Tag:Sam Fuld
Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:06 am
 

Ump: 'We may have erred'

Joe Maddon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not exactly Jim Joyce costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game, but don't tell that to Rays manager Joe Maddon.

Umpire Joe West said he "may have erred" in reversing a call in the Jays' 3-2 victory over the Rays on Wednesday.

West's explanation is a little confusing, so I'll start with describing the action first.

With one out in the seventh inning and the Jays leading 3-1, the Rays had runners on first and second and Sam Fuld at bat. Fuld hit a grounder to third, where Edwin Encarnacion fielded the ball, stepped on the bag and threw to first, where Adam Lind was pulled off the bag by Encarnacion's wide throw and tried to tag Fuld. West called Fuld safe.

Toronto's Don Wakamatsu, who was the acting manager after John Farrell was ejected earlier in the game, came out to protest and West quickly called Fuld out, ending the inning.

According to a pool reporter (via the National Post), West said second-base umpire Angel Hernandez told him he clearly saw that Lind made the tag. Hernandez also told West that Fuld had reached the base first, but West ignored that part.

"All I asked Angel was did [Lind] tag him, and Angel told me, 'I thought you had [Fuld] safe for being not he bag,'" West said. "I didn't heed that warning.

"I made the judgment based on what I had at first base. So it appears that we may have erred, but we did everything [by] protocol, right by the book. I don't know what else we could have done."

Joe Maddon came out and was promptly tossed from the game.

"If there's any particular play that screams for instant replay, it's that one," Maddon told reporters after the game. "I just don't understand how you can make that call from that distance. I don't believe you can see it properly. That was my argument."

Replays showed Fuld was likely safe -- and West was initially right that Fuld was safe and Hernandez was right that Lind did get a piece of Fuld -- even if it was after Fuld hit the bag.

In the end, Maddon's right -- replay would solve these problems and the game could have been different. A couple of years ago the umpires made a concerted effort to put their egos aside and confer more often on close calls. It was a step in the right direction, but it's about time to not just take steps in the right direction, but to reach the destination of fairness. In the end, the most important thing is getting the calls right, and it doesn't matter how that's achieved.

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 1:54 pm
 

Statistics vs. scouting debate is tired

Fuld

By Evan Brunell

Sam Fuld is a baseball player who loves baseball so much that he interned at STATS, Inc. after graduating from Stanford with a degree in economics. Fuld plotted pitch type, velocity and location from games on film in a precursor to the days of pitch F/X doing the job.

Fuld has proven to be quite knowledegable about sabermetrics, even as he's busy proving the numbers wrong that he's a fringe backup player.

"The beauty of numbers is that our minds don't necessarily capture the whole picture accurately," Fuld told MLB.com. "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."

These days, the impact of sabermetrics is felt far and wide. Well over half the teams in the game have employees and departments dealing strictly with crunching the numbers, and their proprietary information and programs can provide a major edge over the competition. Even freely available data, such as pitch F/X, which has revolutionized our understanding of pitch movement, velocity and location and all the other consequences that come from it (such as accurate heat maps for hitters and strike-zone plots for umpires), has engineered a sea change in the game. Defense is next with field F/X, which could have far-reaching implications as far as finally being able to quantify defense. These days, defensive numbers have limitations despite the hard work by many to provide accurate data.

"They're working on it," Fuld said. "[But] I think that's something that they've yet to perfect or even come close to it. ... Who knows if it will ever happen; it's a tricky thing to quantify. To me that's the one thing. They've come so far in measuring offensive performance. But I still think there's a ways to go defensively."

That doesn't mean Fuld is a strict stathead.

"I'm a big believer in chemistry," Fuld added. "Obviously you can't qualify that. How good of a clubhouse guy he is. What kind of a leader a guy is. So there's always going to be that element. On the field performance, I think numbers paint a pretty accurate picture. Not the entire story, but pretty darn close."

