Baseball Playoff Betting Strategy | Odds Shark

[Preview] American League Division Series – Minnesota Twins (101-61) at New York Yankees (103-59)

Minnesota Twins (101-61) at New York Yankees (103-59)
The Minnesota Twins, baseball’s most improved team from 2018, travel to the Bronx to take on the powerhouse New York Yankees. For the Twins, this series represents their second trip to the postseason in three years — they lost the 2017 AL Wild Card Game to the Yankees — and first ALDS appearance since 2010. For the Yankees, this is their third consecutive trip to the postseason — they lost the 2017 ALCS to the Astros and the 2018 ALDS to the Red Sox — and seventh in the last decade. The ALDS represents the first step in each club’s pursuit of the World Series. Minnesota is looking for its fourth World Series title, and first since 1991, while New York is chasing its 28th World Series title, and first since 2009.
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Friday, October 4 Saturday, October 5 Monday, October 7 Tuesday, October 8 Thursday, October 10
7:07 pm ET 5:07 pm ET 8:40 pm ET TBA TBA
Yankee Stadium Yankee Stadium Target Field Target Field Yankee Stadium
Where to Watch/Listen
Streaming: FOX Sports app, MLB.TV
Radio: ESPN Radio, WFAN 660/101.9 FM, TIBN
Weather Forecast
Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5
Temperature: 66 F Temperature: 63 F Temperature: 60 F Temperature: 64 F Temperature: 71 F
Precipitation: 20% Precipitation: 10% Precipitation: 10% Precipitation: 10% Precipitation: 20%
Humidity: 61% Humidity: 49% Humidity: 57% Humidity: 62% Humidity: 55%
Wind: 14 mph Wind: 10 mph Wind: 10 mph Wind: 11 mph Wind: 7 mph
Betting Odds
Minnesota: +210
New York: -245
Who are the Twins?
Season Expectations: After a deflating 78-win season in 2018, expectations were tempered for the Minnesota Twins heading into 2019. The team had not won the AL Central Division since 2010 and had taken a step backward from its 85-win campaign in 2017. Attendance too had deflated from over 3 million in 2011 to under 2 million in 2018. Projection systems saw the Twins as a mediocre team with an outside shot at a Wild Card spot — Fangraphs predicted 82 wins while 538 predicted 84 wins. But the Twins shrugged off the doubters, blew away expectations, reached 100 wins for only the second time in franchise history, and saw attendance reach its highest level in five years.
Roster Moves: At the end of 2018, the Twins said goodbye to future Hall of Famer Joe Mauer and then fired Hall of Famer Paul Molitor from his position as manager. After hiring newbie Rocco Baldelli as manager (perhaps Manager of the Year?), the Twins grabbed first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers from Tampa Bay and signed second baseman Jonathan Schoop, designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and infielder Marwin Gonzalez in free agency. Analysts were skeptical of the Twins decision to pass on pitching upgrades, but Minnesota’s front office was convinced they had the ingredients in place to build a championship caliber team. The Twins added relievers Sergio Romo and Sam Dyson before the midseason trade deadline to bolster the pen.
Offense: Boy howdy can this Minnesota team hit. Nelson Cruz (163 wRC+) was a slam dunk free-agent success, catcher Mitch Garver (155 wRC+) decided to hit like Ken Griffey Jr., third baseman Miguel Sano (137 wRC+) stayed healthy enough to make a huge impact, rookie jack-of-all-trades Luis Arraez (125 wRC+) had a quietly solid year, and right fielder Max Kepler (121 wRC+) and shortstop Jorge Polanco (120 wRC+) had career years at the plate. The Twins had an incredible eight players hit 20 or more home runs (all of the above aside from Arraez plus left fielder Eddie Rosario, Cron, and Schoop), and overall, the club smashed 307 home runs, the most in all of baseball.
Defense and Baserunning: The Twins ranked dead last in team stolen bases (28 SB) by a large margin, and their only player with more than five stolen bases on the year was center fielder Byron Buxton who is out for the postseason with a shoulder injury. Defensively, the Twins grade out as a solid, if unspectacular, defensive unit. The aforementioned Buxton is the team’s true defensive superstar, though Gonzalez and Kepler are standouts as well. Sano, Rosario, and Arraez at second base grade out as below average.
Pitching: The Twins starting rotation is stronger than you think — the rotation ranked 7th in fWAR, 11th in ERA, 8th in FIP, and 13th in K-BB% in 2019. Comfortably above average. The 25-year-old Jose Berrios led the way (3.68 ERA/3.85 FIP), and the veteran Jake Odorizzi (3.51 ERA/3.36 FIP) was quietly excellent behind him. Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez, and the now-suspended Michael Pineda rounded out the rest of the rotation with varying degrees of success. Minnesota’s bullpen was even better, ranking 3rd in fWAR, 10th in ERA, 1st in FIP, and 3rd in K-BB%. Taylor Rogers (2.61 ERA/2.85 FIP), Trevor May (2.94 ERA/3.73 FIP), Tyler Duffey (2.50 ERA/3.06 FIP), Zack Littell (2.68 ERA/3.62 FIP), and Sergio Romo (3.18 ERA/3.35 FIP) have proven very difficult to score against.
Record: At no point were the Twins under .500 this season. They took the division lead on April 20 and held it for all but one day the rest of the way. Minnesota’s best month was May, in which they went 21-8 (.724), and by June 2, they found themselves 11.5 games up in the division, their biggest lead all year. The Twins cooled off a bit in June and July, while the Indians got hot, and by August 11 the AL Central Division was all tied up. But the Twins pulled things together and when the season ended, they were a cool eight games up on the second-place Indians.
Wrap Up: The Twins are one of baseball’s elite power teams with a deep lineup that is perilous to navigate. They also feature an underrated pitching staff, anchored by two legit quality starters and a group of very effective relievers. While the history of Yankees vs. Twins playoff battles is very one-sided, there’s no reason for past failures to haunt this young, confident group.
Who are the Yankees?
Expectations: For the second year in a row, the Yankees entered the season as a World Series favorite. Coming off a 100-win campaign (and quick postseason exit), the Yankees looked to replicate their recent regular season success, while reaching the World Series for the first time in a decade. Some analysts questioned the team’s decision to pass on top-tier free agents — such as outfielder Bryce Harper, infielder Manny Machado, and starting pitcher Patrick Corbin — but consensus found that the Yankees were likely to once again play in October. FanGraphs and 538 both projected 97 wins for the Bombers. The Yankees met and exceeded those lofty predictions.
Roster Moves: Despite passing on the top-tier free agents, the Yankees had a busy offseason. They re-signed left fielder Brett Gardner, reliever Zack Britton, and starters CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ. They traded for starter James Paxton and signed reliever Adam Ottavino and second baseman D.J. LeMahieu in free agency. Once the season started, the Yankees added outfielder Cameron Maybin.
Offense: Unsurprisingly, the Yankees were one of the best offensive teams in baseball, enjoying excellent hitting seasons from expected and unexpected sources. Right fielder Aaron Judge (141 wRC+) anchored the lineup while healthy, first baseman Luke Voit (126 wRC+) had a successful first (almost) full season in the majors, second baseman Gleyber Torres (125 wRC+) built off his fantastic rookie season, LeMahieu (136 wRC+) crushed expectations, and Gardner (115 wRC+) had a bounceback year at the plate. Third baseman Gio Urshella (132 wRC+), outfielder Mike Tauchman (128 wRC+), and Maybin (128 wRC+) came out of nowhere to deepen the lineup.
Defense and Baserunning: While the Yankees (55 SB) more than doubled the Twins’ stolen base total this year, that number was only good for 24th in baseball. No Yankees player stole more than 10 bases on the season, though infielder Tyler Wade stole seven bases in just 43 games. Much like the Twins, the Yankees are a middle-of-the-road defense. Judge, Gardner, the now-injured Tauchman, and LeMahieu were the team’s top defenders, while Torres, Voit, and Urshela received below-average grades for their glove work.
Pitching: James Paxton (3.82 ERA/3.86 FIP) led a rotation that struggled for large parts of the season. The recently suspended Domingo German (4.28 ERA/4.92 FIP) and Masahiro Tanaka (4.45 ERA/4.27 FIP) were good at times, but bad at others. And veterans Sabathia and Happ closed out the rotation with disappointing seasons. Fortunately for the Yankees, their bullpen helped carry the slack. The four horsemen — Ottavino (1.90 ERA/3.44 FIP), Britton (1.91 ERA/3.74 FIP), Tommy Kahnle (3.67 ERA/3.33 FIP), and Aroldis Chapman (2.25 ERA/2.31 FIP) — delivered the goods, while Chad Green was excellent after a weird April mechanical issue was straightened out.
Record: Things started slowly for the Yankees as they went 5-8 through the first few games of the season and found themselves 5.5 games back in the division race on April 18. But as things settled in, the Yankees’ talent emerged and by May 17 they were in first place. For a month, they battled the Rays for the division lead, taking the lead for good on June 13 and never looking back. The Yankees played .550 ball or better in every month of the season and never had a losing streak longer than four games.
Wrap Up: With a potent offense top-to-bottom, an army of elite relievers, and enough quality starters (perhaps) to get through October scheduling, this club looks like a team built for one purpose — to win a championship. Their lineup punishes opposing pitchers, and their bullpen cuts down opportunities to rally. And after a season in which they set the all-time record for team injuries, the Yankees are already used to adversity.
Head-to-Head Regular Season Matchups
All-time: Yankees are 1125-768 (.594)
Last 10 years: Yankees are 46-21 (.687)
Last 3 years: Yankees are 13-6 (.684)
2019: Yankees are 4-2 (.667)
Postseason Matchups
2003 ALDS: Yankees won 3-1
2004 ALDS: Yankees won 3-1
2009 ALDS: Yankees won 3-0
2010 ALDS: Yankees won 3-0
2017 WCG: Yankees won 1-0
Notable Position Players
2019 All Stars in bold. Players on the Injured List (or suspended) are in italics.
Twins Player Stats Yankees Player Stats
C Mitch Garver 155 wRC+/-0 DRS C Gary Sanchez 116 wRC+/-2 DRS
C Jason Castro 103 wRC+/-7 DRS C Austin Romine 95 wRC+/1 DRS
C Willians Astudillo 76 wRC+/-2 DRS 1B Luke Voit 126 wRC+/-6 DRS
1B C.J. Cron 101 wRC+/2 DRS 1B Mike Ford 134 wRC+/-1 DRS
2B Jonathan Schoop 100 wRC+/0 DRS 2B Gleyber Torres 125 wRC+/-6 DRS
2B Luis Arraez 125 wRC+/-8 DRS 2B Tyler Wade 88 wRC+/3 DRS
SS Jorge Polanco 120 wRC+/1 DRS 2B DJ LeMahieu 136 wRC+/5 DRS
SS Ehire Adrianza 102 wRC+/-2 DRS SS Didi Gregorius 84 wRC+/-5 DRS
3B Miguel Sano 137 wRC+/-5 DRS 3B Gio Urshela 132 wRC+/-5 DRS
RF Max Kepler 121 wRC+/4 DRS RF Aaron Judge 141 wRC+/19 DRS
CF Byron Buxton 111 wRC+/10 DRS CF Aaron Hicks 102 wRC+/-1 DRS
LF Eddie Rosario 103 wRC+/-6 DRS LF Giancarlo Stanton 139 wRC+/-1 DRS
OF Jake Cave 113 wRC+/-2 DRS OF Brett Gardner 115 wRC+/5 DRS
OF Marwin Gonzalez 93 wRC+/7 DRS OF Mike Tauchman 128 wRC+/16 DRS
OF LaMonte Wade 98 wRC+/-2 DRS OF Cameron Maybin 128 wRC+/1 DRS
DH Nelson Cruz 163 wRC+/-- DH Edwin Encarnacion 121 wRC+/--
Notable Pitchers
2019 All Stars in bold. Players on the Injured List (or suspended) are in italics.
Twins Pitcher Stats Yankees Pitcher Stats
SP Jose Berrios 3.68 ERA/3.85 FIP SP James Paxton 3.82 ERA/3.86 FIP
SP Jake Odorizzi 3.51 ERA/3.36 FIP SP Masahiro Tanaka 4.45 ERA/4.27 0FIP
SP Michael Pineda 4.01 ERA/4.02 FIP SP Luis Severino 1.50 ERA/2.13 FIP
SP Kyle Gibson 4.48 ERA/4.26 FIP SP J.A. Happ 4.91 ERA/5.22 FIP
SP Martin Perez 5.12 ERA/4.66 FIP SP CC Sabathia 4.95 ERA/5.66 FIP
SP Devin Smeltzer 3.86 ERA/4.58 FIP SP Domingo German 4.03 ERA/4.72 FIP
SP Randy Dobnak 1.59 ERA/2.90 FIP RP Aroldis Chapman 2.21 ERA/2.28 FIP
RP Trevor May 2.94 ERA/3.73 FIP RP Adam Ottavino 1.90 ERA/3.44 FIP
RP Taylor Rogers 2.61 ERA/2.85 FIP RP Zack Britton 1.91 ERA/3.74 FIP
RP Tyler Duffey 2.50 ERA/3.06 FIP RP Chad Green 4.17 ERA/3.34 FIP
RP Ryne Harper 3.81 ERA/3.66 FIP RP Tommy Kahnle 3.67 ERA/3.33 FIP
RP Zack Littell 2.68 ERA/3.62 FIP RP David Hale 3.11 ERA/3.32 FIP
RP Sergio Romo 3.18 ERA/3.35 FIP RP Luis Cessa 4.11 ERA/4.87 FIP
RP Cody Stashak 3.24 ERA/3.01 FIP RP Nestor Cortes 5.67 ERA/5.57 FIP
RP Brusdar Graterol 3.86 ERA/3.43 FIP RP Jonathan Holder 6.31 ERA/4.45 FIP
RP Lewis Thorpe 6.18 ERA/3.47 FIP RP Jonathan Loaisiga 4.55 ERA/4.95 FIP
RP Kohl Stewart 6.39 ERA/6.06 FIP RP Cory Gearrin 4.50 ERA/4.79 FIP
RP Fernando Romero 7.43 ERA/5.17 FIP RP Stephen Tarpley 6.93 ERA/5.69 FIP
ALDS Rosters
Twins Roster TBA
Yankees Roster TBA
Team Offense Rankings
Category Twins Stat Twins Rank Yankees Stat Yankees Rank
BA .270 2nd .267 4th
OBP .338 6th .339 4th
SLG .494 2nd .490 3rd
wRC+ 116 3rd 117 2nd
wOBA .347 2nd .346 3rd
ISO .224 1st .222 2nd
K% 20.9% 4th 23.0% 12th
BB% 8.2% 20th 9.1% 12th
BsR -8.2 25th 0.4 15th
Team Rotation Rankings
Category Twins Stat Twins Rank Yankees Stat Yankees Rank
ERA 4.19 11th 4.51 15th
FIP 4.09 8th 4.74 18th
xFIP 4.34 10th 4.38 12th
K% 22.4% 13th 23.8% 9th
BB% 7.1% 9th 7.3% 11th
H9 1.22 6th 1.76 28th
WPA 2.06 7th 0.80 9th
Team Bullpen Rankings
Category Twins Stat Twins Rank Yankees Stat Yankees Rank
ERA 4.17 10th 4.08 9th
FIP 3.92 1st 4.15 9th
xFIP 4.16 6th 4.15 4th
K% 25.0% 10th 26.4% 3rd
BB% 7.5% 1st 9.4% 11th
H9 1.21 9th 1.30 15th
WPA 4.23 4th 3.77 5th
Team Defense Rankings
Category Twins Stat Twins Rank Yankees Stat Yankees Rank
FanDef -7.2 21st 4.8 13th
DRS -9 19th -16 22nd
UZR -8.0 20th 4.8 13th
Yankees reliever David Hale pitched for the Twins in 2018.
Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin played for the Twins in 2006.
Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks played in the Twins minor league system from 2008 to 2012 and for the Twins from 2013 to 2015.
Twins starter Michael Pineda pitched for the Yankees from 2014 to 2017.
Twins reliever Zack Littell played in the Yankees minor league system in 2017.
Twins infielder Ronald Torreyes played for the Yankees from 2016 to 2018.
Twins outfielder Jake Cave played in the Yankees minor league system from 2011 to 2017.
Twins bench coach Derek Shelton played in the Yankees minor league system from 1992 to 1993.
Twins hitting coach James Rowson played in the Yankees minor league system in 1997.
Things to Watch
Youth at the Top: Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is only in his first year as MLB manager, while Yankees manager Aaron Boone is in his second. Baldelli was the winningist rookie manager in Twins history, while Boone had a fantastic second season guiding an injury-plagued club. These guys could finish no. 1 and no. 2 in the AL Manager of the Year race, but how will they hold up in October?
Bombs Away: The two premiere home run hitting ballclubs meet up in the 2019 ALDS. They are the only two teams to cross the 300 HR mark in baseball history, and just one home run separated the Twins (307) and Yankees (306) this year. If recent history is any indication, these teams could hit home runs at an even higher pace in the postseason.
My Kingdom for a Stolen Base: The Yankees (24th in MLB) and Twins (30th) didn’t steal many bases in the regular season, so who will they turn to if they need a bag swiped in a crucial playoff moment? For the Yankees, Tyler Wade (7 SB/0 CS) is probably that guy, though Cameron Maybin (9 SB/6 CS) may be another option. Things are much bleaker for the Twins. With Byron Buxton on the shelf and Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario penciled into the starting lineup, their best stolen base threat may be rookie Luis Arraez (2 SB/2 CS).
Home is Where the Heart Is: The Yankees are 57-24 (.704) at home, one of the best marks in baseball. They’re also 7-2 (.778) at home in the last two postseasons. But the Twins actually play better on the road (.679) than at their home ballpark (.568), so they may be exactly the team to dissolve this New York advantage.
A Tale of Woe: The Twins are 2-13 (.133) in postseason games against the Yankees. But the 2019 team has little to do with those past versions, and they’re eager for a chance at postseason redemption against their persecutors. “Organizationally, I just say it’s time to slay the dragon, right?” team president Dave St. Peter told the NY Post on Saturday.
Rotation Problems: With Domingo German on administrative leave and CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ moved to the bullpen, the Yankees head into the postseason with a rotation of James Paxton, whose last outing was shortened by a glute injury; Masahiro Tanaka, who is sporting a 5.26 ERA in the second half; and Luis Severino, who only made three starts this year due to injury. With Michael Pineda suspended for PED use and Kyle Gibson moved to the bullpen, the Twins enter the postseason with a rotation of Jose Berrios, who has a 4.64 ERA in the second half; Martin Perez, who is carrying a 6.27 ERA in the second half; a combination of rookies Devin Smeltzer and Randy Dobnok, who have a total of 11 career MLB starts between them; and Odorizzi. Not quite how the organizations drew this up in the offseason.
Lean on Me: Both teams are likely relying on similar battle strategies: get what you can out of the rotation, hope your offense goes nuts, and lean on your key relievers in big moments. Minnesota’s Rogers/Duffey/Romo/May/Littell group (2.73 ERA/3.28 FIP) and New York’s Chapman/Ottavino/Britton/Kahnle/Green group (2.80 ERA/3.25 FIP) are on a collision course.
Staying Healthy: Twins infielder Luis Arraez suffered a grade 1 ankle sprain on Saturday, jack-of-all-trades Marwin Gonzalez is trying to work his way back from right oblique tightness, and right fielder Max Kepler has missed about two weeks worth of games with a rhomboid muscle strain. Yankees designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is recovering from a left oblique strain suffered on September 12, starter James Paxton says he’ll be fine after leaving Friday’s game with a nerve irritation in his glute, and third baseman Gio Urshela is nursing a left ankle sprain described as “mild.” These six players hope to be ready to go by ALDS Game 1, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be at 100 percent.
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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya - You Had To Be There

