Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’
The Washington Nationals enjoyed unprecedented success in 2012, recording the best record in Major League Baseball. The team relied on the contributions of many different players, whom we will catalogue throughout the offseason as we look ahead to the 2013 campaign. Our list continues with the emerging talent up the middle, Ian Desmond.
We’ve written several times in this space about the candidacy of Adam LaRoche as the Most Valuable Player, not just for the 2012 Nationals, but for the entire National League. However, if any Washington position player could challenge LaRoche for that title, it would be the Nationals 2012 breakout star, Ian Desmond.
After flashing signs of his potential during a 2009 September call-up (where he went .280/.318/.561 with seven doubles and four homers in 82 at-bats), the shortstop’s numbers fell short of those levels in his first two full Major League seasons. All of that changed in 2012, though, as the 27 year-old saw his talents at the plate and in the field come together to land him an All-Star selection. Despite playing through an oblique injury that hampered his production towards the end of the season’s first half and sidelined him for nearly a month in July and August, Desmond still posted career highs in hits (150), doubles (33), home runs (25), runs scored (72) and RBI (73). His OPS+ of 126 was higher than Ryan Zimmerman’s, Bryce Harper’s and Jayson Werth’s, ranking just slightly behind LaRoche for the team lead.
For some greater perspective on the caliber of Desmond’s season, consider the following. Despite playing just 130 games, he was one of only seven National Leaguers (and the only National) to post a 20-20 season, joining reigning MVP Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, Andrew McCutchen, Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins.
And while his overall numbers were solid in their own right, Desmond seemed to come up biggest whenever the pressure was turned up. Until Werth’s thunderous, walk-off home run ended Game 4 of the NLDS, Desmond’s come-from-behind, game-winning blast with two outs in the ninth inning on May 2 to beat the Diamondbacks was Washington’s lone walk-off home run of the season. The shortstop also drove in 31 of his 73 RBI (42.5%) with two outs, including three from the eighth inning on in a rousing, 12-inning victory over the Mets on June 5.
And then, of course, there was the defense. After committing 34 errors in his first full season in 2010, Desmond cut that number to 23 the following campaign and again down to 15 this year. His improved consistency, along with his proclivity for highlight reel plays, earned him a Gold Glove finalist nomination. Desmond’s pure athleticism and reflexes led to tremendous plays like the one below, also part of that June 5 performance:
He showed off his range as well this year, with diving grabs like this one in September:
Desmond carried his success into the postseason, staking claim as Washington’s most consistent hitter in the NLDS. He batted .368 (7-for-19) in his first taste of playoff action, continuing to emerge as a leader for this young Nationals squad.
As a player just entering the prime of his career, there is no reason to believe Desmond’s 2012 season was a fluke, and if he is able to play a full season in 2013, the Florida native will have a chance to improve upon the benchmarks he set this year. As he enters arbitration for the first time this year, he remains under team control for the next three seasons, giving Nationals fans at least that much time to watch him continue to grow into his full potential.
When Matt Kinsey and Saul Bosquez – members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team – found out they would be a part of this year’s All-Star festivities in Kansas City, they felt like they had already hit the jackpot. Their invitation to take part in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball game alongside actors, musicians and baseball greats was reward enough in and of itself. But as Kinsey, Bosquez and all of the Wounded Warriors have reminded us in the past, they don’t play for show. They play to win.
A group of D.C. celebrities and sports figures learned that lesson the hard way first hand back in April, when the Wounded Warriors torched them, 17-4, in an exhibition game at Nationals Park. So it should come as no surprise to any readers who are familiar with their story that the two would come out swinging in Kansas City.
Bosquez started at shortstop – a premiere defensive position – for the American League team and went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI. He could not have been more pleased with his performance, or more grateful for the opportunity to play on such a stage.
“Besides the birth of my son, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Bosquez said. “We’re so proud to be here and to wear the Curly W.”
Jennie Finch (@jfinch27) July 09, 2012
But Kinsey was not to be outdone. Playing first base opposite his fellow Wounded Warrior, he went 3-for-3 as well, and belted a home run to key his team’s 21-8 victory. As a result, Kinsey took home the ultimate honor: he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Just like Bosquez, Kinsey too was full of nothing but thanks for his chance to shine.