Unfortunately, while the debate has calmed down somewhat, stats vs. scouting still inflames people. There are those in the media that continue to feed into the fallacy of sabermetricians and bloggers plugging away in their mother's basement, producing data and information that is as worthless as a pitcher's win-loss record, which these columnist stubbornly cling to despite the fallacy of relying on such statistics being highlighted by simply describing how a pitcher walks away with a win.

There are teams that puff their chests out with pride at the fact they don't have any numbers crunchers in the front office. That makes zero sense, as teams should be exploring any and all avenues toward success. Even if some teams don't believe in the full value of sabermetrics, it's impossible to discount certain aspects of statistics or sabermetric thinking that has constantly been proven correct time and time again. Discounting such things will, over time, burn you.

On the fan side of things, the debate never quite made much sense beyond debating which statistics are useful. Some people take it as a personal affront if someone else researches advanced statistics or eschews it entirely. Why people concern themselves with how others choose to enjoy the game is beyond me. Whether or not one derives enjoyment from knowing a pitcher's xFIP should not matter to anyone else -- all that matters is enjoying the game, regardless of how that is done.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 19, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Maddon: Fuld equal to Crawford in field

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Sam FuldNow even Joe Maddon has gotten caught up in the Sam Fuld excitement.

Tuesday he was asked about Fuld's defense compared to Carl Crawford's, and here's what he said, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times:

"There's no drop-off. … Sam's playing that level of defense right now. he throws the ball better. All the different things he's doing defensively, I can't tell you that Carl's better. I can not."

Maybe right at this moment, but there's something to be said about proving defense over a little bit of time. Fuld has 15 career starts in left field and 40 overall in the big leagues. He may be playing well right now -- and he could be excellent -- but Crawford has proven himself a superior defensive outfielder throughout 1,143 games started in left field in the big leagues. Not only did he win the Gold Glove last season, he's also led all outfielders in plus/minus and defensive runs saved over the last three seasons.

Defense is best judged over time, even the best metrics we have now, like UZR and plus/minus, are best over at least three seasons of data -- 15 games is impressive, but it's hardly enough to judge.

Also notable, Fuld does have an error this season and Crawford does not.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 19, 2011 10:20 am
 

Pepper: Super Sam

Sam Fuld
By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the best parts of any new season is seeing players reach their potential -- or in Sam Fuld's case, exceed it.

With a 4-for-4 performance in Monday's win over the White Sox, Fuld is now the American League batting leader, hitting .396. And he made another fantastic catch, as you can see above.

Fuld was acquired in the deal that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs this offseason and learned a little bit about playing at Tropicana Field with his diving catch in the third inning on Tuesday.

"It felt like someone took a blow torch to [his left hand], and then I look at it and then there's nothing to show for it, no blood," Fuld told reporters, including the Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney. "Now I know what turf burn is like."

Replays showed starter David Price screaming and clapping his hands after the play, which helped him win his first-ever victory over the White Sox.

The Rays are giving out a Sam Fuld cape later in the season, but it doesn't appear he needs one.

BASEBALL TODAY -- Lauren Shehadi and I talk about the Rockies pitching Cardinals offense.

FASTEST GUN IN THE MIDWEST -- There's little debate now, the gun at Great American Ball Park is juiced.

On Sunday, it had Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan throwing 102, while Pitch F/X had him hitting 98. On Monday, the scoreboard showed Aroldis Chapman hitting 106, when Pitch F/X showed his third pitch to Andrew McCutchen as "just" 102.4.

