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  • July 1, 2019
    NEW YORK (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton’s teammates jumped out of
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    , amazed at how fast the power hitter’s latest homer sped
    into the Yankee Stadium seats.The Yankee slugger? Well, it was just another one
    in his ledger.Stanton hit the hardest homer ever measured by Major League
    Baseball’s Statcast system, Neil Walker hit two more home runs and New York beat
    the Texas Rangers 7-3 on Thursday night.“It’s cool when you get to numbers like
    that,” Stanton said. “But in general, if it goes over the fence, it goes over
    the fence. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So, I seen balls 95 mph go over.”Stanton’s
    28th homer was measured at 121.7 mph, the fastest long ball tracked by Statcast
    since the system was introduced in 2015. The line drive landed a few rows into
    the second level of seats in left field.Miguel Andujar and Aaron Hicks also went
    deep, helping the Yankees win their fourth straight since a five-game skid that
    included a four-game sweep at AL East-leading Boston.J.A. Happ (12-6) pitched
    six effective innings in his return from hand, foot and mouth disease. Happ was
    acquired from Toronto last month and has won both his starts with New York. He
    allowed three runs, four hits, a walk and struck out nine Thursday.Hicks kicked
    off New York’s homer barrage after a questionable decision from Texas manager
    Jeff Banister.Rookie Ariel Jurado (2-2) got Stanton to hit into a double play in
    the first inning, but then Banister ordered an intentional walk to Didi
    Gregorius.Hicks followed with a shot, is 20th, to right field for a 2-0 lead.“I
    was trying to throw my pitches to sink outside,” Jurado said of his 3-1 pitch.
    “But I think a couple of pitches were close but they were not strikes. That’s
    what happened.”Hicks was more concerned with Stanton’s latest feat.“For the rest
    of us, I think it’s a normal base hit and for him it’s a homer,” he said. “It’s
    special the way that he’s able to make contact on a baseball.”After his bullpen
    got taxed during their three-game set in Chicago, Yankees manager Aaron Boone
    was looking for a longer outing from Haap, who had not pitched since July 29. He
    didn’t disappoint.“I knew that we needed some
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    ,” Happ said. “I did what I could out there. Would have like
    to (have) gone one or two more.”Haap struck out the side in the first after
    hitting Shin-Soo Choo to start the first of a four-game series against Texas.
    The 35-year-old retired the next five before once again nailing Choo with a
    pitch in the third before Rougned Odor flew out to end the inning.Jurickson
    Profar hit a solo homer in the fourth inning, and Choo added a two-run double in
    the fifth to make it 5-3.Stanton hit his lined shot out to left in the fifth
    inning, making it the third straight game he’s homered in. Walker’s home run in
    the sixth made it 7-3.All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman walked two in the ninth
    before getting a fielder’s choice from pinch-hitter Isiah Kiner-Falefa and
    striking out Choo and Odor.BRINGING THEM INHicks’ two-run homer gave him a
    career-high 53 RBIs.SWITCH IT UPWalker homered from both sides of the plate for
    the first time in his career. It was his sixth multi-homer game of his career,
    last on May 26, 2017 at Pittsburgh while with the New York Mets.DOUBLE
    UPWalker’s two-homer game was New York’s 20th multi-homer game of the season,
    four shy of the MLB record of 24 set by the 1961 Yankees and 1966 Atlanta
    Braves.TRAINER’S ROOMRangers: OF Delino DeShields Jr. is still dealing with
    concussion symptoms and the team is still unsure whether he will be activated as
    early as Friday. DeShields hurt himself trying to make a sliding catch and
    banged his head on the ground about four weeks ago and went on the 7-day
    concussion list last Saturday, a day after he was taken out of the lineup due to
    headaches.Yankees: C Gary Sanchez (groin) was schedule to do some running at the
    team’s facility in Tampa. He’s been on the disabled list since July 24 and is
    expected to rejoin the team at home this weekend for further evaluations. … RHP
    Chance Adams was demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Wednesday
    night’s game in Chicago to make room for Haap.UP NEXTNew York RHP Masahiro
    Tanaka (9-2, 3.76 ERA) starts opposite LHP Mike Minor (8-6, 4.53) in the second
    game of the series. In five starts against Texas, Tanaka is just 1-2 with a 6.52
    ERA. The bat flips are coming."Mike Napoli did not play a single big league game
    in 2018 and then retired. Adrian Beltre just retired, too, but logged one final
    season worth of 98 OPS+ ball in 2018 before hanging up his cleats for good.
