20 Oct
2020

London’s prime residential values slide

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16 Aug
2020

Fantasy Baseball Trade Value: Jorge Soler, Patrick Corbin among buy-low, sell-high candidates

first_imgMORE: Fantasy Alarm PRO toolsFantasy Baseball Trade Value: Stock risingJoey Lucchesi, SP, Padres. Luchessi shut out the potent Brewers offense for seven innings on Monday, and that was just a continuation of his recent string of success. Over his past seven starts, he has pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA with a .162 against him during that stretch. There are a lot of things to like in his profile, too, especially when you compare this season to last. He has lowered his line-drive rate against from 22.8 percent to a 14.9-percent mark this season, upped his ground-ball rate from 44.7 percent to 50.2 percent, and lowered his hard-contact rate against from 40.6 percent to 33 percent, all of which are strong marks. In fact, the 14.9-percent line-drive rate is the best in baseball among qualified pitchers, while the ground-ball rate is in the top 20 and the hard-contact rate is in the top 10. Not too shabby. It also doesn’t hurt that the Padres are a much improved team and he already has six wins. Possible trade options: David Peralta or José Quintana.Jorge Soler, OF, Royals. Soler is having a great season, and I feel like either no one is noticing or no one is caring. He smacked another home run on Monday and now has 19 dingers and 51 RBIs for the year. Sure, the .245 batting average isn’t the best, but he’s on pace for over 40 home runs and 100 RBIs, which adds plenty of value to any fantasy team. Everyone has long thought that Soler had the power to turn into a slugger, but injuries have consistently derailed him year in and year out. However, this year he is healthy and showing just what he is capable of. He has a strong 42.5-percent hard-contact rate, and his 15.1-percent soft-contact rate is the best mark of his career. His 90.6-mph exit velocity is his highest mark since 2015, and his 14 launch angle is up 3.1 degrees from last season. He’s hitting cleanup in the Royals lineup, and with guys like Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, and Alex Gordon in front of him, he should continue to have plenty of RBI opportunities. Possible trade options: Michael Conforto or Masahiro Tanaka .Ian Desmond, OF, Rockies. Desmond has struggled for the majority of the year, and less than two weeks ago he was hitting .234 with six home runs and 22 RBIs through 55 games. However, since then, he is on a 10-game hitting streak where he’s gone 17-for-37 with three home runs and 15 RBIs, bringing his season totals up to a respectable .274 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs. He actually has very good looking underlying numbers, as well, as his 41.4-percent hard-contact rate, 13.8-percent soft-contact rate and 23.8-percent line-drive rate are the best of his career. His 91.9-mph exit velocity is in the top 10 percent of the league. His 31.1-percent fly=ball rate is not great, but it is nearly 10-percent higher than the 21.5-percent mark that he posted last season. Let’s not forget that he plays half his games at CoorsField, and while that may put an asterisk on the stats he posts in real life (not literally of course), there is no asterisk for Coors games stats in fantasy. He should provide solid pop and RBI totals for the remainder of the season. Possible trade options: Justin Turner or German Márquez.Marcus Stroman, SP, Blue Jays. Stroman has pitched very well this year, but his low strikeout totals (7.0 K/9) and win totals (4-8 record) keep him from being a great fantasy option despite his strong 3.18 ERA. He lands in the “stock rising” section because there is a very strong chance that he gets traded at or before the trade deadline, and that will raise his fantasy value immediately. It is also good that his batted-ball profile will play no matter where he lands. A move to the Yankees would have fantasy owners worried with the small park, but they shouldn’t be, as Stroman’s 57.5-percent ground-ball rate should help him conquer any field. That ground-ball rate is the second best in baseball (among qualified pitchers). He has also done a great job of inducing soft contact against with a 21.7-percent mark (sixth best in baseball).  A trade to a contender would help him pick up more wins and make him a fantasy asset rather than just another guy on your roster.Fantasy Baseball Trade Value: Stock fallingDerek Dietrich, 2B, Reds. Dietrich sent a shockwave through the fantasy baseball world when he slugged three home runs in a game on May 28; however, since then he’s been dreadful at the dish, hitting .167 (7-for 42) with zero home runs and two RBIs over his last 13 games. The cold spell has seen his average for the season drop from .262 to his current .231 mark. There are also a lot of unsightly numbers in his batted-ball profile. His 25-percent soft-contact rate would be the worst in all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify, and his 14.3-percent line-drive rate would be the fifth worst. If his recent struggles at the plate aren’t enough of a cause for concern, the impending return of Scooter Gennett certainly is. Gennett is beginning a rehab assignment on Tuesday and will be the everyday second baseman when he returns, which likely pushes Dietrich into a utility/bench role going forward. His run as a fantasy asset is coming to an end. Patrick Corbin, SP, Nationals. Corbin has been torn apart in his past three starts, going 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA and 2.29 WHIP. During that stretch, hitters have batted .379 against him with a .638 SLG (yikes). To make matters worse, the three teams he faced are all near the bottom of runs scored this year (Reds, Padres, White Sox). The rough patch has his ERA for the season up to 4.11, a far cry from the 3.15 mark he posted last season with the D-backs. Cause for concern? Not entirely. When comparing this season to last season (his career year), the underlying numbers are actually better in a lot of areas, as his line-drive rate against is nearly seven percent lower, his hard-contact rate against is lower by five percent, and his fastball velocity is actually up 0.5 mph. His biggest issue is that he is giving up fly balls 10 percent more often, and that has contributed to the 12 homers he’s allowed — only three less than he gave up all of last season despite currently having 114.2 fewer innings pitched. While he may not produce the strong numbers that he did last year, Corbin is still a very good pitcher. This rough patch has created a buy-low window. Possible trade options: Tim Anderson or Jack Flaherty .Gio Urshela, 3B, Yankees. Urshela has gone cold at the plate, hitting .205 (9-for-44) with two home runs across 13 games in June. It couldn’t have come at a worse time either, with the Yankees trading for Edwin Encarnacion and the impending returns of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. With those three joining the lineup, Urshela is going to be relegated to a bench role with DJ LeMahieu taking over full-time duties at 3B. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Urshela (and his fantasy owners), as he was having a career year to this point with five home runs, 31 RBIs, and a .306 average. His breakout campaign has looked for real, too, with a 26.9-percent line-drive rate, 46.2-percent hard-contact rate, and 8.3-percent soft-contact rate (would be the best mark in all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify). Less playing time equates to less fantasy production, and fantasy owners with Urshela need to accept that it’s time to move on.Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: Potential waiver wire pickupCarlos Martínez, P, Cardinals. Martinez notched a six-out save in his most recent appearance out of the Cardinals bullpen, and he needs to be on everyone’s fantasy radar. It was his second save in June, and he has a 3.09 ERA through his first 11.2 innings pitched this season. Jordan Hicks is still the Cardinals closer, but it’s worth noting that he was available to pitch on Sunday and the Cardinals still elected to leave Martinez in for the ninth and the save. Martinez is a really good pitcher and has been for a long time, we all know that, but a pitcher’s role on a team has a big factor on his fantasy value. It appears that Martinez is moving into a more prominent one. He should provide solid ratios, and if he’s providing a handful of saves than he is worth a spot on your roster. He is still only 26-percent owned on Yahoo, so he can probably be had for free. We’ve focused on fringe players for deeper fantasy baseball leagues the past two weeks, but this week we’re back to looking at a mix of players who are either prime buy-low/sell-high trade targets or even potential waiver wire pickups.As we return to discussing some highly owned trade options, we’ll also return to discussing possible targets for those players. All leagues are different, so the types of players available depends on the settings and owners of your particular league, but these suggestions can help you properly value your player. Like everything in fantasy baseball, values are fluid, and some of the outlooks of these players have changed mightily recently. Let’s dive in!last_img read more