Last year I had scouts tell me the gun was pretty accurate, but apparently the excitement around Chapman got the Reds greedy, amping up the radar gun. If he does hit 105 mph again, will it say 110 on the scoreboard? Maybe the gun will make Bronson Arroyo feel better about his heater. [MLB.com]

GOOD SEATS -- Nate Schierholtz's brother was sitting 10 feet from where his mammoth shot landed in the third deck at Coors Field, and paid the guy who caught it $25 bucks to get the ball. [San Jose Mercury News]

STREET WATCH -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy is keeping a close eye on closer Huston Street, who hasn't pitched more than two days in a row this year, but has pitched in 10 of the team's first 15 games. [MLB.com]

AXFORD STRUGGLES -- Brewers closer John Axford had another bad outing on Monday, blowing a 3-2 lead in the ninth of an eventual 12-inning Milwaukee victory. The issues has been control, but manager Ron Roenicke said he's not concerned or thinking about any kind of change. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

AND I WANT TO BE COMMISSIONER -- Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said he still wants to play first base. Manager Ned Yost's response? " You know what, I'd like to be an astronaut -- and for some reason they just won't let me." With Kila Ka'aihue is manning the spot until Eric Hosmer comes in to take it for good. [Kansas City Star]

BRING AN UMBRELLA -- Weather has been bad all around baseball early this season, although attendance hasn't been hurt too much. [Associated Press]

GOOD JOBA -- Joba Chamberlain's velocity is down, but his results are up. His slider has become a good pitch, helping his results. [New York Daily News]

NICE SHOT -- Ryan Raburn's pop foul in the first inning on Monday was the first-ever ball to hit the roof at Safeco Field. [MLB.com]

PLENTY OF GOOD SEATS AVAILABLE -- The Mets' bad start is good if you're looking for bargain shopping on the highest-priced seats at Citi Field. [New York Times]

RIOS AILING -- Alex Rios will be getting a break in the White Sox's series with the Rays to try to help his sore left toe fully heal. Rios said the toe has been hurting him for the last five years, so it's doubtful a simple day off will cure him. [Chicago Tribune]

AARDSMA TAKING THE HILL -- Mariners closer David Aardsma is expected to pitching tonight in Triple-A, his firs tame action since his hip labrum surgery in January. The Mariners will likely wait for him to throw three or four games in the minors before taking him off the disabled list. [MLB.com]

MORE SURGERY FOR ZUMAYA? -- The Tigers put Joel Zumaya on the 60-day disabled list and another surgery is possible on his right elbow. [Detroit Free Press]

NICE CATCH -- David Wright played catch with some young fans at Turner Field the other day. Pretty cool stuff. [Big League Stew]

NEW DUCKS UNIFORM -- The Oregon Ducks have added an orange jersey? Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie models the newest Oregon uniform combo. [WhoSay.com/JeremyGuthrie]

VIN SCULLY ON 42 -- Dodger Gene Hermanski had the idea of everyone wearing No. 42 way back in 1948, Vin Scully said. [Sons of Steve Garvey]

TROP VETERAN -- White Sox rookie Chris Sale recalled going to the first-ever Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays game in 1998 when he was 9. [Chicago Tribune]

NOTHING BREWING IN MINORS -- According to the latest Baseball America, the Brewers have the worst minor-league system in baseball. After trading away Brett Lawrie, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi this offseason, their top-ranked prospect is right-hander Mark Rogers -- the team's first-round pick in 2004. On Monday, Rogers lost to former Brewer starter Jeff Suppan in a Triple-A game. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

MINOR LEAGUER HIT IN HEAD -- Eric Hurley, a right-hander with the Rangers' Triple-A team, was hit in the right side of the head in a game against New Orleans on Monday. Hurley, 25, didn't lose consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital. He left the field over his own power. [ESPNDallas.com]

THROWBACK THURSDAY -- Not only will the Dodgers be breaking out their new throwback uniforms against the Braves on Thursday, Atlanta will throw in throwback duds. No word yet on which Braves throwbacks we'll see. The Dodgers are wearing 1940s-era blue satin-like unis. To announce the promotion the Dodgers sent out a press release on Brooklyn Dodgers letterhead (or maybe the ownership ran out of their regular letterhead and had to find some at the back of the closet instead of ordering new stock.) [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

TODAY IN GLUTTONY -- The Akron Aeros have introduced a helmet sundae. No, not a mini-helmet sundae, a full-sized helmet sundae. [Akron Aeros]

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Posted on: April 15, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Maddon pleased to see Rays rising up, winning

By Evan Brunell

PapelbonRays manager Joe Maddon joined WEEI in Boston to speak about the Rays' situation, who are suddenly on a three-game winning streak.

