Bryce Harper fakes everyone out, pretends he fouls a ball off his foot, gets another chance

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This is . . . novel.

Bryce Harper was batting in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 2-1 count when he seemed to ground out to first base. He came up limping, however, and the umpire called it a foul ball off his foot, so he lived to take another pitch. Two more pitches, in fact, both of which were balls, so he was awarded first base.

Except, the ball never hit his foot. He totally faked it. Watch the video here. And look at this:

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Note: that is not his foot. And no, it did not ricochet off his foot to that position. That’s where it’s hitting the ground on the fly.

I’m sure someone will say that this is bush league. Not playing the game the right way. Maybe it is. We don’t see stuff like this too often. Guys pretend they get hit by pitches sometimes to take a base and no one gets too bent out of shape about it, but this seems maybe a step beyond that. More like A-Rod “I got it” territory or something. An interesting philosophical question.

But whatever you think about it, you do have to marvel at his reflexes here. You can’t go up to the plate thinking about doing this as you have too many other things to think about. He had to come up with this ruse in a fraction of a second, on the fly. That’s pretty dang impressive.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.