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13 Oct
2019

Investors reacquaint themselves with turmoil in the markets

first_imgInvestors may be feeling a bit unsettled after a few days of market turmoil upset months of tranquility.A slide that started early last week led to a sharp dive in markets Friday and Monday. The fall on Monday alone represented the steepest drop in 6 1/2 years. That can rattle a few nerves. Things seemed to have stabilized Tuesday, easing fears of a global sell off.Market professionals say investors should stay calm — although they can’t guarantee markets will do the same.So what should you do? Here are a few answers to common questions:WHAT JUST HAPPENED?No one thing triggered this.The markets took a marked turn downward Friday after the monthly U.S. jobs report showed that wages surged in January, representing the sharpest year-over-year gain since the recession. That stoked concerns about higher inflation because as companies raise pay, they often raise prices and that cycle can speed inflation.The Federal Reserve is already expected to raise short-term interest rates this year with the economy growing. But inflation worries raise concerns that the Fed will increase rates at a quicker pace. Higher borrowing rates can be a challenge for corporations over time as they want to borrow money to grow and it drives investors to bonds rather than stocks.The selling continued Monday, in what most experts are saying is just an overdue correction. Some believe automated trading also played a role as the systems that buy and sell stocks may have been triggered. Trading was choppy Tuesday but the U.S. market mostly recovered after an early plunge.HOW BAD WAS IT?Not that bad, really.That big two-day drop only erases a few months of gains. Plus, market pros have noted that declines of 10 per cent or more are common during bull markets. And this has been the second-longest bull market on record.There hasn’t been a correction in two years, and by many measures stocks are awfully expensive.“Market corrections are normal, no matter how nerve-wracking they are at the time,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.And after an extended period of market calm, it serves as a good reminder that stocks are volatile.WHAT SHOULD I DO?The answer can be one of the toughest parts of investing: Stay calm.“Just hang in there, maintain a long-term perspective and resist the urge for any knee-jerk reactions,” McBride said.Stocks go up and down — that is the nature of the market.People should be making their investments as part of a long-term plan, one that won’t be entirely hijacked by a few days of losses. And there may even be more volatility ahead — there’s no way to be sure.Check in with your financial planner or investment firm if you are feeling uneasy. It may be a good time to look at your portfolio and make sure it has a mix of assets that you are comfortable with. After the market’s big run-up, you may have more of your portfolio weighted toward stocks than you realize.Vanguard said that it counsels customers that changes to their portfolio should be made because their life circumstances, or their time horizon, have changed — not because of inflammatory headlines or “noise.”Some people may want to take advantage of the dip to buy. Others may want to revisit their strategy. But those who want to get out of the stock market altogether should take pause, said Ken Hevert, senior vice-president for retirement at Fidelity Investments.It’s easy to get out during down times but hard to get back in for a recovery. And drops of 5 per cent to 10 per cent are typically followed by a pretty rapid recovery period, he said, adding that current conditions are favourable for growth.last_img read more