"I just knew it was a matter of time before we started to hit," Maddon said according to a transcript on SportsRadioInterviews.com. "Really the bad start has been attributable to a lack of offense. We just have not been able to move the baseball. A lot of strikeouts, we’ve hit some balls relatively well, but a lot of weak contact. We had a good inning against the White Sox -- that’s how we came back and won, then the first night [in Boston] against [Daisuke] Matsusaka (when the team plated 16 runs in the game). It’s nice to get back on the positive side. It does wonders for your confidence."

Now that Tampa has its confidence back and is climbing up the standings, two games ahead of the Red Sox and two behind the Orioles for third place. But can Tampa last without Manny Ramirez? While the team has turned things around sans Manny, it's still a pretty big hole to fill in the long-term. Maddon doesn't appear concerned.

“I think a lot of times when a perceived negative moment occurs within a group a lot of times the rest of the team will rally around that moment," he said. "I also believe at that moment you’re going to see a lot of guys elevate their game. In most situations it creates opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn’t have that same opportunity, for example Sam Fuld which happens to be working out in our favor right now."

What also helps is that Evan Longoria should be back in uniform by the end of April, which will really bolster the offense and allow Maddon more flexibility in putting the best lineup out on the field every day instead of having his hand forced.

While Fuld has been a revelation in left for the Rays, the hole Carl Crawford left en route to Boston is still rather big. That said, Crawford's been struggling in Boston, but Maddon unsurprisingly believes he will be fine.

Of course he is (feeling the pressure) and that’s where I think, I really talk about evaluating situations properly. Once he gets his feet on the ground, catches his breath, and gets used to being here he’s going to be just fine.”

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 10:34 am
 

Pepper: McGwire only one to dodge steroid fallout

McGwire

By Evan Brunell

DODGING THE BULLET: The steroid era continues to haunt baseball, as Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice charge is far from the end of the saga.

While Bonds is the posterboy for the whole mess, the former face of baseball has somehow survived a Congressional inquiry, years of self-imposed exile, a much-awaited admission and apology and returned to the game as a coach.

No one could have guessed this when Mark McGwire was stumbling over ways to avoid the past in front of Congress, but he's the only star to avoid any lasting damage, unless one counts his failed bids to make the Hall of Fame. It does really seem as if his lawyers gave him the right information all the way back in 2003 as he avoided lying to Congress and then hid away until it benefited him to come clean to avoid prosecution and get back into the game.

Look, there's no defending McGwire, both for his actions juicing up and for waiting until it behooved him best to admit using steroids, but in his second season as Cardinals hitting coach, there is no paparazzi stalking him and no controversy. At this point, McGwire is just another coach with a long history in the game. That's an impressive feat to pull off. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

BASEBALL TODAY: Can Cliff Lee get back on track tonight? Will Phil Hughes lower his ERA? Matt Snyder joins Lauren Shehadi to answer those questions and more.

STRASBURG BEHIND: Stephen Strasburg has yet to throw off a mound in his return from Tommy John surgery. That places him behind Jordan Zimmermann's own schedule last season, but the Nationals have cautioned everyone rehabs at their own pace and there is no rush. Strasburg has a shot to pitch in September for Washington, but given he has yet to step on a mound, that shot has suddenly become a long one. (Washington Post)

MANNY WHO? The Rays have already found a solution for replacing Manny Ramirez's bobblehead night on May 29. In his place, the club will give away a cape dedicated to Sam Fuld, who was a one-man wrecking crew in the abbreviated two-game series against the Red Sox. Click the link to check out the cape, which is pretty cool. (Tampa Tribune)

