Free Agent Predictions for 2016 Season - Sports Betting

Go for Gold in 2020.

Tommy Lasorda famously said “No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you're going to win one-third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference.”
Baseball is a predictable sport with most teams and players ending the season about where they were projected. Over 162-games the league’s worst team will win – even the league-worst Detroit Tigers won 47 in 2019. In a season, any team can win a streak of games only to regress – an explosive Seattle team started last year 13-2 only to crash to a 68-94 record.
The announcement of a 60-game season on Tuesday scraps the foundation of baseball’s seasonal expectations. In a 60-game season, Washington would not have made the playoffs. Philadelphia would have finished atop the NL East despite ultimately fading into an 81-81 record and both Colorado and San Diego would have only been two games outside of a playoff spot despite finishing near the bottom of the National League with a 71-91 and 70-92 record respectively.
Every game in 2020 is worth 2.7 games in any other season. Last year Tampa Bay was the final AL Wild Card team with 96 wins, a feat that would only require 35.5 wins in 2020 – Minnesota was the final AL Wild Card team in 2017 with 85 wins, 31.4 wins in 2020. To be playoff eligible, a team would need to be barely a .500 team.
If a 162-game season is a marathon, a 60-game season is an all-out sprint. Detroit’s 8-4 start in 2019 represents one-fifth of the total games played in 2020 and would place them at the top of the AL Central, tied with Minnesota. Over the same two-week span this season, rosters will be expanded to 30 players. Detroit is gearing up to be competitive in 2021 and should be encouraged by this shortened season to be audacious and go for it all now.
In March, it was widely expected that Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal would spend time in Detroit in 2020, albeit in the fall. The trio dominated in Double-A in 2019, as they have at every level of play, combining for 306 strikeouts and a 2.68 ERA over 254.2 innings. While prospect growth is not always linear, for some it is just that simple -- the trio has earned a shot.
If they struggle, Detroit will wind-up where analysts predict -- a league-worst 20-40 record and the trio now debuting in 2021. If they succeed, Detroit’s rebuild would be validated and embolden a free agent spending spree in the offseason.
Savvy offensive improvements in Austin Romine, C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop have bolstered what was the league’s worst offense. Calling up Isaac Paredes and Spencer Torkelson to fill out the infield and Alex Faedo as long relief/spot starter would be improvements if they are not overmatched during the next month of “spring” training.
Add a few last-minute signings with two of Sam Dyson, Andrew Cashner, or Arodys Vizcaino for quality relief and an available outfielder like Carlos González, who from 2016-2018 he managed an above-league-average on-base percentage, and Detroit looks like a team could go over .500. If the first few weeks go well, the trade deadline is set for August 31.
The outlook of the MLB has shifted and teams that are able to capitalize will be the teams that find success. A combination of an all-but cancelled minor league season, high-performing minor league players, the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expiring after 2021, and a season without an innings limit has created the perfect storm for Detroit to make a calculated bet on its future.
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[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
TV: FS1, MLBN
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
Connections
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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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.
2015
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)
2016
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)
2017
Cleveland Indians (102x)
Washington Nationals (97x)
2018
Colorado Rockies (91x)
Houston Astros (103x) (200)
Cleveland Indians (91x)
Arizona Diamondbacks (82)
2019
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.
https://preview.redd.it/9ms6k1qh1p241.png?width=275&format=png&auto=webp&s=1c0b1c9fc6d8113e3905e1ae761cf2446fbea0e7
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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)
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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.
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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.
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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.
https://www.baseball-reference.com/
https://www.fangraphs.com/
News courtesy of @ JonHeyman via twitter.
submitted by jjsportjournal to baseball [link] [comments]

