up of the following categories: winning percentageruns-per-gameOPS against, and “defensive runs saved” as measured by Fangraphs.

As each season unfolds, some teams improved dramatically while others slumped badly. In both the Labor Day and mid-September ranking, the season-long winning percentage was replaced by each team’s win percentage over their most recent 30 games. That remains so with this final 2019 ranking.

The ‘Win-Loss’ component reflects each team’s ability to actually win ball games. ‘OPS against’ reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.

The runs-per-game component acknowledges that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.

Each club’s place in the four component categories gets them assigned a 1-30 numerical value. Those are added up to determine a final ranking points total.

Where there are any ties, those are broken using each team’s winning percentage over the last 30, and then by their current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 SEPTEMBER 16 –  MLB RANKINGS

In parentheses below are each team’s final 2019 total ranking points:

  1. Oakland Athletics (17)
  2. Houston Astros (18)
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers (29)
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (30)
  5. Minnesota Twins (36)
  6. Saint Louis Cardinals (36)
  7. Arizona Diamondbacks (37)
  8. Cleveland Indians (37)
  9. Washington Nationals (39)
  10. New York Yankees (41)
  11. Atlanta Braves (42)
  12. Milwaukee Brewers (44)
  13. Boston Red Sox (45)
  14. Chicago Cubs (50)
  15. New York Mets (55)
  16. Philadelphia Phillies (59)
  17. Los Angeles Angels (72)
  18. Cincinnati Reds (73)
  19. Kansas City Royals (74)
  20. Texas Rangers (75)
  21. San Francisco Giants (76)
  22. Colorado Rockies (78)
  23. Toronto Blue Jays (82)
  24. San Diego Padres (83)
  25. Chicago White Sox (91)
  26. Miami Marlins (91)
  27. Seattle Mariners (93)
  28. Pittsburgh Pirates (94)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (105)
  30. Detroit Tigers (115)

Phillies to spend Memorial Day weekend 2019 at Miller Park in Milwaukee

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Phillies hope to keep Bernie Brewer from sliding much this weekend

The Philadelphia Phillies (29-21) will be spending Memorial Day weekend at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers (29-22), who are currently sitting in second place in the National League Central Division standings.

The Brew Crew trail the Chicago Cubs, against whom the Phillies just split a four-game series, by 1.5 games, three in the loss column. They enjoyed an off-day on Thursday prior to this series, coming off an 11-9 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in their previous game on Wednesday night.
It was just over a week ago that the Brewers captured three of four games between the two teams at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won the opener of that series by 7-4 when J.T. Realmuto and Odubel Herrera produced run-scoring doubles to break up a 4-4 tie game. But Milwaukee roared back to capture the final three games by a combined 22-6 runs margin.
The two clubs have proven very evenly matched in recent years with the Phillies holding a 10-9 edge in their 19 meetings over the three previous combined entering this 2019 season.
The Brewers (250) and Phillies (249) rank 4th and 5th respectively in the NL in runs scored, though Milwaukee has played one more game. The Atlanta Braves (252) are 3rd, and also have one more game than the Phillies.
Milwaukee is a well-rounded, dynamic offensive ball club. The Brewers hitters collectively rank 4th in OPS and 5th in OBP. They lead the entire National League in home runs and are tied for the league lead in stolen bases. No slouch with their gloves, the Brew Crew defenders have committed the 5th-fewest errors in the NL while handling the 2nd-most chances.
After splitting their series at Wrigley Field with the Cubs, the Phillies are now 6-5 during what we have described previously here at Phillies Nation as a 23-game “crucible”, a nearly month-long stretch against top-notch competition from outside the NL East Division. That stretch continues this weekend.