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12 Oct
2019

Housing sales down 5 in JanMar 2019 on changes in GST rates

first_imgNew Delhi: Housing sales dipped by 5 per cent to 75,706 units in nine major cities during January-March period because of transition in GST rates, according to a report by property brokerage firm PropTiger. The company, which is part of News Corp-backed Elara Technologies that also owns Housing.com and Makaan.com, Monday released its ‘Real Insight Report’ for Q4 2018-19 that tracks housing sales and new launches in nine major cities — Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Gurugram and Noida. Also Read – Commercial vehicle sales to remain subdued in current fiscal: Icra”Housing sales in India’s nine key property markets declined 5 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) and new project launches fell 32 per cent annually during Q4 2018-19,” the report said, adding that the unsold housing stock numbers declined by 10 per cent. PropTiger attributed the decline in home sales numbers to changes in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) transition rules. In contrast to PropTiger report, real estate consultant Anarock recently said housing sales rose by 58 per cent to 78,520 units in seven major cities during January- March period of 2019. Also Read – Ashok Leyland stock tanks over 5 pc as co plans to suspend production for up to 15 daysData analytics firm PropEquity said sales saw a 5 per cent rise at 56,146 units during January-March 2019 over the year-ago quarter in the nine major cities. As per the PropTiger data, housing sales rose maximum in Hyderabad by 26 per cent at 7,059 units in the January-March quarter of 2019 from 5,618 units in the year-ago period. Gurugram witnessed 10 per cent rise in sales at 5,764 units from 5,220 units in the corresponding period of the previous year. Sales in Kolkata were up by 8 per cent at 3,623 units. Pune saw 5 per cent rise in sales at 14,348 units from 13,712 units during the period under the review, while Mumbai reported 4 per cent increase in sales at 23,718 units. However, housing sales declined by 23 per cent in Bengaluru to 8,402 units. Chennai, too, witnessed 13 per cent dip in sales at 4,197 units. Ahmedabad reported 10 per cent dip in sales at 4,739 units. The maximum fall in was in Noida, with sales dropping by 50 per cent at 3,856 units. “While there might not be any significant improvement in new launch and home sales numbers in the first quarter of 2019-20, things may start to change after the results of the Lok Sabha elections are announced. “In fact, as more clarity emerges pertaining to GST issues, these numbers might see improvement in the quarters that follow. Property rates would also see an upwards movement in the times to come,” Elara Technologies Group Chief Operating Officer Mani Rangarajan said. In late February, the GST Council decided to cut GST rate on affordable homes to 1 per cent from earlier 8 per cent. The GST on under-construction flats, which are not under the affordable housing segment, was reduced to 5 per cent from 12 per cent earlier. The new GST rates were made effective from April 1. The developers were also denied input tax credit.last_img read more