2019 MLB Betting Primer

This is meant to be an introduction to statistics, players, analysis, etc for betting on MLB.
I mainly copy/pasted from the prior year and made a few small edits. Feel free to correct me if a link doesn't work or there are things that don't make sense. If there are typos you can keep that to yourself and enjoy this #HotContent I'm producing.
2016 MLB Primer - I basically copy/pasted that one here and updated with more stuff. Mostly just a giant karma grab https://www.reddit.com/sportsbook/comments/4czxc3/mlb_betting_prime?st=j0zbmx12&sh=41106bb6
2018? MLB Primer - I Called it 2017 but it says I posted it a year ago. https://www.reddit.com/sportsbook/comments/62t2a4/mlb_betting_primer_2017_uduncanbishop24/
##**Baseball Betting points:**
* Unlike most sports, the lineups change every day so it is pretty important to check the lineup/starter.
* Likewise, not many sports outside of football and baseball have weather effects. Air Density has different effects on the flights of baseball. "The numbers that I have found just by looking at the data, are that a 10 degree Fahrenheit change in temperature will change the distance by something like 2.5 feet." http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/changes-in-air-density-can-aff/28805375
* Also, there are park factors. Some parks are pitcher friendly (AT&T, Dodger Stdium, Citi Field) and others are hitter friendly (Coors Field, Fenway, Chase Field) Source using '18 data https://www.fangraphs.com/guts.aspx?type=pf&season=2018&teamid=0&sort=2,d
* Bullpens sometimes suck (Angels 98 MD Meltdowns) and can ruin a lot of bets by blowing a game. Consider this and consider a 5-inning line.
* A big part of betting is considering the two matchups that are going on the whole game. Home team Offense vs. Away team defense and vice versa. They are two pretty distinct matchups since lineups are made to neutralize an opposing pitcher using platoon splits.
##**Statistics:**
Everyone has pretty much heard of Moneyball and SABRmetrics, but this is an attempt to simplify the complexities of advanced analytics into something that is much easier to understand.
Background: In the old days, Wins for a pitcher was considered a great statistic to measure a pitcher by. More wins surely means better pitcher. Then analysts realized that a pitcher can’t really control how much offensive support he gets. ERA measures how many earned runs a pitcher allows per 9 innings, and it's a quick way to analyze a pitcher's ability to suppress opponent offense.
But what if a pitcher has a worse defense which allows more balls in play to be converted into outs? The goal of advanced analysis is to remove luck or other factors, like sequencing, from a pitchebatter’s performance.
For example, a pitcher can control three things, Walks/Strikeouts/Homeruns. Everything else involves the defense. Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is a statistic that uses only those three statistics and is on the same scale as ERA. You can see if a pitcher is getting “lucky” or “unlucky”. That’s the goal of sabermetrics, removing luck/differences.
Below is a table showing sabermetric statistics and some quick points about them.
Abv. & Link | Meaning | Measures | Comments
-----------|-------|--------|--------
-|**Pitching**|**Statistics**|-
ERA(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/era/) | Earned Run Average| Measures the amount of runs a pitcher allows per 9 Innings Pitched (IP) | One of the easiest ways to measure pitchers, but it has its flaws as well.
FIP(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/fip/) & xFIP(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/xfip/) |(expected) Fielding Indepent Pitching | Measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing.| These are on the same scale as ERA so it is easy to compare
WHIP( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/whip/)| (Walks+Hits)/IP| Quick measure of how many base runners a pitcher allows per inning| 1.00 or less is Excellent, 1.32 is avg, 1.60+ is Awful
GB%, LD%, FB%(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/batted-ball/) | Ground ball%, Line Drive%, Fly Ball% | This measures the types of balls in play a pitcher is allowing (or a hitter is putting in play)| Batters hit .685 on line drives, .239 on grounders, .207 on flyballs. Flies have the highest power though.
BABIP( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/babip/) | Batting Average on Balls In Play | Take all the strikeouts and HR out of a pitcher (or batter) stats and look at the Hits/AB | Typically around 30% of all balls in play fall for hits, but there are several variables that can affect BABIP rates for individual players, such as defense, luck, and talent level. Hitters have more control over their BABIP than pitchers do
Plate Discipline( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/plate-discipline-o-swing-z-swing-etc/) | Click Link for more Detail | Measures the abilities of batters/pitchers to judge pitches during an at bat | Useful for strikeout totals on certain pitchers/teams
HFB%(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/hrs/) | Homeruns allowed per fly ball allowed | HFB is very important because it offers insight into how “lucky or unlucky” a pitcher’s home run rate might be. Home runs kill pitchers, but because they’re a relatively rare event a few lucky or unlucky moments one way or the other can dramatically alter a pitcher’s season.| League average is around 10% and true talent for almost every pitcher is about 8-12%.
- | **Hitting** | **Statistics** | -
wOBA( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/woba/) | weighted On Base Average | One of the most important and popular catch-all offensive statistics to measure a hitter’s overall offensive value, based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event.| Not park adjusted
OPS & OPS+(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/ops/) | On-Base + Slugging | Quick/easy way to analyze a hitter’s performance | Many sabermetricians don’t like OPS because it treats OBP as equal in value with SLG, while OBP is roughly twice as important as SLG in terms of its effect on run scoring
wRC & wRC+( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/wrc/) | weighted Runs Created | This is another “catch all” statistic for hitters. | For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than a league average hitter would have in the same number of plate appearances.
ISO(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/iso/) | Isolated Power | Slugging%-Avg – This is a measure of power | .250=Excellent .60=Awful
K% & BB%(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/rate-stats/) | K/PA & BB/PA | Measures a hitter’s tendencies to strike out and walk | Works for pitchers too. Awful=30%K 4%BB – Excellent=10%K 15%BB
Soft%, Med%, Hard%( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/offense/quality-of-contact-stats/) | Measure of Exit Velo | This measures the exit velo for (hitter) or against (pitcher) | Someone who hits more hard balls over a large sample size will see more success than a player who doesn't. Consider looking a player's exit velo numbers on baseball savant to get an idea of their Average and their max exit velo.
WAR( http://www.fangraphs.com/library/wa) | Wins Above Replacement | Some consider it the holy grail of baseball statistics. Incorporates every aspect of the game. | Excellent is 10. So since there are 162 games, it doesn’t do much for a single player for a single game.
I plan to focus more on K% and BB% than K/9 and BB/9 statistics. K% for batters stabilizes pretty quickly which is nice.
Here's a good link of how to evaluate a player http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2014/5/26/5743956/sabermetrics-stats-offense-learn-sabermetrics
##**Statcast & MLBAM**
What is MLBAM?
* "MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) is a limited partnership of the club owners of Major League Baseball based in New York City and is the Internet and interactive branch of the league."
What is Statcast?
* Statcast is a way to get statistics via video analysis. MLB owns statcast and they measure statistics such as Exit Velo, Launch Angle, Route Efficiency, Pitch Speed, Spin Rate, etc. This year they're adding Hit% and Catch%, however I'm not fully onboard with these new statistics. They have sortable tables(http://m.mlb.com/statcast/leaderboard#avg-hit-velo) for these things.
