The Legend of Sam Fuld grows

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I’m going to have to refrain from joining the Sam Fuld cult. He’s a nice guy who has been fun to watch, but every time a brainy guy who does some pretty unexpectedly nifty things in a small sample of games, I end up getting burned. I mean, I’m still trying to unload all of that Brian Bannister merchandise I bought a couple of years ago, but the market simply cratered for it.

Still, there’s quite a Sam Fuld cult at the moment, borne mostly of his diving catches, .400+ OBP  and — dare I say it? — scrappy performance in the Rays’ outfield. Now there’s one more reason to become a Fuldhead. At least if you’re into a certain brand of baseball analysis:

Among worldly Sam Fuld’s many experiences is the time he spent as an intern at Stats, Inc., after he graduated from Stanford with a degree in economics … Fuld is fascinated by what the numbers tell him about the concept of clutch hitters.

“Most of the numbers out there show that there’s no such thing,” Fuld said. “And it’s crazy to think that, because I swear I’ve played with guys who just tend to come through in the clutch. And others that don’t. “But that’s the beauty of numbers is that our minds don’t necessarily capture the whole picture accurately. Our emotions remember certain things for whatever reason, and there are certain things you don’t remember. So I think that’s the beauty of numbers. It’s fact. There’s no way around it.”

Yes, it’s possible that the Fuld wave has peaked as far as baseball cultural phenomenons go. But I always like it when people accept that our minds are often unreliable narrators and that numbers don’t lie when they’re merely being used to present what happened (conclusions to draw from those numbers and what they can and can’t predict is where it gets trickier).

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.