    Scooter Gennett, meanwhile, posted his second consecutive monster season for the
    Cincinnati Reds after being waived by the Milwaukee Brewers following his 2016
    campaign.That’s an odd trio to hype at the beginning of an article about new Red
    Yasiel Puig - one waiver claim, one player who didn’t even play in 2018, and a
    pair who’ve seen their careers end - but they’re listed for a reason. Each of
    Napoli (63), Beltre (64), and Gennett (64) have hit more dingers since the start
    of the 2016 season than Yasiel Puig, whose 62 dingers in that three-season
    sample rank tied for just the 75th most in all baseball in that time. For a
    player whose prodigious power and world-class bat flips are his calling cards,
    that’s a bit of an odd revelation, and while his most recent two seasons have
    seen a much more significant rate of dingeration - his 51 homers in that time
    rank tied for 36th in all MLB with the likes of Eddie Rosario and Yonder Alonso
    - that’s still not a mark that seems anywhere close to being in-line with his
    power reputation.There are a pile of reasons why his tallies and power
    reputation haven’t yet lined
    up ,
    of course, and there are several specific ones that make his move to Cincinnati
    the potential catalyst for such normalization. It’s that, I think, that makes
    his acquisition that much of an exciting one.First and foremost, his move from
    the pitcher-friendly confines of the NL West to a home park in Cincinnati that
    consistently ranks among the most homer-happy in the game will serve as a boost.
    Dodger Stadium has consistently ranked from the middle to bottom of the league
    in home run park factors while GABP is almost always in the top tier, and that
    new 81 game home slate should be a contributing factor in Puig’s chase to top
    his career-best of 28 homers in a single season. If his 2018 home/road splits
    are any indication, an escape from Dodger Stadium altogether might help unleash
    Puig on a whole different scale. He slugged an imposing .605 as part of an
    overall .292/.359/.605 output in 217 away PA last year, with 17 of his 23 homers
    coming away from Dodger Stadium. At home, for reference, he hit just
    .243/.295/.390 in 227 PA last year, though his career home/road splits do appear
    to be much more normalized. If anything, that historic consistency might be a
    positive for his downside potential while GABP’s homer-prone tendencies give him
    an increased upside for home production.Perhaps the single most intriguing part
    about Puig’s batting profile has nothing to do with his quantity of production,
    but rather against which kinds of pitchers he does the most damage. Puig is one
    of the rare right-handed hitters who actually performs distinctly better against
    right-handed pitching, which (in theory) is good because there are many more
    pitches thrown by righties than lefties during a season of play. For his career,
    he owns an .859 OPS against RHP as opposed to just a .757 OPS against LHP, a gap
    that widened to .921 vs. just .628 during the 2018 season. In fact, his
    right-on-right damage over the last two seasons has been among the absolute best
    in all of baseball, his 142 wRC+ as a righty against RHP ranking as the 6th best
    out of 218 big league righties with at least 200 PA against RHP in that time.
    That Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, JD Martinez, and Jose Altuve are among the only
    names that have hit better than him in that area serves as a pretty good
    testament to his quality in that arena.(For
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    , Reds hitters have largely struggled in right-on-right
    scenarios over the last two seasons, their 81 wRC+ in that time ranked 25th in
    baseball.)For Puig and the Reds, a move to a more hitter-friendly home park (and
    division) should certainly help his season-long stats, but what might be more
    important to fueling an increase in those numbers is simply maximizing Puig’s
    playing time, something that hasn’t happened hardly at all in his career.
    Hamstring issues have dogged him repeatedly, and that coupled with a stacked
    Dodgers roster that emphasizes thorough lineup rotation have combined to keep
    his number of plate appearances suppressed. Only once has he topped 570 PA in a
    season (640 back in 2015), and he has averaged just 423 PA a season over the
    last four years. For reference, that’s a full 200 PA fewer than Joey Votto
    logged in 2018 alone (in a year where he spent time on the DL), and Adam Duvall
    - who has already become an afterthought from the 2018 season - logged 370 PA
    with the Reds alone before being dealt to Atlanta. In other words, Puig has
    joined a Reds roster with precious little experience around him, and if he can
    manage to stay largely healthy, there might well be a path to the most playing
    time he’s seen in his half-dozen year career, too.Quality against the most
    prevalent form of pitching in the game, a move to a home park that’s conducive
    to letting his biggest tool flourish, and a path to more playing time than he’s
    been used to for years all seem to be the recipe for Yasiel Puig thriving in a
    revamped Cincinnati Reds offense. And if he proves capable of playing even a bit
    of CF, that could provide the Reds with precisely the kind of offensive bludgeon
    that can help them claw out of the cellar of the NL Central. They’ve only got
    one year of team control over Puig to see it happen, but they certainly seem to
    be in prime position for that one year to be a brilliant one.