This stuff might not be the most useful in single game prediction, maybe if a pitcher has a high exit velo allowed, but it's good for knowing player profiles which can help with DFS, Fantasy, player props, and even lineup evaluation.
##**FAQ:**
Q: Where do I get data from?
A: Personally, I've got everything I need from FanGraphs or Baseball Reference. Brooks Baseball is great for analyzing a pitcher using pitch f/x to see what pitch composition/movement/speed they're using and how it changes year over year and game by game.
Baseball Savant is also rolling out a ton of stuff constantly. It's a great source for numbers on exit velo, launch angle, xStats, spin rates, pitch velo, extensions, defensive shift numbers, player rankings and visualizations. They have also posted matchup previews for games now.
I know people who use Batter vs. Pitcher (BvP) statistics also find those on ESPN (I just google the team/pitcher they're facing). I personally don't find the sample size of these statistics to be meaningful unless you're weighting them with similar players which is too much work for me.
Q: How can I start to make a model?
A: Understanding what certain statistics measure. How you plan to use those to forecast/predict the outcome of a game, whether its the ML or o/u. Automating your model to get all of the data in one place for you eliminates you making an error and also is much faster.
Q: How can I learn more about baseball, learn rosters, or keep up with this 'crazy' 162 game schedule.
A: Play video games, fantasy (not DFS), watch games to learn rosters. To keep up with news just follow fantasy news, or listen to any podcasts regarding baseball. **Links to podcasts take you to the iTunes page. The name links take you to their author page on respective websites.** Personal favorites:
* Fangraphs Audio https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=356200509 by Meg Rowley (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/authomegrowle) feat. the various writers of FanGraphs.
* Effectively Wild https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/effectively-wild-a-fangraphs-baseball-podcast/id545919715?mt=2 - Ben Lindberg \The Ringer\https://theringer.com/@BenLindbergh, Sam Miller, and the aforementioned Meg Rowley donate to them herehttps://www.patreon.com/effectivelywild
* For fantasy I like The Sleeper and the Busthttps://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fangraphs-fantasy-baseball/id638494223?mt=2 - Paul Sporer \fangraphs\http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/authopjs24/ feat. guests like Justin Masonhttps://fantasy.fangraphs.com/authojustinmason/ and Jason Collettehttp://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/authojasoncollette/.
* For Statcast, there is a StatCast podcast hosted by Matt Meyershttps://twitter.com/mtmeyers?lang=en and Mike Petriellohttps://twitter.com/mike_petriello
Q: What does a certain abbreviation mean?
A: just ask. seriously someone will answer and we all start somewhere. I'll be on the MLB daily's a lot.
submitted by duncanbishop24 to sportsbook [link] [comments]

NFL Offseason Review Series - Day 19: Buffalo Bills (late entry)

Buffalo Bills

AFC East
Huge shout out to the shmuck who offered to write this and then decided to fall off the face of the earth! Fuck you, pal!
2017 Season Review
Hello again, friends! jiggs_ here again to write about my favorite football team. I was planning on sitting this one out but that clearly didn’t go as planned since the guy who signed up never did it. So, lucky for you all, I still have no life outside of waiting for football to start so here we go again with another write-up! I want to say the 2017 season was magical. I want to talk about how the roster dominated on defense and ran the ball down the throats of opposing teams, but the truth is that neither of those things really happened. Many fans would say we “finally had luck on our side” this year or that “the referees forgot to screw us over” but neither of those things are true either. The truth of the matter is that, despite boasting the 29th ranked offense, a mid-season QB controversy that led to literally the worst half of football ever played by a quarterback in NFL history, and a defensive line holier than The Mask after a shootout, the Buffalo Bills were really, really good at winning on turnover differential. Hell, the only games we won all year had a differential of at least 1. This style of play that Sean McDermott called “mistake-free football” was not a new concept, and it is utilized by plenty of successful coaches (including the Grinch himself). That being said, it was the 2017 motto for the bills, and it ultimately led to the conclusion of a 17-year playoff drought! In spectacular fashion, the Bills secured a playoff berth on the back of a 4th and long touchdown pass by Andy Dalton in a seemingly meaningless game. If you want footage here is the show that aired on Buffalo news about a month later showing the city almost implode at the shock of it all.

Coaching Changes

This offseason began with plenty of questions as to coaching decisions, and most of those questions revolved around the fate of Bills OC Rick Dennison. Throughout the season, many were quick to point out the Bills blatant lack of rushing production in the first few games in which Dennison’s Zone-Blocking Scheme was adopted. He later adopted a different approach based more around power-running, as that played better toward the Bills strengths on offensive line and in the backfield, but that crucial change was made much too late, costing the Bills some close games. Even after the change was implemented, the offense still continued to struggle scoring.
While various reporters would point out Tyrod’s clear statistical regression as the reason behind the lack of scoring, others felt as though Dennison never gave the 8-year vet a chance. Dennison’s West Coast passing offense utilized quick crossing routes and timing throws meant to move the ball short to medium yardage quickly. While Tyrod had been above-average in the short field, he constantly struggled to read defenses quickly (or even correctly) throughout the season. Due to the lack of football IQ under center, Dennison should have flushed Tyrod out of the pocket and utilized play action passing. This would effectively give him a smaller field to read, more time to throw, and the ability to use his legs to his advantage. Rather than playing to his quarterback’s strengths, he instead forced Tyrod to try to adapt. Due to Tyrod’s clear difficulty in running the offense, the Bills coaching staff (and, by extension, Rick Dennison) eventually benched Taylor, opting instead for the raw and inexperienced backup QB Nathan Peterman. This move was most likely made due to the lack of production from Taylor, and due to Dennison’s eagerness to get his offense the strong-armed pocket passer it needed. Regardless of who is at fault for Tyrod’s regression, Peterman’s disastrous debut, and/or the struggles of the offensive line, the Bills opted to fire OC Rick Dennison on Jan 12.
Dennison was replaced by Brian Daboll, who was formerly working as the OC for 2017 NCAA National Champions Alabama. He never talked to the media, answered no questions regarding scheme, refused to discuss his favorite QB in the draft, and was ultimately a ghost for the first 4 months after signing on as OC. I personally LOVE this about the guy. He wants to keep his cards close to the vest as much as possible and I think that is exactly the type of OC you should be looking for at this time.
That being said, he has spoken recently in regards to the general theme of his offense, but he did not give much away. In fact, he basically said nothing besides the fact that the offense needs to be “ever-changing”. He wants the offense to evolve as the players do and to change based on the opponents they are facing. To me, this sounds extremely similar to New England, and this theory is supported by various players who claim that the playbook is very extensive and outlines different matchups that can change how plays are run. It makes sense that he would mirror the Pats considering he coached there during each and every one of their super bowl wins. (in fact, they only ever seem to win it while he is coaching. Coincidence? I think not!). All in all, Daboll is quiet and calculated in the media, but don’t let that fool you about his actual mannerisms. In practice he is a nutcase who demands high football IQ and mental fortitude in each and every one of his players.

