After the hype, Wieters having solid rookie season

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Now that he’s failed to live up to the immense hype and disappointed the people who misguidedly thought that he’d immediately be an MVP candidate as a 23-year-old rookie, Matt Wieters is quietly playing very well for the Orioles.
Wieters had the best game of his young career Tuesday night, going 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, a double, and five RBIs, and followed that up last night by twice gunning down Carl Crawford on steal attempts before delivering a walk-off homer.
Crawford had been 57-of-69 swiping bases prior to testing Wieters, who became the first catcher since April of 2007 to nail Crawford twice in the same game and has now thrown out 28 percent of steal attempts overall to rank solidly above the league average. Wieters has also pitch-called his way to a better catcher’s ERA than veterans Gregg Zaun and Chad Moeller.
Of course, while playing solid defense behind the plate is nice and all, the focus will forever be on Wieters’ bat. Since breaking the 4-for-28 (.143) slump that started his career, Wieters has hit .287 with a .340 on-base percentage and .411 slugging percentage in 282 plate appearances spread over 71 games. Obviously those aren’t earth-shattering numbers, but they’re significantly above average for a catcher.
His overall .273/.325/.395 line is modest, but an adjusted OPS+ of 86 ranks 15th among all catchers with at least 300 plate appearances and is pretty damn good for a 23-year-old rookie backstop. In fact, here’s the complete list of 23-year-old catchers with a higher OPS+ during the past 20 seasons: Joe Mauer, Jason Kendall, Russell Martin, Brian McCann, Charles Johnson, Ivan Rodriguez, Dave Nilsson. Each of those guys was an All-Star at least once and Wieters will be too.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.