Bryce Harper

So far Bryce Harper is the best 19-year-old hitter of all time


Last night Bryce Harper launched a mammoth home run and then gave the leader in the clubhouse for best quote of the season, and he’s already followed that up by hitting a double this afternoon against the Blue Jays.

Midway through his 41st career game Harper is now hitting .309 with a .391 on-base percentage and .559 slugging percentage, which is good for a .950 OPS that would be the highest for a 19-year-old in baseball history.

Here’s the all-time leaderboard among 19-year-olds with at least 200 plate appearances:

Mel Ott              1928     .921
Tony Conigliaro      1964     .883
Mickey Mantle        1951     .792
Cesar Cedeno         1970     .790
Freddie Lindstrom    1925     .761
Edgar Renteria       1996     .757
Ty Cobb              1906     .749
Ken Griffey Jr.      1989     .748

That’s quite a list.

He’ll inevitably go through a rough patch at some point and may come back down to earth a bit in general, but so far Harper has shown no signs of slowing down and in fact has hit .370 in his last 100 trips to the plate.

Right now it’s not a stretch to say that Harper is the best 19-year-old hitter of all time.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.