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28 Sep
2019

Even If They Dont Win Tonight the 76ers Are Getting Better

The Philadelphia 76ers are one loss from tying the NBA record for longest losing streak. And barring an enormous upset on the road against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, they’ll tie the 26-game run of futility by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11. The Sixers have a better chance of losing their last 11 games of the season than they do of beating the Rockets to avoid matching that ignominious record.But in a lost season in Philly, fans have two reasons to hope the 76ers can keep from setting a new losing-streak mark. First, up next after Houston is a home game Saturday against Detroit. The Sixers have a 1-in-3 chance of winning that one. Second, they’ve played well recently, in the latest demonstration that wins and losses alone don’t show how well a team is doing.An NBA team’s probability of winning a game depends on its performance level as measured by Basketball Reference’s Simple Rating System, its opponents’ SRS, and home court. Incorporating all three factors,1I used SRS — a formula based on teams’ margin of victory and schedule strength — regressed to the mean by adding seven games of league-average play, as suggested by my colleague Neil Paine last year. Then I used the formula for win probability outlined by Justin Kubatko last year on his blog. I found that Philadelphia has a 4 percent chance of beating the Rockets on Thursday. Houston is more than five points per game better than league average, and will play with home-court advantage against a Sixers team with a typical level this season of 11.5 points per game below average.So, let’s say the Sixers lose to Houston as expected. Then Detroit comes to Philadelphia, with a losing-streak record on the line. The Pistons are three points below league average, and will be playing on the road. Philadelphia has a 34 percent chance of winning the game, and a 33 percent chance of breaking its losing streak. (I’m accounting for the minuscule probability that the 76ers beat the Rockets first.)Detroit is the second-easiest game left on Philly’s schedule, after a home date with Boston in the season’s penultimate game. The Sixers have a 38 percent chance of winning that one, but just an 8 percent chance of breaking their streak in that game, because most likely it will have ended before then.I ran the numbers on Philly’s chance of winning each remaining game, as well as of breaking the streak in each game. The latter probability is lower than the former for each game after the one against Houston, because two conditions must be met: Philly must win, and must not have won before. Based on these calculations, Philadelphia has a 12 percent chance of finishing the season on a 36-game skid — or three times its probability of beating Houston on Thursday.Some factors might make it easier for Philly to win than these probability calculations suggest. Opponents that have clinched their playoff spot and seed, or that have been eliminated from the postseason, might rest their stars. Then again, no team wants to lose to an opponent with a losing streak of 25 games — or longer.There’s another reason Philly’s chances might be better than they look: In the Sixers’ last five games, they’ve been closer to mediocre than terrible. I evaluated their performance level by taking their margin of defeat in each game, adjusting for home-court advantage2The average home team wins games this year by 2.57 points per game, through Monday, the day Philadelphia last played. and opponent strength.3Based on SRS, regressed to the mean with seven league-average games. In four of the last five games, the Sixers have played better than their typical level this season.4Again, regressed to the mean with seven average games. Without that step, Philadelphia is an even worse 11.5 points below league average. They were within five points of league average in their one-point home loss to the Knicks, and were even better in a nine-point road loss to the East-leading Pacers. In that game — in which Philadelphia trailed by three with under two minutes left — the 76ers performed at a level just two points below league average.Moral victories don’t end losing streaks. But they could bode well for Philly’s chances. Already, the Sixers have attained their best average level over five games since the five games that immediately preceded the start of their losing streak, in which they went 2-3.5The last of those five games was their last victory, and it could easily have been a defeat: Philadelphia trailed Boston by a point before Evan Turner’s last-second shot. If Boston had won that game, and all subsequent events were unchanged, Philly’s losing streak would now stand at a record 29 games. Philadelphia’s average level over its last five games — 7.2 points below league average — is 10.5 points better than its level during the 25-game losing streak. It’s also better than the 76ers’ average level during three separate 2-3 stretches earlier in the season.So, over the last five games, the Sixers have improved to a level somewhere between the Orlando Magic and the Milwaukee Bucks, the two teams just above them near the bottom of the league power ratings. Does that mean the chances of the 76ers winning their remaining games, and of ending the streak, have gone up? History doesn’t provide many precedents. Just six other NBA teams have had losing streaks of more than 20 games. Two of those streaks extended over two seasons, and any effect of the team’s level at the end of the first season was unlikely to carry over to the start of the next season. The Charlotte Bobcats lost their last 23 games of the season in 2011-12, and showed little sign of winning a game near the end: Their performance in four of their last six games was more than 20 points below league average.That leaves three teams that broke losing streaks of longer than 20 games during the regular season: the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies, in the first year of the franchise; the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets; and the 2010-11 Cavs. The Grizzlies suffered the worst loss of their 23-game losing streak two games before ending it. The Nuggets showed no signs of improvement near the end, performing at least eight points below average in each of their last eight losses. The Cavs, though, signaled their potential toward the end of their record 26-game streak: Their best five-game run of the streak came in the last five games, including a three-point loss in Dallas against a strong Mavericks team two games before Cleveland finally won, beating the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime.These streaks had at least one thing in common: All three teams won their first game in more than 20 against teams performing at a level more than two points below average. So circle that game against Detroit, Sixers fans — and be ready to circle the home game against Boston if Philly doesn’t get it done against the Pistons on Saturday. read more