“To take the field representing the Washington Nationals and play with so many celebrities and Hall of Famers in front of thousands of fans was one of the biggest honors of my life,” Kinsey said.
GEN Martin Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey) July 09, 2012
You can catch Kinsey and Bosquez’s memorable performances tonight beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET following the State Farm Home Run Derby on ESPN.
Greetings Nationals fans.
What a week for the ballclub.
In one week’s time, the offense seems to have clicked (thanks Coors Field for the spark!), we received thrilling news that we’ll have three All-Stars in Kansas City next week and we won a huge intradivision series down in Atlanta.
But perhaps most importantly, Ryan Zimmerman is again “right” offensively. I know Rick Eckstein, Davey and Ryan himself worked tirelessly to get him out of his funk. But the worm turned and he’s producing offense seemingly every night.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that you now see Michael Morse hitting the ball with authority. After almost two months without, we finally have our 3-4-5 hitters in place. The sky’s the limit.
As for next week’s All-Star Game, I really could not be happier for Ian, Gio, Stephen, their families and of course our fans.
With that said, take yourself back one calendar year. Ian was on the verge of emerging both offensively and defensively, but was not quite there yet. Gio was pitching well, at an All-Star level, but in the AL West with Oakland. And Stephen was on the verge of beginning his 6-start rehab stint in our minor-league system after having Tommy John surgery.
Nope, this All-Star trifecta was not on my radar. And I doubt it was on anyone else’s.
As for Bryce Harper’s bid for a spot on Tony La Russa’s All-Star roster, I say why not? What Bryce is doing at the age of 19 is remarkable. And to pair him with a talent like Mike Trout (age 20) on the AL side would create great theatre that is likely to last in our memories a lot longer than the game’s final score.
Thank you for your efforts to send Bryce to Kansas City. Fans turned out in droves to vote for Bryce and the Orioles Jason Hammel as part of the Beltway Ballot at mlb.com and for #BryceIn12 on Twitter.
While I am always excited for the Mid-Summer Classic, this year more than ever the game’s results just might matter to us directly. Yet another consequence of being in a pennant race I suppose. This really is fun isn’t it?
Those were enormous wins the last two days over Lincecum, Bumgarner and the Giants to begin the big homestand to close out the season’s first half. The series against the Giants is of special interest as it pits the top two teams in the NL, at least in terms of winning percentage. The Giants are coming off a big week in which they overtook the Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West. Should be a great finale tonight.
I hope you had a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July and I’ll see you at the ballpark.
With Bryce Harper in the thick of the Final Vote race to represent the National League in the 2012 All-Star Game, famous athletes and celebrities from around the District have been chiming in with their support. From John Wall to Luke Russert, from Braden Hotlby to James Brown, the show of solidarity around D.C. has been terrific. But Bryce still needs each and every one of you to vote, as many times as you can, if he’s going to make it. As a reward, he reached out to answer some of your questions on Twitter today.
Is he aware that all of the biggest athletes in town (Wizards, Caps, Redskins) have been lobbying 4 him to be an All-Star?
Bryce: Yeah I think it’s great how they decided to team up on that and express how they wanted people to vote for me for the All-Star Game. I really appreciate all the local players that have done it, and anytime they need anything from me, I’m here with open arms.
Bryce what’s your favorite OF position LF C or RF???
Bryce: I’d have to go with center field. Playing center field, you’re in charge, you’re running the outfield. It also really helps to have guys around me that have played that position. Any time I’m in the lineup, I think that’s the best spot.
If you weren’t playing ball, what would you be doing?
Bryce: I’d probably be a firefighter. Ever since I was growing up, I wanted to be a firefighter or a baseball player. Going into the offseason, I’m going to get my EMT and do the firefighting thing so I have something to fall back on.
As you know by now, Bryce Harper is a Final Vote candidate for the 2012 National League All-Star Team. Make sure you vote #BryceIn12 before Thursday’s 4:00 p.m. EDT deadline. You can vote as many times as you’d like, so to get you fired up to get those clicking fingers moving, we’ve compiled 12 reasons why our 19 year-old phenom belongs in the Mid-Summer Classic:
1. He’s got pop. Everyone has heard the legend of the 502-foot home run at Tropicana Field when he was still in high school. Indeed, Harper’s homers are never cheapies. That includes his first Major League blast, to straightaway center at Nats Park on May 14.
