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Julie and Zach Ertz just might be able to lay claim to the title of world’s fittest couple. Julie, a member of the 2015 World Cup-winning team, and Zach, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, married in March after more than four years together. To celebrate the occasion? They posed for the Body Issue, of course, less than a week before the big day. (What did you do for your wedding photos?) Afterward, the pair spoke with reporter Morty Ain about body confidence, training together and being way too competitive at board games.
Sometime after the 2015 All-Star break, home runs skyrocketed. It wasn’t immediately apparent that season, but in 2016 analysts and journalists took note that MLB was approaching its home run record. Although hitters fell just short in 2016, they smashed the record in 2017 by almost 500.
They’re on a slightly slower pace this year as compared to 2017, but typically home run hitting increases in the summer months, so MLB might break the record yet again.
Initially, the culprit looked like to be the launch angle revolution — hitters were changing their angle of attack in hitting the ball, consciously attempting to hit more fly balls to hit more home runs. While the leaguewide fly ball rate has risen since 2014, the change was not dramatic enough to account for the rise in home runs — MLB ran a higher fly ball percentage from 2006-11 than from 2015-17, but home runs were hit at a slower pace.
Coming into the season, Washington’s lineup appeared loaded. Bryce Harper, who returned to MVP form last season before getting hurt in August, was fully healthy again. So too was sparkplug Adam Eaton, presumably, after missing most of last year. Hit machine Daniel Murphy was coming off microfracture surgery, but that was all the way back in October, giving him plenty of time to heal. Veteran Ryan Zimmerman was coming off his best season in years, young speedster Trea Turner was only going to continue to get better and glue guy Anthony Rendon remained one of the game’s most underrated hitters.
At least, that was the glass-half-full outlook. But so far, it’s been a glass-half-empty kind of season for the Nationals’ offense.
To be sure, injuries have played a key role. Eaton missed two months with an ankle problem that may or may not have been a byproduct of last year’s season-ending mishap. Murphy’s recovery was slower than expected, forcing him to miss the first 10 weeks of the season. Zimmerman has been out since mid-May with an oblique issue, and Rendon missed three weeks with a broken toe. Through it all, nobody panicked.
Just wait until they get healthy, or so went the refrain.