Free Agency

For most players they will just get a line in the table below, but let’s get the blockbuster trade out of the way first.
Tyrod Taylor, QB:
Traded to the Browns for the first pick in the third round. Regardless of your thoughts on if Tyrod deserved to be traded, the Bills were absolutely certain that they did not want him on the roster for the 2018 season. No matter what circumstances occurred in the offseason, the Bills were always going to get rid of Tyrod Taylor. Because of this, I was absolutely ecstatic at the deal made by Brandon Beane.
Here is the situation: it is March 10th, and Tyrod is due to get a bonus of $6mil on March 16th. Brandon Beane has a dilemma. Should he just cut Tyrod now to avoid paying this bonus? The money could be used to sign role players, so it makes sense to try to avoid paying it. Maybe he should ask for less than he is worth so that other teams will take him off his hands and pay him the bonus instead? No option seems perfect at the moment, plenty of downside for all of them. Suddenly, the phone rings. The Browns are calling and offering the first pick in the third round for a quarterback that Beane was considering cutting in a few days…. Do you now see why I am so ecstatic? The Bills had no leverage and were on the brink of cutting a player with plenty of value, but instead were able to somehow swing a third rounder into the deal (by the way, that third rounder was part of the deal made to secure Tremaine Edmunds, so thanks again Browns!). This was an objectively great deal, regardless of how Tyrod performs in Cleveland. He didn’t have a place here, so the Bills got good value out of him while simultaneously making sure his career could continue with a team that wanted him.
Other Players lost/cut
Player Position New Team Notes
Eric Wood C Retired It is very sad that he wasn’t able to retire on his own terms. That being said, the Bills were prepared for this contingency, having capable backup in the form of Ryan Groy.
Richie Incognito G Retired?? Hard to replace, even harder to understand why he left in the first place.
Mike Tolbert RB Free Agent Badly utilized, hated by many fans. Has some value in the right situation, most likely will retire.
Jordan Matthews WR Free Agent Couldn’t stay healthy. The “Dalton Line” for wide receivers, just about average in every category. If he can stay healthy he will find a team.
Deonte Thompson WR Dallas Cowboys He’s always been a journeyman. Fans overblow his contribution, but he was technically one of our top targets last season.
Cordy Glenn T Cincinnati Bengals If he stays healthy he is a pro bowler. The Bills already have a replacement in sophomore Dion Dawkins, so no need to keep him around.
Preston Brown MLB Cincinnati Bengals Led the NFL in tackles last year. Has trouble in coverage. Not a good scheme fit.

Biggest losses: Taylor, Wood, Incognito, Matthews.

Major Additions
Player Position Former Team Notes
Star Lotulelei DT Carolina Panthers Arguably the top DT on the market. Will immediately start as one-technique DT. Will not make headlines but will provide better matchups for other players.
AJ McCarron QB Cincinnati Bengals Bridge, stop-gap, game manager, take your pick. AJ will not wow anyone with athleticism, but will probably be serviceable until Allen can play.
Trent Murphy DE Washington Redskins Pass rush specialist two years ago, coming off ACL injury. Will be used as three-down end this year, major upgrade to the pass rush that was lacking last year.
Vontae Davis CB Indianapolis Colts Good value. Low price, high ceiling. Fits the scheme well. I said the same thing about Jordan Poyer last year, and he turned out great.
Chris Ivory RB Jacksonville Jaguars Some think he was utilized poorly in Jacksonville, and let’s hope that is the case; otherwise, Beane may get some flak for the big money spent on this guy.
Jeremy Kerley WR New York J-E-T-E Speedy slot receiver, fits the offense. Special teams contributor.
Marshall Newhouse G Oakland Raiders Depth and competition.
Russell Bodine C Cincinnati Bengals Depth and competition.
Phillip Gaines CB Kansas City Chiefs May not even beat out rookie Taron Johnson for the slot corner position. Since slot corner is vital in the NFL, putting a rookie there is a death sentence. Let’s hope Gaines can beat him out, otherwise we will see plenty of PI calls this season on Johnson.
Rafael Bush S New Orleans Saints Depth and competition.
Corey Coleman WR Cleveland Browns Brandon Beane is a wizard. Traded a 2020 7th rounder for a first-round talent! I get that he has shown inconsistency, but there is no way he was worth that little. Fantastic move from the Bills FO to finally secure some speed on this WR corps.

Biggest Additions: Lotulelei, McCarron, Murphy, Davis

Draft
I was going to make a table, but I have too much to say about the early picks. Here comes another big-ass segment that we will call jiggs_ gets his hopes up!
Round 1, pick 7: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
“Stats are for nerds” – Mel Kiper
Believe that motto or not, it was exactly what was running through the heads of the Bills front office when they picked Josh Allen, and that is a fact. You may say that I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I KNOW the Bills don’t give a damn about stats simply because if they DID care about them, they would have taken a gander at that stat paper and put a 5th round rank on Josh Allen like many other GMs. They didn’t do that. Neither did the Cardinals. Neither did plenty of analysts. What does that tell you about Josh Allen? Let’s discuss the two schools of thought below.
  1. I am Rob Lowe and I trust the Bills front office: Since I trust Brandon Beane’s judgement, I understand that regardless of the opinions of draft pundits, there is something special about Josh Allen. I notice that in press conferences, Beane harps on intangibles. He mentions that Josh Allen has mental fortitude and that he knows how to rally a team. I take Beane’s word for it and decide “Fuck me, I made a mistake in thinking that [insert QB here] was the better option, Josh Allen must really be a special kid with the tools needed to succeed.”
  2. And I am draft super-draft-expert Rob Lowe and I think the Bills are morons: Josh Allen can’t make routine passes, struggles to read the field properly, and has poor mechanics under pressure. I look at his stats and wonder how someone so bad could be considered such a high-level prospect. Rocket arm QBs are almost always busts and Mel Kiper’s opinion means nothing to me because I know 4 other experts who say the exact opposite. Brandon Beane is busy talking about Josh Allen’s mindset while I’m sitting here watching him regularly miss easy throws. Mental fortitude be damned, the guy can’t play!
I think I am pretty fair in discussing both sides of the issue, and I think both sides have a point. All I am trying to help you understand here is that, as a supporter of Brandon Beane’s previous roster moves, I find it hard to believe that he did not go through the opinions of the draft pundits just as much (if not more) than we did. I do not think they were mesmerized by how good he looks in shorts (as others seem to think) and I genuinely think that this kid must be something truly special. Hell, his own teammates say so in plenty of interviews. There is just something different about Josh Allen that stats don’t seem to capture.
Round 1, Pick 16 Tremaine Edmunds, MLB, Virigina Tech
“In two years Tremaine Edmunds will be one of NFL's best players“ – LeSean McCoy
Oh baby was I jumping up and down when this pick came through. To see us make moves up the board (for the second time!) to secure a guy that made everyone at the ESPN table go “what a great move by Buffalo” made me so happy. I’m not saying that validation from those shmucks was the main reason for the excitement, but I will concede that it helped. The true excitement came from how big an impact I know this kid will make not only in Buffalo but in the NFL.
I know the gravity of the sentence I am about to type: Tremaine Edmunds has the tools to change how the game of football is played. My choice of words is deliberate here in that I am not saying Tremaine will be the GOAT. Hell, the kid could tear an ACL and be out of the league in five years. But, I can say with absolute certainty that he is an absolute Freak. Of. Nature. He is the biggest man on the field at 6’5” with an 83” wingspan. And guess what? He ran a 4.5 at the combine. He ran faster than some defensive backs! He is so fast that Tech often didn’t even bother masking his coverage. They would match him up man to man against top receivers without a care in the world because they knew he could keep up. This man is a nightmare for offenses, and in order to stop him from running all over the field teams are going to be forced to scheme specifically around his skill set.
Tremaine is very talented, but he fell to 16 because he is raw. At 20 years old he is much younger than most others coming out of the draft. He also has mechanical and mental issues in processing where the ball is, sometimes getting tricked by even simple play action. Because of this, the Bills will need to coach him to keep his eye more closely on the ball. I think Sean McDermott, the coach behind the development of Luke Kuechly, will have no issues in getting Tremaine up to speed. He will be the centerpiece of this defense and I look for him to make waves in the NFL for years to come.
The rest of the picks:
Draft Pick Player Position School Notes
96 Harrison Phillips DT Stanford Already called Kyle Williams 2.0, Horrible Harry will beat you with hand placement and footwork instead of size and athleticism. McDermott loves former wrestlers (and literally wrestled with Phillips at their first meeting), so not many surprised by the pick.
121 Taron Johnson CB Weber State Most know him as the guy who got hit in the face with a football at the combine, but Taron is talented. He is undersized but he might win the slot corner job anyways. Tough to play slot without size, but we’ll see how he does…
154 Siran Neal CB Jacksonville State Pretty much a non-factor in TC right now. He will probably just be a special teamer that can step in for injured guys.
166 Wyatt Teller G Virginia Tech Another guy who fell much lower than anticipated. We need talent at Guard, and Teller is pro-ready, but has a lower ceiling than lots of guys picked before him. He may beat out Vlad for a starting slot simply because Vlad is just not that talented.
187 Ray-Ray McCloud WR Clemson Most wanted us to pick a WR earlier. Ray-Ray will help on special teams, but he isn’t really much in terms of talent at WR.
255 Austin Proehl WR North Carolina He was my sleeper to make the top 4 WRs before the season began because I really liked his route running in college. In mini-camp it looked like I was right, but he has cooled down considerably in TC. Issues getting separation due to his small frame.

