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September 29, 2015 / Nat Anacostia

On the Papelbon-Harper incident

A lot’s been written about the recent fracas between Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper, which ended with Papelbon grabbing Harper’s neck and getting suspended for the rest of the season. I don’t have much to add, but did want to post links to a couple of articles that add some perspective:

  • “Harper leads the Nationals in extra-base taken rate at 57.1 percent and is tied for 16th in the majors, minimum 400 plate appearances, according to baseball-reference.com and research by MLB Network’s Marc Adelberg. In other words, any talk about Harper’s lack of hustle is misplaced; no player on his team takes extra bases at a higher rate.” What you need to know about Bryce Harper’s baserunning by Ken Rosenthal, Just a Bit Outside – FoxSports.com.
  • “It’s a four-step process: outcome, disgust, realization that they need to make a token effort, token effort. Some players do it more than others and Harper’s disgust lasts two beats longer than normal… So that’s the unwritten rule, then. Start jogging earlier. Don’t stand for a second and then jog. Make that token effort immediately. If that distinction seems silly to you, that’s because it is… That’s the secret, though: This isn’t about jogging to first. It’s about Bryce Harper being better at baseball than everyone else. It’s about Harper being talented from the very beginning of the play.” The unwritten rules of Jonathan Papelbon attacking Bryce Harper for not hustling by Grant Brisbee, SB Nation.

Regarding Papelbon, I never liked him before the trade and was worried about the attitude that he might bring to the Nationals, but initially I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. The last week has worn out my patience, and he’s now one of the few players in Nats’ history that I simply can’t root for. (I think the last player in that category may have been Elijah Dukes.) I’m now hoping that the Nats trade him this winter, though I have to admit that if both Papelbon and Drew Storen are traded, as they probably should be, the bullpen will need a major rebuild. We’ll talk about that more after the season.

Also, I think this incident seals Matt Williams’ fate—I now think he’ll almost certainly be fired, and should be.

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