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28 Sep
2019

The 2018 Brewers Sure Look A Lot Like The 2015 Royals

When the Kansas City Royals made back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015 — coming agonizingly close in the former and winning the latter — they launched a thousand think pieces about whether manager Ned Yost’s brand of small ball would spread throughout the game. But then it looked like it might never get the chance: Right after the Royals’ revival, baseball embarked on a record-setting home run explosion, and the appeal of a team built primarily around speed, defense and a lights-out bullpen seemed to wane.1The Cubs and Astros shared some of those strengths, mind you, but each was also packed with ample power up and down the lineup.One of 2018’s top teams is taking a page out of K.C.’s championship playbook anyway. It isn’t just that the Milwaukee Brewers share the same center fielder with those Royals — although another All-Star caliber season from Lorenzo Cain hasn’t exactly hurt the comparison. The Brewers are also leading the NL Central with a strikingly similar combination of fielding, relief pitching and clever base running, even as the advanced metrics remain skeptical. (Sound familiar, Royals fans?) All that’s left is for postseason history to repeat — assuming Kansas City’s winning formula still works in a game that looks very different than it did just a few seasons ago.Going into the season, the Brewers were not expected to build much on last year’s surprising 86-win performance, despite loading up on players such as Cain and Christian Yelich over the winter. In fact, both the Vegas bookmakers and computer projections such as FanGraphs’ depth charts and Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA picked Milwaukee to take a step backward, averaging out to about 83 wins for the season with only a meager chance of making the playoffs. In theory, the 2017 Brewers had gotten slightly lucky both in terms of wins and losses — they overshot the record their statistics predicted2At least, according to Base Runs, which estimates how much a team “should” win with neutral luck, based on its raw statistics. by a couple of games — as well as in career seasons from both batters (Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, Travis Shaw) and pitchers (Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, Corey Knebel). So it wasn’t too hard to argue that a tumble would be on its way this summer.But remember, Milwaukee wasn’t supposed to be very good last year, either; all it proceeded to do was hang around the NL Central race far longer than anyone in the media — or on the presumptive division-favorite Chicago Cubs — thought possible. The Brewers led the Central well into late July before the Cubs (along with the Diamondbacks and Rockies) overtook them down the stretch. It was a good enough showing to convince general manager David Stearns to accelerate the club’s recent rebuilding project and raise the franchise’s expectations sooner than originally anticipated. And the result has been the best record in the National League through the season’s first two months.The Brewers aren’t alone in beating projections this year, but what stands out is how they’ve done it. Despite the new firepower in the lineup — and the emergence of hard-hitting first baseman Jesus Aguilar — Milwaukee ranks in the middle of the major league pack in runs scored, with middling numbers for both power and walks. Their starting rotation has also slipped, from ninth in MLB in wins above replacement3Using an average of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com’s WAR metrics. per game in 2017 to 20th this season, with Anderson struggling to replicate last year’s form and Nelson missing the entire season to date because of injury.Milwaukee is making up for the difference, though, with the majors’ 10th-best base running WAR per game, along with the third-best WAR per game from both defense and relief pitching. It’s a combination of metrics eerily similar to the one Kansas City produced during its own championship run three years ago: On the basepaths, the Brewers have the majors’ most successful rate of taking extra bases, a category the famously aggressive Royals also excelled in. Milwaukee’s ability to track down balls in the field, led by Cain in the outfield and Orlando Arcia at shortstop, easily recalls the rangy Royals of, well, Cain and Alcides Escobar. And with reliever Josh Hader rewriting the all-time strikeout record book (to say nothing of the 0.60 ERA season Jeremy Jeffress is having), the Brewers have been even more unbeatable with a lead in the late innings than the Royals were in their Wade Davis-led heyday. So far this season, Milwaukee is a perfect 27-0 when leading through six innings, making it the only team in baseball that can say it hasn’t blown such a situation yet. MLB Ranks in WAR from… 2015Royals58.616th12th1st21st2nd 2018 Season2014-15 Seasons 8NYY31391.28LAA1391590.3 Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com 2018Brewers61.7%17th10th3rd20th3rd This looks familiar …MLB-wide ranks in wins above replacement (WAR) per game from each category, 2015 Kansas City Royals vs. 2018 Milwaukee Brewers 4SF27293.14CLE1341391.2 The Brewers’ bullpen has been positively Royals-esqueBest record when leading after six innings, 2014-15 and 2018 seasons 3BOS32294.13MIA107992.2 SeasonTeamWin %BattingBase RunningFieldingStartersRelievers TeamWinsLossesWin % 2CHC24196.02SD108992.3 6PIT24292.37MIN1131290.4 5BAL13192.95NYY1331391.1 Includes postseason for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Through June 3 for the 2018 season.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group 6ATL24292.36SF1441590.6 10CIN18290.010PIT1391689.7 9SD20290.99STL1401689.7 TeamWinsLossesWin % 1MIL270100.0%1KC1501093.8% Kansas City combined for a staggering 150-10 mark across those situations in 2014 and 2015, including the postseason, so the Brewers still have some work to do before catching up to their doppelganger. And the Royals comparison isn’t 100 percent perfect — Milwaukee isn’t quite the batting average machine K.C. was, for instance, because the Brewers strike out at a normal clip, not the freakishly low rate Kansas City did at its peak. But the Brew Crew might be the closest thing we’ll get in the homers-and-strikeouts world of 2018 baseball.Questions also remain about Milwaukee’s place among the pantheon of 2018 contenders. According to The Baseball Gauge, only the Seattle Mariners have gotten luckier this year, in terms of sequencing and winning close games (although the latter can be explained in part by the Brewer bullpen’s aforementioned dominance). After the Brewers dropped two of three to the lowly Chicago White Sox over the weekend,4Which, in fairness, the Royals also did twice in 2014 and 2015, plus they were swept by the White Sox on another occasion. our Elo forecast now thinks Milwaukee will go 54-48 over the rest of the season and be caught by the Cubs in the Central before too long — though it does give the Brewers a 67 percent chance of making the playoffs. (That projection is also on the high side; FanGraphs thinks the Brewers will go 48-54 from here on out, with less than a coin flip’s shot at the postseason.)But that’s just another way in which the Brewers evoke memories of Kansas City’s World Series-era teams. With their unconventional mix of strengths and weaknesses, those Royals squads spent multiple seasons bucking the odds and poking holes in the statistical arguments against them. Maybe now it’s Milwaukee’s turn to do the same.Check out our latest MLB predictions. read more