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: You Had To Be There

Warning: I’m going to be committing murder in this essay, as I will be explaining a joke and that inevitably kills them. However, this is for the further advancement of science, so I hope I will be forgiven.
If you want to start an argument, whisper, “Broadcast order is best” in a room of veteran anime fans. They’ll know what you mean. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Along with the franchise’s penchant for self-commentary and general disregard for the viewer's comfort, its lack of order is usually taken as evidence that it was done just to mess with our heads. And it was… with neurosurgical precision.
Haruhi S1 is the most delightfully clever series I have ever seen, a cleverness that I suspect springs from inspired necessity. Like many adaptations, the staff could only fit so much from the light novel source. While including the “Melancholy” volume was natural, being the introductory segment, it’s worth only six episodes of content. What to do with the other eight broadcast slots? Curiously, rather than utilizing “Sigh” (the next volume), the rest of the episodes are plucked from different volumes then inserted throughout[1] :
Broadcast = Chronological 1 = 11 (Adventures of Asahina Mikuru) 2 = 1 (Melancholy 1) 3 = 2 (Melancholy 2) 4 = 7 (Baseball) 5 = 3 (Melancholy 3) 6 = 9 (Island 1) 7 = 8 (Missing computer club prez) 8 = 10 (Island 2) 9 = 14 ("Final" episode) 10 = 4 (Melancholy 4) 11 = 13 (The Legend of the Nagato Heroes) 12 = 12 (School festival, concert) 13 = 5 (Melancholy 5) 14 = 6 (Melancholy 6)
This may seem random, but notice that despite all the jumping around, the six Melancholy episodes remain sequential, spaced throughout the season, with an emphasis on the beginning and end as we’d expect from a progressing plot. Furthermore, this unorthodox structure has a purpose, and that it is the “inspired” part of “inspired necessity.” Haruhi is a mystery, a mystery that guides an adapting, self-aware joke. If I had to describe its method it would be to create expectations, know that it’s created those expectations, know that we know that it’s created those expectations, show us that it knows that we know that it knows that it’s created those expectations… and then stay one step ahead to make it all work anyway. Allow me to enthusiastically demonstrate.

The Setup

1 = 11 (Adventures of Asahina Mikuru) 2 = 1 (Melancholy 1) 3 = 2 (Melancholy 2)
Nagato: “Suzumiya Haruhi and I are not ordinary humans.” Kyon: “I kind of knew that already.” Nagato: “That is not what I mean… In more common terminology, I would be classified as an alien.”
It was at this moment Kyon realized his understanding of the situation had gone seriously awry. As did we. This is not a conversation “either” of us thought was possible. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Starting at the beginning is what normally makes sense.
The Adventures of Asahina Mikuru is a prank, and a brilliant one at that. You may think I’m referring to its candid introduction of the cast, hiding everything by hiding nothing, all while thumbing its nose at us because we don’t yet know what we’re in for. That’s true and worth a chuckle later on; you might even have an inkling of this yourself as you watch it. If so, all the better, even. Like so many aspects of this show it can stand on its own as a gag, but it’s also the setup for a much bigger question:
What is Haruhi trying to do?
Sure, it might be funny to to subject us to a few minutes of this farce, but twenty-two minutes and seventeen seconds of it? This is so excessive that it demands an answer… we uncomfortably don’t have. What sort of series does this? What’s worse, everything about the episode is subtly contradictory. The poor cinematography belies an expert recreation of poor cinematography as filmed through a camcorder. We unthinkingly accept the glaring holes as part of its ridiculousness, yet our attention is directed relentlessly to discrepancies big and small as though we ought to be looking for consistent story. Then, oddly, when extremely unusual things do happen sometimes it explains them, sometimes it doesn’t. And what about the people? They’re all poor actors, so are we supposed to be bothered by their failure to live up to their roles or ignore that too? Like Kyon, our longsuffering representative in this misadventure, all we can do is keep trying explanations and hope they stick, unsure if it matters at all. By the time Suzumiya turns to address us at the end, not only has carefully watching not answered anything, it has actually left us less sure what is signal and what is noise.
Now having been mildly confused, mistreated, and mocked (you wanna tell me you didn’t catch yourself staring too?) the series begins “in earnest”: a standard case of a jaded, low-energy male protagonist being dragged around by an eccentric, hyperactive female who instigates wacky adventures for her and her merry friends, all the while peppering in obvious self-referential comments that make us smart for noticing them. Now it clicks into place. Haruhi is a comedy, one that is making fun of all the other series in the genre while being a joke itself. The opening movie was just a good, sharp kick in the shin to show off just how funny and different it is.
...except so far it’s not funny like it’s supposed to be. Sure Kyon keeps up his observations of the weirdos around him, observations that are our own but better said, but Suzumiya herself is legitimately awful to people. The light-hearted music plays and it fits all the tropes, but Asahina’s reaction to being groped and publicly humiliated is discomfitingly not that of a comedic side character. And what’s Nagato up to? Rather than being the bookishly shy-but-sweet girl she’s remained sitting in the corner, an unreadable lump with no personality in sight. If possible, everybody is playing their roles even worse than in the movie.
Moreover, strange things are afoot at the Circle K. It’s nothing we can take to court, but Suzumiya keeps getting her way in the oddest of situations. Random lots gives her the coveted back left corner, with Kyon in easy grabbing distance. Stereotypically the literature club is low on members, and the sole remaining occupant allows her to use the space despite being a patent hermit. She wants a timid, cutesy mascot, and not only does she locate a perfect specimen, Asahina even chooses to stay despite the mistreatment. Are these just contrivances of the genre or are we supposed to question what they mean (...and did she just read our thoughts)?
Which brings us at last back to Nagato’s apartment. When she tells Kyon that she’s an alien we’ve reached a critical mass of uncertainty. It’s not just that we don’t know whether she is telling the truth. That’s not the real suspense that has been building, although we’ve been given conflicting information on this too[2] . It’s that we don’t know whether we should be wondering it. Is it even possible? Aliens belong in certain shows, delusional high school girls in others. But what type are we in?
And Haruhi stares back at us through Nagato’s indecipherable face, playing it straight. It anticipated out first (mis)understanding (“That is not what I mean”) and it knows we want the answer as to what it’s up to. But as the episode ends, it’s not giving any more hints.

Payoffs and Playoffs

4 = 7 (Baseball) 5 = 3 (Melancholy 3)
Now time for baseball! This is… not what was expected. Although not entirely unexpected either, because if its earlier actions weren’t enough to convince us we can be pretty sure now Haruhi must be going for random nonsequitur. To not explain itself before moving on seems like just the sort of trick it would pull. It even keeps stringing us along with more strange coincidences, more indecipherable references, more cases of Nagato being weird-but-not-indisputably-alien-weird (which is a great visual gag, I might add)… but something is different.
Kyon: “Hey Nagato. Could you make it rain on the day of the game?”
Kyon, our faithful narrator, has changed his mind; he knows something we don’t. Or does he? Nagato immediately gives him a reason why she won’t do it, so maybe she’s just a dedicated roleplayer and he’s decided to humor her after their meeting. He knew she’d turn him down. ...maybe? We still can’t identify what a “tell” is in this show; how can we when it’s sending signals that are random, discomforting, and funny too? And it just keeps getting weirder, with references to the end of the world piling up and odd flashbacks that we cannot verify. Then the killing blow:
Nagato: “This [bat] has been modified with a boost in attribute data.”
With the ball flying far out over the field, we now have confirmation: there is something supernatural going on in this series. The rest of it could be explained away, but not this. But here’s the kicker:
“There’s a limit to ridiculousness.”
Haruhi knows it. It knew precisely up to the point that we would be doubtful and what kind of information we’d accept to make our decision. We didn’t figure it out; we were told. Haruhi played us, making us think our resolution with Nagato was on hold, only to pitch it to us here. Speaking of which….
We’re now returned to our regularly scheduled programming. The atmosphere, which before was merely suggestive, has become kaleidoscopic, the subtle hints exploding into a welter of visuals that let us know we’re not in Kansas anymore. But that’s the funny thing: we don’t need it. We’re already convinced. This is almost like Haruhi is rubbing it in our face that it was here the whole time and we didn’t bother to notice until now. It was also the moment when I fell in love with the series:
Nagato: “[Suzumiya] won’t take the data you feed her seriously.” Kyon: “You have a point.”
I had to pause the video and laugh until my jaw hurt. I know it’s quixotic to hope to convey comedy, but this was truly one of the most hilarious moments I have ever experienced in anime. In anything. Like all the gags in this show, it’s worth at least a chuckle on its own, a small denigration of Suzumiya’s nature that we can smugly agree with. But that’s the lesser portion. It’s the moment when this entire build up reflects back on itself holographically. A character, who is being told the truth but doesn’t accept it, is disparaging another who would do the same, while functioning as our stand-in, the audience who was skeptical about what Haruhi was telling us, in both cases because we “knew” what world we were in, caught in the act of confidently agreeing with his/our assessment of the foolishness of people who don’t listen to what they’re told. It is in that sudden snag, that snap of dissociation that proves not only that Kyon is an unreliable narrator, but that we are as well, that the waveform collapses in a moment of perfect comedic timing.

The Island: We Won’t Be Fooled Again

6 = 9 (Island 1) 7 = 8 (Missing computer club prez) 8 = 10 (Island 2)
With this "reveal" that we’re actually in a supernatural random-discomforting-comedy the first arc ends and the second begins. Yet curiously little was resolved. Nagato has demonstrated herself in the way we accept but the other two club members have been less forthcoming with evidence; it’s all and special circumstances for using powers. Are they really what they say they are? This series could really go either way, but they’re probably both special. Probably.
But the central issue is Suzumiya. Despite all the warnings and hints, we don’t actually know how to spot her powers at work. Apparently she’s omnipotent, but we have only the characters’ word to take for that. That’s fishy. It’s one thing to accept Nagato can bewitch sports equipment, it’s another that Suzumiya can destroy the universe because of a bad mood. And we have no way to prove that all these coincidences are actually Suzumiya’s fault, especially since things don’t always go her way. We need more data, and on cue is our mystery scenario:
Koizumi: “[Situations like this] only exist in the unrealistic world of storytelling.”
Haruhi isn’t going to insult our intelligence by trying to hide it a second time. It comes clean up front in an overstated self-referential dialogue: the only way these sorts of things happen is if they’re rigged. Come on, we can’t miss it; this is the confirmation we wanted, right? Even though it’s not quite what Suzumiya dreamed of, it’s close enough to her fantasy that it’s clear she’s the culprit. Besides, who else could summon a typhoon from clear skies?
The murder, however, was not expected. Sure there was mention of the apocalypse, but this has all been too flippant to take seriously; random and discomforting aren’t the same as dark. Haruhi wouldn’t kill somebody… would it? It’s the same conundrum as before with Nagato. We’re faced with a “confession” of sorts, with evidence leaning both ways, and as we wrack our brains we can’t quite convince ourselves after all its antics that Haruhi isn’t that sort of show. Maybe it’s just pretending to be dark. Maybe it’s not. Maybe Suzumiya will bring Keiichi back to life or rewrite time or… something. Who knows what she, or this show, can do, now that we’ve accepted her power. We’ll just have to find out next episode.