2. He always hustles. In the third inning on June 24 in Baltimore, Harper grounded into the first double play of his Major League career. How did he respond? By hitting a chopper up the middle… and turning it into a double.
3. He doesn’t take his at-bats into the field. Despite having one of the worst days of his career at the plate on June 16 against the Yankees, Harper came up with this huge catch in the 13th inning.
4. He’s got a flair for the dramatic. In a game against the New York Mets on June 5 that featured just about everything – including three game-tying RBI from newly minted All-Star Ian Desmond from the eighth inning on – Harper finally ended it, becoming the first teenager to hit a walk-off since Gary Sheffield in 1988.
5. He woke up early in the morning after an extra-inning walk-off to read to children. Where was Harper the morning after that historic event? At Bonnie Brae Elementary School in Burke, VA, reading to third graders.
6. He’s a fast learner. Crafty vet and former Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez struck Harper out on a slow, slurving eephus pitch the first time the two met in Atlanta on May 27. Livo tried the same trick again in the next at-bat, but this time, Harper was ready.
7. One great young player deserves another. Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels 20 year-old outfield phenom, has already been selected to the game. Trout and Harper have become nearly synonymous in the weeks leading up to the game. For one to be there without the other just feels… Wrong.
8. He’s clutch. After rallying from a 7-0 deficit, the Nationals trailed 10-9 entering the ninth inning in Colorado last week. They didn’t trail for long.
9. He’s charitable. When a Colorado brewery tried to capitalize on his “clown question, bro” phrase by naming a new offering after it in time for the Nationals recent visit to Colorado, Harper asked that they donate proceeds from sales to the family of Celena Hollis, a Denver police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
10. He’s not content getting just one out. Always looking for a chance to stretch his talents, Harper gunned down the speedy Juan Pierre on May 23 in Philadelphia, turning a failed hit and run into a double play.
11. He’s got swag. After getting intentionally plunked by Cole Hamels, Harper went first to third on a single to left field, then took off for home on Hamels pick-off throw to first base, swiping home for his first Major League steal.
12. He’s a genuine superstar. At age 19, he’s already a national attraction. He plays the game right, and has become one of the most popular players in the sport. Isn’t that what the All-Star Game is all about?
The Washington Nationals have had plenty of All-Star worthy campaigns in 2012, from the stellar pitching atop the rotation and throughout the bullpen, to the comeback year by Adam LaRoche and the breakout campaigns of Ian Desmond and rookie Bryce Harper. But the Nationals are already guaranteed to send a pair of their own to the All-Star Game: two members of the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.
The squad of veterans and active duty servicemen made its triumphant return to Nationals Park on April 3, playing in front of an overwhelmingly supportive crowd in an easy victory over a team of Washington-area celebrities. They have since gone on to play – and defeat – able-bodied competition throughout the season, once again proving that “life without a limb is limitless.” On Thursday, Major League Baseball announced that two members of the team will be invited to play in the 2012 Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game in Kansas City on July 8. Third baseman Saul Bosquez and shortstop Matt Kinsey will join celebrities like actor Jon Hamm, U.S. National Soccer Team captain Carlos Bocanegra, NFL quarterback Matt Cassel, and a host of former Major Leaguers for the nationally-televised event.
When Kinsey was first told of the opportunity a couple of days ago by coach David Van Sleet, he thought he was on the wrong end of a practical joke.
“David called me the other day and told me,” explains Kinsey. “I thought he was joking around at first. I’ve never even been to an All-Star Game. So to get to play at it and attend all the events? It’s unbelievable.”
One of the most refreshing parts about chatting with the Wounded Warriors is how grateful they are for the opportunities presented to them. For those of us that work in the game, the magic of stepping out onto a Major League field can wear off as the act becomes routine. Not for Kinsey and Bosquez.
“It gets me every time,” says Bosquez about stepping onto the grass. “It doesn’t even have to be a Major League field – it means so much just for us to be stepping out on the field period. Most of us never thought we would be doing anything like this.”
