The other day, several of us in the FiveThirtyEight office were musing about the New York Yankees’ chances in 2015. Certainly the Yankees are no longer the dominant powerhouse they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, nor are they even the outrageously expensive (but championship-starved) juggernaut of the mid-to-late 2000s.1They’re still spending in excess of $200 million on payroll, but that no longer ranks No. 1 in baseball, nor is it anywhere near as far from average as their payroll was at its 2005 peak. Fangraphs’ projections — which, like all preseason predictions, come with a lot of uncertainty — see the Yankees as a slightly above-average team this season, and their 84-78 record last year fit that description as well.But another interesting note about the 2015 Yankees is that their position-player corps figures to be one of the most improved in the American League, according to the projected wins above replacement (WAR) listed on Fangraphs’ depth charts. And the biggest position at which they got better? Shortstop — former home of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.We slagged on Jeter a bit last season for all the attention paid to his yearlong retirement tour despite his plainly awful numbers. The truth is that, according to WAR at least, the Yankees had the least-productive shortstop situation in all of baseball last year, so even a shortstop depth chart headlined by Didi Gregorius was bound to be one of the game’s most improved in 2015. And, sure enough, no team is projected to gain more WAR at shortstop this season than the Yankees, mostly because Jeter retired.Here’s an accounting of the Yankees’ projected gains and losses at each position, along with those of every other team going into the 2015 season:Of course, some teams improved even more at other positions than the Yankees did at shortstop. The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, picked up WAR superstar Jason Heyward to man right field, a position that had been filled poorly by Allen Craig and the late Oscar Taveras in 2014. That change projects to be worth a net improvement of about 7 WAR for St. Louis this season (including 4.6 from Heyward himself, plus the additional bonus of getting rid of -1.8 WAR from Craig and Taveras).The following table represents a more specific breakdown of the Yankees’ shortstops, the Cardinals’ right fielders and the 28 other positional situations that are projected to improve the most in 20152Note that, in some cases, a team can show great improvement despite the same player being projected as the primary starter in both 2015 as in 2014. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the player having improved projected rate statistics (whether because of age-related improvement or regression to the mean after an out-of-character bad season) or even more projected playing time in 2015.:
CARMELO looks at a player’s closest historical comparables to get a sense of how he will develop going forward, and it doesn’t see Thompson being anything more than an average player over the next few years.For instance, Thompson’s wins above replacement (WAR) projection over the next five years (9.1 WAR) ranks 114th among NBA players for whom we have a projection. At the league’s going rate per win (which adjusts for the coming salary-cap spike), that amount of WAR is worth a mere $36.1 million, a far (far!) cry from the $80 million that Cleveland offered — and Thompson rejected — for the same span of seasons. CARMELO also thinks Thompson’s next three years will be worth only $23.4 million, less than half of the $53 million he was seeking for the same term.With practically no leverage, Thompson will probably return to the Cavs sooner rather than later, and at a lower price than he’d previously been offered. But according to CARMELO, any cost higher than about $7.5 million per season will be too much for his services. Thompson isn’t a bad player, but he is a deeply average one — and was never worth even half the maximum contract he was seeking this summer.Read more:NBA player projections2015-16 NBA Previews After losing the NBA Finals in June, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to quickly turn their attention away from the court and toward their bank account. LeBron James was a free agent! (He re-signed with Cleveland for two years and $47 million.) Ditto Kevin Love! (He re-upped for five years and $110 million.) Not to mention Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, James Jones and finals folk hero Matthew Dellavedova, all of whom were brought back by the Cavs over the summer.But amid all the returnees was a glaring absence: power forward Tristan Thompson.Thompson, who made a name for himself during the Cavs’ playoff run with a solid performance in place of the injured Love, has turned down Cleveland’s contract offers all year long. He reportedly declined a four-year, $52 million extension in January and an offer of five years and $80 million this summer, supposedly because he wanted the league maximum of five years and $94 million. (He would later reportedly request — and be denied — a three-year, $53 million deal.) And despite threats that he’d accept Cleveland’s one-year qualifying offer of $6.8 million in order to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, Thompson eventually turned that down, too. Now Thompson is officially holding out, refusing to play until he gets a new contract.1On Thursday, collective bargaining agreement expert Larry Coon said he suspects that the Cavs have pulled their $80 million offer, further reducing Thompson’s options.You can appreciate Thompson’s dilemma. He became a free agent the summer before huge increases will reshape the NBA’s salary cap and maximum salary, thanks to the league’s gargantuan new TV contract. If Thompson takes the Cavs’ offers now, he’ll potentially be leaving a lot of money on the table, compared with what his peers will make starting next year. His holdout is the last resort in an attempt to inject what little leverage he can into his current situation.But all this talk kind of ignores the elephant in the room when it comes to Thompson: He isn’t all that good. Or at least, that’s the opinion of CARMELO, our new player-projection system.