GOING CRAZY: Well, that didn't take long. Skipper Terry Collins reportedly went "ballistic" after Wednesday's stinker. A player said Collins didn't single anyone out, but made it clear he wasn't happy with how New York was responding to its recent slide, having lost six of seven. (New York Post)

PANIC ALERT: At the outset of the 2011 season, one keeps hearing how it's too early to draw any conclusions from the play of teams or players. But for one certain writer, it's never too early as he encourages you to go right ahead and panic. Something about how it's healthy and fun to panic. Me? I'd prefer to stay even-keeled, thanks. (Sports Illustrated)

SHORTSTOP PAINS: The Brewers are incredibly thin at shortstop, both at the major-league and minor-league level. Luiz Cruz left the organization to sign with the Rangers despite Milwaukee telling him he would be the first option up to the majors if needed. Then, Triple-A third baseman/shortstop Zelous Wheeler got injured, leaving journeyman Anderson Machado as the first line of defense at short. And if your first line of defense is Machado, you've got serious problems. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

TILLMAN BOMBED: Chris Tillman was smacked around by the Yankees on Wednesday, and manager Buck Showalter made it clear after the game that it was unacceptable. "You just can’t let them get away from you and keep the team in the game," he said, also declining to confirm Tillman would make his next start Monday. (Baltimore Sun)

UBALDO RETURNING: Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez had a strong rehab outing Wednesday and should make his return to the majors on Monday. (MLB.com)

BACK TO THE ROTATION? Jeff Samardzija has shuttled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in his fledgling career and may be settling into a niche as a reliever. However, when the team needs a fifth starter again next week, manager Mike Quade says he'll be forced to consider Samardzija along with a host of other options. (Chicago Sun-Times)

MEETING THE PRESIDENT: A select number of Houston Astros coaches and players had lunch with former president George H.W. Bush, an invitation that occurs once a year. "I was a little star-struck when I saw him," third baseman Chris Johnson said. "You see athletes all the time. That’s totally different. It’s totally on another level." (Houston Chronicle)

HAPPY 70, CHARLIE HUSTLE: Pete Rose turns 70 on Thursday, an unthinkable thought to those who grew up idolozing Rose and the Big Red Machine. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Pepper: Huston Street off to fast start

Street

By Evan Brunell

HOT HUSTON: The Rockies have zipped out to a 7-2 start, and closer Huston Street has nailed down five of those victories. The early success has enabled Colorado and Street to put aside a frustrating 2010 season. Meanwhile, Street is reaching milestones in Colorado as he ranks third on the franchise list for total saves, but also tops the list in save percentage.

Part of Street's success -- no blown saves this season -- has to do with his changeup, which wasn't really a factor last year.

"A lot of it has to do with the weapons that [Street] has available to him when he has hitters in counts that he wants to get them into," manager Jim Tracy said. "It's a combination of two things, actually. His put-away pitches are there where we saw them in the past. That's No. 1. And No. 2, the fact that his ball is doing exactly what he wants it to do. I'm throwing it here, it goes there. That is what makes him so special. When the guy is right, he can thread needles. That's exactly what he's been doing these last few times out. The performance in Pittsburgh the other night, when he threw three innings and threw only 27 pitches, is indicative."

Street feels this season has gone perfectly so far. While he'd always be confident, the road's been a bit easier in the early going as he hasn't really had a roadblock put in his way so far.

"You always carry confidence out there. You always expect to get the job done," he said. "It's frustrating when you don't. It's more so when you're not executing because of mechanics or a lack of a feel for a pitch at a certain time. I felt that this year I had the perfect Spring Training. No setbacks, just gradually build, turn up the velocity and the intensity, and it's allowed me to develop all three pitches nicely. At the same time you've got to go out and execute, and I've been making some good pitches, and I've had some good plays behind me to help out in some big spots. It's a team game and we're winning as a team." (MLB.com)

BASEBALL TODAY: Josh Hamilton is injured again, the Red Sox lose again and the Orioles get a big early season test. Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss the latest.

