Must-Click Link: The most comprehensive article about catchers blocking pitches in the dirt you’ve ever seen

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That may be the most comprehensive headline I’ve ever written too, but really there’s no other way to go with this.

Bojan Koprivica of The Hardball Times has a huge article up today in which he attacked the issue of catchers blocking pitchers in the dirt, explaining how to go at the problem, how to make good measurements of and adjustments to the data and eventually coming up with a rating of the best and worst catchers in this regard.

Tops: Humberto Quintero, Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters. Worst: Rob Johnson, Jorge Posada and Miguel Olivo.

But the journey is more important than the destination.  If you care about measuring catching defense and stretching the boundaries of what we can quantitatively say in baseball, this stuff is for you.

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.