And now time for giant digital cave crickets! Not only is it the same problem as in episode three, it’s the same low-blow trick to yank us away from the action just at the height of the tension. But we know this song and dance (or, rather, maybe we do in retrospect; I didn’t know it at the time). The last “random” episode was informational, meaning this one likely is as well. So, what does this episode have to say?
Well, to put it briefly, it’s a mystery that is actually an engineered scenario. At first we assume it’s Suzumiya’s fault, because everything is, but as she points out: if she does everything then what’s the purpose of the rest of the cast? The real culprit is somebody else, somebody completely obvious in her driving of the events and in the middle of all the action, someone who had even taken the opportunity to deflect a bored god’s enthusiasm with the scent of the unknown. Just because it slightly involved Suzumiya’s powers, that wasn’t the real story (she was hellbent on pursuing her own wrong theory anyway; what an idiot).
I’m pretty sure I don’t have to spell out the obvious, since reading this far without having seen the series would be daft. Haruhi is taunting us. Just because the venue changed, the mystery never stopped; the indications are everywhere in this series, and it is even so kind as to repeatedly correct our key misunderstanding. Yet despite its valiant efforts, we’re more liable to be distracted by the crazy supernatural events, and so entirely reinforced in our faith that the murder scenario is supernatural too. No wonder Koizumi didn’t worry about Kyon catching his drift.
The island isn’t done with us, though. Not by a long shot. Having given us innumerable clues (again) Haruhi lets us try to put it together (again) while we nonetheless remain remarkably confident (again). Why do we fall for it (again)? Because, as always, we think we have the right answer. Or, rather, the right framework. The real secret here is Suzumiya’s powers, not these pedestrian goings on. We’ll spare a thought for the murderer, of course, but having established the ultimate cause in our minds we are not overly concerned about the details; gods, if they want to kill somebody, will find a way. What’s preoccupying us is how to make all these events make sense in our theory (and patronizing Suzumiya’s ignorance… again).
Again, everybody here knows the resolution, but I just wanted to remind how utterly delightful our own self-misleading can be. The only way we were fooled was if we obediently learned the wrong lesson from the first arc. Before we discounted signs of the supernatural because we didn’t think they fit; now that we know they fit, that’s all we could see. In fact, even when they didn’t fit we made them; did Suzumiya’s face really look like she was guilty? No, she was horrified and distraught, and told us outright that she didn’t actually think anything bad would happen. Haruhi would never kill somebody out of boredom. In spite of this, we chose her as the culprit because the evidence to the contrary was just too mundane to make note of in this supernatural random-discomforting-meta-comedy (and we don’t like her very much either).
Meanwhile, it was Suzumiya who assiduously paid attention to the facts in front of her, and who was able to realize she was in a three level mystery: that there was an “apparent” truth (normal island / murder), a “false” truth that acts as a red herring (supernatural island / accidental door murder), and a real truth hiding at the bottom (it was all a play with a purpose, just like we were told at the start). We’re the ones who can’t seem to solve the mysteries staring us in the face. Of course, it’d be too embarrassing to admit that, so we’ll retreat to reminding ourselves how annoyingly self-absorbed she still is, and that we weren’t that clueless (be honest, you said the same thing). Haruhi even lets us keep our dignity by pretending we were helpful. snerk
At this point I’m reminded of a short quip from a previous episode: if Haruhi can only throw straight, then eventually even a child would catch on. We knew Haruhi was trying to get a ball by us but accepted the soft-pitched, and painfully obvious, metacommentary anyway. That it had the confidence to even signal (loudly and repeatedly) before actually throwing a curveball means it thought we never had any hope of hitting it in the first place. We can gripe that it wasn’t clear, but what’s the point of a mystery if it tells you what the clues mean?
Oh, and since it knows we weren’t really paying attention, Haruhi will even give us one last hint: what about that unidentified shadow that led them toward the cave? We thought the mystery was over, but maybe that’s because we never grasped what it was about.

The Final Akanbe

9 = 14 ("Final" episode)
“The SOS Brigade keeps getting caught up in various incidents… Even so, we couldn’t possibly run into situations like that every single day.”
This is it, the final episode… of sorts. It begins before the OP with a tranquil atmosphere, looking forward to the coming winter while happily reminiscing about the past. It’s all so homey. Time for us to kick back, relax, and enjoy one last healing round with our favorite characters...
Yeah, right.
There is no way that this is all there is to the episode. “Unusually cold day”? What’s the setup this time? Is Suzumiya going to accidentally cause winter to come early? Or is it Asahina’s turn to do something sneaky and leave Kyon forlorn? As the OP ends our eyes are peeled for what’s going to jump out next. The camera thoughtfully obliges us: a wide-angle that keeps the whole room in view, missing nothing, followed by God’s-eye perspectives, letting us linger over every detail (taking bets you paused it at least once, probably on the card game). It drags on in eerie inaction until Kyon startles and looks up (does the sun mean something?!?), as though he had just remembered that an episode was supposed to happen. The regular music comfortingly begins to play and he narrates for us as he always has:
“It sure is nice and quiet when Haruhi isn’t around. But I guess it’s a little too quiet, huh? Now that I think about it, it’s already been half a year since I met everyone. We’ve sure been through a lot. Situations where Haruhi was the instigator and a few where she wasn’t. Well, most of them started when we were kicking back and relaxing in the clubroom like so only to be interrupted by her barging in…” SLAM
Remember those times where we weren’t sure if something was going on? Where we were misled by our own expectations, hung up on whether something supernatural was happening (or not), and so overlooked important details? Well, Haruhi Farm remembers; they were great. The series might act like nothing is up, but suspiciously on cue Suzumiya bursts in the door. Something is always up, no matter what the opening told us, and after missing twice we’re intent on not striking out with a third failure. Besides, with more than half the series complete we’re beginning to notice the cross-references and double-meanings. We’re getting it now.
And this is how the episode mocks us relentlessly for twenty minutes, because nothing happens.
Of course, this doesn’t stop us from trying to find it happening. Kyon pauses in his walk down the hill and we hold our breath… but it’s only to idly wonder what Suzumiya is doing. Koizumi’s tea has gotten cold, nothing more. But, wait, calling Asahina a mascot character is self-aware! It’s just enough to keep us going. Just enough to convince us to sit and listen to four minutes and twenty two seconds of inane radio chatter hoping to find relevance in the words. It even does it to us a second time, and we’re prepared to listen all over again… before Tsuruya interrupts. Then it checks if we’ll do it a third time. Yep, we will. And we think we’re rewarded for our persistence: Nagato finally stands up, validating our efforts… only for the screen to go black. We were waiting for nothing.
But really, we should have known this. Did we really think we’d see Asahina in the buff? No? How about again? And again? It doesn’t even seem to matter whether we know we’re being tricked, we’ll still fall for it at least three times (first arc, second arc, and now here). And to top it off, not only can Haruhi get us to do whatever it wants, we’ll even think ourselves clever when we’re forced to notice it.
In the last few minutes, though, something does happen: Suzumiya likes Kyon. We probably already guessed this given the previous indications, or at least the tropes; the manic pixie dream girl is legally required to like the male protagonist, and even if Suzumiya is more “manic” than “dream girl,” it’s still obvious that’s her role. We won’t begrudge the scene though; it’s nice to have solid confirmation of anything in this series, after all. But don’t hope for too much, because Suzumiya will be Suzumiya. Like the last football pulled out from in front of us as we go to kick, she prances away with the umbrella and ruins any romantic tension that might have existed. After the rest of this episode, the rest of this series, did we really expect anything else?
Strike three.

God Knows How Much She Tries

10 = 4 (Melancholy 4) 11 = 13 (The Legend of the Nagato Heroes) 12 = 12 (School festival, concert)
Before continuing, a brief recap is in order (everybody likes recap episodes, right?). Bemused by the first episode, we were left off balance and so open to questioning what this series was about. The first few episodes carefully maintained this uncertainty, counting on then cashing in our wariness. The island arc demonstrated that it didn’t matter if we were aware of it, we could still miss the obvious because we thought we already knew the answer. Having been fooled repeatedly, we accepted what the final episode “told” us without question: this series is absurd, Haruhi sticking its tongue out at us until the last second.
“Perhaps Suzumiya is feeling lovesick?”
As Ryoko speaks this line at the beginning of Melancholy 4, it seems a bit… unnecessary. Yes, of course, we already know this. We just saw it last episode; like any good tsundere, Suzumiya is humorously enamored to Kyon but almost pathologically unable to express her feelings. Watching her deny it while occasionally being caught in the act is part of the entertainment. But Haruhi likes commenting on itself, and we like noticing it, so why not?[3]
At this point in the essay, I hope the reader has some inkling that we’re being set up. Have been set up all along. We’ve been allowed to think we know Suzumiya: she’s a thoughtless, obnoxious character who, despite being putatively intelligent, is comically delusional. Her feelings for Kyon are just part of this silly contrivance. Similarly, we think we know Haruhi. Like its titular character, it has been, and will be, one big (absurdist supernatural random-discomforting-meta) joke, and as Suzumiya walks on stage in her now-familiar bunny suit we can only groan at what is coming. “What foolishness has she cooked up this time,” we murmur amongst ourselves. Meanwhile she works steadily, solemnly, ignoring us and making sure everything is ready, before beginning...


It is the greatest, most heartfelt “prank” of the series: Suzumiya was a serious character all along. All it took was a disagreeable nature and funny appearances for us to not notice. We truly are bad at this. But now, like the beginning movie whose effect could not be faked without being followed through, there is no way to counterfeit the gorgeous animation or mistake the passion and personality of her song. Knowing so well how to toy with us, Haruhi knows how to prove itself too. The audience is stunned into silence, mouths hanging open in disbelief at having their expectations defied so spectacularly.
But what I find truly arresting, touching even, about this scene is how it encapsulates Suzumiya at her best, a reflection of her life hidden in plain sight. From the first moment she was on stage, relentlessly expressing herself at maximum volume even though people didn’t understand. It was always a failure of having the right context. People already “knew” what her behaviors meant, and interpreted her accordingly (sound familiar?). So even as she explains herself (“I run through [life] with a thirsting heart”), her frustrated regrets (“I’m sorry I… couldn’t even share your pain / You wouldn’t let me”) and her fondest dream-memory (“You were there, I was there, and everyone else had vanished”) the audience is none the wiser for it. Except one. Kyon, our stand-in, at last has the wits to stare dumbfounded at this remarkable girl he had missed all along.
When she is done, Suzumiya looks up as though waking from a trance, surprised to see everybody cheering. She was so absorbed by her own intensity she wasn’t even watching them. Now, even though they don’t understand, they do appreciate. She’s not used to being appreciated. An exhausted, joyous smile spreads across her face and she turns to the camera to let us know it. It’s the most tender expression she’s had all series. True she’s often grinning, but to see her like this it makes you realize that she’s not as often happy. This has been a window into her, a character that, like so many things, we didn’t pay attention to until we could no longer ignore.
Koizumi: “Suzumiya is quite good, isn’t she?”

The Disappointment of Haruhi Suzumiya

13 = 5 (Melancholy 5) 14 = 6 (Melancholy 6)
“Say… have you ever realized how insignificant your existence is on this planet? I have. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Suzumiya has fantastic back muscles. It isn’t apparent until you get a clear look at them, covered as they normally are by a school outfit. She has a good body, fit and taught like a strung bow, poised for action. She isn’t ashamed of it. But like so many things about her, it’s not quite the body people are looking for.
There are clues scattered throughout the series which only now become obvious. No matter the physical challenge, Suzumiya was there to meet it. Mentally it was the same. School isn’t an obstacle, she’s unusually perceptive, and her apparently-spontaneous schemes are actually quite well-planned and effective. If this were not enough, she possesses nearly unlimited energy, enough to run everybody else ragged, and a strong will to direct and utilize these impressive gifts. All of this was taken to be part of her caricature (what kind of show are we in again?) or covered by our own griping about her personality (because this was all about us), but the evidence was always there: Suzumiya is an exceptional human being in nearly every regard.
This is why she’s on the lookout for the unusual. She’s on a mission. Normal life and normal people leave her unfulfilled so she dreams of something more; that she jettisoned the supernatural club as fast as anything else proves it’s not conspiracies that she believes in (she’s too smart for that, ironically), it’s a more interesting world. People think she’s behind when in truth she’s lapped them.
And she never turned down a boyfriend. Suzumiya, against her fervent objections, is stuck being a healthy young female. She’s a bit of a romantic and is desperate to find that one person who will make her feel loved for being the vivacious, but tempestuous, girl that she is. She wants somebody to share her vision with more than she wants aliens, and keeps trying despite the unrelenting failures. Now she’s fallen for Kyon, the guy she dearly wishes to rely on, and doesn’t know what to do when he doesn’t reciprocate (“I’m sorry I… couldn’t even share your pain / You wouldn’t let me”). She’s scared he’ll let her down too[4] , afraid that he’ll never take her seriously, and angry when he expresses the self-satisfied mediocrity that causes her to disdain everybody else.
Disdain. This has been her greatest failing. Suzumiya is not unaware of how to be considerate, nor is she so lacking in self control that she cannot be civil when she wishes. It's that she chooses not to be, contemptuous of empty social norms, impatient with complacency, and scornful of how everybody has misunderstood her. In time she has come to value them not at all, becoming a disruptive and uncouth caricature of herself in the process. Suzumiya is genuinely eccentric, yes, but her own act has run away with her and although everything about her behavior radiates a denigration of humanity, Suzumiya is still begging for their appreciation and acceptance.
So as she stands up there after the concert, and the crowd is finally giving her the adulation she has secretly craved... Suzumiya apologizes. She shouldn't be up there, this was somebody else's concert, but in her rationalized selfishness she was willing to push them out of the way for the chance to prove herself anyway [5]. To see her unaware victims standing in the doorway later, come to thank and praise her, her eyes go wide and then she looks away in shame at how she has acted. As long as she felt painfully undervalued she could feel justified in returning the favor, but now the truth is forced: it's not just people's incomprehension that has caused her to be disliked. It has been her own unkindness as well, and maybe she should think on that. Then the last stinging line:
“We’re planning to put on one last concert. You should come and watch with your… (the girl turns questioningly to Kyon, then back to the camera pityingly)... friend.”
That the crowd still found her acceptable after all her apologies made her so happy she could cry. That the guy next to her, the one she just sang her heart out for, seems at best to tolerate her, means it yet went to waste. Suzumiya really is lonely and lovesick, and though not an easy person to be around her feelings are genuine. All of her is, to a fault. And in the background the series winks to let us know that we know it now too.
This is Suzumiya’s struggle of the final few episodes, then. Throughout the series she has frantically tried to get Kyon’s attention in her own stubborn, eccentric way, because that’s how she needs to be appreciated if it is to mean anything. Yet it doesn’t seem to be working; he doesn’t even seem aware, let alone interested. Her last hope is failing her. It’s why she even overcame her trepidation to talk to him earnestly at the railroad tracks. Haruhi isn’t using a faux-existential ramble to prove she’s special; we already know that. Nor is it an excuse for bad behavior. It is her beseeching Kyon to understand, that she knows what she’s doing and why, and an invitation to join her that she would extend to nobody else. The world was never threatened by her boredom, only by the ache that she would be alone in it.
The resolution, though, is happy, and the last reason I value the broadcast order as it is. While the future may foretell that nothing happens, it slips in the side door anyway. We were fooled by not being fooled. It ends up all along, the core of this story really was a romantic high school comedy, and at the conclusion we get our confession (of sorts) and kiss. Shame on us for doubting. And lest we think Haruhi would impishly steal that back to spite us, that moment of annoyed disbelief as Kyon falls out of bed and we fear it was all a dream, the last scene before the wrap-up is Suzumiya with a ponytail. She won’t face the camera; it’s still hard for her to compromise even a little like this, after all. But... it really does look good on her.
Conclusion in comments below
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Most likely the biggest scam since the short on AA on 9/11.