Los Angeles Dodgers+1.12– But how can a player — or a whole team — develop high spin rates? Some players have high fastball spin rates innately, and others don’t — changing grip on a breaking ball can change spin rate, but it’s difficult to throw a fastball differently. Unlike velocity, which can be trained, a pitcher’s fastball spin ratio is thought to be extremely difficult to alter naturally.The unnatural solution is for a pitcher to apply a foreign substance. In May, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer drew the ire of the Houston Astros when he addressed the subject of sticky substances and their effect on performance.“There is a problem in baseball right now that has to do with sticky substances and spin rates,” Bauer said. “We know how it affects spin rate and we know how spin rate affects outcomes and pitches and movements that have a big difference in a game, a season and each individual player’s career.”“The people who choose not to do it are at a competitive disadvantage.” Chicago White Sox-0.80– Cleveland Indians+0.34– Major league rules state that no pitcher may apply “a foreign substance of any kind to the ball,” but the rule is rarely invoked — you’ll often see MLB pitchers tugging at their caps or touching their nonthrowing arms on the mound. When the rule is enforced, the offense is usually egregious — like in 2014 when Yankee Michael Pineda was ejected and ultimately suspended for putting pine tar on his neck and then on the baseball.We reached out to the MLB Commissioner’s Office last week, but it declined to comment on whether the league is investigating high spin rates.Opposing teams can ask umpires to check for substances, but that’s a rare occurrence. Indians manager Terry Francona actually apologized to Hinch in May for the spin-talk controversy on social media.“You’ve never seen me go out and challenge anybody because, if I feel like somebody is trying to grip the ball, I’m glad,” Francona said. A firmer grip might increase spin, but it also might prevent a pitcher from beaning a batter. “Yeah, they might make a better pitch, but there would not be a worse feeling than, as a hitter, knowing that this guy might let this one fly … What happens sometimes is when guys do stuff blatantly, it puts everybody in a tough spot, because it’s a rule, but he’s just trying to hold the ball.”Baseball has a long history of living with some common forms of rule-bending, such as sign stealing, scuffing baseballs and neighborhood plays. Even Bauer agrees that enforcing the rule isn’t the answer.“Allow it. I don’t see that there’s a way to enforce it,” he said in May. “So pick a substance that’s sticky … and just put it on the back of the mound.”MLB might have its own solution down the road: a tackier ball that is in development. The Indians were among the teams that tested the new ball this spring.“ I just hope that at some point, maybe we can morph into that,” Francona said, “because I think maybe it could be really helpful.”Of course even a tacky ball could always be tackier. Players and teams will probably always be looking for an edge, particularly now that they can quantify the power of spin.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Pittsburgh Pirates+0.54– New York Yankees+1.47– Seattle Mariners+0.46– San Diego Padres+0.33– * 2018 data through Sept. 20Source: Baseball savant Boston Red Sox+0.63– Houston Astros+0.90– When a thrown ball departs from a straight path, it’s because the speed of its spin creates a pressure differential. The ball moves toward the direction of lower pressure. In baseball, this phenomenon — known as the Magnus Effect — combines with the orientation of the ball’s spin axis to force a curveball to break downward and a slider to move more laterally. More spin equals more movement. The Magnus Effect forces a four-seam fastball in another direction: up.Just about every four-seam fastball is thrown in a similar manner, with the index and middle fingers of the throwing hand last making contact with the ball. Bauer, who’s known for taking a scientific approach to pitching, explained that to increase spin on four-seam fastballs, the pitcher’s fingers must maintain contact longer to form a more acute tangential angle with the ball. Bauer believes this is largely an innate trait — unless a sticky substance helps the fingers adhere to the ball for a fraction of second longer.University of Illinois physics professor Alan Nathan, an MLB consultant, agreed with Bauer’s theory.