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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Bryce Harper And Manny Machado Are In A Race To The World Series

This offseason, two of the biggest free agents in recent memory of Major League Baseball (MLB), but as time went on neither Machado or Harper had signed a blockbuster deal.

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Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are two of baseball's greatest rising stars, and fans and teams were waiting for the 2018-2019 offseason where both Machado and Harper were going to be on the free-agent market. Throughout the offseason, neither superstar had signed a contract yet, and as time got closer for players to report to Florida, and Arizona for spring training. After the two were able to sign their respective contract, now people are wondering which player will be able to win their first World Series trophy with their new team.

Throughout the MLB offseason, reporters and fans have been drooling to see what contracts two of the biggest free agents in recent memory would receive this year.

As the winter months came and went, neither Machado or Harper had a job for the 2019 MLB season, and when pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the thought actually occurred that Machado or Harper would have to be bagging groceries when it came to Opening Day. As the old saying goes, once the first domino falls, the rest come crashing down, and on February 20th, 2019 the San Diego Padres signed Manny Machado to a 10 year, $300 million deal. Eight days later the Philadelphia Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13 year $330 million deal. Both Machado and Harper had opportunities to win with their previous teams, neither was able to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy.

While the Padres are "a few years away" from contending to win, we saw this year where the Atlanta Braves were able to expedite the process by bringing farm talent to the big leagues. The Phillies, on the other hand, are in a win now scenario, with stars like Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, and Jake Arrieta, they have the chance to contend for the NL East and possibly a World Series title.

So, which star will be the first to get their rings fitted?

Bryce Harper, while Machado is an incredible player, he will have to go through the Colorado Rockies, which just extend future Hall of Famer Nolan Arenado and the Los Angeles Dodgers who will always contend for World Series titles. Harper, on the other hand, is going to a team that was one piece away from taking the division home a year ago, while it looks like Harper's former team the Washington Nationals will rebound after a mediocre year in their standards, and the aforementioned Atlanta Braves are the reigning division champs.

If the Phillies can get star pitcher Jake Arrieta back to CY Young form, and with the addition of veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the Phillies are in a great scenario to win the World Series for the first time since 2008.

While by no means is the contract Harper got favorable to the Phillies, they knew that Harper was the missing piece to win the World Series. Also, I'm not saying Machado and the Padres aren't going to contend for World Series in the future, just not as soon as the Phillies are. Now, if the Padres can pick up a star pitcher to have a stranglehold on their rotation *cough, cough Dallas Keuchel* then possibly they can contend for World Series in 2-3 years. But, as everything stands right now the Philadelphia Phillies, along with Bryce Harper are on their way to win a World Series before the San Diego Padres with Manny Machado.

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