Kinsey and Bosquez will get the real Major League treatment, too, as they are competing in a trio of games in Wisconsin on Saturday, and have to fly into Kansas City on Sunday morning to make it to Kaufmann Stadium in time for the game. For the duo, who have each been with the team since its inception in the Spring of 2011, it’s all still a bit overwhelming. They marvel at the progress that has been made in just over a year’s time.
“To be there at the start, and to see where it’s at now, I would have never dreamed it,” admits Kinsey.
“It’s huge for the both of us and huge for the team,” adds Bosquez. “The best ballplayers are going to be on one field, and we get to play there. It’s surreal. I’m having trouble putting it into words.”
More so than the celebrities, the Wounded Warriors are looking forward to meeting the former players who will be taking part in the game, particularly the likes of Ozzie Smith, Ernie Banks and Mike Piazza. As a shortstop, Kinsey may have to compete with Ozzie, one of his childhood idols, for playing time.
“I don’t think I could quite kick Ozzie out of short,” he laughs. “I’d be happy to play anywhere.”
If the Wounded Warriors have the same effect in Kansas City as they have had on those around the rest of the country the last year, we get the feeling their teammates for the game will be happy to let them shine in the national spotlight.
The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will follow the State Farm Home Run Derby and will be televised on ESPN, beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 8.
With the American League leading 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Clippard was brought into a jam to get the final out and prevent any more damage from being done. With runners on first and second, National League Skipper Bruce Bochy called to the bullpen for Clippard to face Adrian Beltre. Clippard quickly worked the count to 0-2, and then tried to throw an up-and-in fastball that didn’t quite get up-and-in enough. Beltre smoked it to left field for a single.
The Astros’ Hunter Pence got the ball on the hop and made the decision to throw it to home to catch a charging Jose Bautista, who was attempting to tack on an extra run. Bautista was out by about five feet at home plate. Inning over.
Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Two runners are on, and the Brewers’ slugging first baseman Prince Fielder is in the box for the NL. He tears the leather off the ball on a home run to center field, giving the National League a 3-1 lead. The NL would go on to win 5-1, and since Clippard was the pitcher of record when his team got the winning run, he got the win.
Clippard’s pitching line for that game would be: 0.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 3.00 WHIP. He got the win despite not even retiring a batter.
This is, oddly enough, the second year in a row that a Nationals pitcher pitched just a third of an inning and ended up with the win. Matt Capps, then the Nats’ closer, struck out the one batter he faced to end an inning in the 2010 All-Star Game. He was the pitcher of record when the NL took the lead, so he was credited with the win.
Even stranger is the fact that both Clippard and Capps were brought in to relieve a Phillies’ pitcher—Clippard came in for Cliff Lee, and Capps came in for Roy Halladay.
On a historic level of coincidence, Clippard is now the second Washington pitcher to get the All-Star Game win without having retired a batter. In 1954, Dean Stone was a representative for the Senators. He, like Clippard, was brought in to get out of a jam. But when Red Schoendienst was caught stealing home, the inning ended. Stone was the pitcher of record when the American League took the lead, so he got the win—but unlike Clippard, since the out was recorded on a caught stealing, he never actually faced a batter.
On the all-time list of winning pitchers in the All-Star Game, only four of them pitched a third of an inning. Three of them played for Washington—Stone, Capps and now Clippard. It’s an odd little tradition that’s happened for DC pitchers, but that’s one of the things that makes this game worth following, isn’t it?
With only hours remaining for fans to vote for their favorite players for the 2011 All-Star Game, it’s time to take a look at the Nationals’ candidates for the Midsummer Classic. The Nationals strong month of June has brought more recognition to some of their hottest players and many Nats are making a case to be in Arizona on July 12. Unlike years past, where the team’s lone selection has been pretty clear cut—this year the Nats have a chance to send multiple players to the All-Star Game.
If you’re talking about the potential NL All-Star infield, it’s going to be tough to leave Danny Espinosa out of the conversation. He’s leading all rookies in multiple offensive categories—home runs (15), triples (4), slugging percentage (.465), and OPS (.788). He’s been stellar at second base so far this season, helping provide a wall of defense up the middle. Espinosa is certainly making his case to not only be a Nationals representative in the All-Star Game, but to be Rookie of the Year as well.