MILWAUKEE BREWERS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

  • Christian Yelich: clearly the Brewers top lineup threat, the 27-year-old Yelich was last year’s NL Most Valuable Player. He was also a first-time All-Star and captured his second career Silver Slugger Award. Yelich won a Gold Glove back in the 2014 season with the Miami Marlins, for whom he was a first round draft pick at 23rd overall back in 2010. Yelich was obtained by Milwaukee in a January 2018 trade for a four-prospect package. He is currently slashing .325/.440/.732 and leads the club in homers (19), RBIs (41), extra-base hits (26), runs (40) and steals (9).
  • Ryan Braun: still a threat at age 35, Braun is perhaps the biggest “Phillie-killer” in the game today. He was both the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year and the 2011 National League MVP. However, that MVP honor was tarnished when he later admitted to having used PEDs during that season, an infraction that cost him an 80-game suspension. His nine homers and 30 RBIs are both tied for second on the team this season. Braun is slashing .385/.428/.709 over his career against the Phillies across 76 games. His 25 homers and 73 RBIs against the Phillies are his most against a non-divisional opponent.
  • Mike Moustakas: ‘Moose’ was obtained by the Brewers from the Kansas City Royals just prior to last July’s trade deadline. He re-upped with Milwaukee for one year after becoming a free agent this past off-season, with an $11 million mutual option for the 2020 season. The dozen homers off his lefty bat are second on the club and his 30 RBIs are tied with Braun for second. He just recently moved from second base back to his more natural third base to accommodate the rookie you can read about in the below spotlight feature.
  • Yasmani Grandal: after winning four straight NL West crowns as the Los Angeles Dodgers starting catcher, Grandal  also signed a one-year deal with the Brewers as a free agent. He has a $16 million mutual option for next season. One of the top offensive backstops in the game, Grandal’s nine homers are tied with Braun for third on the club. He also holds a fine .374 on-base percentage.
  • Lorenzo Cain: Phillies fans will recall that Cain produced a five-hit game against their team just last week. He has gotten hot beginning with that game, slashing .389/.450/.556 over his last eight games. Now 33-years-old, Cain signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in January 2018 for five years, the dealing taking him through the 2022 season.
  • Jesus Aguilar: Aguilar burst onto the season as a first-time All-Star last year, blasting 35 home runs and producing 108 RBIs. However, he has started the 2019 season very cold, hitting just .200 with three RBIs and seven extra-base hits. He has lost playing time at first base over the last week to Thames (see below.)

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Keston Hiura: the Brewers top prospect was promoted to the big-leagues for the first time during last week’s series against the Phillies. The 22-year-old was Milwaukee’s first round pick at 9th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Cal-Irvine. After ripping minor league pitching at five levels over the next two years, he has slashed .273/.333/.455 with two homers over his first eight games in Major League Baseball and has taken over as the Brewers starting second baseman. He could end up holding the position for years to come.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

  • Chase Anderson: (FRI) 2-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.310 WHIP, 4.27 FIP, 18 hits allowed over 23.2 IP across eight games (three starts) with a 25/13 K:BB ratio. Anderson spent time on the IL at the start of this month with a blister on his right pitching middle finger. He began the season in the bullpen before returning to the starting rotation on April 16.
  • Jhoulys Chacin: (SAT) 3-5, 4.65 ERA, 1.311 WHIP, 5.47 FIP, 44 hits over 50.1 IP across 10 starts with a 36/22 K:BB ratio.
  • Brandon Woodruff: (SUN) 6-1, 3.51 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 3.23 FIP, 52 hits over 56.1 IP across 10 starts with a 65/17 K:BB ratio. One of the club’s top prospects for a couple of years, Woodruff debuted in 2017 and was a rookie last year when he pitched mostly out of the bullpen. He has finally seized a role in the rotation this season at age 26.

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

  • Ben Gamel: a left-hander who turned 27-years-old last week. He has made 27 starts, mostly as a corner outfielder. Since the Phillies are likely to start a trio of right-handers on the mound this weekend, Gamel should see at least one start in place of Braun.
  • Eric Thames: a left-hander who is at least platooning at first base with Aguilar at this point. The 32-year-old veteran has 20 RBIs in just 125 plate appearances.
  • Josh Hader: the closer is one of the toughest left-handers in the game today. He has a dozen Saves with a 2.52 ERA and 0.640 WHIP in 19 games. A first-time All-Star a year ago, Hader has allowed just nine hits across 25 innings with a 49/7 K:BB ratio.
  • Junior Guerra: the club’s primary setup man, Guerra has a 2.39 ERA and 0.911 WHIP, allowing just 13 hits over 26.1 IP with a 22/11 K:BB across 21 games.
  • Jeremy Jeffress: another top righty out of the bullpen, Jeffress was an All-Star a year ago when he spent much of the season as the Brewers closer. This season he has a 2.93 ERA and 1.109 WHIP, allowing 11 hits over 15.1 IP across 14 appearances with a 16/6 K:BB ratio.
  • Alex Claudio: the most effective southpaw out of the pen, Claudio has made more appearances (27) than any Brewers reliever. He has allowed 16 hits over 20 innings with a 16/8 K:BB ratio.