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28 Sep
2019

Ohio State womens golf eyes 3rd straight Big Ten championship

Members of the OSU women’s golf team. Credit: Courtesy of OSUIn each of the past two seasons, the Ohio State women’s golf team has celebrated a Big Ten championship — but with a catch. While OSU’s name has appeared on the trophy, it has done so as a co-champion.Now with a chance to stand alone as champion for the first time in the three-year span, the Buckeyes are gearing up for the Big Ten tournament this weekend.After securing a second-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational last weekend, the team will attempt to carry that momentum into the conference championship.“We are peaking at the right time,” said junior Jessica Porvasnik. “We just finished second at our home tournament, and we’re looking forward to the Big Tens this week.”Coach Therese Hession said she has been happy with her team’s solid season thus far but is hoping that the team can produce a couple of standout performances during the postseason.“We’ve had a pretty steady season. We’ve only really had one bad tournament in my opinion, so we’ve been very consistent,” Hession said. “If we can get one or two people to break out of the pack a little bit and post some under-par scores, I think that’s something we’re really going to need heading into this weekend.”One of the team’s goals is to win the Big Ten title outright. Despite being the two-time defending Big Ten champions, both team titles have been shared with other schools: Michigan in 2014 and Northwestern in 2015. Northwestern is currently ranked No. 15 in the country and has been the clear front-runner in the conference during the regular season.Despite the Wildcats being the favorite to win the conference title, Hession said they’re vulnerable.“Last week (Northwestern) shot 30 over par in a tournament, though, and lost by 42 strokes, so that’s the thing about women’s golf this year, there’s so many good teams,” Hession said. “You never know what’s going to happen week to week. So, you know, hopefully this will be our week.”OSU freshman Jaclyn Lee. Credit: Courtesy of OSUThe Buckeyes think a key to the weekend will be following their plan and knowing when to push for certain shots.“Be aggressive when you can be aggressive,” Porvasnik said. “Strategically, I think everyone needs to figure out when is the time to go for it and when not, and I think making the right choices is really going to benefit us in the long run.”Porvasnik, who finished fifth at last weekend’s home tournament, won the Big Ten tournament individual title as a freshman and is hoping to recreate her success from two years ago.“I definitely want to win the Big Ten again, but I’m just focusing on small goals and going into it just sticking to our game plan and playing smart golf,” she said.Four of the six Buckeyes competing have played on the course before, so they are familiar with its challenging elements. Hession said she thinks driving and putting execution will be critical components in the formula to win a Big Ten championship.“I would say hitting greens in regulation and staying out of the rough will be one factor,” Hession said. “You know it always comes down to if it’s your week, making some putts, and I feel like we’ve worked a lot on putting and trying to get the ball in the hole. Hopefully those two things come together, and it should work out pretty well then.”The Buckeyes are scheduled to begin play in the Big Ten tournament on Friday at The Fort Golf Course in Indianapolis. read more