TRADES

Bills get Buccaneers Get
7, 255 12, 53, 56
Bills Get Ravens Get
16, 154 22, 65

Grade

A Draft Grade from me means nothing, because I just don’t know enough about the rest of the players that the Bills passed on. Overall, I think the Bills did everything they wanted to do. They got the QB of their dreams, picked up an LB that they thought would get selected in the top 10, drafted polished, pro-ready replacements for Marcell Dareus and Richie Incognito, and got some raw talent at CB and WR. I would have liked a higher WR pick, but the truth is that I think the Bills just picked their BPA throughout just about all of this draft. You can see that based on the talented options that were still available at WR at the time they pick Phillips, Johnson, and Neal. If they were truly drafting for need, that is the time to grab a wideout. But, they weren’t. They liked the other guys more and jumped on them instead of trying to add subpar talent to positions of need. That gets an A in my book (but truth be told this section was always going to be an A).
Projected Starting Lineups
QB: AJ McCarron
HB: LeSean McCoy
FB: Pat DiMarco
WR: Kelvin Benjamin
WR: Jeremy Kerley
TE: Charles Clay
LT: Dion Dawkins
LG: Vlad Ducasse
C: Ryan Groy
RG: John Miller
RT: Jordan Mills
DE: Jerry Hughes
DT: Kyle Williams
DT: Star Lotulelei
DE: Trent Murphy
WLB: Matt Milano
MLB: Tremaine Edmunds
SLB: Lorenzo Alexander
CB: Tre’Davious White
CB: Vontae Davis
FS: Micah Hyde
SS: Jordan Poyer
Position Groups Strengths and Weaknesses

Offense

Quarterback
This is a competition, plain and simple. McDermott has said countless time that the best guy will play no matter what. Anyone saying “Allen needs to sit” or “Allen should start” needs to sit the fuck down and let it play out. The coach is fielding the best possible team regardless of draft position, so if Allen wins he’ll start. Otherwise he won’t. AJ McCarron is winning as of August 2nd and I don’t see him being dethroned unless Peterman somehow shows more life or Allen’s erratic throws magically become more accurate. McCarron is the safe bet, and I will place my unstable, fragile heart in his hands until he inevitably stabs it with a fork in the final minutes of a regular season game.
Strengths
Brian Daboll’s scheme seems to be extensive in that the play calls change based on the opponent we are facing. Let’s hope this strategy can also change based on the quarterback that is in the game on our team because we have three guys who are all vastly different in terms of style. I do not envy Daboll’s position at the moment because he will essentially be a turd polisher until Allen gets on the field.
Weaknesses
Experience. AJ McCarron is the “veteran” QB on the roster and he has never played more than a few games in a season. At this point the Bills just need to give these kids a chance to get in the game and take some hits. Until then, our QB depth chart may as well list 3 rookies.
Offensive Line
Arguably the worst unit in the NFL. On paper we have guys who are either inexperienced or just downright bad. If everyone on this line performs exactly the same as they did last year, we are at best somewhere between the 27th and 32nd offensive lines in the league. Since I can’t bear to be negative for this long I will just try to envision some sort of best case scenario for this unit where we aren’t awful (it is possible that only a few of these, if any, actually happen this season).
  1. John Miller was a wrecking ball in 2016 but fell off the next year, barely making the team due to issues in the new blocking scheme. Well, the scheme is back to using power run concepts, so the first hope is that 2016 Miller can return.
  2. Dion Dawkins does not take the backstep that many second-year Tackles tend to take. [insert “sophomore slump” pun here]
  3. Wyatt Teller beats out Vlad Ducasse for the LG spot. As of now this dream looks almost dead, but I still have hope because Vlad Ducasse is just a terrible Guard.
  4. Ryan Groy is the next Eric Wood. Groy came in when Wood was injured for a season and played admirably so he may actually be the 2nd best player on this line (which is saying something considering he hasn’t started since 2016)
  5. Jordan Mills gets cybernetic enhancements. This is the only thing that could possibly make this player anything more than a revolving door this year. I am genuinely concerned for the safety of our QB every time this Jordan Mills steps on the field. Maybe we can get Miller to play RG and RT this year and just use the RT slot as another WR or something.
Strengths
Uhh…. Dion Dawkins was like the 3rd best rookie last year so does he count?
Weaknesses
Tough to find anything that isn’t a weakness to be honest. Maybe Jordan Mills? To be fair it is very, very hard to replace one pro bowl level OL, and the Bills lost TWO of them.
Pass Catchers
Again, this is a weak point in its current status, but there are bright lights in certain areas. Kelvin Benjamin was the 28th overall pick in 2014 and for good reason. The guy has the talent to be a #1 receiver but hasn’t really shown it over the last couple years. Our other receiver options are either inexperienced or less-than-ideal. Jeremy Kerley was OK on the Jests in a limited role, but we’ll see if he can do well for the Bills when given more responsibility. Zay Jones had lots of drops but I doubt that trend continues. He was my pick to be the most improved Bills player this year until he decided to go fight for Jesus. He then tweaked his knee a few weeks later, requiring minor surgery that is still keeping him off the field at TC.
Strengths
Charles Clay is a solid TE, and I still consider him top 10 in the league when healthy. Kelvin Benjamin was apparently dealing with a torn meniscus last season which led to his limited contribution, so we will see if the surgery can make him show some more signs of life.
Weaknesses
Quantity over Quality. We have about 9 or 10 WRs listed on the roster at the moment but none of them are spectacular. Considering we have to release at least 3 or 4 of them, I wouldn’t consider this a strength.

