201589.612.9 Source: Statcast SEASONEXIT VELOCITYLAUNCH ANGLE 201684.118.3 201790.013.9 The early-season noise around such unexpectedly great hitters as Brewers stud Eric Thames has pulled attention away from the return of another prodigious slugger: Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper. Harper is making his triumphant comeback from the injuries that plagued him in 2016, and the advanced metrics show he’s ready to deliver another MVP-level year this season.In his six-year MLB career, Harper has been equal parts incredible and disappointing. He appeared to reach his full potential in 2015, when he produced a .330/.460/.649 slash line en route to a season worth 9.5 wins above replacement. But last year Harper backslid dramatically, struggling with injuries and hitting a pedestrian (by his standards) .243/.373/.441. His drop-off between 2015 and 2016 was one of the largest declines in production ever.But now Harper’s back — and maybe better than ever. It’s early in the season, but we can already see his recovery using MLB’s Statcast system, which tracks the launch angle and direction of every batted ball.Last season, I wrote about how Harper’s batted-ball stats weren’t matching those of his MVP year, which suggested he might be injured.1Harper has hinted that this was the case, although the Nationals denied that he played through an injury in 2016. This season, though, Harper is well on his way to replicating his 2015 performance. For instance, after a down year in exit velocity, Harper’s average batted ball is once again leaving the bat at close to 90 miles an hour. (For comparison’s sake, he averaged 89.6 mph in 2015.)His launch angle has also significantly improved. For most of 2016, Harper was elevating his swing, which resulted in the highest fly-ball rate of his career but also in more weak pop-ups. But this April, he’s back to the flat, line-drive cut that worked so well before. Hard, low-angle batted balls are a good recipe for success, so it’s no surprise that Harper is productive again. Harper hits hard again AVERAGE And Harper’s not just hitting the ball better. Even his plate discipline has improved: He’s currently posting a career-best walk rate and showing better strike-zone judgment than ever. So far this year, Harper is back to combining the willingness to wait for a hittable pitch with the strength to knock that pitch out of the park.With all those improvements working together, Harper is a more dangerous hitter than ever. So far, he’s belted nine home runs in only 114 plate appearances, with an outrageous, Bonds-ian slugging percentage (.772) driving an overall offensive performance that’s 123 percentage points better than the league average. That exceeds even the lofty heights he achieved in 2015, when he “only” hit 97 percentage points better than league average. And in just 25 games — about a seventh of the season — he’s already racked up 2.1 WAR. If you project that out over a full season, he’d be on pace for another of the best years in the history of baseball.Even setting aside Harper’s history of yo-yoing between greatness and mediocrity, it’s clear that he can’t stay this hot forever. Eventually, bad luck or injuries will drag Harper, Thames and all the other early-season leaders back to more mortal levels of production. (Indeed, Harper’s exit velocity might already be dropping slightly: Over his last 10 games, he’s averaged a more pedestrian 84.5 mph exit velocity.) But for now, baseball is better off with a superstar like Harper excelling again.
Dear Editor,Robert Hayes, reporter and creator of the Wilmington Apple, pretty much summed it up at candidates night when he stated: “The perception out there is that selectman candidate Jonathan Eaton is the establishment’s candidate and the perception is that Robert Fasulo is the candidate of change.” Robert Hayes hit the nail on the head. This is absolutely true. I’ve personally talked with several hundred residents over the past few months and I know first hand that this is what people are feeling, this is what people are saying. As many of you know, I don’t follow the trend of endorsing a candidate every year and as a matter of fact, it’s been fifteen years since I supported a candidate for the office of Wilmington Board of Selectmen. But this year, there’s a candidate who truly stands out; Rob Fasulo is that candidate.One of the main reasons I’m supporting Rob Fasulo is that he will not be part of the status quo. While there is no doubt we will disagree on some things, fundamentally we’re on the same page. He’s an independent thinker, strong-willed and ethically minded when it comes to family and community. One of Rob’s best qualities is that he is a great communicator and the most important part of communication is actually listening to what the other person is saying. If elected to the board of selectmen, be rest assured that Rob will listen to each and every one of you so that we may provide a great quality of life to our children, our seniors and to every resident in Wilmington.Rob truly cares about the direction in which Wilmington is heading in regards to development and how it’s becoming out of control. Like most of us, he wants to keep our town from turning into an overdeveloped city–case and point–look at some of our surrounding towns. They were small towns not too long ago. In recent months I’ve observed on social media that people say they’ve moved from big cities to Wilmington so they can raise their kids in a small, safe community. People like myself who are lifelong residents are very concerned on how Wilmington has the potential to be overdeveloped. Rob would also like to maintain a small town feel. He cares about our future and he cares about how our tax dollars are spent.Rob Fasulo is a lifelong resident of Wilmington. He is a graduate of the Wilmington Public Schools and he went on to earn a degree in criminal justice and has made a career of serving the commonwealth in a law enforcement capacity. In addition to caring for the people in our town and state, he also cares deeply about the environment and shows his commitment by running a small local agricultural business that produces honey and maple syrup and is very involved in the Farmer’s Market on the town common selling the most fantastic honey and maple syrup products my family has ever had. Quite obviously food is one of my passions!Please join with me on Saturday, April 28, 2018 and cast a vote for Robert Fasulo for Wilmington Selectman in our upcoming town election. Remember every single vote is important and it makes a difference. It’s time to take back our town. Wilmington families first, Wilmington neighborhoods forever!Sincerely,Michael V. McCoyWilmington SelectmanNOTE TO CANDIDATES & CAMPAIGNS: Got announcements, press releases, letters to the editor, etc.? Email email@example.com.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedLETTER TO THE EDITOR: Selectman Mike McCoy Endorses Rob Fasulo For SelectmanIn “Letter To The Editor”SELECTMEN RACE PREVIEW: Everything You Need To Know Before You VoteIn “Government”LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Selectman Mike McCoy Defends Himself From Attacks From Tewksbury Selectman CandidateIn “Letter To The Editor”
Share Abner Fletcher“Destroy the Confederacy” protester at Sam Houston Park.The Houston Chronicle reports a Houston man has been arrested for allegedly trying to plant explosives at a Confederate statue in Hermann Park.A 25-year-old man was taken into custody Monday (Aug. 21) for attempting to destroy the General Dowling Monument located in Hermann Park, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. A complaint was filed in Houston federal court Monday charging Andrew Schneck.And across Texas this weekend, symbols of the Confederacy fell — the latest at the University of Texas in Austin — where crews took down four Confederate statues overnight.READ: FULL STATEMENT FROM UT PRESIDENTThree of them have been moved to the university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The center’s executive director, Dr. Don Carleton, joins us to explain which of the four statues are now at the center and what’s planned for them.And, we hear what protesters and counter-protesters had to say at this weekend’s rally here in Houston, where the “Spirit of the Confederacy” statue remains in place Sam Houston Park downtown.Michael Hagerty“The Spirit of the Confederacy” statue in Sam Houston Park downtown, erected in 1908.