With the 2 years(that we know of) of 2 teams cheating(Houston Astro/Boston Red Sox) at baseball and winning World Series we should not only look at the moral issue but the money bet on the hundreds of games. There should be a forensic accountant looking thru every penny of anyone within sniffing distance of these teams. If you were in the know about the cheating how could you not place wagers on these games? The odds you would get would be thru the roof because the bookies didnt know these teams had an unfair advantage. The teams both played 162 regular season games plus playoffs. That's 324 games plus playoffs. 324 x $10 000 = $3 240 000 at even money. Now multi millionaires and multi billionaire and alot of them knowing they had a great advantage to win would have been betting substantially more. We wont know until there is a petition for an investigation. I only hope some of these cheating cunts were gambling with underground CONNECTED bookies to try and hide their dealings from corporate Vegas. In that case the investigation will already be complete and the Black Hand has already started draining bank accounts under the threat of Ultra Violence. If there is an actual investigation the money stolen on betting alone will be more than anyone can stomach. Not 1 word about this in the media though because these cheaters have morals and would never bet on a game.
submitted by ghosttreeatmavericks to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Where to Bet on Madden 20 and the NFL

Today, sports is basically a wasteland. Sure, there’s baseball going on in Korea, but all of the professional sports that we would have had around now: hockey playoffs, NBA, MLB, and so forth are not taking place due to the pandemic. The NFL, of course, would be in the offseason right now anyway. But, if you’ve been following the NFL for any length of time, then you know that there is no offseason anymore. Instead, the NFL just never stops. The draft was less than a month ago, and today BetNow has NFL odds for week one of the regular season. Of course, we’re all the best place for where to bet on Madden 20, too.

submitted by BetNowSocial to u/BetNowSocial [link] [comments]

How to fix 100T

Hey guys! My name is Magical, PBP caster for C9's academy team. I do other casting stuff across the League of Legends scene, but that's not important. Instead, what I am going to do is try to solve the problem with 100T's main roster. Call me a traitor to C9, but just hold on to your pants and/or skirts. I have my reasons that might become obvious as I go through my thoughts.
100T is a brand that I have a lot of respect for. Of course, I am biased and love my C9 brand and the sponsorships they have gotten (shoutout to Puma and BMW), but when 100T joined I loved the baseball style jerserys they first had, I like the clothing line they made and they started their LCS journey on fire by being able to go to Worlds in their inaugural season.
But now we see they are struggling badly. Spring was incredibly terrible and Summer is looking just as bad. I thought they made some good calls by bringing in Amazing to add to Bang and Ssumday. But the move to have Soligo be their starting midlaner was premature. Soligo just isn't ready for it at this time and needs to be in academy so he can continue to learn/grow. This is where the next problem of 100T roster moves comes in with the recent move to have FakeGod start over Ssumday so they could have Ryu play over Soligo. Due to import rules, 100T had to make a choice between Ssumday/FakeGod and Bang/Prismal. I think personally I would have gone for Prismal over Bang and even go with Stunt over Aphromoo, but that's neither here nor there since I don't think it would be enough for them to fix their innate problems within the team anyways.
Instead, I want to talk about the drastic changes that 100T needs to explore if they want a chance at making playoffs. If they end this weekend 0-6, they would have to go full C9 in order to even get to playoffs which I don't think will happen without a major change to roster or staff. Of course, I don't want to advocate for someone losing their job, but 100T need to get a midlaner that will not take up an import slot.
That's the tricky part, finding a midlaner that could be picked up and fix the problems of 100T who also is not an import is difficult to find. We can look at academy and there is (to me) only one obvious choice. GoldenGlue is someone that has had a lot of experience on stage as well as has been growing well in the C9 brand. As of late, he has been on a tear in academy looking like the best midlaner bar none. The problem with picking him up would be that he is under the C9 banner and if C9 is smart, they wouldn't let him go for cheap (hell not even for overpriced). 100T would have to probably rip off both arms before C9 would give up GG as he has fit well with the team and the org. Plus, I don't know how receptive he would be to the idea either as I think he would love to aim to compete for the starting mid spot on the main C9 roster. That is not something I am privy to so I can't speak for him (and for any thinking about what if C9 sold the whole academy team, I'm sure that would be much better than the current 100T team as well, but with how much 100T spent on some of their current players that is HIGHLY doubtful).
If not GG, then we have to keep digging. Maybe insanity on Team Liquid Academy's roster could be a good option. He and ablazeolive would be the next two I would look at in academy for players to pick, but sadly they have a bit too maybe inconsistencies for my taste to be confident in fixing 100T immediately. Maybe good options for 2020, but that's not what I am after fixing yet.
The other option that I had considered was KatEvolved. If you don't know him, look up his streams. Once a Katarina OTP, now arguably the best midlaner in NA solo queue. I casted a few games of his a year or so back when he was just starting to branch out from Kat and into a more competitive scene. His growth since then has been NUTS. The problem with someone like KatEvolved is a similar case to insanity and ablazeolive unfortunately. It would be a huge gamble due to how inexperienced he would be with this level of competitive play. It is one thing to play from the comfort of your home, and a different beast to that of a stage with a live audience (yes, he plays for Radiance and has done some live events with the team such as, but that's still nothing compared to a Riot studio). Just ask someone like Dopa. Hell, I have had those nerves myself from moving from casting from my bedroom to studios. It is really hard and not everyone can make that transition so 100T would be betting a lot on that. But with that all said, he is still looking like the most likely bet. He is with Radiance, so would have to buy out that contract, but that's probably a cheaper option than buying an academy player.
There is an option I had been considering when I went to type all of this out and that is possibly getting someone from LLA or CBLoL. In the past, LAN had not be considered an import slot for players if they were chosen. But starting in 2018 (at least if I recall correctly) LAN and LAS became import slots with the changing of the wording to the rule set to read as "United States and Canada" residents only. Sad that wasn't extended to Mexico and Central America. I do understand that going into 2019 that the LLA merger happened which moved the teams to Chile and thus removing the LAN region that could be considered North American. Honestly, I want to argue that players in LLA should be considered options for LCS without taking up an import slot since there is a good amount of talent now playing in the LLA that would still be considered a part of the NA continent. A midlaner like Seiya would have been a viable option for 100T due to him being from Mexico. I'd like to argue in favor of players like Emp or Plugo, but both players are from Chile, so they'd probably need to be considered imports in order to keep the ruling simpler.
Now I will move on to my final option that 100T can do and it is extreme (well, not Echo Fox yeeting Fenix and Altec extreme, but I'm not that cruel). It is the trade option. They have to do something and if they can't get a player for a reasonable or even inflated price (GoldenGlue, insanity, ablazeolive, or KatEvolved) then they need to trade an import to open up for a new import. Ssumday or Bang would have to be traded in order for this to work which would mean a team being willing to take them. Honestly, I would trade Ssumday not because he is bad, in fact quite the opposite. He is one of the best top laners. A team that is struggling might be willing to trade for him if they don't already have too many imports. Looking to see a team in need in NA aaaaaaand...nothing. Not only would no team really be looking to trade out their top laner from someone like Ssumday, but those that might (Echo Fox or OpTic) already have the max import slots. Only team that doesn't that is struggling at the moment is FlyQuest, but I think they are happy with V1per. Well fine, what about Bang? You got OpTic or FlyQuest (again) that could. And I doubt either team want to trade them out.
The final nail in the coffin of the trade idea within NA is even this, what would it do to fix the problems within 100T? You swap out for a new player? Midseason? Only really for Jungle or Support do those sort of changes have meaningful impact. That's where we should look. As stated before, I don't think Amazing is the problem with the team. I think a lot of it rests on the community scapegoat of Aphromoo. Not because he is bad or washed up. He just doesn't fit with 100T. He worked with CLG cuz he seemed closer with the team. Now it is more professional for him and that kind of grind can mess with performance.
So I rambled for a bit on different ideas that could be explored, but I still haven't figured out how to fix 100T. I do want to say this here, Soligo is NOT the problem of 100T. Ssumday is not. Amazing is not. Bang is not. Aphromoo is not. Soligo is the main target in this not because he is bad but because 100T put him in when he wasn't prepared. He was perfect on 100TA because he was getting to learn a lot more about a team house environment as well as some exposure to stage, but not enough to be thrown to the wolves like this.
I have to solutions to what I think will fix 100T immediately. The majority of this has been on replacing Soligo, so obviously that is my first pitch. Listing the prospects I think are ready: GoldenGlue, insanity, ablazeolive, KatEvolved (to a degree with KE, still a massive gamble). The other is to hire a new coach. I'm not saying fire Prolly. I'm saying they need a Weldon. Someone that is great to be brought on temporarily as a sports psychologist. Prolly should remain as the main coach. But they need a staffer that can get the players to finally become a team and less of bunch of people that just happen to wear the same jersey.
Thank you for reading to my TED Talk
EDIT: Fenix/Yusui. Fenix will become a resident in terms of the Riot Policy in Week 5. He is a solid player and could fit in with 100T, but he would be far more difficult to wrestle away than an academy player. Yusui could be that option. However I may like his odd champion pool and how he likes to play bruisers mid (this was before bruisers mid was a thing btw), I haven't been blown away by Yusui. He either pops off or ints. Too all over the place and more risky than GG, insanity, or ablazeolive. I'd rank him equally with KatEvolved.
For those wondering why I chose KE. I claimed him to be a gamble in the post but I'll defend it here. His time with RAD has been teaching him a lot and he is a prospect not on an academy team. This means easier to get than a player on academy.
Also when I say not ready, I mean Soligo hasn't been in the academy scene long as well as having mediocre results/performance in academy compared with his competition. He only just did scouting grounds in 2018. So he could one day be a POB nice he isn't at the moment nor is he close to that yet.
TL;DR: 100T need to put Soligo in academy and pick up one of these: GoldenGlue (C9A), insanity (TLA), ablazeolive (TSMA), or KatEvolved (RAD). They also need a sports psychologist for building the team back up
submitted by MadhouseMagical to leagueoflegends [link] [comments]