Defense

Defensive Line
“When rebuilding a defense, you start up front” – Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane on multiple occasions. This is the most improved group of the list and I think it’s a fearsome squad.
Strengths
Kyle Williams is back, baby! Our fearless leader continues to lead the troops into battle, now accompanied by Star Lotulelei and Trent Murphy, two very talented FA signings that will provide new talent that was not present last year. I will mention Jerry Hughes as a strength, but I am hesitant. He certainly isn’t a weakness but he has not been producing recently. Now that Star is going to demand more double teams, we should see more of Hughes, but who knows.
Weaknesses
Pass rush. On paper we are improved, but I won’t believe it until I see it because they say that every year. Affecting the quarterback is the basis of any defense in the NFL today, and over the past few years we just haven’t done that regardless of who we sign/draft.
Linebacker
This group played above their paygrade last season, and the Bills will have to look for more of that as they let Preston Brown walk in free agency.
Strengths
Coverage. While Lorenzo Alexander is not a very good coverage linebacker, I do not see him being on the field as much this year (the Bills love playing in nickel sets), and I think the rest of the linebacking corps is rangy. Tremaine is fast as hell, and Matt Milano already flashed his coverage ability in a few games last year.
Weaknesses
Depth. Last year McDermott only had downhill linebackers in a scheme that needed range. This year, he has dumped most of those guys in favor of a leaner roster with tons of range. He gutted the linebacking corps and has thus sacrificed his depth for players with the correct archetype. Without injuries, this group is a force. But, when was the last time you saw a team without injuries?
Secondary
No one can tell me that our unit is not top-5 in the NFL right now. Tre White, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer and a healthy Vontae Davis is an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses and I can’t wait to see them perform.
Strengths
Turnovers. This unit creates good field position opportunities for a poor offense on many occasions. On a team with an offense as bad as ours, the field position battle is everything. Teams have to plan specifically for the game sense that Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer seem to possess, and their skill makes up for lots of the holes that seemed to appear in zone coverages.
Weaknesses
Nickel/Slot Corner. Phillip Gaines, Taron Johnson, Siran Neal, and co. will be competing to be in this place, but for now I think it will be Phillip Gaines. He is not a great corner, and to be honest I wish we just resigned the guy we had (Leonard Johnson). Regardless, this is by far the weakest spot in the secondary and that is where the QBs will continue to throw the ball.
Schedule Predictions
I have no final record in mind, I will be taking this game-by-game.
Week 1 @ Baltimore Ravens: WIN
The better team will not win this one. On offense, the RPO scheme will create opportunities for McCarron to release the ball quickly and make some long drives that will inevitably turn to field goals. In fact, I don’t think the Bills score more than one touchdown. But, they’ll kick 4 field goals for the grand total of 19 points. That should be enough to beat the Ravens, right? The D-line of Baltimore just isn’t very formidable except for him, so if we can stop Suggs from affecting the QB, then I think we can win this game. It actually reminds me of last year’s game against the Raiders and Khalil Mack. In that game, the Bills help Mack to one QB pressure all game. We will do that again and secure a win, outscoring the Ravens 19-17.
Week 2 vs. Los Angeles Chargers: WIN
That Chargers are a better team than the Bills, plain and simple. That being said, they will lose. Our quarterback is going to get absolutely slaughtered, but we are going to win. I don’t see us stopping Bosa and Ingram from affecting the quarterback on just about every play, to be honest. BUT, we are going to absolutely run all over these guys. They were ranked 31st last year in run defense, and did nothing to stop the bleeding. I can see Shady breaking 100 this game for sure, and if the defense can force a turnover or two, it is the perfect situation for the Bills, who can run out the clock with Shady and win a low scoring contest 14-10.
Week 3 @ Minnesota Vikings: LOSS
I would look for a monster game from the backfield of Minnesota in this one. Cook/Murray are great players and not sure if the Bills will be able to stop them. Not to mention they were the top defense last year and will probably still somehow be better this year. This may not be a pretty one, but I’ll be there rooting for the Bills all the same. 34-6, Vikings win.
Week 4 @ Green Bay Packers: LOSS
Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau? You know I’ll be there in person. Will I be celebrating a win? No way, Jose. Can’t wait to see Rodgers in person for the first time, but I’d be lying if I said I was expecting a win here. Their defense is lackluster, but our offense is as well. 27-13
Week 5 vs. Tennessee Titans: LOSS
The Titans were much, much more talented than they seemed on paper. Up in Buffalo, we knew what it meant to be coached by Mike Mularkey, and it ain’t pretty. Now that he is gone, they are my dark horse to win the division this year. I don’t see them losing in Buffalo, but it may be close considering they’ll have trouble stopping Shady. 24-21, Titans.
Week 6 @ Houston Texans: WIN
This game relies on the status of Deshaun Watson and his overall performance. LOTS of people say he is going to be a terror in the NFL but I can see the Bills using their experienced secondary to trick him into throwing lots of picks. Call me crazy, but I think this one is a win, and I don’t think it will be close. 24-10 Bills.
Week 7 @ Indianapolis Colts: LOSS
I think the Colts are a bad team. If they didn’t have Luck they would be the worst in the NFL in my eyes. Even with Luck, it will be tough to see them getting more than 4 wins this year. We will be one of those wins. I think Luck will be healthy, and he will throw the ball down our throats. 27-17 Colts.
Week 8 vs. New England Patriots: LOSS
We have a bad habit of losing terrible games in primetime. This Monday Night Football showcase is an absolute joke. We aren’t even remotely close to the talent level here but we still have to trot our guys out on national TV to get smacked. Again. Why can’t they give us a more interesting contest here? The Ravens as a “revenge of the playoff spot” showcase could have been fun. A rematch against the Jaguars could be interesting. Hell, put us against the Jets late in the season for a Darnold vs. Allen showdown! I get that anything can happen in sports but good lord am I tired of seeing us get slaughtered while the whole world watches. The only way we come close to winning is if Tom Brady is injured, and I’m not going to sit here and hope for an injury. Bring the dildos for this one, boys. It’s gonna be an ugly one. 45-20 Pats.
Week 9 vs. Chicago Bears: WIN
I look at this as a surprise win here, regardless of how they performed last season. I think they will improve and I actually like Trubisky a lot. That being said, he does not protect the ball well, and we will win the turnover battle to bring us the win. 13-7 Bills.
Week 10 @ New York Jete: WIN
We split with the Jets last year, and I can see that happening again. They may still have McCown in at this point, so I can see them being reasonably efficient. The Jets are not going to be a good team, and neither are the Bills. Talent matches up reasonably well, so I look for a well-balanced, mistake-free game on both ends. At the end the Bills edge the victory. 23-14 Buffalo.
BYE
Week 12 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: LOSS
The REVENGE game! This one should be primetime because I think it’ll be a slugfest. It will be a DIRTY one with lots of running and plenty of scuffles because I don’t think the two teams got along very well last year. In a low-scoring, ground-and-pound battle, the Jags will win 10-3 (same score as last time).
Week 13 @ Miami Dolphins: LOSS
This SHOULD be the Josh Allen debut but I think McDermott gets stubborn, instead opting to continue trotting AJ McCarron until we are mathematically out of it (no one wants the Nate Peterman situation to happen again). We will all hate him on the outside but deep down understand that Josh Allen simply isn’t ready yet. AJ will perform no better than usual and lead us to another disappointing loss.
Week 14 vs. New York Jete: WIN
The moment we all had been waiting for, Josh Allen trots out on the field to start the game. He will come in, throw the ball deep downfield, and it’ll get picked off. First pass in the NFL will be an interception. After that pick is out of the way, the offense looks completely different, with plenty of deep throws and more 5-wide sets. Josh Allen’s stats will reflect his college ones, but I think it will be clear to all that it was worth the wait to see him in his element. In his NFL debut Josh Allen leads the Bills to a 27-17 victory against his friend Sam Darnold and the Jets.
Week 15 vs. Detroit Lions: LOSS
Do not sleep on the Detroit Lions. They will edge out the Vikings to grab the Wild Card, forever sealing the fanbase in Minnesota to wonder if getting rid of Keenum was actually the correct thing to do. But that is a hot take for a different thread. In this game, there isn’t much to discuss. There are too many variables to know exactly how this game swings, but considering we are now in the Josh Allen timeline, and long passes won’t work against the Lions defense, we lose this one. 21-6 Lions.
Week 16 @ New England Patriots: WIN
Hear me out here. We have no business winning this game. We are in enemy territory, we have a QB with a cannon but not much talent around him to make it worthwhile. Our line is in shambles, our defense isn’t clicking. Hell, we are 6-8 coming into this game. It means nothing. But for some reason, the Patriots are going to lose. Call me a homer, tell me I’m insane, but the Pats sometimes lose late season bouts to divisional bad teams (Dolphins last year, Jets in 2015). Let’s make it happen this year. Kyle Williams’ pregame speech will be echoed in Buffalo bars for the rest of the year, Josh Allen rips off his football pants halfway through the game, showing a pair of bright blue shorts. He proceeds to laser passes through the hands of defenders, lodging them into the cages of the receivers’ helmets, who are then pushed back 40 yards from the force of it, falling into the endzone. The entire city of Buffalo breaks records for tables broken and hard liquor consumed, and downtown Buffalo is flooded with dildos as far as the eye can see. The season ends here as the city of Buffalo spontaneously combusts at the sheer excitement of it all.
Week 17 vs. Miami Dolphins: WIN
Obviously, Buffalo will still be standing, and I think we will finish strong. This game will be meaningless for both teams, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dolphins are gunning for the first pick in the draft to get a new QB. Bills will win 17-14.
FINAL RECORD: 8-8
Training Camp Battles to watch
Quarterback depth chart
Obviously, this is still something to watch, but it seems AJ McCarron has edged out as the leader so most say he will be the final starter. Not surprised at all about this, but definitely a bit disappointed because I love Josh Allen. I think Nate Peterman is pretty much a non-factor at this point and actually wouldn’t be surprised if the Bills end up cutting him to be honest. I’m not saying they should but I just don’t see a reason for 3 QBs on the depth chart and I’m sure a different team would love to grab him as a backup.
Wide Receiver
This will be interesting. Kelvin Benjamin will definitely be the #1 receiver but who will be #2 now that we acquired Coleman from the Browns? Many said it could be Kerley or Zay Jones but ultimately I think it will go to Corey Coleman. The team wants Zay and Kerley in the slot where they belong, and Coleman is a talented, speedy player who can stretch the field for us better than the other two options. Other than these 4, there is still controversy on who will actually make the roster here. Andre Holmes, Malachi Dupre, Rod Streater, Kaelin Clay, and Brandon Reilly are all in the mix along with rookies Ray-Ray McCloud and Austin Proehl. Personally, I think the Bills keep Holmes, Reilly and McCloud on the roster for a grand total of 7 receivers. Proehl is not performing well, Dupre and Streater have been ok but inconsistent, but truthfully it is tough to keep Streater off the roster. Andre Holmes is a safe bet to be the #4 receiving option as he has been on the first team when healthy. Reilly has also been solid, but has not spent as much time with the ones unless there are injuries. Ray-Ray has not been spectacular, but since he is a rookie and also a great special teamer, I think the Bills keep him around. If the Bills want 6 receivers instead of 7 I think Ray-Ray will edge out Reilly simply because of his special teams impact, but I don't think they will send Reilly back to the practice squad this year barring a major slump in training camp performance.
The Offensive Line
The only player who has a clear spot on this line is Dion Dawkins. The rest are up for grabs. In fact, the Bills just put undrafted free agent Ike Boettger into their first team offense yesterday and he played surprisingly well. It is a contest that will continue for the next couple preseason games, and I can see careers being made in the wake of the competition. I think the line will be Dawkins, Ducasse, Groy, Miller, Mills, but that could change, especially if guys like Boettger keep getting called up.
Offensive and Defensive Schemes
Offense
Daboll runs the Erhardt-Perkins so lots of his offense is based on matchups and option routes that change depending on coverage. Expect to see a man in motion on just about every single play in order for the offense to judge the type of coverage on the defensive side of the ball. They can then use this coverage to decide the types of routes being run. I also expect Daboll to run a different portion of the playbook depending on each team that he plays against. It is a highly variable playcalling system that is often changed week-to-week and the players have praised him for that. The Patriots have been doing this for years so it will be nice to finally upgrade our offense to be more like the ones seen this century. The key word for the offence this season is Variance.
Defense
McDermott has always run a 4-3 scheme with zone blitz concepts that relies heavily on rangy linebackers who can crowd the A-gap but still snap back into coverage without losing a step on the receivers. While this recipe has worked, it looks like there may be some more emphasis on man coverage this year as well. I think McDermott is tired of having experienced QBs pick apart his zone, and he finally has the talent to make use of man-to-man. This defense is going to be dominant this year if it can stay healthy, but that is only if Tremaine Edmunds can be the leader he needs to be. The keyword I would use for the defense this year is Maturity. I understand this is a bit ironic due to the age of our players, but age is only a number. The mental age of these young guys has been off the charts, let's hope it stays that way. We will need this unit to stay healthy and productive if we want to win games this year because the offense simply won't be enough.
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[OC] JaguarGator9's Weird Stat Thread- Eurovision 2018 Edition