Along with Espi, you’ve got Michael Morse leading the Club’s current power surge. Morse has also hit 15 home runs—and with a .550 slugging percentage, he’s currently fifth overall in the NL in that category. After getting off to a slow start, Morse absolutely took off. In May he batted .403 with a 1.196 OPS, and in June he hit more than half of his home runs so far this year and maintained a .299 average. While, admittedly, his position (first base) is going to be tough for him to compete in, he’s at least put his name into the mix.
Then you’ve got the beast of the bullpen—Drew Storen. Storen is currently 12th in the NL in saves, having gone 19 for 22 in save opportunities. He has a 2.90 ERA with 32 strikeouts. But, better than that, he’s held opponents to a .188 average while posting a WHIP of just 0.99. Matt Capps represented the Nationals in the 2010 All-Star Game and Storen hopes to make it two DC All-Star closers in a row.
From the starting rotation, Jason Marquis is making a strong case to go to Arizona for the All-Star Game. He’s currently leading the team in wins, with seven, and is in the midst of a rebound season having recovered from the arm surgery he had last season. He’s posted an ERA of 3.62 with a WHIP of 1.39 and has been one of the team’s most consistent starters.
Jordan Zimmermann is also rebounding from injury in his first full season since going under the knife for Tommy John surgery in 2009. Zimmermann is currently seventh in the NL in WHIP (1.07) and fifth in the NL in ERA (2.63). He’s had trouble getting run support and is currently only 5-7, but it’s clear he’s a force to be reckoned with when he’s on the mound, having recorded a quality start in 13 of his 16 outings. JZ is also worthy of a trip to the Midsummer Classic.
The fan vote most-likely won’t determine the Nationals’ selection(s) but we’ll find out which Nats stars will be All-Stars very soon.
Ryan Zimmerman proved once again why he deserves a spot in Anaheim. He has been the Nationals most dependable player and always seems to come up big in big situations. You can call him Mr. Walk-off, if you would like. With the scored tied 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth, Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to the deepest part of Nationals Park to give the Nationals a much-needed 6-5 victory.
It was his second home run of the game. In the bottom of the fourth inning–just after the Racing Presidents finished their race and held signs that read “Send Zimm to Anaheim”–he blasted a solo shot to left, a few rows above the visiting bullpen.
“Zim is just an all-around All-Star, regardless if he makes the All-Star team or not,” Willie Harris said to nationals.com. “He is an All-Star in our locker room–he is a leader, and he’s our guy. That’s all [there is] to it. He’s a star, even when he’s not playing baseball. He’s an All-Star guy.”
The Nationals struggled to score runs in June, lost late leads and that led them to lose a lot of close games. It looked like last night was going to end the same way after the Padres scored three runs in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. But this time the Nats finished on the right side of a nail-biter–their Major League leading 49th game decided by two runs or less. The Nats are 3-2 at the midway point of their 10 game homestand and all three wins have come in walk-off fashion. Zimmerman began the homestand on Thursday with a walk-off sacrifice fly.
It has only been two games since it was announced that Zimmerman was a final vote candidate but he is making it count. He is 6-for-9 with six RBI, two home runs and three runs. There are only two days remaining to cast your vote so you might as well start right now. You can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim. He might even hit a walk-off home run to win the game, so you might as well vote HERE.
It is up to you to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim.
On Sunday, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel and MLB announced that Matt Capps would represent the Nationals in the 81st All-Star Game. You now have the chance to send Ryan Zimmerman to Anaheim with him.
Zimmerman is one of the five nominees for the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote along with Billy Wagner, Joey Votto, Heath Bell and Carlos Gonzalez. But the only name you need to remember is Ryan Zimmerman. You know, the defending NL Gold Glover and Silver Slugger third baseman, who also won ESPN’s initial 2009 Web Gem Championship. He is currently hitting .286 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI. Zimmerman’s three-hit, homer, four-RBI effort Sunday vs. the Mets launched his All-Star campaign.
Nationals fans interested in helping Zimmerman join Capps in Anaheim can vote HERE. And then you can vote HERE too. And while you are at it, you might as well vote one more time right HERE. There isn’t a limit. Much like there is no limit to how good Ryan Zimmerman can be… and that’s why you should vote right HERE to send him to Anaheim.