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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30 Things I Would Rather Do Than Watch The Patriots Win Another Super Bowl

Because no one like the Patriots except the Patriots.
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The Patriots are definitely one of those teams that everyone loves to hate (myself included as a Steelers fan). With multiple past cheating scandals, it’s surprising that there isn’t more attention brought to the speculation that the refs are in their pocket. Somehow the rules are always in their favor just when you think they are going to lose. We are all tired of seeing the Patriots win in ways that only seem possible by ritual sacrifices and dirty politics. I don't even need to be a fan of who they're playing — here are 30 things I would rather do than see the Patriots win yet another Super Bowl this year.

1. Get a Brazilian bikini wax

2. Be allergic to the sun

3. Give up chocolate for the rest of my life

4. Get my wisdom teeth pulled… without anesthetic

5. Have to speak in front of a class in my underwear

6. Put my hand in a deep fryer

7. Have a bloody nose every day for the rest of my life

8. Use my first ever email address (saigepoo@aol.com)

9. Never be able to text again

10. Have to walk to class in the rain every day

11. Lose my wallet

12. Wait in line at the DMV

13. Be stuck in high school forever

14. Shave my head

15. Go without power for a week

16. Fall off a cliff

17. Get hit by a car

18. Run an ultramarathon

19. Never pet another dog

20. Walk on legos

21. Go on a juice cleanse

22. Have my car break down on the interstate

23. Bite my tongue over and over

24. Get a sunburn on my butt

25. Have to speak without using E’s

26. Be chased by a clown

27. Get braces... again

28. Never eat at Taco Bell again

29. Drop my phone in the toilet

30. Throw myself down a flight of stairs

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Listen Up Sports Fans, It's Time To Give The Mets The Attention They Rightfully Deserve

The New York Mets struggled mightily last season, and with new front office management, here's how the Mets are shaping up for next season.

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The New York Mets were at the bottom of the pack in the MLB last season. They look like they are starting to shake things up a lot, but we won't know if that helps until the season starts. Here's how things are shaping up to look.

1. The Mets hired a new General Manager who is very active

The New York Mets recently hired a new General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen. After his hire, many Mets fan were skeptical of him since he was an agent who represented MLB players and had no general management experience. However, right off the bat (pun intended), Van Wagenen is shaking up the Mets roster with an early offseason trade, and likely several more to come.

2. But hopefully not too active

There is a perfect balance to a general manager's activity level. Too few trades and signings mean the team is likely to do just as poorly as last season, and the fans won't be too happy about that, especially because the fans are from New York. Yikes. On the other hand, too many trades mean that you're inevitably going to trade away a player that you shouldn't have and you'll get next to nothing in return, again leaving New York sports fans angered, and that's something you just never want to do. As per trade rumors regarding the New York Mets, it seems as if the new GM is coming close to pulling off a bad trade surrounding Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, or Amed Rosario.

3. Robinson Cano is a crucial piece to the puzzle for the Mets

The Mets recently acquired all-star second baseman Robinson Cano and arguably the best closing pitcher in baseball last season, Edwin Diaz. While Diaz is a key addition to the roster, Robinson Cano is really the centerpiece. Cano spent many seasons playing for the New York Yankees, so he has experience playing in New York — good experience, too. He was an all-star four out of his eight seasons with the New York Yankees, so he definitely has shown his skill set off in New York.

4. But things could turn sour with Robinson Cano

Last season, Robinson Cano was suspended for 80 games for using performance-enhancing drugs. If he did that while playing in Seattle, it would be easy to imagine how quickly things could take a turn for the worse if he is playing in New York.

5. There are still many good free agents to sign

While some free agents like Patrick Corbin have recently been taken off the market, there still remains a large number of quality players who have yet to sign with a team. Perhaps the biggest free agent name in any sport is Bryce Harper. The Mets should make a serious push to sign Bryce Harper which would definitely smooth things over with New York fans if the new GM decides to follow through with that aforementioned bad trade.

6. But time and money are running out

The Mets have little time left to meet with these big free agents since many other teams have already had meetings with Harper and other players like Manny Machado. Additionally, it doesn't help that the Mets only have limited money left to sign players when they still need to focus on resigning some of their own.

The New York Mets have made some very positive changes this offseason, but there are plenty of opportunities for negative changes, too. We'll just have to wait and see how the rest of the offseason goes and pray for a good 2019 season for the New York Mets.

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