The Eurovision Song Contest might be the strangest phenomenon that I love watching. Imagine American Idol, but each country sends one act to perform, ranging from really good to really bad to this song which almost won. To give you an idea of how weird Eurovision is, this song sent by Lithuania in 2006 was a complete joke song… yet, that didn’t even come close to the strangest song of the night, which might be my favorite Eurovision performance of all time and ended up winning the thing.
So what does all of this have to do with the NFL? For the past few years, whenever I’ve posted weird stats, I like to make a Eurovision connection. As it turns out, you can make a lot of accurate predictions on how the season will go just based on what happens in this competition. Last year, I did a thread like this in the offseason; however, because I made the thread before the competition, a lot of the things that I said could not be true. I had stats about Turkey finishing last in the competition, even though they weren’t even in the competition that year. This year, I’m doing it after the competition with things that have actually happened. Everything that I’m writing down took place at Eurovision in 2018, and everything has a sample size of at least 4 (which is good for Bengals’ fans; last year, I made a post with Israel winning Eurovision three times, and the Bengals finishing with the worst record in the AFC all three times). With that being said, how will the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest impact this year’s season?
Year Albania Song Language Colts Placement Colts Week 17 Browns Placement
2006 Zjarr e ftohte Albanian Won Super Bowl XLI Defeated Miami 27-22 4-12, 4th in AFC North
2008 Zemren e lame peng Albanian Lost wild card round Defeated Tennessee 23-0 4-12, 4th in AFC North
2012 Suus Albanian Lost wild card round Defeated Houston 28-16 5-11, 4th in AFC North
2013 Identitet Albanian Lost divisional round Defeated Jacksonville 30-10 4-12, 4th in AFC North
This year, Albania sent their best song in years, sending “Mall” to the competition by Eugent Bushpepa. In Albanian, the word “mall” means “yearning.” It was just the fifth time that Albania sent a song in their native language. Bodes well for the Colts, and like most things, not so well for the Browns.
Year Belarus Song Words in Title Seahawks in the Playoffs
2006 Mum 1 Won wild card round against the Cowboys
2010 Butterflies 1 Won wild card round against the Saints
2013 Solayoh 1 Won Super Bowl XLVIII
2014 Cheesecake 1 Won 2 playoff games and made it to Super Bowl XLIX
2015 Time 1 Won wild card round against the Vikings
This year, though it didn’t qualify for the finals, Belarus sent the song “Forever,” which has one word in its title. After not making the playoffs last season, this is a really good sign for Seattle this year
Year Belgium Artist Browns Final Home Game Browns Second-to-Last Game Postseason Result
1972 Serge & Christine Ghisoland Defeated Buffalo 27-10 Defeated Cincinnati 27-24 Lost wild card round
1982 Stella Defeated Pittsburgh 10-9 Defeated Houston 20-14 Lost wild card round
1986 Sandra Kim Defeated San Diego 47-17 Defeated Cincinnati 34-3 Lost AFC Championship
2002 Sergio & The Ladies Defeated Atlanta 24-16 Defeated Baltimore 14-13 Lost wild card round
Keep this in mind with the Browns. Since 1972, in years where Belgium sends an artist starting with the letter “S”, they have made the playoffs 4 times in 4 years. In that same stretch, in years where Belgium does not send an artist starting with the letter “S”, they have made the playoffs 6 times in 39 years. This year, Belgium sent the artist named Sennek with the song “A Matter of Time,” which was a poor man’s James Bond theme. It didn’t qualify for the finals (so if the Browns don’t make the playoffs, we can easily change the stat to “years where Belgium sends an artist starting with the letter ‘S’ and makes it to the finals”), but this is promising for the Browns. Only problem is that you have the Albanian stat working against the Browns, so one of these will come to an end in 2018.
Year Croatia Song Language Divisional Round Drama
2001 Strings of My Heart English Patriots defeated the Raiders in OT on a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri (final play of the game)
2002 Everything I Want English Titans defeated the Steelers in OT on a game-winning field goal by Joe Nedney (final play of the game)
2004 You Are The Only One English Steelers defeated the Jets in OT on a game-winning field goal by Jeff Reed (final play of the game)
2011 Celebrate English 49ers defeated the Saints on a game-winning TD pass by Alex Smith to Vernon Davis (9 seconds left; second-to-last play of the game from scrimmage)
2016 Lighthouse English Packers defeated the Cowboys on a game-winning field goal by Mason Crosby (final play of the game)
2017 My Friend English & Italian Vikings defeated the Saints on a game-winning TD pass by Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs in the Minneapolis Miracle (final play of the game)
This year, Croatia sent the song “Crazy” by Franka, which was only in English, and featured no Croatian language. What does this mean? Expect some drama in one of the divisional round games this year; based on recent memory, expect the Saints to be on the wrong end of history.
Year Cyprus Song Cyprus Placement Jets Record Postseason Result
1981 Monika 6th 10-5-1 Lost wild card round
1982 Mono i agapi 5th 6-3 (strike-shortened season) Lost AFC Championship
1997 Mana mou 5th 9-7 N/A*
2002 Gimme 6th 9-7 Lost divisional round
2004 Stronger Every Minute 5th 10-6 Lost divisional round
*- remember that I said that they had a record good enough to make the playoffs. That year, the Jets finished with a 9-7 record, which was the same record that the Miami Dolphins had. However, the Dolphins won the tiebreaker. Either way, the Jets are going to be good this year if that holds up, because Cyprus’ entry this year, “Fuego,” finished second in the competition (and arguably should’ve won). This was Cyprus’ highest finish ever at the competition.
Year Czech Republic Song Language Browns Result
2008 Have Some Fun English 4-12, 4th in AFC North
2015 Hope Never Dies English 3-13, 4th in AFC North
2016 I Stand English 1-15, 4th in AFC North
2017 My Turn English 0-16, 4th in AFC North
The song for Czech Republic this year was a combination of Ed Sheeran and Jason Derulo that actually worked really well. The song, “Lie to Me,” finished sixth, and had some really good staging, resulting in Czech Republic’s highest ever finish. Unfortunately for Cleveland, their song was in English only, so that’s not good. In fact, if the song has any English in it at all, the Browns finish last in the division; in 2009, the song “Aven Romale” featured both English and Romani elements, and the Browns went 5-11, finishing last in the AFC North.
As for the second component regarding the Super Bowl, the AFC team had, at some point before, had won back-to-back Super Bowls in franchise history. The NFC team, meanwhile, had never won the Super Bowl before that game.
Year Czech Republic Song Language AFC Team Back-to-Back Champions? NFC Team Super Bowl Wins Prior to Game
2008 Have Some Fun English Pittsburgh Yes (IX and X, XIII and XIV) Arizona 0
2015 Hope Never Dies English Denver Yes (XXXII and XXXIII) Carolina 0
2016 I Stand English New England Yes (XXXVIII and XXXIX) Atlanta 0
2017 My Turn English New England Yes (XXXVIII and XXXIX) Philadelphia 0
As mentioned before, “Lie to Me” was the song this year for Czech Republic. This narrows the Super Bowl down to four teams in the AFC (New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Miami), and five teams in the NFC (Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, Arizona, Detroit). In fact, we can even expand this stat a bit further; if we include any Czech Republic song to feature English and include all championships in the equation (which adds 2009 with “Aven Romale”), then the criteria still fits. The Colts went back-to-back in 1958 and 1959 (pre-Super Bowl era), and faced off against the Saints, a team that had never won the Super Bowl prior to that game.
Year Estonia Artist Estonia Song Placement Broncos Result Giants Result Cardinals Result
1997 Maarja-Liis Ilus Keelatud maa 8th 12-4 10-5-1 4-12, 5th in NFC East (out of 5)
2000 Ines Once in a Lifetime 4th 11-5 12-4 3-13, 5th in NFC East (out of 5)
2002 Sahlene Runaway 3rd 9-7 10-6 5-11, 4th in NFC West (out of 4)
2012 Ott Lepland Kuula 6th 13-3 9-7 5-11, 4th in NFC West (out of 4)
This year, Estonia sent an operatic solo artist by the name of Elina Nechayeva to the competition. Her performance of “La forza” finished 8th, which is good news for the Broncos and Giants, and bad news for the Cardinals
Year | Finland Artist | Dallas Cowboys- NFC East | Dallas Cowboys- Postseason Result --- | --- | --- 1978 | Seija Simola | 12-4, 1st in NFC East | Lost Super Bowl XIII 1985 | Sonja Lumme | 10-6, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round 2014 | Softengine | 12-4, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round 2016 | Sandhja | 13-3, 1st in NFC East | Lost divisional round
This year, Finland sent Saara Aalto with the song “Monsters,” which surprisingly qualified for the final (largely due to good staging; I can’t tell you a thing about the song itself because it’s quite forgettable). However, seeing as her name starts with the letter “S”, the Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East and make it to the divisional round. As it turns out, you can predict the entire divisional round on the NFC side of the bracket purely by Eurovision results. You’ll see what I mean as we get further along in this post
Year Finland Song Vikings Home Game vs. Lions Result
1963 Muistojeni laulu Vikings defeat Lions 34-31
1972 Muistathan Vikings defeat Lions 16-14
2008 Missa miehet ratsastaa Vikings defeat Lions 12-10
2013 Marry Me Vikings defeat Lions 14-13
This year, as mentioned before, “Monsters” was the song sent by the Finnish. In week 9, pick the Vikings straight up, but if the spread is anything more than 3, take the Lions. You can do that now, no matter what part of the country you live in. It’s perfectly legal.
Year France Artist Sporting News MVP
1956 Dany Dauberson Frank Gifford
1973 Martine Clemenceau OJ Simpson (AFC)
1977 Marie Myriam Walter Payton (NFC)
1998 Marie Line Terrell Davis
Note that for a period in the 1970s, the MVP was split up by conference into AFC and MVP, so two MVP awards were given out in a year (similar to how MLB does it). I didn’t use AP for this one, since the Associated Press MVP did not become a thing until 1957. However, since sent Madame Monsieur to the competition this year, this looks like a year where a halfback will go off and get MVP consideration, even getting named MVP from one publication.
Year Georgia Result Cleveland Browns Placement
2009 Withdrew/Disqualified 5-11, 4th in AFC North
2012 14th in semifinal (failed to qualify) 5-11, 4th in AFC North
2014 15th in semifinal (failed to qualify) 7-9, 4th in AFC North
2017 11th in semifinal (failed to qualify) 0-16, 4th in AFC North
