Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper taken out of Friday night’s game with apparent wrist injury


Not a good night to be a talented player. Chris Davis (link) and Devin Mesoraco (link) both exited games tonight with injuries of their own and now Bryce Harper has added his name to the list. James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals’ outfielder injured his wrist diving head-first into third base, completing a bases-clearing triple in the third inning against the Padres.

Wagner writes that Harper grimaced and grabbed at his left wrist, but stayed in the game initially. He did not take his position for the top of the fifth inning, however, as he was replaced by Nate McLouth. The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, as the Nationals will evaluate him further.

Harper hasn’t yet gotten started with the bat, slashing .272/.337/.383 in 89 plate appearances entering Friday’s game. He had made headlines recently for a lack of hustle, but it appears that his all-out style of play has once again led to an injury. Harper suffered a knee injury in May last season crashing into the wall at Dodger Stadium, and it lingered throughout the season.

Which teams improved and declined the most in 2015?

Joe Maddon

I was curious about which MLB teams changed their fortunes the most this season compared to last year, so I crunched the numbers.

First, here are the biggest win total improvements from 2014 to 2015:

+24 Cubs
+21 Rangers
+16 Astros
+15 Diamondbacks
+13 Twins
+11 Mets
+10 Blue Jays
+10 Cardinals
+10 Pirates

The top five teams on the biggest-improvement list all had managers in their first season on the job, led by Joe Maddon joining the Cubs after tons of success with the Rays. Also worth noting: Of the nine teams with the biggest win total improvement, eight made the playoffs. Only the Twins improved to double-digit games and still failed to make the playoffs.

Now, here are the biggest win total declines from 2014 to 2015:

-20 Athletics
-16 Tigers
-15 Orioles
-14 Brewers
-13 Nationals
-13 Angels
-12 Braves
-12 Reds
-11 Mariners

Not surprisingly, a whole lot of those teams have changed managers, general managers, or both. And a couple more may still do so before the offseason gets underway. Oakland retained manager Bob Melvin despite an MLB-high 20-win dropoff and just promoted Billy Beane from general manager to vice president of baseball operations.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.