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28 Sep
2019

Commentary Cincinnati Bengals must look to younger players after loss to Dolphins

Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for a game-winning safety in overtime at Sun Life Stadium Oct. 31. The Dolphins won, 22-20. Credit: Courtesy of MCTAfter four straight wins the Cincinnati Bengals (6-3) fell to the Miami Dolphins (4-4)  in overtime, 22-20, which also ended Miami’s four-game losing streak.Quarterback Andy Dalton was hot coming into the game, having thrown 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his previous three games. But against Miami, he turned the ball over four times, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble.The Dolphins raced to an early 17-3 lead behind a strong ground game, gaining 142 rushing yards in the first half. To make matters worse, in the second quarter, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins went down with an injury to his right ACL. This came less than two weeks after Cincinnati lost its top cornerback, Leon Hall, to an Achilles tear.Cincinnati rookie running back Giovani Bernard (nine carries, 79 yards) stepped up and scored twice for the Bengals on the ground. The second one was an electrifying 35-yard run early in the fourth quarter in which he was nearly tackled for a significant loss before shedding tacklers, turning outside to the left and then finally cutting back to the right to tie the game. But soon after, Bernard would also leave the game with a rib injury.Cincinnati and Miami exchanged field goals in the last two minutes, sending the game to overtime. After the Dolphins failed to score, the Bengals moved the ball to Miami’s 39-yard line. But instead of attempting a 56-yard field goal, Cincinnati opted to punt.It was a questionable move as kicker Mike Nugent had already nailed a 54-yard field goal with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter. Also, two games earlier, he hit a game winning 54-yard against the Detroit Lions as time expired.After the Dolphins failed to score again, the Bengals received the ball again at their own eight-yard line. On third and 10, Dalton went back to pass but was quickly sacked for the fifth time in the game, this one in the end zone to end the game on a safety. Wake (three sacks) shot up the middle almost untouched for the game winner.With Dalton and the offense once again struggling and the defense limping, Cincinnati can only hope young players like Bernard step up to change the dynamic of the team. read more

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28 Sep
2019

Offensive explosion led by Cardale Jones Devin Smith gives Buckeyes 59 point

OSU senior wide receiver Devin Smith celebrates after scoring one of his 3 touchdowns in the 2014 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. OSU won, 59-0.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorINDIANAPOLIS — More than three years ago, a pair of future Ohio State football players connected in a high school all-star game for a seemingly meaningless touchdown.On Saturday night, that connection re-emerged in a big way as redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones found senior wide receiver Devin Smith for three scores in a 59-0 blowout victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, giving the Buckeyes their first Big Ten title since 2009.Jones and Smith last connected for a touchdown in the 2011 Big-33 classic, which pits some of the best high school football players from the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.That connection, which was a 54-yard touchdown pass, was reminiscent of the Buckeye win over the Badgers as Smith hauled in scores of 39, 44 and 42 yards from Jones, who was making his first career start for OSU.Jones took over the starting spot after redshirt-sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett fractured his ankle during OSU’s win over Michigan to close out the regular season.Smith finished the game with a Big Ten Championship Game record 137 receiving yards to go along with his three scores.Smith said he discussed that game in June of 2011 with Jones prior to the Big Ten title matchup.“I knew when J.T. went down that Cardale was going to be the quarterback,” Smith said. “I just told him, ‘lets get back to the Big 33 all-star game we played in together’ and that right there (his performance) says it all.”Jones completed 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns, all to Smith.The redshirt-sophomore’s performance was of no surprise to Jones’ head coach Urban Meyer.“I knew he had the talent to throw the ball and execute but I figured there would be first game jitters,” Meyer said after the game. “There was none of that.”Barrett, who was on the sideline for the game, said he was happy for Jones and the way the team played as a whole.“Definitely proud of him (Jones) and he’s able to … just take over the moment,” Barrett said after the game. “He seized the moment, seized the opportunity and he did it as a team. It wasn’t just him, that was the great thing about it, he had help around him. And that’s the great thing about this team.”Jones said that he, along with his teammates, prepared with a sense of urgency heading into the matchup with Wisconsin.“We worked all week for this and as a team we had faith in one another,” Jones said. “There was no down time and we treated this like it was our game to take and we were going to leave it all on the field.”It wasn’t just Jones that made a statement for the Buckeyes, as sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott broke the Big Ten Championship Game record for rushing yards in the game as he rushed for 220 yards on 20 carries for two scores.The record that Elliott broke was once held by Wisconsin redshirt-junior Melvin Gordon who was bottled up by the Buckeye defense as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year rushed for just 76 yards on 26 carries.Elliott said that he wanted to step his game up Saturday, especially with Gordon on the opposite sideline.“Definitely. Just trying come out there and make a name for myself,” Elliott said. “I know it was a big stage, I knew everyone was going to be watching Melvin so I just wanted to come out and compete with him.”Eighty-one of Elliott’s 220 yards came on one single play as the sophomore back exploded up the middle for OSU’s second score of the game.Elliott gave credit to his offensive line for that run after the game.“It was basically wide open, I just had to break one arm tackle reaching off a block, and the line did it all,” he said.Elliott was overwhelmed in the locker room after the game, as he said the Big Ten Championship is the first championship he has ever been apart of at any level of competition.“Man, it feels so good. I can’t even explain it. I have never won a championship in my life,” Elliott said. “Made it to state three times in high school and we lost. Coming back after last year, get some redemption and make up for that loss we got last year.”The 59-0 win came against not only the No. 13 team in the country, but the second ranked defense in the nation as well.After the dominating performance, Elliott said he believes the Buckeyes belong in the first-ever College Football Playoff.“We definitely do. We came out here and we dominated today. I think we should,” Elliott said. “All year we have shown resilience. We had so many obstacles and we haven’t backed down, we never folded and we always come out and get better every week.”Meyer echoed his running back’s comments referencing the the level of play the Buckeyes have reached in recent weeks.“That is a question I know everyone is going to ask me. We just won 59-0 against one of the top teams in America,” Meyer said. “These kids are playing at an extremely high level right now.”Whether it’s in a high school all-star game, or in the Big Ten title game, Jones said it is exciting being able to showcase his abilities.“It was very fun, going out there showing everybody what we can do when we all come together as one,” he said.OSU will find out whether they will come together in the College Football Playoff or elsewhere tomorrow as the final rankings are scheduled to be announced at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. read more