You might be wondering how a country got disqualified at a competition like Eurovision. No political messages are allowed; it hasn’t stopped artists from trying before, but basically, you can’t make it blatantly obvious. Georgia’s song submitted that year was called “We Don’t Wanna Put In”. Combine the final two words of that title into one word, and you can easily see why Eurovision didn’t allow the song to compete. This year, Georgia didn’t qualify, as their song “For You” by the Ethno-Jazz Band Iriao (easily the most boring song of the entire competition) didn’t even come close, finishing dead last in its semifinal. Not good news for the Browns.
Year Germany Song Germany Language Germany Placement Bills Placement Baltimore NFL Team Baltimore NFL Placement
1977 Telegram English 8th 3-11, 5th in AFC East (out of 5) Baltimore Colts Lost in divisional round
2010 Satellite English 1st 4-12, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) Baltimore Ravens Lost in divisional round
2011 Taken by a Stranger 10th 6-10, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) Baltimore Ravens Lost AFC Championship
2012 Standing Still 8th 6-10, 4th in AFC East (out of 4) Baltimore Ravens Won Super Bowl XLVII
This year, Germany sent an English-only song, “You Let Me Walk Alone.” It was a great turnaround for the Germans, as Germany came in dead last in 2015 and 2016, and finished 25th in 2017. However, with this song by Michael Schulte, they had the highest placement of any Big Five nation, and finished in fourth. Bad news for the Bills, and really good news for the Ravens
Year Hungary Song Hungary Placement Atlanta Falcons Postseason Result
1995 Uj nev a regi haz falan 21st Lost in wild card round
1998 A holnap mar nem lesz szomoru 23rd Lost Super Bowl XXXIII
2011 What About My Dreams? 22nd Lost in wild card round
2012 Sound of Our Hearts 24th Lost NFC Championship
This year, Hungary finished in 21st place with “Viszlat nyar.” Picture a Puddles of Mudd or Ataris song, and now picture it in Hungarian. Because of this, though, the Atlanta Falcons should be able to make it back to the postseason.
Year Israel Song Colts Placement Browns Placement Ravens Placement
2006 Together We Are One Won Super Bowl XLI 4-12, 4th in AFC North Lost in divisional round
2008 The Fire In Your Eyes Lost in wild card round 4-12, 4th in AFC North Lost AFC Championship
2009 There Must Be Another Way Lost Super Bowl XLIV 5-11, 4th in AFC North Lost in divisional round
2012 Time Lost in wild card round 5-11, 4th in AFC North Won Super Bowl XLVII
This year, Israel sent “Toy,” which ended up winning the whole thing. That’s good for the Colts, once again good for the Ravens, and really bad for the Browns. If you’re betting against the Ravens after back-to-back stats saying they’ll make it to the divisional round, then you’re stupid just like your smartphone (yes, that’s an actual line from the song).
Year Israel Song Israel Placement Cowboys in the Playoffs
1978 A-Ba-Ni-Bi 1st Lost Super Bowl XIII
1979 Hallelujah 1st Lost in divisional round
1982 Hora 2nd Lost NFC Championship
1983 Hi 2nd Lost in wild card round
1991 Kan 3rd Lost in divisional round
1998 Diva 1st Lost in wild card round
Additionally, Israel has finished inside the top 10 of the competition eight times with a song that has one word in the title. Aside from the aforementioned six songs, Israel finished 7th with “Halayla” in 1981, and finished 8th with “Amen” in 1995. The Cowboys made the playoffs in 1981 (lost NFC Championship) and in 1995 (won Super Bowl XXX), so anytime Israel does well with a one-word title, it’s a good sign. And “Toy” won the competition this year, so the Cowboys have a lot of positive history on their side. When this season is done, their fans could be dancing on the motha-bucka beat (yes, another actual line from the song; remember that this was the winner).
Year Italian Song Italy Language Green Bay Packers Record
1958 Nel blu, dipinto di blu Italian 1-10-1
1964 Non ho l’eta Italian 8-5-1
1967 Non andare piu lontano Italian 9-4-1
1980 Non so che darei Italian 5-10-1
This year, Italy sent the purely Italian song “Non mi avete fatto niente,” which means the Packers will tie a game this season if history holds up. Who will that tie come against? This next stat involving Italy might help.
Year Italian Song Italian Placement Detroit Lions Record
1961 Al di la 5th 8-5-1
1965 Se piangi, se ridi 5th 6-7-1
1971 L’amore e un attimo 5th 7-6-1
1984 I trendi di Tozeur 5th 4-11-1
This year, by sending “Non mi avete fatto niente,” Italy finished in fifth place. If both the Lions and Packers have to tie a game this year under this rule, then if you’re going to pick a tied game this year, it’ll be Packers/Lions.
Year Malta Artist Featured Super Bowl Participant
1998 Chiara Atlanta Falcons
2000 Claudette Pace Baltimore Ravens
2005 Chiara Seattle Seahawks
2009 Chiara New Orleans Saints
2017 Claudia Faniello Philadelphia Eagles
Neither of those five teams had won a Super Bowl prior to playing in that game. This year, Malta once again sent an artist starting with the letter “C,” sending Christabelle with the song “Taboo” to the competition. Though she didn’t qualify for the final, the stat holds up regardless of qualification results, which means that a potential first-time champion will be in the game.
Year Portugal Artist Broncos the Year Before Broncos the Year After
1968 Carlos Mendes 3-11 (1967) 5-9 (1968)
1972 Carlos Mendes 4-9-1 (1971) 5-9 (1972)
1976 Carlos do Cormo 6-8 (1975) 9-5 (1976)
1981 Carlos Paiao 8-8 (1980) 10-6 (1981)
1997 Celia Lawson Lost in divisional round (1996) Won Super Bowl XXXII (1997)
This year, Portugal pulled a first-to-worst. Salvador Sobral won the competition in 2017 with the beautiful “Amar pelos dois,” which not only gave Portugal its first win ever, but meant that Portugal automatically qualified for the final and hosted the competition. Claudia Pascoal finished in dead last this year with “O jardim.” Her name starts with the letter “C,” which is good for Denver, as they should improve on their 5-11 performance from 2017. I don’t think that was in doubt anyways, but if you wanted another reason to believe in Denver to turn things around, here you go.
Year Spain Artist San Francisco 49ers Postseason Result Pittsburgh Steelers Division Result
1990 Azucar Moreno Lost NFC Championship 9-7, 3rd in AFC North*
1994 Alejandro Abad Won Super Bowl XXIX 12-4, 1st in AFC North
1995 Anabel Conde Lost in divisional round 11-5, 1st in AFC North
1996 Antonio Carbonell Lost in divisional round 10-6, 1st in AFC North
*- I said that they finished tied for the division lead, which is true. That year, the Steelers missed the playoffs at 9-7, and although they finished third, the two teams ahead of them were both 9-7. Cincinnati won the division with a 9-7 record, and the Houston Oilers finished second at 9-7.
This year, Spain sent Amaid y Alfred, and they didn’t do too well, as “Tu cancion” finished 23rd in the final. That’s now four straight years that Spain has finished outside the top 20 (unfairly deserved in 2016 with “Say Yay!”, and completely deserved in 2017 with The Lazy Song “Do It for Your Lover”). That’s pretty good for both San Francisco (as if people needed another reason to hop on the Jimmy G hype train) and Pittsburgh.
Year Sweden Artist AP MVP Team Postseason Result
1959 Brita Borg Johnny Unitas & Charlie Conerly Colts/Giants Both teams competed in the 1959 NFL Championship
1978 Bjorn Skifs Terry Bradshaw Steelers Won Super Bowl XIII
1981 Bjorn Skifs Ken Anderson Bengals Lost Super Bowl XVI
1997 Blond Brett Favre Packers Lost Super Bowl XXXII
This year, Sweden sent Benjamin Ingrosso to compete, as he finished in seventh place with “Dance You Off.” Sweden is like the Alabama of Eurovision; they’ve finished inside the top five in six of the past eight competitions, and have won the competition six times. The winner of the AP MVP will be a QB who goes to the Super Bowl, and the winner of the Sporting News MVP will be a halfback, if these stats hold up.
Year Ukraine Artist Atlanta Falcons Postseason Result
2004 Ruslana Lost NFC Championship
2010 Alyosha Lost in divisional round
2012 Gaitana Lost NFC Championship
2016 Jamala Lost Super Bowl LI
This year, Ukraine sent Melovin to the competition, who is an artist that goes by one game. The Hungary stat already showed that the Falcons would make it to the playoffs, but this is showing that the Falcons will go pretty far. And just like that, you can predict the entire NFC divisional round off of Eurovision
Year Winning Song Cardinals Result Chiefs Result
1960 Tom Pillibi 4th in NFL Eastern (6-5-1) 8 wins, 6 losses (8-6)
1973 Tu te reconnaitras 4th in NFC East (4-9-1) 7 wins, 5 losses (7-5-1)
1996 The Voice 4th in NFC East (7-9) 9 wins, 7 losses (9-7)
1999 Take Me to Your Heaven 4th in NFC East (6-10) 9 wins, 7 losses (9-7)
As mentioned a few times, “Toy” won the competition this year, so that means that the Cardinals will finish last in the NFC West and the Chiefs will finish with a 9-7 record
What Does This Mean?
It can be tough to keep track of all of that, so what do all of these stats mean when put together? Let’s go division by division.
AFC East: Jets will finish with a winning record, while the Bills will finish in last
AFC South: Colts will make the playoffs and beat the Titans in week 17
AFC North: Steelers will have at least a tie of the division lead, the Ravens will make it to at least the divisional round, and the Browns will either make the playoffs or finish last in their division (two stats contradict each other); however, the Browns will win their final home game (which comes in week 16) against the Cincinnati Bengals on 12/23
AFC West: Chiefs will go 9-7, Broncos will have a winning record and improve on last season’s total
NFC East: Giants will finish with a winning record, Cowboys will win the NFC East and make it to at least the divisional round
NFC South: Falcons will make it to at least the divisional round
NFC North: Both the Lions and the Packers will tie a game, and the Vikings will beat the Lions at home in week 9
NFC West: Cardinals will finish last, the Seahawks will win a playoff game, and the 49ers make it to at least the divisional round
General: There will be a dramatic finish in one of the divisional round games, the AP MVP will be a Super Bowl QB, the Sporting News MVP will be a running back, the AFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by either the Patriots, Broncos, Steelers, or Dolphins, and the NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by the Falcons*
*- the four teams in the divisional round out of the NFC from these stats are the Cowboys (Finland stat), Falcons (Ukraine stat), Seahawks (Belarus stat), and 49ers (Spain stat). However, the Czech Republic stat states that the NFC team will be a team that has never won the Super Bowl. Of those four teams, only the Falcons have never won the Super Bowl. Therefore, the Atlanta Falcons will be in Super Bowl LIII in their home stadium according to these stats
Whether or not these weird stats will be right or not remains to be seen. However, I’ll leave you with this song that I have not mentioned yet from 2008, where Ireland sent a turkey onto the stage. That’s Eurovision for you.
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