Great Lakes Baseball Federation Newsletter #3. Preseason Preview

GLBF Preseason Preview
Detroit - So, the inaugural draft was quite the event, and now every team has an identity. Let's take a look at how each team is built, and make some likely very wrong predictions for the upcoming season.
The East Division
Elmira Marksmen:
The Elmira Marksmen had the 12th pick in the inaugural draft, and used it on closer Minyomei Cochran. It was a tad odd to see a closer as the first pick for the Marksmen, but with the next pick, they kicked off the second round by taking ace pitcher Shane Sharp.
Before spring training could even begin, Elmira made sure to lock up Sharp, to the tune of $231,000 over the next five seasons. With an average annual value at only $47,000, Elmira could end up on a very team friendly contract.
However, the Marksmen struggle to get about decent in the rest of their rotation. Jose Ortiz will likely be the number two in the rotation, as he should be a plus pitcher, winning more than he loses. The final three in the rotation, Bobby Thompson, Jimmy Carter, and Chris Martin all all wildcards. While not bad in any sense, none of them are particularly good. Thompson will strike out a fair number of batters, but will have problems with walks. Jimmy Carter will be the opposite of Thompson, a pitcher who will limit the walks, but can be very hittable at times. Finally Chris Martin, doesn’t do anything great, but doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. He fits the role of fifth starter well.
The bullpen is led by Cochran, who is an early favorite for reliever of the year award. If Elmira is winning going into the ninth inning, the game is all but over. Josh Clark and Jason Loupe will be the other two relievers that Elmira will rely on out of the pen. The rest of their pen is much like the back half of their rotation, won’t do anything amazing, but you won’t see complete implosions often. With the Marksmen having seemingly at worst average pitchers, this should be one of the better staffs top to bottom in the league.
While the arms in Elmira are all solid, the same can not be said for the sticks.
The corner outfielders, Devin Jolly and Vic Templeton will lead the charge from the plate.
Jolly and Templeton, the 36th and 37th overall picks respectively, are both very balanced hitters and would be welcomed additions to most teams lineup.
Elmira’s only other true threat with the bat will be 22 year old first baseman Denny Seghi. Seghi could contend for a batting title, but won’t make a habit of jogging around the bases. The only other spots in the lineup that could possibly be a bright spot are center fielder Tony Guzman and third baseman Sean Barnett, but those are at best, 50/50 guys.
Overall, if the Marksmen pitching can carry them, they have a chance at the postseason. But it’s not hard to imagine some frustrated pitchers after a 2-1 loss.
Roanoke Railsplitters:
The Roanoke Railsplitters won the draft lottery and had the first overall pick. They used it on starting pitcher Jeremy Byers. Byers is 23 years old and is widely considered to be one of the best pitchers in the league. With no prior professional experience. Byers will be on the league minimum contract. Besides Byers, there are no standouts in the Railsplitter rotation.
Geoff Hawkinson and Jessie Lovell are both above average pitchers who will give their team a chance to win every time they take the mound. Pitcher Zion Williams was injured during spring training, but should be ready for the season. Williams is a middle of the road pitcher. Jeremy Flores and Jim Ross will both battle for the fifth spot in the rotation once Williams returns.
The Roanoke bullpen is painfully average outside of a couple arms. Closer Adrian Rogers will be a solid closer, but isn’t infallible. Jim Church will likely be called on to get them out of sticky situations. Church has some of the nastiest stuff in the league, but outings without a walk will be uncommon. Reliever Brian Donde sprained his ankle during spring training and will likely miss about a month of the season. His return will help sure up the bullpen.
The lineup in Roanoke will be led by right fielder Danny Avalos, who should find himself among the top of the home run leaderboards come season's end. His fellow outfielder, 38 year old Bryan Longshore looks to keep his production up in his late 30’s and if he can it will be a big boost to the Railsplitters lineup.
Second baseman Mike Van Slyke will be asked to hit lead off and his speed could make him a plus hitter at the top of the lineup. Third baseman Matt Wright should provide some pop in the middle of the order as well, likely hitting behind Avalos.
The Railsplitters look to have a solid lineup. Byers should be a leader in the rotation, with Hawkinson needing to step up as the number two. The bats will need to help out when the back end of the rotation is pitching. If Williams can come back to support Church and Rodgers in the bullpen, Roanoke should have a solid staff. Their offense could be quite streaky. Don’t be surprised if this team goes through a few streaks throughout the year because of it. However, having a stud like Byers at the top of the rotation should help stop any losing streaks before they get too out of control. I expect this team to be competing for a playoff spot.
Scranton Thunderbolts:
The Scranton Thunderbolts had the 11th pick in the inaugural draft and used it to take starter Bill Thompson, they then used their second round pick to take another starting pitcher in Randy McDaniel. It was a bit curious to see general manager Freddy Delgado spend his first two picks on pitchers, especially when Philbin’s Park is one of the best hitters park in the league.
Larry Moss should slot in nicely as the third man in the rotation, looking to make his age 37 season one of his best yet. The back end of the rotation does leave a lot to be desired. Andy Freimanis and Andy Gilmore are below average at best, and if the Thunderbolts are in contention come trade deadline time, expect them to be in the market for a replacement.
The bullpen will be led by closer David Cleveland, and Steve Ashley. Cleveland will start out the season as the closer, having some electric stuff on the mound. Ashely is thought by some to be the better pitcher, but will start out as likely the eighth inning man. Mike Rowe and Roberto Coello will be the other relievers that will be put into high leverage situations.
The Scranton offense will need all the help it can get from Philbin’s Park. There are very few standouts in the Thunderbolt lineup. To make matters worse, fifth round draft pick Roberto Hernandez had “elective eye surgery” just a day before the season kicked off. He will likely miss about the first quarter of the season.
In his absence, outfielders Billy Molter and Val Leandro will look to fill the void. Both Molter and Leandro are closer to role players than MVP candidates. One bright spot in Scranton is the catcher position. Phil Boyles, while not a great hitter by league standards, will probably be one of the better hitting catchers in the GLBF.
This team will struggle in the league’s first season. McDaniel and Thompson will only be able to do so much, and with a weak back end of the rotation, any good the dynamic duo can produce is likely going to be wiped away. A standard bullpen won’t affect this team one way or the other. Losing one of their top bats due to non necessary surgery is sure to be frustrating for Scranton fans. With no real pop in their lineup, it will be surprising if this team is doing anything but golfing in late September.
Bowling Green Griffons:
The Bowling Green Griffons were able to pick up pitcher Tony Arreola with their second round pick, getting great value with the 23rd overall pick. Arreola is only 22 a and will be asked to help out at the top of the rotation with Jim Latimer. Latimer, checking in at only 23 years old, was the team’s fifth round pick and has shown improvements over spring training. It will be hard to say which one of the two young guns will head up the rotation.
Jeremy Middlemas and Ted Van Leer are tasked with being the middle of this team's rotation. Both project to be nothing better than average. However, a ruptured UCL suffered by starter A.J. Megee will sideline him likely until past opening day 2021. In his place Bubba Glanville will try to steady the back of the rotation. If he can be average, it will be a win for the Griffons.
The Griffons strength will almost certainly be their bullpen. Their closer Jose Lopez will try to shut the door for Bowling Green. Brian Delph, Travis Henson, Eric Kenison, and Blake Marlow would have spots in the back end of any GLBF bullpen. Putting them all in the same uniform will spell trouble for opponents. This is the strongest pen in the East, and possibly the entire league.
Center fielder Carl Stasiak, who caused quite the stir when the Griffons took him second overall, is looking to prove his worth. Stasiak could arguably be the best defender in the league. Along with his outstanding defensive skills, he has quite some pop in his bat. There to help out Stasiak is left fielder Randy Haley, who will draw walks and hit balls out of the park at an equal rate. Ricky Jaime will be a third bat in the lineup that can go yard at any point. Those three should prove for a formidable three-four-five in the lineup. However the rest of the lineup is filled with nothing special. If outfielder Josh Hughes and second baseman Andrew Hodges pull their weight, this could be one of the better lineups in the league.
Bowling Green doesn’t have a glaring weakness in its 25 man roster. As long as the injury bug stays away, I expect this Griffons team to be among the best in the league. The value they got out of some of their mid round picks will pay off this season.
The Central Division
Dayton Huskies:
The Dayton Huskies spent their first round pick, the ninth overall on pitcher Ron “Doogie” Schwartz, who will head up their rotation. Schwartz is a very well rounded pitcher who will be a very solid anchor for the Huskies rotation. Unfortunately, for the Dayton faithful, there is no clear number two. 25 year old Joe Santana could be the number two, but he will be battling for the spot with Austin Williams and Kelly Wright. Although seemingly none of them would be the number two for a playoff caliber rotation. Kellen Clifton will round out the rotation, although his is just as forgettable as the name Kellen. Fifth round pick Rob Browning blowing out his flexor tendon and missing the entire season doesn’t help matters at all.
Their bullpen is no bright spot either. They do have a lights out closer in Dan Sandler, and 24 year old Ron Eledge is a nice piece, they don’t offer up much more in the way of difference makers. If teams can get to the Huskies bullpen, they will always have a chance to come back.
Now this is usually the point where despite all their pitching flaws, I can bring up their offense to out slug teams. But their offense is painfully average. Their best hitter will likely be center fielder Jon Hicks, but he likely won’t be bringing home any hardware come seasons end. Maybe if 35 year old left fielder Corey Rumpel can turn back the clock, and third baseman Steve Greathouse can prove the scouts wrong, then maybe this lineup will have a little firepower. Their first baseman Corey Terry could be up for the batting title, and does have above average power, but will have to improve his patience at the plate in order to be a serious difference makers.
This team just lacks that “umph”. While Ron Schwartz is a very good arm, he is only one man, and if he has to turn the ball over to the bullpen before the ninth, things could get scary. They have no real star on offense. It will take some improvement, either via young players growing, or by trade if this team is going to dance in the postseason.
Belle Isle Bandits:
Belle Isle’s rotation can be described as “good, not great’’. Led by third round pick Mike Ryan, Ryan would likely find himself as a number two in some better rotations. Despite this, Belle Isle signed the 28 year old to a five year extension, paying him around $45,000 per year. However spots two through five are quite solid. Ben Bertuca, Ed DeBaere, Phil Mitchell, and John Talmadge are all about the same skill set, none are really set themselves apart from each other. Bertuca will likely be the number two in the rotation, while Talmadge is the best bet to end up on the back end. The front of the rotation is probably below average for spots one and two, while the three, four and five come out above average league wide.
The Bandits bullpen is just good enough. They spent a fourth round pick on closer Pat Singer and their investment should pay dividends. They can lean on Kennie Tillman and Hunter Greiner outside of the ninth. A few other average arms could eat up innings when needed. Don’t expect to have this bullpen to have a major effect either way.
Belle Isle spent the third overall pick on 32 year old Tyler Tramback, and he very well could be the league's MVP. His contact and power both grade out among the elite in the GLBF. His patience should help push his OBP to the top of the leagues leader boards. General manager Jon Gomez put a collection of solid role players around him. Center Fielder John Roum is a nice piece of the Belle Isle lineup. First baseman Will Costello has a great eye, and decent power, but outside of those two, you’re going to see a lot of platoon in the Bandits order. 40 year old second baseman Jeremy McMillan will spend the first month sidelined with a broken collarbone.
This team has the largest range of what could happen. On the one hand their rotation could pitch solid enough to allow their bats to win them games. But if a few of the pitchers go into cold spells at the same time, this team could see lengthy losing streaks. It’ll be a treat to follow Tramback’s season, they will need to have a few other bats step up if they want to talk division title.
Port Huron Patriots:
The Port Huron Patriots will have their rotation anchored by second round pick Jon “Little Rat” Hansen. At only 24 years old, Hansen could be a mainstay of the Port Huron rotation for years to come, if the Patriots play it right. As for the rest of the rotation, it’s... not good. Josh Hamlet was slated to be a top half of the rotation guy, but shoulder tendinitis has sidelined him for the first few weeks of the season. J.J. Williamson is an alright pitcher, but is going to be asked to be in a bigger role than he probably should.
Sung-tae Im, Seth Morrison, and Jordan Raygosa are all players who honestly should probably be in the minor leagues still. This will be one of the weakest rotations in the league unless someone makes a major improvement.
The bullpen in Port Huron should be a plus, but not by much. Closer Jeremy Bradford, while a solid pitcher, doesn’t stack up with the elite in the GLBF. Matthew Holter and Josh Kirkland are two really good strikeout guys that can help the Patriots get out of some sticky situations, the rest are a collection of average Joe’s, not going to kill this team, but don’t expect to see an all star out of the rest of this bullpen..
The bats are where Port Huron will have to win games. Led by fourth overall pick right fielder Evan Mendenall, he seems to be a very good player, but fourth overall might have been a tad of a stretch. Tzu-Jao Eng will be the team's everyday second baseman. He will hit for a high average, whilst not being a liability in the power department. The platoon at center field of Corey Brown and Aaron Getzelman should yield high returns. But it would be surprising if this lineup finds itself atop many leader boards.
This team’s rotation will be the death of it. Having three guys in the rotation who are not major league caliber starters is just too much to overcome. While their bullpen and lineup are both pluses, they are not nearly enough to overcome what may be the league's worst rotation. Even if Hamlet comes back and outperforms expectations, this rotation still will fall shy of average. Expect more losses than wins.
Muskegon Riptide:
The Muskegon Riptide got one of the steals of the draft, picking up 32 year old ace Bobby Perry in the second round. Supplementing their rotation in the fifth round with pitcher Bryan Stigall, those two look to lead Muskegon to a Central division title. Jaylen Jones, Bill Adair, and Chris Boyer all round out the rest of the rotation, providing for a decent back end of the rotation. While not the best rotation, it should be good enough to make the postseason with talent around it.
While the starters for the Riptide are very solid, the same cannot be said about the bullpen however. Their closer Jimmy McDaniel ranks among the worst in the league, and unfortunately, may be the best arm that Muskegon has. There are just no other noteworthy arms to talk about. Most of the arms in this pen are extremely forgettable and could be the thing that holds this team back. I expect to see moves to bolster the bullpen come if they are anywhere near contending this season.
The Riptide spent their first round pick on first baseman Chris Brill, who hits for contact and has elite patience, and also possesses a very strong power stroke. He will be aided by third baseman Jeremy Rizzuto as the top two bats in the Muskegon lineup. If some good not great players such as center fielder Charlie Fox and left fielder David Murray can make noticeable improvements, this lineup will end up being very solid.
Muskegon is a tough team to grasp. Both the offense and rotation are a plus, but the bullpen is such a negative it may be too much for them to overcome. Being in a weaker division gives them hope, but will have to have a few pleasant surprises if they want to see the postseason.
The West Division
Rockford Red Hawks:
On to the third and final division in the GLBF, it is the West Division.
Rockford’s rotation will struggle throughout the 2020 season. Led by fourth round pick Rob Mitchell, there is a steep drop off in talent after Mitchell. While Mitchell won’t find himself leading many rotations around the league, he will be asked to do so in Rockford at only 22 years old.
The two and three spots will be occupied by Curt Angelini and Jim Drive, both of whom are closer to the fifth starter in any rotation than an ace. Not too much to get excited about with those two. Rounding out the rotation, Jason Reichenbach and Dave Clow are two uninspiring arms. If they end up with a .500 record at season’s end, the Red Hawks will have squeezed every drop out of them.
The word that can best describe how the Red Hawks bullpen will be used is “patchwork”. They have one of the elite arms at closer in Kevin Perry, and a couple solid arms in Jabari Booker and Kirk Mann, but the rest of the bullpen will have to be used strategically in order to avoid implosions. If manager Geoff Metcalf utilizes this pen correctly, they will be a plus, but it will take a tactician at manager to get it out of this group.
Right fielder John Nickelson was the seventh overall pick and the first one by Rockford. The man known as “Quasimodo” should be in the hunt for a batting title year in and year out. At age 25, and signed to a seven year contract, Rockford has its face of the franchise for the better part of a decade. Helping out Nickelson in 2020 will be helped out by Devin Rumsey, who will challenge for the league lead in walks, but doesn’t lack any power or contact. Outside of those two the only other hitters of note are left fielder Phil Appel, who by his own right has an elite eye, and center fielder Sal Avalos, who will hit for average, but home runs and walks will be rare.
Rockford is another team that is just alright. The rotation falls off quickly, the bullpen is a toss up depending on how it is used. Nickelson will be a mainstay in northern Illinois, and Rumsey should be one of the better first basemen in the league, but outside of that there isn’t too much that moves the needle in Rockford. Expect somewhere around .500 for this club.
Peoria Lancers:
Now to the other team from the Land of Lincoln.
The Peoria Lancers spent their third and fourth round picks on starters T.J. Hernandez and Dan Gallagher respectively. While these two aren’t going to be revered as the best one two punch in the league, they will certainly be a very respectable duo. Josh Patton should slot in the third spot of the rotation nicely. Jayden Neighbors is right about where a fourth starter should be, very average. Jimmy Fair will be the final man in the Lancers rotation, and he could likely hold water in that spot, but shouldn’t be leaned on for big games.
The back end of the Lancers bullpen is extremely solid. Cameron Ingram is another one of the elite ninth inning men in the GLBF. Scott Siravo and Harry Merritt both have extremely nasty stuff that will bolster Peoria through the seventh and eighth innings. Reliever Brian Kinne also has some high level stuff, but will struggle to find the strike zone, and limiting long balls.
While Rockford has Nickelson, Peoria has their own bat that will lead their franchise for the next seven years. Bob “Lumpy” Jackson will play third base and is an all around hitter who will likely be in the MVP race for years to come. First baseman Vince Baird should hit over .300, giving Jackson someone to drive home. Peoria fans will look for left fielder Joe Clark to hit a high number of home runs. Center fielder will be a key piece if this team is going to be successful in 2020.
This Peoria team is good. Not great but good. They should end up with more wins than losses in 2020, but if that will be enough to take the west will be seen. Lumpy Jackson will be a fun player to follow this year, and could win the Most Outstanding Player award if Peoria brings home hardware.
Thunder Bay Salukis:
The only team from the Great White North, the Thunder Bay Salukis surprised some experts when they took Zane Lemus 10th overall. While a good pitcher, being picked in the first round seemed like a bit of a stretch. They did help out their rotation when they got good value taking J.D. Dominguez in the fifth, who some think may be the ace of the Saluki staff. Victor Vazquez can be a suitable middle of the rotation guy. But Thunder Bay will need to find another starter for this rotation to be considered that of a playoff team. Fidel Alvarez and Joe Hillestad will both hurt this team and will lose more games than they win.
The bullpen is the weakest spot of this team far and away. While there are no overtly bad pitchers, there aren’t any stars there either. Bobby Siglow will be a good closer, although will blow an occasional save. Honestly, the rest of this pen is just painfully average. Steve DeWald will have the best chance of breaking out of that group, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Another arm in this pen would go a long way.
The sticks in Thunder Bay will be the bright spot. Third baseman Nick Meloche will lead the way on offense. Not far behind Meloche will be the right side of the Saluki infield, first baseman Tanner Gibson, and second baseman Mike Bock. While neither will win a batting title, both will hit their fair share of home runs. A player that may be under looked is left fielder Dave White. White is a very balanced hitter who should be able to keep pace with anyone in the Thunder Bay lineup.
The Salukis’ offense will be the reason they win their games. While the pair of Lemus and Dominguez should do a good job of leading the pitching staff, a weak back end of the rotation will be amplified by a lackluster bullpen. This team will have to hit it’s way into the postseason, and I think they may be able to do it.
Lexington Thoroughbreds:
The final team in the GLBF, the Lexington Thoroughbreds will post one of the better rotations in the GLBF. Headed by fifth and sixth round picks Pierce Starnes and Nate Moore, they are both capable number two’s although neither are true aces. The three and four of Ricky Garcia and Frank Jimenez will slide into those roles very nicely. The fifth starter Ben Ayler leaves much to be desired and will be a weak point for this staff.
The Thoroughbreds bullpen will need to be aided by the monstrous Thoroughbreds Ballpark. Closer Adam Lucchese isn’t anything special, and his supporting cast is even more so. Jordan Hawkins has some nice stuff, but that is if he can find the strike zone. Jason Farmer will be a big arm for this bullpen, although his skill set is more suited to that of a role player than of a set up man. Hopefully the defense behind this bullpen can bail them out of some bad pitches.
Lexington made maybe the most curious move of the first round, taking 38 year center fielder Ernie Brindel. While division rivals Rockford and Peoria are taking future faces of the franchise, Lexington spent their most valuable asset on a player who will be out of baseball at the next presidential election. Besides that, their best hitter might be their second round pick, right fielder and much younger 27 year old Tyler Reid. Reid will be a guy who you see near the top of home run leader boards, but you’ll also see him put up some large strikeout numbers as well. Their third round pick, 28 year old Brian Wille, shockingly fell to them at 32nd overall and will provide a solid bat for Lexington. Often forgotten about corner outfielder Terry Greathouse will be a key to taking this lineup from above average, to playoff contender.
Playing in a huge ball park will help the Lexington pitching staff, and maybe that is why general manager Dan Ausdemore used his first three picks on offense. Even though he made the most questionable first round selection, his next two picks helped make up for it. This could be one of the better lineups in the league, but having a large ballpark is a double edge sword. However, expect this team to play meaningful games in September.
Now that we got that behemoth of a preview out of the way. It's now time for some probably going to be laughably wrong predictions.
*I did not look that game generated predictions before I made mine
East Division
  1. Bowling Green Griffons. Record: 70-55
  2. Roanoke Railsplitters. Record 66-59
  3. Elmira Marksmen. Record 60-65
  4. Scranton Thunderbolts. Record 57-68
Central Division
  1. Belle Isle Bandits. Record 68-57
  2. Muskegon Riptide. Record 64-61
  3. Dayton Huskies. Record 58-67
  4. Port Huron Patriots Record 56-69
West Division
  1. Thunder Bay Salukis. Record 67-58
  2. Peoria Lancers. 65-60
  3. Lexington Thoroughbreds 60-65
  4. Rockford Red Hawks. 58-67
submitted by beadlejuice44 to OOTP [link] [comments]