“It’s probably pretty hard to change that [fastball spin] ratio for an individual,” Nathan said of naturally changing spin rate. “I can see that you could do it for a curveball because a curveball involves some technique whereas a fastball is pure power. There is no finesse.”It seems like Bauer tried to prove his point with an on-field experiment. During the season, Bauer ranked 164th out of 495 pitches in average spin rate at 2,322 rpms. But in one inning of an April 30 start in Texas, Bauer’s average spin rate surged while his velocity remained steady. He came close to hitting 2,700 rpm with a fastball — more than 300 rpms above his average. Philadelphia Phillies-0.17– Minnesota Twins+0.28– Arizona Diamondbacks+0.55– St. Louis Cardinals+0.52– Miami Marlins-0.16– Tampa Bay Rays-0.17– Baltimore Orioles-0.14– San Francisco Giants-0.08– Atlanta Braves+0.22– Kansas City Royals-0.40– Detroit Tigers+0.22– Chicago Cubs+0.32– Colorado Rockies+0.53– Washington Nationals-0.06– New York Mets+0.78– Milwaukee Brewers+0.84– Oakland Athletics-0.62– Los Angeles Angels+0.37– Which MLB teams are prizing spin?MLB teams by change in average rate of four-seam fastball revolutions per minute/miles per hour between 2015 and 2018* When baseball welcomed the new Statcast technology to every major league stadium in 2015, the system’s Doppler radar began tracking an underlying pitching skill: spin rate. Teams and players were suddenly armed with new data to study and optimize. They were able to quantify long-held beliefs about pitch characteristics, like “late life” and “rise,” and challenge established practices, like always keeping the ball down as a pitcher.As batters have adjusted their swings lower to crush the sinking fastball, more and more pitchers have sought to go up in the zone, above uppercut swing planes, with elevated fastballs. In every year of Statcast pitch tracking, the average height of four-seam fastballs upon reaching the plate has increased. And adding spin to the four-seam fastball is what makes it a bat-missing weapon. The teams that harness those high-spin pitches seem to have an advantage in getting to October: The Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians are the top four teams in spin rate on four-seam fastballs, and the Boston Red Sox are ninth.Leaguewide batting averages offer a snapshot into the importance of spin. When pitchers threw fastballs between 93 and 94 mph with an average spin range of 2,240 to 2,300 revolutions per minute, hitters posted a .279 average this season. But against the same velocity range with an increased spin of 2,540 to 2,600 rpms, batting average declines to .255. The more spin a fastball has, the more it appears to rise and resist gravity, and that creates more swings and misses, as demonstrated by Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs. Cincinnati Reds-0.99– Texas Rangers+0.88– TEAMChange in average Fastball RPM/MPH, 2015-18 Teams can acquire known high-spin pitchers, but whether individual teams and players can improve their spin ratios is another question. If a team or individual can learn how to alter fastball spin naturally, they would have a major competitive advantage. (Driveline Baseball’s Kyle Boddy wrote on Twitter earlier this year that one way to increase fastball spin without substance would be to throw a hybrid four-seam/cut fastball.)Eno Sarris found for The Athletic that pitchers joining the Astros have enjoyed small spin gains on average, but not every pitcher has made gains. FanGraphs found that the Blue Jays, Yankees, Rockies, Tigers and Astros added the most spin to new arrivals, often modest gains.Gerrit Cole of the Astros and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers are elite pitchers who have made significant gains in spin. Only Jorge De La Rosa had a greater year-to-year Bauer Unit improvement on his fastball (+2.31 rpm/mph) than Cole (+2.01 rpm/mph), according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of Statcast data through Sept. 20. Since 2015, Kershaw has added the most spin relative to velocity. His spin rate has increased from 2,217 