Angels in the Outfield

Angels in the Outfield

How the Astros used math and statistics to win The World Series.
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While the Houston Astros were propelled to a World Series championship by incredible athleticism on the field, it was a team of nerds off the field who created a roster of mathematically proven winners.

Led by General Manager Jeff Luhnow, along with Sig Mejdal, a blackjack dealer turned rocket scientist, the entire Astros organization embraced sabermetrics, or the empirical analysis of baseball statistics. When other teams were relying on timing, gut feelings, and overall knowledge of the game, the Astros were busy creating a dynasty that let the numbers speak for themselves.

When Luhnow took control of the Astros at the start of the 2012 season, Houston was coming off a season in which they posted one of the worst records in not just the history of baseball, but the history of modern sports. The Astros had won only 34% of their games during the 2011 season, and when the organization had shifted gears towards a more statistical approach, it took quite some time to get the operation off the ground. The team went 106-218 during their first two years under Luhnow’s command, while only averaging close to 9,000 fans per game. For reference, Minute Maid Park has a capacity of over 42,000. During this span of time, the Astros managed to be the most dismal, uninspiring team in all of sports, as they finished dead last in all of Major League Baseball for four consecutive years.

However, the Astros’ failures were capitalized upon, as the team was compensated with the number one overall pick in the MLB Draft during those years. The Astros used these opportunities to acquire All-Star players Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and eventual World Series MVP, George Springer. However, it’s important to note that when it was time to make a decision on which player would lead the Astros in the coming years, the small, elite team of statisticians in Houston were looking to create a much different roster than the one that ended up winning the World Series.

In the sense of statistics and sabermetrics, eventual Astros star George Springer was one of the weaker choices in the class of 2011. It would have made more statistical sense for Houston to select a right-handed pitcher, Sonny Gray, from Vanderbilt, or even the late star pitcher, Jose Fernandez, who were both eventually selected just a few picks later by the Oakland Athletics and Miami Marlins, respectively. Instead of picking the more statistically sound players, the Astros used projections and foresight to select players that they believed would eventually develop into superstars with potential to win a World Series.

And now, as we find ourselves just two weeks removed from an Astros world championship, it’s hard not to look at the immense success that the team executives had in finding players that could lead the team to victory through incredible athletic prowess on the field. However, off the field, it’s the small team of Houstonian nerds who won the World Series and propelled the Astros dynasty into orbit with nothing but a pen, paper, and a magic crystal ball.

Cover Image Credit: @astrosbaseball on Instagram

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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As A Cardinals Fan, I Let Albert Pujols Go A LONG Time Ago

They say time heals all wounds, but is that the case with St. Louis Cardinals fans and Albert Pujols?

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It's hard to properly encapsulate what Albert Pujols meant to the city of St. Louis. He's without a doubt in my mind, statistically, one of the greatest Cardinals players of all time right up there with names like Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and Stan Musial. His list of accolades in a Cardinals uniform is borderline unbelievable: Rookie of the year in 2001, 9x All-Star (8 consecutive from 2003-2010), 3x MVP, 6x Silver Slugger and 2x Gold Glove winner. Not to mention, he was an integral piece of two World Series victories in 2006 and 2011. The recipe was right there to continue his career as a Cardinal and retire an immortalized legend, but things somehow took a turn for the worst after the 2011 World Series.

Pujols was up for free agency in 2012, and even though the city was celebrating its 11th World Series title (second-most of all time) but the future of the team was in the back of everyone's mind. For context, Cardinals Manager and 3x World Series Champion Tony La Rusa announced his retirement in early November, just days after the victory parade.

Nearly a month later, Pujols announces that he decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels for a record-breaking 10-year, $254 million contract. To say Cardinals fans were perplexed and shocked is an understatement. What could the Angels offer that St. Louis couldn't aside from more money and better weather, especially coming off of a World Series win? Regardless, the Cardinals never seized on the opportunity to sign Pujols to a contract extension, a mistake they didn't want to repeat with newly-acquired superstar Paul Goldschmidt.

I think what hurt most about Pujols leaving St. Louis as he was a Cardinals-bred player through and through. He was drafted in the 13th round out of the 1999 Amateur Draft by the Cardinals before making his MLB debut in 2001. That's been the Cardinal manifesto for nearly the entire Modern Era: draft or acquire young Minor League talent, develop them before implementing them into the Major League system. It felt downright hurtful that Pujols would opt for the bright lights of Los Angeles over a city that had every intention of supporting him

But with most things, time passed and Pujols eventually became a peripheral point for Cardinals fans like myself who would briefly re-enter their lives on the occasional article or ESPN highlight. So when it was revealed that the Angels will be playing the Cardinals in June at Busch for the first time since Pujols left, he was suddenly back on every Cardinals fan's radar again.

So Angels and Cardinals media outlets were abuzz, prompting this interview with Graham Bensinger during Spring Training and the way Pujols frames the negotiations were really peculiar to me. He said he didn't feel truly wanted by the franchise, but we'll never know the whole truth unless we were actually there. I do know one thing though, every Cardinals fan wanted Pujols to be a Cardinal for life and he would have gone down as one of the greats without a doubt in anyone's mind. He spent his best years in St. Louis though and helped bring us two World Series' and for that, I'll always be grateful.

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