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Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:32

Road to the World Series 2018

Another long MLB season has come to an end. All 162 regular season games (and a couple of 163s) have been played. And as of this writing, just 10 remain with a chance to take home a World Series championship. Two-thirds of the league’s teams have packed it in and headed home for a long winter of wondering what might have been and awaiting the arrival of next spring and the ever-present hope that that season brings.

But now, it’s time to look ahead to what this postseason might have in store for us.

Rather than trying to put together a series-by-series breakdown, let us take a general look at the respective championship chances of all 10 remaining teams, ranking their World Series likelihoods in ascending order.

It’s all guesswork, obviously – heck, if I knew anything, I’d have gotten more than six out of the 10 playoff teams right in our MLB season preview back in March. I feel reasonably good about these new rankings, so this list will almost certainly turn out to be laughably inaccurate.

But hey – fortune favors the bold.

(Note: As of press time, the two wild card games had yet to be played. Thus, all four Wild Card teams are included on this list.)

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 12:24

Red Sox Report Card – September 2018

And thus the best regular season in Boston Red Sox history comes to an end.

It wasn’t necessarily a September to remember in the micro sense – the Sox put up a record of just 15-11 over the course of the month – but in the macro sense, they put the finishing touches on the winningest season in the century-plus existence of the team, 108 wins in all.

That being said, it wasn’t as though Boston finished strong. The record wasn’t terrible, but it belied the struggles of the team. The pitching in particular had a less-than-stellar September. It’s not exactly the note on which you want to head into the postseason.

Even with that seemingly sub-par performance, however, this team was fourth in the American League in terms of winning percentage for the month. Basically, even when this team is at its worst, it’s one of the league’s best. In advance of everything being reset to zero as we head into the playoffs, let’s take a look back at the final month of the 2018 regular season.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

So we’re pulling the trigger just a little early for our final MLB Award picks. There are still a handful of games left to be played as this goes to print, but the truth is that none of the races are so close that the final picks are likely to change.

(Feel free to point this out to me after one of the contenders goes off and hits half-a-dozen homers or whatever and makes me look foolish.)

It has been a remarkable year in Major League Baseball, with all of the requisite ups and downs that come with the longest regular season in American professional sports. Through it all, there have been a few players who have outshined the rest. Some have been steady all season, while others have ridden periodic, meteoric hot streaks to gaudy final numbers. All have earned their spots in this conversation, but there can only be one winner of these trophies.

Here they are: 2018’s final Clubhouse Leaders.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 10:59

Red Sox Report Card - August 2018

2018 has turned out to be quite a year, hasn’t it?

With one month remaining in the season, the Red Sox look poised to complete one of the best – if not THE best – regular seasons in their long and storied history. They even have an outside shot at the all-time wins record of 116, set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners, although a late August swoon put that record all but mathematically out of reach.

Still – they’ll almost certainly cruise past the century mark, a total surpassed by just three Red Sox teams. And barring a significant losing streak, they’ll probably stroll past the franchise wins record of 105 set by the 1912 Sox.

August certainly helped the cause, with Boston going 18-9. The pitching saw some periods of struggle, but the offense had yet another exceptional month, with a pair of MVP candidates leading the way. All told, this team is a strong September away from one of the highest win totals of all time.

On to the Report Card.

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We’re in mid-August and entering the home stretch of the Major League Baseball season. By the time you read this, teams will have roughly 40 games left until playoff time. It looks like there are some foregone conclusions, but also a few hard-fought races – particularly for some of the squads battling it out for the wild card bids.

The races for MLB’s individual awards are in a similar state. Some of these seem to be all but over, while others feature players going head-to-head with extraordinary performances. Take a look and see what kind of movement we’re dealing with here.

This is Clubhouse Leaders.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 09:08

Red Sox Report Card – July 2018

We might be witnessing something special.

As we enter into the dog days of August, the Red Sox sit atop the AL East with a nice lead over the division rival Yankees. While it seems unlikely that Boston can maintain this torrid pace for another two months, the truth is that if they do, they will have had a legitimately historic season in terms of wins and losses. They’re basically 30 wins away from their best-ever regular season and not many more than that from one of the best seasons in MLB history.

