Spring exhibition games have begun and that means we finally have some fresh baseball highlights at our disposal. Let’s kick things off with one of the longer home runs you’ll see this spring.
The Mets hosted the Nationals at Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Saturday afternoon. Lefty Sean Gilmartin started for the Mets and worked a perfect first inning. Nats outfielder Bryce Harper led off the top of the second and swung at a first-pitch fastball from Gilmartin. It was absolutely crushed to right-center field, nearly clearing the berm beyond the fence.
Harper, 24, is trying to show that his 2015 NL MVP Award-winning season was no fluke, as he had what was by his standards a down year last season. He finished batting .243/.373/.441 with 24 home runs, 86 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 627 plate appearances.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.