The Life and Times of Being a Sports Fan

I remember a lot of people having a hard time after our most recent playoff exit. There were people calling for Drew’s head. Potter said he was saying goodbye to Reddit as it was too stressful (but also got a big job promotion too) to read everyone’s negativity day in and out. The sub was in disarray. But it’s important yearly to always look forward to next year if this year isn’t ours. The rebounds you gain from failures are just as important to your victories. The fact that after X amount of time, your team starts on a level 0-0 record to try again. That faith is what keeps you going every season. It’s the reason On Sundays, you save 4 hours of your day dedicated strictly to your team. I’m going to outline some of my favorite sports teams failures just in the past year or so and how these failure/shortcomings are only temporary. (Please forgive my formatting im on mobile)

New Orleans Saints:

As we all know, this season didn’t end well... almost didn’t start well either. After an absolute nail-biting, butt-clenching, vulgarity-fueled last second win against Houston, our season’s biggest game and probably one of the most anticipated regular season matchups of note against the Rams was a disaster. We got punched in the mouth, took an arrow to the knee a thumb to a helmet and our golden boy went down. You can tell immediately he’s done on the sidelines. The Saints quit and the Rams are the one marching on in victory. The team fights back and somehow do great things. Teddy becomes a household name, Drew gets records, CGM gets records, team wins division, earns playoff spot... you’re probably saying “Briguy_fieri, that’s not a lot of negative things.” You’re right, it’s not. But that’s when the worst things happen. When you think you’re untouchable, when you’re brought down to earth it hurts more than never having a shot. Saints play like absolute shit and get absolutely embarrassed at home (again). Season is over. One of our best regular seasons ends in the wildcard week. Wonderful. Now, I’m not going to dive deep into this, but the Gayle Benson news is not the best. Don’t say “nothing happened” because we know as much as /NFL holier than thou’s. We don’t know anything and if/when something does come out, I don’t want to eat crow by blindly defending her. We need more details until this thing passes. Either way it’s not a good look. Drew could be on his way out. We’re in the twilight moments of the best player our team has/might ever see(n). We’re back in a tight spot financially for now.
But just like everyday, there’s a bright for every dark. Our god tier receiver is locked up. Our defense is playing great with no glaring holes. We’ve hit on the last few drafts giving us studs everywhere. We finally will get to see Sean groom our future franchise player and take over for drew. If drew does leave, we have the coach, the roster, the scouting, and the best fans to help take the division again.

Tampa Lightning

For those unaware, yes I love hockey. I’ve actually liked hockey longer than I have football. I’ve followed Tampa since 1999 when Vincent Lecavalier became an NHL video game cheat code. Tampa has had some absolutely terrible teams on the ice. Like some of the all time worst. But last year, the had the legitimate all time greatest single season in history. They had 62 wins and 20 losses. For as good of a team as the Saints had last year... multiply that by like 20. They were dominant in a way non-hockey fans can’t understand. Every night, they were going to score more than you, hit you hard, and embarrass you on defense. You weren’t going to outscore this team. They cruised through the regular season and faced a team who secured a playoff spot on the last night of the season. The worst wildcard team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, were a team that somehow lucked and clawed themselves into the playoffs. On paper, you’re betting the house on Tampa taking this series. It’s easy money. Tampa opens up the first game with a quick 3 goal lead and that bet is looking smart.... until they blew the lead and lost 4-3. Over the course of the next 3 games, Tampa got wrecked by being out scored 15-5, never leading a game the rest of the way. They got swept, by a team that had never won a playoff series EVER. Imagine their entire season summed up as 28-3, where 28 is the regular season. Imagine the 18-1 patriots getting beat in the wildcard round. It makes no sense, but here I am still trying to wrap my head around it. Them getting curb stomped was the #1 post on /hockey for a few months and only got outed by Kobe passing away, the most hated player in the league losing the game on a Marcus Williams type fluke, and the leagues Lovable Losers St. Louis Blues winning their first ever Stanley Cup. Tampa’s offseason was pretty tame as their stacked roster didn’t have any key departures and most of their stars were locked up into the future on good contracts. The window nailed open for now as the Lightning (who started slowly) are now a top 3 team in the league again.

New Orleans Pelicans

The worst kept secret in the NBA was Tony David (real name Anthony Davis) looking to leave New Orleans. Homie amassed a large sum of money, and then legitimately quit on his team. He handcuffed his team with trading suitors by demanding the Lakers as the destination to play alongside his buddy Lebron. He became a locker room issue, took potshots at the team, and gave 0 effort until the season was over. The pelicans were called the worst run franchise by the media (suck a fart Colin Cowherd). Members of ESPN hinted that we should be forced to relocate to Seattle as we were deemed unworthy of a team (suck a fart Mike Wilbon). We were a laughingstock as the odds of us getting a good draft pick were slim as we had enough wins to give us a bad %. We got a new and highly respected GM, but someone who had been outbid the league for a few years. But then... the lottery happened. All of the teams with better odds of getting the number 1 pick got their ping pong ball pulled before us. They announced the Pelicans with the first pick and suddenly we forgot about Tony David. He got traded for a slew of picks and a high profile young core from LA. We drafted Zion Williamson, an Internet sensation who was hyped up since he was a sophomore... in high school. We got “stans” from /nba over Lonzo Ball. Brandon Ingram had the biggest upside from the laker group and has currently flourished into a league star. Zion has only played a handful of games, but has been as electric as advertised. The team started off slow, but is right in the thick of the playoff hunt. This team has a huge bright side of youthful talent and a stockpile of picks to keep us in the dark horse team of the league for years to come.

Colorado Rockies

Last year for the Rockies was terrible all around. Coming off a Wildcard game victory against the Chicago Cubs, the Rockies had mile high expectations that turned out to be an under sea level performance. Injuries plagued the team. The bullpen went to hell. The batting order forgo how to hit. Fielding was riddled with errors. The Rockies missed the playoffs, but the disaster didn’t stop there. Rumors started floating that superstar third basemen Nolan Arenado was being shopped. Despite saying he wanted to stay with the Rockies (after signing a team friendly mega deal), the team did nothing to refute the rumors. Weeks went by, where rumors continued to build only for the GM to say they were actively listen to offers. Nolan responded with vocal attacks on the GM saying how he felt disrespected, unwanted, and lied to. And he’s right. The Rockies offered him a huge contract with promise of continued playoff appearances and building a competitor. The Rockies this offseason have signed 3 players (2 to minor league contracts) and one of those was a former Rockies pitcher who hasn’t been the same since about 2013. Think of it like if the Saints brought back Colston this year if he didn’t retire. While baseball teams reported to spring training last week, Nolan was doing individual workouts/practices at a different stadium apart from the team as a silent protest of sorts. While this story is unfinished, if Nolan (a legit generational talent and has an argument to being called the best player in the game) is traded, several proposed deals include some of the best league prospects that would give the Rockies a young team with high potential at various positions. One proposed deal would be a straight up trade with the Cubs for Kris Bryant, a slight step back from Arenado but gives no drop off at the position. We still have solid pieces at shortstop and the outfield. The prospects gained could shore up our holes elsewhere. Either way, while trading Nolan is highly unpopular, it might be enough to get the GM fired and cause ownership to right their wrongs.

Manchester City

City in the last 12-15 years have become a consistent title threat in the English Premier League and various European club tournaments. With the ownership change in the early 00s, City has had a world of funds at their fingertips to purchase the contracts of the best players and coaches in the world. With aspirations to win the league again this year, they slipped up a few early easily winnable games. Since then, Liverpool took the league lead and continued on holding that lead. Similar to my mention of Tampa’s dominance earlier in this post, Liverpool is having one of the all time greatest runs in league history. Those repeat title goals are basically shattered with only 3 months left of The season. But then news broke of a massive ban placed on City. They’ve been banned from the biggest tournament outside of the World Cup (costing them massive amounts of money... like 2 Michael Thomas contracts type money just from this tournament) for violating Financial Fair Play. I’m not too sure of the specifics of what it is, but apparently it has to do with spending more than your team made from sponsors. With City’s owners deep pockets, they probably used some of those funds to purchase player’s contracts. On top of the ban, they were fined 60 million as well, an unprecedented act. There’s rumors of stripping of their titles as well but nothing concrete about that. Like most sports, players go to where the money and opportunities for hardware are. This ban puts a huge damper on City getting quality players to sign with them. More than likely, City will be reduced to a mediocre team for the next 5-6 years until they are able to build themselves back to relevance. But the futures not all gloom and doom. City has had a wonderful youth academy where the develop young teenage talent into world class players. City might use homegrown talent to weather the storm and build the future within. All City players so far said they will honor their contracts in full and not force their exit. The coach has echoed the same. City is appealing the punishment in hopes it gets reduced or removed. They believe they are being singled out when handful of teams are also under the same violations.
I’m not really sure why I decided to spend an hour+ writing this out. I saw so many people posting sad “were about to suck again” type posts here. Lots of people questioned staying a fan after the continuous playoff exits. Lots of people left after news of Gayle (my initial reaction was an overreaction until i actually dissected what was said, I admit). I’ve used sports as one of my vices since I was a kid. I played it to make friends and find a healthy way to let out aggressions. I watched it to develop my game like particular players. I joined Reddit to talk about it. All of my favorite teams have been awful throughout their history. The saints were not relevant until 2006. Tampa was terrible until the mid 00s. The Pelicans have had good players, but really only have a handful of good seasons since their move to New Orleans. The Rockies only had 4 playoff seasons since I’ve been a fan and they only made it past the first round twice. City until about 07 was an unknown club that only had the claim of being the childhood favorite of Oasis. This is all small sample sizes of teams history. 2 of those teams were formed when I was about 5 years old. Year in and year out all our lives are filled with personal struggles. Depression, loss of loved ones, divorces and breakups, unemployment, medical issues, artistic/creative roadblocks, failed investments... life sucks sometimes. But as is the case with life, when there’s dark, light is sure to follow. We use sports as that guiding light. That’s what we turn to as an escape from life’s hard times. Sports are just games at the end of the day. Games that are a huge part of our lives, but still just a form of entertainment for us. But just like every game, when it ends, you always have the opportunity to a rematch and start over. If it doesn’t end the way you want, keep the faith and wait for the new day to come.
submitted by Briguy_fieri to Saints [link] [comments]

BBL Winterball - Week 6 Results

Week 6 Results are in! We have the most heart-breaking loss by a team due to a tie-breaker!
Astros @ Melonheads
The playoff aspiring Astros (3-2) took on the slumping Melonheads (1-4) who are looking towards the next season.
The Melonheads defense struggled greatly as they had three errors versus the Astros fast hitters! This allowed Star Moonbeam and pals to beam on up the scoreboard quickly.
Phillies @ Reds
In one corner we have the Phillies (3-2) who are attempting to get the 2nd seed by controlling their own destiny! In the other corner, we have the Reds (0-5) who are winless and still looking for their first victory!
The Reds started off the game strong with a 1st inning run with team captain Leah Wayne trying to get them off to their best start of the season. Unfortunately, there wasn't much more pep after that.
The Reds proceeded to give up the maximum (25) amount of runs to the Phillies. The Reds will hope to regroup, and possibly re-sign a few kids, next season.
Green Monsters @ Pink Sox
The Green Monsters (3-2) came in needing a win to clinch the playoffs versus the undefeated Pink Sox (5-0)! While the odds were stacked against them, the Monsters had a team built just for the Sox.
The Monsters started off with a giant home-run behind the super-fast Jane Davis! Jane Davis made a pre-game bet that she could out-lap Davy! Needless to say, she won quite easily and scored before he crossed 3rd base! She gets a bonus Ritz cracker in her lunch now! :)
The Pink Sox woke up and realized that their perfect season may be over if they don't start getting it into gear. Everyone except Fay Dawson had an amazing game on offense! The team was lead by Kay O'Toole who had 3 singles, 2 Runs, and 2 RBIs alongside her 3 stolen bases!
After the game Amanda Heckerman said that anyone who doubts the Pink Sox can all go to to heck!
New Jersey Yankees @ Fishers Fishes


​Both teams came in knowing that if they lose their season is over. The Yankees (3-2) felt they could hold off the recently surging Fishes (2-3). Coach Aesnop said that by the time you're done reading this sentence Vic Ratatouille just ran by third on the way home!
Both teams managed to go past the 25 score limit.
This was primarily due to:
-Literally everyone on both teams being a stud
In addition to this, both coaches said that they didn't bother playing the 3rd inning and just let the game end due to breaking the limit.
It came down to 4 tie-breakers!

