Bryce Harper, the victim of two misplaced baseballs on Friday, was booed lustily before every at-bat throughout the Nationals’ three-game set in Atlanta this weekend. Harper reached base in four of five plate appearances on Friday, went 0-for-2 after entering the game in the ninth inning in last night’s 15-inning affair, and went 2-for-4 in this afternoon’s 2-1 loss in regulation to the Braves.
Even before he was drafted by the Nationals in the first round of the 2010 draft, Harper was known for being arrogant, which rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. That hasn’t changed much in Harper’s second season in the Majors. Phillies starter Cole Hamels admitted to intentionally throwing at him last year, and now the Braves have accounted for three of his four hit-by-pitches this year. As the Phillies have fallen off considerably, it appears that a Braves-Nationals rivalry is brewing. Harper quite enjoys it.
With today’s 2-1 victory, the Braves improved their first-place lead over the Nationals to 15.5 games with 38 games left to play. Hopefully the rivalry will be more meaningful next year.
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera didn’t play in the Tigers’ season finale against the White Sox, but he has officially clinched the AL batting title with a .338 average following Sunday’s action. It’s Cabrera’s fourth batting title in his last five seasons.
Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon entered Sunday’s season finale with a bit more pressure. He was in a tight race with Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper for the NL batting title, trailing only by rounding to the fourth place, .3307 to .3306. Gordon went 3-for-4 in a loss to the Phillies while Harper went 1-for-4 in a loss to the Mets. As a result, Gordon officially won the NL batting title with a .330 average. It’s the first batting title of Gordon’s brief career. Hanley Ramirez was the Marlins’ last batting champion, doing so in 2009.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels are expected to announce Billy Eppler as their new general manager on Monday. Eppler had been serving as the assistant general manager with the Yankees.
Jerry DiPoto had been the Angels’ GM but he stepped down on July 1. DiPoto later joined the Red Sox in an advisory role, then was named the Mariners’ new GM last week.
The Angels lost to the Rangers in Sunday’s season finale, which eliminated them from contention for the second AL Wild Card spot. They finished 85-77. Most of their regulars are under contract for the 2016 season, but Eppler will have to decide whether to tender contracts to seven arbitration-eligible players while filling in the rest of the roster.