rpms on average in 2015 to 2,388 this season despite his average fastball velocity falling from 94.2 mph in 2015 to 90.7 this season. That helped Kershaw rank fourth in vertical fastball movement among starters, or average rise, with 10.9 inches this season.Cole has always had one of the top fastball velocities in the game. The pitch averaged 96.6 mph for him this season1Through Sept. 20. after he posted a 95.9 mph mark last season. But his average spin increased from 2,164 rpms last season to 2,374 this season. Cole ranks 34th in rise (9.7 inches vertical inches) among 176 starting pitchers to have thrown 200 fastballs this season and ninth in whiffs per swing (29.3 percent). Cole ranked 127th in vertical rise on his fastball last season (8.8 inches) and 37th in whiffs per swing (21.6 percent), among 189 qualified pitchers.In May, Cole told me that he learned to release the ball differently after working with Verlander, changing the pitch’s spin axis by looking for “true rotation and hop” and “staying behind the ball better.” Cole said the Astros also worked with him on pitch usage and location.Astros manager A.J.Hinch said in a radio interview that Cole is throwing fewer two-seamers, a lower-spin pitch that is sometimes mislabeled by Statcast, and that Cole has made “subtle tweaks.” Cole did record several high-spin fastballs in Pittsburgh that seemed to be outliers, so baseball blogger Saul Forman suggested that the Astros might have simply identified an untapped skill. Cole finished this season fifth in baseball in pitching wins above replacement.Statcast technology is imperfect. Hinch is right in saying that Statcast doesn’t label every pitch correctly. And its Doppler radar doesn’t read spin axis,2Rapsodo tracking technology does that. which means that Statcast does not differentiate between transverse spin — which is sensitive to Magnus Effect — and gyrospin, which is not. Transverse spin is front spin (for a curveball or slider) or backspin (for a fastball) that rotates around an axis that is perpendicular to direction of motion. Gyrospin is like that of a bullet or football thrown in a spiral. A gyrospin axis is in line with the direction of motion. Most pitches have an element of each type of spin. Still, of all pitches, the four-seam fastball has the most consistent spin axis, Nathan said, so it should be most accurate to evaluate via Statcast. Bauer was asked after the game if he had used a foreign substance in that inning, and he said simply, “No comment.” He did acknowledge testing different substances in the lab at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Washington, where he trains and researches in the offseason.“I’ve melted down Firm Grip and Coca-Cola and pine tar together,” Bauer told reporters in May. “I’ve tested a lot of stuff. At 70 mph, when we were doing the tests, spin rates jumped between 300-400 rpm while using various different sticky substances. The effect is slightly less pronounced at higher velocities … but still between 200–300 rpm increase.”Driveline Baseball has tried to make it easier to measure spin rate. It released a metric in November 2016 called “Bauer Units,” a measure for spin divided by velocity. That allows us to look across teams and isolate which players might be generating spin more than others. And some of the most analytically driven teams seemed to valued spin more as soon as Statcast began measuring.Raw spin rate generally increases with velocity, but it’s the spin-to-velocity (rpm-to-mph) ratio that is so crucial to determining pitch movement. For instance, a high-velocity fastball with just average spin will not have as great of a rise effect as a lower-velocity, higher-spin fastball will. The ideal fastball is high-spin, high-velocity, like that of Justin Verlander. The Astros ace ranks second in baseball in vertical movement of his fastball, at 11.2 inches, with an average velocity of 95 mph. His fastball generates 29.4 percent whiffs per swing, seventh in baseball. It’s that rpm-to-mph ratio that is considered difficult to improve in fastballs by those who, like Bauer, have experimented in lab settings.In recent seasons, the Astros added spin outliers in Verlander and Ryan Pressley, who rank fifth and 10th in raw fastball spin rate and fifth and 16th in Bauer Units. (Bauer ranks 162nd out of 348 pitchers in Bauer Units.) The Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman and Sonny Gray. The Dodgers made a significant investment, three years and $48 million, in elite spin-rate artist Rich Hill after the 2016 season despite his lengthy history of injury and inconsistency.The Dodgers, Astros and Yankees rank first, third and fourth in Bauer Units this season. And since 2015, those same three teams lead in Bauer Units added, suggesting that they better prize and/or teach the skill. All three teams declined interview requests on how they evaluate and develop spin. Toronto Blue Jays+0.07–
The investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss is “nearing its conclusion,” Provost Bruce McPheron said at Ohio State’s full Board of Trustee meeting, while noting that the university is still seeking to reach mediation with accusers in federal court.Richard Strauss, a former wrestling team physician and an assistant professor of medicine, is being investigated by Ohio State on allegations of sexual misconduct. Credit: Lantern file photoMcPheron also said that counseling has been offered to alumni and will be paid for by the university. According to court documents in early February, there was disagreement between the plaintiffs in Brian Garrett et. al, v. Ohio State and Steve Snyder-Hill et. al, v. Ohio State, a pair of class-action suits led by Strauss accusers. Garrett and Snyder-Hill, the leading plaintiffs, requested former mediators of both the Penn State and Michigan State sexual abuse cases.Ohio State opposed both proposed mediators, and instead suggested a former district court chief judge and an appeals court chief mediator. The plaintiffs opposed the two, arguing that neither had experience handling sexual abuse mediations in the past.A mediation was supposed to begin within 30 days after the initial court order came in on Jan. 17, which would have been on Feb. 16. According to court documents citing a meeting of the two sides on Feb. 19, the two parties now have until March 12 to agree on a mediator.In Steve Snyder-Hill et. al v. Ohio State, the plaintiff proposed an alternate mediator in Judge Steven Rhodes if the other two are not selected. Rhodes is a retired judge who presided over the City of Detroit bankruptcy case in 2013. He has also served as mediator in a second phase of the Michigan State sexual abuse case involving Larry Nassar.Strauss, a doctor at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998, is accused of sexually abusing former student-athletes during his time as a team physician at Ohio State, as well as students while serving as an employee at Student Health Services. Ohio State investigators are also looking into claims as to whether he abused students at a private clinic after leaving the university.Strauss died by suicide in 2005. In a letter sent to 115,000 alumni in February, Ohio State said it would cover the cost of professionally certified counseling from Praesidium for any students affected by Strauss. In a past Board update, it was revealed that more than 150 individuals had come forward with allegations of misconduct from Strauss.McPheron said Friday that Praesidium is a “leader in responding to incidents of sexual abuse.”At the last full Board meeting in November, a number of accusers, including both Garrett and Snyder-Hill, spoke before the board with their stories of sexual abuse from Strauss.Ohio State opened an investigation into Strauss in April 2018 with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur serving as legal counsel to Ohio State, as appointed by then-attorney general and now-Governor Mike DeWine. The firm originally hired Bricker & Eckler to lead the investigation, but turned to Seattle-based Perkins Coie in May due to a legal conflict with Bricker & Eckler.Facing lawsuits from accusers, Ohio State has been represented by Carpenter Lipps & Leland. Ohio State attempted to have both the court cases dismissed, but Judge Michael H. Watson put both the motion to stay discovery and motion to dismiss on hold. “Ohio State remains steadfastly committed to learning about Strauss’ conduct,” McPheron said, noting that the university will address the past when the investigation is concluded and will continue to improve in the future.