Obviously, there’s a long way to go before we get there. On-pace numbers are among the trickiest in sports. While there are some trash teams out there, the Yankees are looming; Houston and Cleveland, too. Still – there’s a chance of all-time regular season greatness for this squad.

There’s still a lot of baseball to be played, but as we close in on the three-quarter mark of the regular season, it’s starting to look possible. And with a team possessed of a history as storied as that of the Red Sox, any opportunity to see an all-time best is awfully exciting. They keep playing like this and the sky is the limit.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

Another historic Hall of Fame class is landing in Cooperstown this weekend.

Four players elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) will be officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29. Third baseman Chipper Jones and first baseman Jim Thome made it on their first time on the ballot; outfielder Vladimir Guerrero made it in on his second try and pitcher Trevor Hoffman on his third.

Jones led the way with 97.2 percent of the vote. Fellow first-timer Thome was named on 89.8 percent of the ballots. Guerrero made a massive jump from the near-miss of the year previous, going from 71.7 percent all the way to 92.9. And Hoffman, after just missing by a handful of votes, made it with a percentage of 79.9.

In addition, shortstop Alan Trammell and pitcher Jack Morris – both polarizing figures in the insular realm of Hall of Fame punditry – were voted in by the Hall’s Modern Era committee back in December.

Published in Sports

The Major League Baseball draft is vastly different from those of the other major sports leagues. In the NFL and the NBA and to a slightly lesser extent the NHL, draft picks are expected to join their new teams and start performing more or less immediately.

Not so with MLB.

Due to the sport's massive minor league infrastructure, baseball draftees aren't immediately thrust into the spotlight with the big club. In fact, it's a rarity for a player to have any real impact in the first couple of years after they've been selected. While the other drafts feature names and faces that we're likely to see quickly, we probably won't see our team's baseball selections at the big league level for at least a little while.

Obviously, this makes draft grading an even more ludicrous prospect in baseball than it is in other sports. Predicting the future is already impossible - predicting the future of an 18-year-old high school pitcher with great stuff and questionable maturity is even more so.

Still, it's fun to look at the choices our team makes - even if we won't get the payoff until sometime further down the road.

So what does Boston’s 2018 draft class look like?

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 16:34

Red Sox Report Card - May 2018

The conventional wisdom says that post-Memorial Day is when we can really start taking seriously the statistical trends that we’ve been watching play out on the field. And so, with the month of May in the rearview, it’s starting to look like this Red Sox team might actually BE this good.

May was certainly kind to the Red Sox. No American League team managed more wins than the 18 Boston put up. Nor did any AL squad top the team’s whopping 50 home runs for the month. Or the 295 strikeouts from the pitching staff. There was a bit of a power outage at Fenway last season, but the lights are definitely shining so far in 2018.

Yet even after two exceptional months, Boston’s 39-18 record is a mere 1.5 games ahead of the 35-17 output of the Yankees. So there you have it – May may have been a monster month, but the Sox are going to have to keep it going to stave off their division rivals.

But yeah – it was a good month to be a Red Sox fan.

On to the Report Card.

Published in Sports

By the time you read this, the 2018 Major League Baseball draft will likely be in the books. The latest wave of players from the high school and college ranks will have been selected, from the blue-chip stars-in-the-making to the bench-riding organizational depth.

Next week, we’ll be doing a look at the entirety of the Boston Red Sox draft class, but for now, it seemed like it might be fun to introduce you to some of the guys from the very tip-top of this year’s crop. These first-rounders will be expected to make an impact at the big-league level.

Of course, that might not be for a few years. MLB is unique among North America’s big four pro sports leagues in that its massive minor league infrastructure (not to mention its service time rules) encourages extended development of players. In the NFL, NBA and to a lesser extent the NHL, top picks are expected to perform at the highest level immediately. Meanwhile, it might be a while before we see any of 2018’s baseball draftees in the bigs.

So there isn’t the urgency accompanying these guys that there is in other sports. So why not learn a little bit more about the players who made the top-10? For instance, it’s the first time in over a decade that the first five players selected all came from the collegiate ranks. Seven of the 10 are position players, with just three pitchers. And one of them is going to be playing football on Saturdays this fall.

Let’s check it out.

Published in Sports
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