Tie-breaker 1

Each team sent a player from the other team to have a race around the bases. The first one to finish wins!
Unfortunately, both teams picked the opponent's slowest player. After waiting 2 hours for the race to finish, due to fatigue from the game, the teams agreed to go to the next tie-breaker.

Tie-breaker 2

Teams had to play hide and seek and be the first team to find Crazyei8hts hiding somewhere.
Unfortunately, Crazy could not afford a private jet to fly out to the game. So after a day of searching, both teams were told to stop searching as he wasn't there.

Tie-breaker 3

Teams had to try to stack up as many baseball bats on top of each-other without it falling over!
Unfortunately, as neither team had Dmitri or Kenny, none of the teams were able to actually stack up two bats.

Tiebreaker 4

The league commissioner finally showed up to watch the game and simply asked "who scored more in the 1st inning?"
Coach Nate said "we scored 23" while Coach Aesnop quickly answered "well we scored 32!" And thus, Yuyu declared that the Crazy Yankees win the tie-breaker 25-25!


Below is the standings!
Team Wins Losses
Pink Sox 6 0
Philadelphia Phillies 4 2
Houston Astros 4 2
Crazy Yankees 4 2
Green Monsters 3 3
Los Angeles Fishes 2 4
Super-Duper Melonheads 1 5
Cincinnati Reds 0 6


Please note that the Fishes, Melonheads, and Reds are eliminated while the Pink Sox are the #1 seed. This makes the #2 seed interesting.
Philadelphia Phillies
In the playoffs if: A Win vs the Fishes + Astros Lose
Out of the playoffs if: They Lose OR Astros win
Houston Astros
In the playoffs if: A Win over the Pink Sox + Monsters Win
Out of the playoffs if: They Lose OR Yankees Win
Crazy Yankees
In the playoffs if: They Win over the Monsters + Astros Win + Phillies Win OR Win over Monsters + Astros Win + Phillies Lose OR Win over Monsters + Astros Lose + Phillies Lose
Out of the playoffs if: They Lose OR Phillies Win + Astros Lose
Green Monsters
In the playoffs if: They Win over the Yankees + Astros Lose + Phillies Lose
Out of the playoffs if: They Lose OR Astros Win OR Phillies Win
submitted by sportsfanvideojunky to BackyardBaseball [link] [comments]