12 teams, three groups, two teams from Asia, this is the new version of the world’s oldest tournament set to be played in Brazil this summer.The draw for the 2019 Copa America tournament already took place, with 12 nations from two confederations competing for a single trophy.Six stadiums in five hosts cities in Brazil will witness how from June 14 to July 7th, 12 teams will try to show they are the best in South America.Including Japan and Qatar.These two Asian teams, who are currently in the Semifinals of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and who might even get to meet in the final, were invited by CONMEBOL.This happened after both Mexico and the United States from CONCACAF decided not to attend a tournament they have been left uninvited when it was announced, then invited again some months ago.Neymar can win the Ballon d’Or, says Ander Herrera Andrew Smyth – September 13, 2019 An “excited” Ander Herrera believes new Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is a contender for the Ballon d’Or alongside Kylian Mbappe.Hosts Brazil will lead Group A together with Bolivia, Venezuela, and Peru.Argentina was drawn into Group B with Colombia, Paraguay, and guests Qatar.While Uruguay is set to play in Group C with Ecuador, Japan, and Chile.The best two teams of each group will qualify directly to the Quarterfinals, while the best two ranked third places will also win a ticket to the elimination round.The Group Stage will be played from June 14 up to the 24th, while the Quarterfinals will be played from the 27 to the 29.Semifinals are set to be played on July 2nd and 3rd. Meanwhile, the Third Place match is scheduled for July 6 and the final for July 7 at Maracana Stadium.
The German footballer is working hard to be considered for the first-team tomorrow against Russia, but he knows he’s contending with othersGermany national team international Serge Gnabry hopes he can make it into the starting eleven tomorrow against Russia.“I wouldn’t have any problems with that. I would be excited to play for Germany again. We played well against France and are doing everything we can to be dangerous and to play attacking football,” he told the nations’ official website.Top 5 Bundesliga players to watch during the weekend Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 11, 2019 With the international activity cooling down for the next month, we go back to the Bundesliga’s Top 5 players to watch next weekend.The German…“The atmosphere in the team is very upbeat. I feel very happy and am having fun here. There are a few us who played together for the U21s and this makes it easier to settle into the senior team.”“I have my anatomy to thank for why I can run so fast. However, as a footballer, you constantly have to work hard on your strengths,” he explained.“Timo Werner is also a fast player and pace is a strength for anyone. I always try to give my best on the pitch. I hope my performances contribute to me playing an important role for club and country.”
Kolkata: Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) Principal Uchhal Bhadra fell ill after he was heckled by some MBBS students, who continue to protest for the past eight days at the hospital premises, demanding a new hostel accommodation.It is alleged that it was a politically motivated incident, where the Principal was targeted with mala-fide intentions.It happened after a scuffle broke out during the agitation inside the hospital on Tuesday. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeThe Principal was immediately taken to the Cardiology department of the hospital for treatment. He was, however, shifted to SSKM Hospital in an ambulance.A section of doctors in the hospital said that agitating students tried to put block the ambulance from going away. They called it an unfortunate incident.Earlier in the day, the Principal of CMCH held a press conference regarding the ongoing students’ agitation.He said the CMCH authorities have agreed to meet the demands. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedThe agitating students were assured that they would be given a new hostel accommodation, whereas in some of the cases, the condition of some hostel rooms would be improved. Around 276 hostel rooms have also been allotted by the CMCH authorities.But the agitating students refused to listen to the authorities and demanded rooms in the new hostel building.They gheraoed the Principal when he was coming out of the press conference. The incident triggered tension on the medical college campus on Tuesday. It was learnt that Bhadra, who has blood pressure, felt chest pain following the incident.After primary treatment in CMCH, the Principal was taken to SSKM Hospital, where he is currently undergoing treatment in the ITU. Several tests were performed on him.The agitating students, however, threatened to submit a memorandum to the Governor placing their demands.The second, third and fourth year MBBS students of CMCH started a protest agitation inside the hospital campus, nearly seven days ago, demanding a new hostel for them.The move was taken after the first year MBBS students were given a new hostel by the CMCH authorities.The students taking part in the agitation alleged that the hostel meant for them is not in a good condition.