THE SKIPPER

Craig Counsell is in his fifth year at the helm in Milwaukee, having taken over in the middle of the 2015 campaign. He has guided the club to an overall 345-330 record in that time. After his 2017 club missed an NL Wildcard playoff berth by just a single game, he led the team to a division crown last year.
Counsell played for 16 seasons in the big-leagues with five organizations. He played with Milwaukee in 2004 and then over his final five years from 2007-11. He was a teammate of Braun’s when the two faced the Phillies in the 2008 National League Division Series.
As a second baseman with the Florida Marlins, Counsell scored the title-winning run at Pro Player Stadium in Miami in the bottom of the 11th inning of the decisive Game 7 in the 1997 World Series. He reached on an error with one out, then came home three batters later on Edgar Renteria‘s single to center field.

THE BALLPARK

Bernie Brewer makes his slide after each Brewers home run and victory. (Mattingly23)
Miller Park opened as the Brewers home for the 2001 season. The facility features the only fan-shaped convertible roof in the United States, which can open and close in as little as 10 minutes. It holds 41,900 as a normal capacity but has been filled with a record 46,218 for a 2003 game with the rival Cubs.
Two of the unique fun features at Miller Park include the “Sausage Race“, a foot race between five people in “racing sausage” costumes, which takes place in the middle of the 6th inning of each game. And high above left-center field, the mascot “Bernie Brewer” takes off down a long, winding, yellow slide after each home run hit by the Brewers and after each of their victories.
During the traditional 7th-inning stretch, in addition to singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, Brewers fans also sing “Roll Out the Barrel” as a salute to the town’s beer-making history. Fans watching on television can usually spot “Front-Row Amy” sitting just behind home plate. Let’s just say that it’s hard to miss Amy Williams, who has held her $5,670 season ticket there for the last two years.
Following the 2020 season, Miller Park will no longer be known by that moniker. The naming rights to the stadium, which have belonged to the Miller Brewing Company for 20 years, will expire. Beginning with the 2021 season the park will be renamed for the new rights holders, American Family Insurance.

Rhys Hoskins developing into legit NL MVP candidate with Phillies

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Rhys Hoskins is anchoring the Phillies lineup as cleanup hitter

 

The Philadelphia Phillies (24-16) have slowly opened up a lead in the National League East Division standings as mid-May arrives. As opposed to last season, when the club was in first place with a 2.5 game lead in late July, this time around feels much different.
One of the primary reasons that the 2019 version of the Phillies seems capable of sustaining their lead is a much more experienced and talented every day lineup. That is thanks to the additions of J.T. RealmutoJean SeguraAndrew McCutchen and, of course, Bryce Harper.
The starting pitching rotation has also gotten tremendous work over the season’s first seven weeks from Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin. Add in mostly solid performances from veteran Jake Arrieta and the group has been able to weather a slow start from ace Aaron Nola and the loss to injury of Vince Velasquez.
The Phillies bullpen mix has been, well, mercurial might be the best word to describe their performance as a whole. Right-hander Hector Neris and lefty Adam Morgan have been strong most of the season. Based on his most recent performance, Seranthony Dominguez may be rounding into form. That would be a huge lift for manager Gabe Kapler late in ball games.
But of all the reasons that the Phillies are alone in first place and a legitimate playoff contender for the first time in eight years can be found at first base. Rhys Hoskins appears to be flourishing with his return to the more comfortable defensive position. In fact, his numbers say that the 26-year-old is entering his prime as a legitimate National League MVP candidate.
Hoskins is slashing .285/.411/.590 with 11 home runs, and 35 RBIs. His OPS mark of 1.002 is fifth in the league. He is tied for sixth in homers and third in RBIs.

Over the last 14 games as the Phillies opened up their lead, Hoskins has been even better with a .320/.433/.640 OPS. He has eight extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in that span, and the team has gone from two games over the .500 mark with a half-game lead to eight games over .500 and a four-game lead in the loss column.

 

Evan Macy at The Philly Voice pointed out another big reason why Hoskins is so valuable to the Phillies overall attack in a piece earlier this month when he wrote the following:
Hoskins sees the most pitches per plate appearance of anyone in all of baseball with 4.72 and has forced pitchers to throw the second most pitches in total of any batter…There are many reasons why the Phillies’ lineup has been ultimately one of the most successful in baseball (when healthy) and a big part of it stems from Hoskins anchoring thing…He really forces a pitcher to work — which trickles down into the opposing hurler making mistakes, or getting tired or frustrated.
Cody Bellinger got off to a white-hot start for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last year’s NL MVP, Christian Yelich, is off to another strong season with the Milwaukee Brewers. They are the clear leaders at the front of the conversation right now for National League Most Valuable Player.
But if Hoskins continues to rake as the Phillies cleanup hitter and the ball club remains on top of the division, he will remain one of the main candidates as that discussion really ramps up later in the summer.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Rhys Hoskins anchors Phillies lineup