Spending on starting? A rising trend, and evidence it works

Spending on starting? A rising trend, and evidence it works
The bullpen has always been a aspect critical to a baseball team’s success. An eight inning gem from the starting pitcher could be wasted in less than an inning. Or the bullpen could get a team out of a jam after the bases get loaded. The importance of a competent bullpen cannot be overstated. Now with pitch count limitations, innings restrictions, and matchup analytics bullpen usage is at an all time high. Some teams have even begun to use the “opener” approach, leaving entire games to bullpens. Many times the best advantage of using the bullpen is the fact that the hitters haven’t seen the reliever that game, similar to a starter’s first time through the order, where pitching statistics are typically better as opposed to a pitcher’s second and third time through the order. This has led to a large emphasis and big time spending on bullpens. The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees are two of the most notable teams when it comes to talking about bullpens. Tampa Bay was the first team to use the new “opener” approach and they use it regularly while having one of the highest usage rates in the league. New York, although their relievers missed time due to injuries, field a bullpen that includes Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Tommy Kahnle among others. With bullpen talent as stacked as that, it’s no wonder their usage rate is so high. These are just two examples of the recent trend toward being bullpen reliant.
Although bullpens were all the rage on the free agent and trade markets, the Washington Nationals, who already had Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on the payroll, added another top line starting pitcher in Patrick Corbin while also adding an underrated Anibal Sanchez. The Nats paid out around $88M between Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and Sanchez, and it payed off in a big way resulting in the teams first ever world series championship. Their world series counterpart, the Houston Astros, had a similar makeup with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, and Zack Greinke whom they got in the trade deadline blockbuster with the Diamondbacks. Despite the shift toward heavy bullpen reliance, starting pitching can still be the driving force in a teams success. Of course, coupled with competent offense and relief pitching that is. After the Indians, Nationals, and Astros recent success, there will likely be a future trend of spending money on starting pitching.
You can take that information as you please. If a starting pitcher is pitching well, he’s more likely to throw later into the game, that’s common sense. Unless you’re the Phillies then Aaron Nola gets pulled after 5 1-hit innings just for the bullpen to blow it (sorry Phillies fans). So if a starting pitcher can effectively eat up innings, the team typically sees more success because there’s less usage on the bullpen and, quite frankly, less of a chance for the bullpen to blow it (Sorry bullpens). It also allows to bullpen to get some rest every once in a while. To illustrate this point, I’m going to show you some numbers over the last 5 seasons.
Over the last 5 seasons, there have been 29 teams to have 3 or more starting pitchers throw at least 175 innings (I know it seems like an odd number but bear with me). Of those 29 teams, 25 of them went on to finish .500 or better (86.2%), 17 of them made the postseason (58.6%), six of them one 100 or more games (20.69%), and 4 of them were world series finalists (13.79%), 2 being WS champs and 2 being runner up. The 4 teams that finished with a losing record, and weakened this 5 year correlational case, were the 2015 Padres, 2015 White Sox, 2016 Rays, and 2019 White Sox. If we take this a step further and look at teams who have had 3 pitchers throw at least 200 innings, it narrows it down to 4 teams, and 3 of those 4 made the playoffs, the only one not to make the postseason being the 2015 White Sox. It’s not a large sample size, but based on the correlation of the 175 innings stat, 200 innings would only improve. The three teams that made the playoffs were the 2016 Giants, 2018 Astros, and 2019 Astros. The Nationals would have reached this mark in 2019 as well if not for Scherzer's injury.
Disclaimer: Having a starting pitcher reach 175 innings can’t be a conscious goal in one’s mind. Just because a team has 3 pitchers throw 175 innings, it doesn’t mean they’ll be good. Especially if they’re all throwing at a relatively high ERA. Innings are a good barometer for starting pitching quality because if a starter is pitching well, he will pitch later into the game, thus resulting in 175+ innings. It just happens, it isn’t cause and effect. It’s a correlation.
Quality is important when discussing starting pitching, but quantity certainly has a lot of value. If it’s not clear yet, quantity and quality are dependent upon each other in baseball, quantity is not achieved without stable quality.
Below are the teams with 175+ innings from 3+ pitchers over the last 5 years.
\*- WS finalists
*\*- WS champs
x- playoff team
(#)- number of games won
(200)- teams with 200+ innings from 3+ starters
There was a miscue in the typing, for some reason it’s showing 5 asterisks, they denote World Series participants.
San Diego Padres (74)
Toronto Blue Jays (93x)
Los Angeles Dodgers (92x)
Chicago Cubs (97x)
Chicago White Sox (76) (200)
San Francisco Giants (84)
New York Mets***** (90x)
Cleveland Indians (81)
Washington Nationals (83)
St. Louis Cardinals (100x)
San Francisco Giants (87x) (200)
Chicago Cubs****** (103x)
Tampa Bay Rays (68)
St. Louis Cardinals (86)
Kansas City Royals (81)
Washington Nationals (95x)
Toronto Blue Jays (89x)
New York Yankees (84)
Cleveland Indians (102x)
Washington Nationals (97x)
Colorado Rockies (91x)
Houston Astros (103x) (200)
Cleveland Indians (91x)
Arizona Diamondbacks (82)
Washington Nationals****** (93x)
Houston Astros***** (107x) (200)
New York Mets (86)
Chicago White Sox (72)
Los Angeles Dodgers (106x)
The average number of wins between these teams came out to 89.41 wins. However, the only thing I’ve truly learned in my college statistics course is that when you have outliers from a set of numbers (Like the 68 win Rays and 72 win White Sox), it is typically better to use the median value (the middle value) which was 90. So it didn’t make a large difference but there’s a free lesson in statistics. Now I acknowledge that 90 wins, especially in the current AL, isn’t a playoff lock, but that’s where the stat that 58.6% of teams comes into play. It shows that in the current league environments, these teams make the playoffs more times than not. In 2019 3 of the 5 teams made the postseason, while the Mets were also making a playoff push.
High end starting pitching can significantly help a teams push toward a postseason berth, and the best thing about baseball is that, in October, anything can happen. Of course, as earlier mentioned, the team must also have a competent offense and bullpen to be successful, but over the last five seasons, there is a strong correlation between high end starting pitching and relative team success.
With that being said, here are some free agents that could help some teams establish that high end starting pitching.
Gerrit Cole
Cole was one of the most dominant pitcher in the majors last season, finishing second in the AL Cy Young award voting. He was 3rd in ERA and 2nd in WHIP while leading the league in strikeouts. When it comes to statcast metrics Cole was in the 94th percentile in curveball spin rate, 96th percentile in opponent slugging, 99th percentile in strikeout percentage, 96th percentile in fastball spin rate, and 97th percentile in opponent batting average. Cole also posted a 6.9 WAR in 2019 and a 5.2 WAR in 2018. In addition, Cole threw 212.1 innings last season, making him an ideal option to be the ace of a rotation. There’s not much more to say in regards to Gerrit Cole’s recent performance. If Cole does have one downfall however, it’s the deep ball. He gave up 29 of them last season. It’s no secret that Cole is going to command a very luxurious contract, and will generate interest from any team willing to pay.
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Ryu threw 182.2 innings in 2019 while posting a 2.32 ERA (led the majors), which was good enough to earn him a 2nd place finish in Cy Young award voting. He also posted a 1.97 ERA over 82.1 innings in 2018 where he dealt with an injury which is why he only threw 82.1 innings. With a 5.1 WAR in 2019, Ryu, along with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, helped propel the Dodgers to 106 wins. Ryu’s most impressive quality is that he excels at inducing weak contact as he finished in the 74th percentile in opponent slugging percentage, 88th percentile in hard hit percentage, and 96th percentile in opponent exit velocity. The ability to miss barrels could travel to any ball park, no matter how hitter friendly it is. There are rumors that Ryu would really like to stay in LA, although no matter where he goes, he’s expected to get a short term deal with a fairly nice salary.
Stephen Strasburg
The World Series MVP. Strasburg has always been an electric pitcher when healthy, however only twice in the last 5 seasons has Strasburg eclipsed 150 innings. However in 2019, Strasburg posted 209 innings pitched (led the NL) and 251 strikeouts (6th in all of baseball). Strasburg posted a 6.5 WAR while also ranking high in the statcast percentiles. He finished in the 84th percentile in strikeout percentage, 86th percentile in curveball spin rate, 91st percentile in opponent slugging percentage, and 85th percentile in opponent batting average. Strasburg recently opted out of his current deal with Washington, figuring to land a larger contract. Whether or not he will remain in Washington is uncertain.
Madison Bumgarner
The San Francisco Giants legend. Many thought Bumgarner would have been traded at last season’s trade deadline but the Giants got on a hot streak right before the deadline so they kept their roster in-tact for the most part. Bumgarner is still one of the better southpaws in the league and is as sturdy as they come. He consistently finishes toward the top of the league in WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts. In 7 of his 10 seasons, Bumgarner has thrown at least 200 innings, despite 2017 and 2018 being shortened by injury. Bumgarner’s market is unclear, he likely won’t fetch as much as Strasburg, Ryu, or Cole (at least on a per year basis), but he will be a very nice piece for a team looking to make a serious push should he choose to leave San Francisco. The White Sox and Twins have been said to have ramped up their pursuits of Bumgarner after missing out on Zack Wheeler.
Zack Wheeler (Signed with Phillies, 5 years/$118M)
Another hot name during this past seasons trade deadline, Wheeler has been flat out dominant at times in his career, showing flashes of what he was expected to develop into when he was taken 6th overall in the 2009 draft. After struggling in the first half of the season, Wheeler lit it up in the second half finishing the season with a 1.68 ERA over 75 innings before being shut down by his manager (the Mets were out of playoff contention). He didn’t exactly repeat is 2018 second half performance in 2019, however he still had a solid season. His fastball velocity is in league’s 99th percentile while he also exceled at limiting hard contact finishing in the 82nd and 90th percentile in hard hit percentage and exit velocity, respectively. So long as he’s healthy, he’s also a lock to eclipse 180 innings per year. The 29 year old flamethrower has been a hot name early in 2019 free agency and has already generated interest from about half the league (literally).
Dallas Keuchel
Keuchel has finished with a 3.74 ERA over the last two seasons, with 2019 being shortened as the southpaw didn’t sign until after the season had commenced. Since 2014, he has only had an ERA 4.0 or higher once (2016, the year after his Cy Young award). Keuchel is not a strikeout pitcher, so fluctuations in ERA will happen. Despite not being a strikeout pitcher, Keuchel does very well to command ground balls, which travels well to any ball park. I recognize that the lefty didn’t throw but 112 and 2/3 innings last season, but that was over only 19 starts. That’s an average of 5.93 innings/start. When healthy, most starting pitchers start around 32 games per year, and at a clip of 5.93 innings/start, Keuchel would have projected to throw 189-190 innings last season, at a solid ERA, making him a solid candidate for a team eyeing a third starter.
Julio Teheran
Another Atlanta Brave, the teams former ace hasn’t quite been the same pitcher over the last two seasons, but his ERA has still been a sub 4. He threw a career low in innings in 2019 at 174.2 innings, still a fair amount of innings. Teheran has been very good in the past and still has the makeup to be that pitcher he was, his biggest issue last season was beaning hitters, issuing a league high 14 HBP. Teheran also has a high spin rate on his pitches, ranking in the 84th percentile on his curve and 70th percentile on his fastball. He may not be the ace he once was for Atlanta, but Teheran could be a sneaky bargain buy for a team looking for pitching depth.
Wade Miley
Miley was able to land a contract with the Astros after throwing 82.1 innings for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 with a 2.57 ERA. Miley put together a solid season, even despite a rough finish to the campaign with a tough September where he failed to reach the 2nd inning in 3 of his 5 starts. Through August Miley had posted a 3.06 ERA, though he finished with a 3.98, he still was able to finish in the top 20 starters in ERA and WHIP. He threw 167.1 innings, though he was on pace for over 180 innings, while holding opposing offenses to a fair amount of weak contact (75th% in exit velocity and 81st% in hard hit percentage). Bumgarner, Ryu, and Keuchel are likely to garner a fair amount of attention which could allow Miley to slip under the radar and be a very nice, affordable piece for a club looking to add a left handed pitcher.
Brett Anderson
If you look up Anderson’s career stats, year by year, they may not look very appealing. However, Anderson put together a solid 2019 campaign over 31 starts with the Oakland A’s, finishing with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.307 WHIP, both good enough for top 15 among starting pitchers. Anderson has only had 4 seasons where he started a fair amount of games. In his rookie season in 2009 with Oakland, started 30 games while throwing 175.1 innings with a 4.06 ERA. The following seasons, over 19 starts and 112.1 innings, Anderson posted a 2.80 ERA. It wasn’t until 2015 when he eclipsed 100 innings again, this time with the Dodgers throwing 180.1 innings at a 3.69 ERA. After 2015, Anderson failed to reach 100 innings until last season. He’s had a hard time bouncing back from injuries, but so long as he stays healthy, Anderson can be a nice piece to strengthen a rotation.
The Trade Targets (potentially)
Matt Boyd
Yet another player who’s name came up at last season’s trade deadline, except he isn’t a free agent now. The Tigers are no where near competitive, so if a team is offering fair compensation they have no reason to hang onto him, especially if they can be building for the future. Statcast metrics look favorably upon Boyd as his strikeout percentage ranks in the 86th percentile while the spin rate on his fast ball, as well as his opponent batting average, ranked in the 74th percentile. He was also tied for 10th in the league in strikeouts while throwing 180 innings, however his ERA was a 4.56 and he gave up a league leading 39 home runs. Maybe a change of scenery could help to allow Boyd’s bright spots to take precedence over his downfalls. On the trade market, demand will often cause a team to “over pay” for a player, so the Tigers can likely help themselves by trading Boyd.
Robbie Ray
Like many others on the list, I feel like I’m saying this for the 10th time, Ray was discussed at last season’s deadline. Actually when the report came out that the Astros and Diamondbacks made a trade involving a Diamondbacks pitcher, I for sure thought it would be Ray. A left hander that excels at missing bats, still with years of control and having just turned 28, Ray could fetch a nice return if the Diamondbacks so choose to go that way. Ray’s ERA has fluctuated through a range of 2.89 to 4.34 over the last 3 seasons, however he is a sure bet to reach 200 strikeouts a year (if healthy) while also throwing 160 innings at the least. If Ray were to be traded to a more pitcher friendly ball park, his home runs allowed would decrease and likely drop his ERA to the 3 range (he have up 30 homers last season). Ray hold a strikeout percentage in the 88th percentile as well as an exit velocity in the 77th percentile. The Diamondbacks have set themselves up to go either way, they can either stick with what they have and attempt to build around them this offseason, or sell of some of their desired players to set themselves up nicely for the future, so the Robbie Ray situation is a curious one.
Jon Gray
The Rockies were able to make the playoffs in 2018, almost winning the division title from the Dodgers, taking them to a game 163 to determine the division winner. That Rockies team did not show up in 2019 as the Rockies did a full 360 going from a 91-72 record to a 71-91 record. Personally, I think not having DJ LeMahieu in the lineup definitely hurt, as well as losing Adam Ottavino, both to the Yankees. Now there’s talk of a firesale in Colorado, and the 28 year old right hander Jon Gray has been a name in the rumors lately. Gray has always had a hard fastball and a sharp slider, but he’s struggled with consistency in his career. Kind of similar to Wheeler’s start, there have been flashes of brilliance from Gray which warrants opposing teams interest in him. Gray posted a 3.84 ERA over 150 innings last season, much improved from his 2018 campaign. This was good enough for a 4.5 WAR. A big attractor for potential trade suitors is that Gray , like Ray, still has years of control on his contract, but he also throws in the MLBs most hitter friendly park. So hitter friendly that WAR numbers appear skewed and the hitters typically do not get the respect they deserve because of the Coors field factor. Just ask Larry Walker. But the treatment hitters get is backwards from the way pitchers are viewed, as it is assumed (with fair reason) that if you remove a pitcher from Coors field, they will tend to perform at a higher level. This could land the Rockies a more than fair return should a team really like Gray’s prospects.
Many of these starters are in the “thanks captain obvious” category when talking about their performance. For example, everybody knows that Gerrit Cole, MadBum, and Stephen Strasburg would have interest from every team in the league. All the above section was doing was giving a quick rundown of some free agent starting pitchers that could possibly fit the bill of throwing 175 innings at an efficient rate, while also detailing some of their traits that suitors may find attractive.
As detailed earlier, teams with high end starting pitching typically perform rather well, so below are some teams that could benefit (or stay afloat where they are) in the offseason by signing and/or trading for one or two of the above starters.
Milwaukee Brewers
Yasmani Grandal signed a large contract with the Chicago White Sox a few days ago, a few days after the Brewers said they would like to retain Grandal, along with Mike Moustakas. Now that Grandal is off the table, the money already freed up from his contract gives the Brewers the ability to, potentially, sign an above average starting pitcher. The team has already said that they would check in on the starting pitcher market. This is already a really good ball club, with a very good offense and bullpen, and respectable starting pitching. Brandon Woodruff seemingly came out of nowhere and put out a very good season despite missing time due to an oblique injury, as well as an outstanding performance in the NL wild card game. Maybe Brewers fans knew him well, but I’d be lying if I said I knew of him before this season. Jordan Lyles also performed well for the Brewers after being traded from Pittsburgh and, although he’s a free agent, it’s been said Milwaukee would like to retain him. Corbin Burnes had a woeful 2019, but he will be in the conversation for a 2020 rotation sport. The Brewers have been on looking for an ace for the last 3 years or so, and are sure to make a run at one of this off season’s top starting pitcher options. A free agent signing paired with Woodruff, along with Davies, Lyles, and a fifth starter could give the Brewers a very strong starting rotation heading into 2020 where they look to build on their 89 win season. The Brewers have been rumored to be the front runner for Madison Bumgarner.
Texas Rangers
With a new ballpark, could come a fresh start. The Rangers, along with the Angels, might be the most interesting team to watch this off season, as they’ve already said they would look into big name free agents Gerrit Cole and Anthony Rendon. They’ve got a lot of money and a fairly respectable offense (12th in the majors in runs scored last season), to go along with an underrated pitching staff. The Rangers were 1 of 3 teams to have at least two starters throw 200 innings, the others being the Nationals and Astros. They already have Lance Lynn and Mike Minor on team friendly deals, who both tossed 208.1 innings last season. With the money they have, if they could sign one of the aces of free agency, sure up their bullpen, maybe add a bat, and have Lynn and Minor perform similarly in 2020, the Rangers could quietly be a very dangerous team.
*Signed Kyle Gibson to a 3 yea$30M deal\*, who was originally set to be included for his consistent ability to eat innings every fifth day. However, he signed before this was typed
Los Angeles Angels
Speaking of the Angels, Los Angeles has been the most popularly predicted landing spot for Gerrit Cole, being that he’s from the west coast. LA has the best player in baseball on the roster but haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. Baseball is a team sport and to be frank, the Angels have not done much to surround Trout with talent to make the playoffs. The Angels had the 15th ranked offense in runs scored last season, with Trout missing the end of the season due to injury. However the problem doesn’t lie in the offense, it lies in the pitching. The second worst starting rotation in baseball by runs allowed and a bullpen that ranked 20th in ERA. However, if the Angels are willing to spend the money, they could be far more competitive in 2020. If Andrew Heaney can stay healthy, the Angels had a starter or two, and make a play for a bullpen piece or two, they can be much improved. The Angels also still hold the view that Shohei Ohtani is a two way player and project him to return to pitching in 2020, though nobody is sure to what extent. There’s a lot of money already on the books but the Angels have made it clear that they will offer whatever it takes in their run for Gerrit Cole.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have gotten little to no free agency buzz early in the off season. Marcell Ozuna is a free agent but will likely demand more than what St. Louis would prefer to pay. The Cards will likely look to replace Ozuna’s offensive production (or resign him of course), but with money left over after that, St. Louis will likely look to add another starter to go with their young stud Jack Flaherty, who’s incredible second half was enough for him to finish 4th in Cy Young voting. The 23 year old looks like he could be the Cards ace for the foreseeable future, and Miles Mikolas has resurrected his career in St. Louis, eating up 200.2 and 184 innings in 2018 and 2019. Dakota Hudson looks like a promising young player tossing 174.2 innings with a 3.35 ERA, and Adam Wainwright is back on a one year deal. If St. Louis got another ace to pair with Flaherty, it could be one of the best 1-2 punches in all of baseball (if Flaherty can build on his 2019 performace), as well as one of the better all around pitching staffs.
Minnesota Twins
The second best offense in baseball in runs scored, only 4 behind the Yankees, the Twins made a huge jump in 2019 from their 2018 performance. The Twins have been up and down the last few years, but the explosion of the offense, the additions of Nelson Cruz and Jake Odorizzi, and the breakout of Jose Berrios were key to the Twins 101 win season. Jake Odorizzi has already accepted the qualifying offer to return to Minnesota, the White Sox are still young, the Royals are in the midst of a rebuild, as are the Tigers, and the Indians are always in the news with rumors about trading away their stars so we’ll see what happens. As of now it’s between the Twins and Indians for the division crown, though the White Sox have a chance to be competitive. The offense is no question for Minnesota, but if the team added another solid starter like a Miley or a Keuchel, that could help sure up the starting rotation. The bullpen could use some help, and the early rumors out of Minnesota are that they’re in the market for some bullpen help and some starting pitching.
Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies have already said that they’re interested in potentially engaging in free agent conversations with Gerrit Cole and Madison Bumgarner. A year after breaking the bank for Bryce Harper, the Phillies were expected to compete for a postseason spot but ended up finishing 4th in the NL east. Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, and Jake Arrieta are likely locked into rotation slots for 2020. Eflin threw over 160 innings and Nola eclipsed over 200 last season. If the Phillies, similar to the Cardinals, could pair another top line starter with Nola, it would help tremendously, bumping Eflin to the 3rd starter, and Arrieta to the 4th.
*Signed Zack Wheeler to 5 year deal worth 118 Million\*
Atlanta Braves
Atlanta was a popular pick to make it out of the National League, boasting one of the best offenses in baseball (7th in runs scored). They Braves already have Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz (despite struggling last year, he had a great 2018 season and 2019 postseason), and Max Fried. Dallas Keuchel is a free agent, they’re already making moves to improve their bullpen, and have two of the best offensive threats in the league in Acuna and Freeman. Whether it’s bringing in a true ace or returning their free agent starters, having another pitcher to put in with their current starters could be crucial to Atlanta’s hope of clinching home field in the NL.
*Signed Cole Hamels for 1 yea18 Million\*
Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are a curious case heading into free agency. The team went into a reload last season trading away Paul Goldschmidt before the season and trading Zack Greinke in a blockbuster trade deal with the Astros. Despite the trades of their big time talents, the Diamondbacks still managed to win 85 games in 2019. The teams starting rotation, as of now, includes Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Luke Weaver among others. Taijuan Walker was recently non tendered and will become a free agent. As briefly mentioned earlier, the Diamondbacks are in position to continue reloading, or they can try and capitalize on their collection of cheap deals and try to be competitive. Arizona also recently non tendered backup catcher Caleb Joseph and right fielder Steven Souza Jr. There aren’t many guaranteed contracts in the organization and there are a lot of quality players on cheap or rookie deals. Ray is a proven starter, Gallen and Weaver show promise, and Kelly quietly ate over 180 innings last year. The Diamondbacks have been identified as a team to make a run at Gerrit Cole along with the Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, and Rangers. However, with that being unlikely, it is likely the Diamondbacks look to strengthen their rotation to try and catch the Dodgers.
San Diego Padres
The Padres just released their 2020 uniforms a few weeks ago, doing away with the navy blue and white scheme and returning to the brown and yellow scheme. With new uniforms, last season’s signing of Manny Machado, and their impact rookies Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack, the Padres are going to attempt to make the leap to being playoff contenders. The Padres are guaranteed to be in the market for starting pitching and some outfield help. As previously mentioned, the Padres already have Chris Paddack who will be near the top of the rotation, Garrett Richards had ace level stuff before being riddled by injuries (but both Richards and Paddack will be on pitch limits in 2020), and Mackenzie Gore will likely be up before the end of the 2020 season. With the money they have, the Padres likely will not be able to afford Gerrit Cole. The Padres are most likely to target Strasburg, Wheeler, and Bumgarner. That would give the Padres some quality starting pitching to go with their strong bullpen and an offense that includes Tatis Jr., Machado, Myers, and Hosmer.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have already signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a 4 year, $73M deal, and are looking to spend more. The Sox saw left side infielders Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson have breakout campaigns, as well as starter Lucas Giolito, while Eloy Jimenez is expected to take that same step forward in 2020. Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, and Nick Madrigal are all likely to make the 2020 roster as well, especially Madrigal due to the teams release of Yolmer Sanchez. The team also still has slugger Jose Abreu after the first baseman resigned with the team. After the signing of Yasmani Grandal, the White Sox will likely receive trade offers for all-star catcher James McCann, and though he may not land them a star, McCann could likely land a solid glue piece style of player. The White Sox have shown they’re willing to spend money and have already been linked to FA starter Zack Wheeler (it seems like everybody has been). The White Sox are looking to make a jump in 2020 and the addition of a starting pitcher and another notable free agent could help them do just that.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have won their division seven years in a row, dating back to 2013. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Hyun-Jin Ryu helped propel the Dodgers to yet another 100 win season last year, along with their stellar offense. However, Ryu is a free agent, and while he’s said he’d like to stay in LA, you never know with baseball. Despite his injuries, Ryu is sure to still have a fairly strong FA market and there’s a chance he could walk from LA. If that’s the case, Dustin May and his awesome hair made his MLB debut last season, and he could presumably take over Ryu’s innings if the Dodgers look in house for a potential replacement. If the Dodgers look outside of their organization, they have shown interest in Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim, who is entering 2020 free agency. The Dodgers are also a relatively rich franchise, so the idea of going after a top level ace isn’t out of the question. The Dodgers are already good, and they’ll almost certainly try and resign Ryu, but if they can’t they won’t have any trouble replacing his innings.
New York Yankees
When there’s free agency talks, the Yankees will always be mentioned. One of the best bullpens in the league, the number one offense, and a rich minor league crop that allows them to be competitive even with injuries. The Yankees also feature some talented starters in James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino. Domingo German also put forth a solid pitching performance last season. However, none of them reached 170 innings pitched in 2019. Ultimately, the performance of their starting pitching is what cost them in the ALCS against the Astros. However, even when their starters were on, the Yankees are reliant on analytics and bullpen use. Masahiro Tanaka definitely could have gone 8 or 9 innings in game 1, which would have limited the bullpen use a little. The Yankees trust their bullpen, as they should, but they don’t have a ton of innings from their starters. The Yankees have a lot of good pitchers, but with their willingness to spend money, if they can sign a Strasburg or Cole (both of whom they have already met with and they will more than likely give at least one of them a blank check), they could build upon their already impressive 2019 season. The only thing that would concern me is that it seems that recently pitchers haven’t performed as well once they become Yankees. James Paxton was better in Seattle and Sonny Gray was unsuccessful in NY. That would concern me a bit, but either way, the Yankees will make a run at some sort of starting pitching.
Houston Astros
The scandal riddled Astros will likely lose Gerrit Cole in free agency, and they might lose Wade Miley as well. The Astros still have Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, who both topped 200 innings pitched, and Lance McCullers Jr. will be returning from injury. Forrest Whitley could also make a push to make his MLB debut in 2020, while Jose Urquidy and Brad Peacock will also be options. The Astros can survive this offseason, despite the possibility that they may not attract any big time free agents due to the impending investigations. The Astros won’t lose much offensively, and they’re still planning to make a run at big time free agents, but it wouldn’t hurt to try and mediate the loss of Gerrit Cole in free agency. The Astros are very analytically driven and there’s likely a pitcher on the market they have their eyes on that we may not expect. Verlander, Greinke, and McCullers are locks for 2020, we’ll see what they want to do beyond that. Even with the impending investigations, the Astros are still likely to be in the free agent conversation.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs.
News courtesy of @ JonHeyman via twitter.
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