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28 Sep
2019

Wrestling No 2 Ohio State prepares for two meets in three days

Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher wrestles Paul Glynn in the dual-meet against Iowa on Jan. 21 in the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThe No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team will take on Michigan State at 7 p.m. Friday at Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Michigan, and Purdue at 1 p.m. Sunday at Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio, the hometown of Buckeye wrestlers and brothers Bo and Micah Jordan.The Spartans (5-6, 1-4 Big Ten) lost their last meet to No. 21 Wisconsin 28-7, and they lack a single ranked wrestler, giving Ohio State (10-0, 5-0 Big Ten) a massive advantage. However, it is rare for a team to win each match, even when there is an edge in the rankings.“Michigan State, obviously they’re not your Iowa or Penn State match, but it’s still a good opportunity to go out there and work on some new skills in a live match,” Ohio State redshirt sophomore Kollin Moore said. “Try some of the stuff that you’ve been working in practice see if you can do it in an actual match.”Moore, who ranks No. 1 at 197 pounds, will wrestle in both Ohio State’s meets. Senior and No. 1 heavyweight Kyle Snyder will neither rest nor compete for Ohio State this weekend. Instead, he will represent the United States at the Yarygin Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Snyder will try to become the first American to win the Yarygin in back-to-back years. Ohio State is coming off of a decisive victory against No. 3 Iowa 22-12 on Sunday, a result that still lingers in the Buckeyes’ minds.“I would argue that that was one of the top-three dual meets of all-time,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “I mean that was a great atmosphere. Our guys really saw the love that people have for wrestling in this region and for the university.”The Schottenstein Center filled up with 15,117 people for the Iowa meet, and the home fans watched the Buckeyes win six of the 10 bouts. Moore beat No. 5 Cash Wilcke, and Ohio State sophomore No. 2 Luke Pletcher beat Paul Glynn at 133 pounds. Both Moore and Pletcher remained undefeated on the season with the victories, but Pletcher saw his performance from a different perspective.“Last year we had the big crowd and I lost,” Pletcher said. “So it was still cool then, but it’s a lot better when you win, obviously. I had a lot of family members come down. My club coach brought some wrestlers down, so it was pretty cool to see them there, and go out in front of 15,000 fans was pretty awesome.” Purdue (5-5, 0-4 Big Ten) has struggled recently, losing its past four competitions, most recently losing 21-12 to No. 14 Illinois. The Boilermakers wrestle North Dakota State on Friday, which will allow them to try to regain some confidence before they take on the Buckeyes.Sunday’s meet will give the Jordan brothers the chance to return to their high school in St. Paris, Ohio, to compete for the first time since the two graduated.“That’s one of the meccas in the country, let alone the state of Ohio,” Ryan said. “They are producing college student-athletes left and right.”Ohio State shifts its focus toward Michigan State and Purdue, though its Feb. 3 meet at Penn State is nearing. read more

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