BACK OFF: Manager Ozzie Guillen isn't happy about the hometown fans giving mock cheers to White Sox outfielders for catching balls hit to them. Hey, after five flubs so far in the early going, can you really blame them? (Chicago Tribune)

JUST WIN, BABY: Jayson Werth knows how it works. After bashing a home run against his former team to lead Washington to victory, Werth spoke about how important it is for the Nats to beat the Phillies -- and really, everyone else. Winning will change the culture and bring fans to the ballpark. Doesn't take a mad scientist to figure that out, but at least Werth has the right mentality after signing his lucrative contract. (MASN)

A LEGEND GROWS: Sam Fuld's incredible night Monday was not lost on the masses, who propelled him to Twitter stardom. ESPN even came calling for a couple interviews after he stroked four extra-base hits to catch everyone's attention. The outfielder came back down to earth in Tuesday's game, but his name is already out there. (St. Petersburg Times)

POWER: Justin Upton flashed some power in Tuesday's game by blasting a 478-foot home run against the Cardinals. (Matthew Leach on Twitter)

SWITCHING IT UP: Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt could be switching positions, with Huff returning to his more familiar first base while Belt takes a crack at right. Manager Bruce Bochy has been displeased with the team's defense. But what do you expect when you play a first baseman out of position in right and a DH (Pat Burrell) in left? (MLB.com)

MORE BEER: There is a second outdoor beer garden opening a couple blocks from Nationals Park. Hey, fans need a nice stiff drink before watching a team that could lose 90 games, right? (MASN)

LONGORIA PROGRESSING: Evan Longoria has experienced no setbacks in his recovery from a strained left oblique. He'll need a few rehab games but should be able to return on schedule at the end of the month. (MLB.com)

ONLY JAPAN: Ever had to try to hit a pitch thrown by someone in midair after jumping off a trampoline? Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi had to deal with this on a trip to Japan a while back. (Fangraphs)

THANKS, CARLOS: If Indians pitchers want to thank someone for their early suggest, manager Manny Acta suggests thanking catcher Carlos Santana. Acta praised Santana's game-calling in the early going and believes getting the additional work now and seeing more teams and players that he wasn't familiar with is really helping his progression. (MLB.com)

BLAME THE JERSEY? A Pittsburgh sports columnist recently wrote an article centered around Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was critically beaten at the hands of two Dodger fans. The two takeaways from the articles? Adults wearing sports jerseys are creepy and weird, and Stow basically had it coming. Big League Stew rightfully excoriates the article. (Big League Stew)

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Posted on: April 11, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Fuld runs through cycle in huge offensive game

By Matt Snyder

Sam Fuld didn't hit for the cycle Monday night in a 16-5 Rays' victory over the Red Sox, but he easily could have -- if he cared for that sort of thing. He came to bat in the ninth, having already collected a home run, triple and double. He laced a ball to left field and didn't stop at first base, instead elected to garner his second double and fourth extra-base hit of the game.

Hitting for the cycle is a fun little anamoly in the baseball world. It's tough enough to get four hits in a game, but by the time you factor in getting three extra-base hits and having enough weird luck to get a single, double, triple and home run -- well, the odds just aren't great.

Someone like Fuld, who entered Monday's game with just one career home run and triple each in 180 plate appearances doesn't figure to have a great shot at hitting for the cycle.

So it's easy to see why the Twitter world was clamoring for a cycle Monday night when he dug into the batter's box in the ninth inning of a game that was already long-since decided. It's just that hitting for the cycle isn't the type of feat you build a career around. It's a great offensive game, but so is two doubles, a triple and a bomb. Plus, stopping at first would have been selfish and even disrespectful to his opponent.

Kudos to Fuld for playing the game the right way and not letting a quirkly feat get in the way.

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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