Bored With Balance In Baseball 2016 Could Be Your Year

The arrival of spring training brings with it a number of treats. If you’re a fan, it’s the hope that this might be the year your team wins the World Series. If you’re Yoenis Cespedes, it’s a cavalcade of rides that would make Birdman jealous. And for number crunchers, it’s a fresh batch of projections, ripe for statistical exploration.Those projections — generated by algorithms such as Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA1Which, I’m obliged to say, was originally developed by FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver. — endeavor to predict the performance of each major league player and team in the coming season. That’s a tough job, and often a thankless one; if a projection system makes headlines at all, it’s usually for drawing the ire of a scorned team or fan base. (Never underestimate how quickly World Series joy can turn into anger when the computer calls for a sub-.500 record!) But projections are also invaluable because they provide a statistical snapshot, frozen in time, from which we can learn to become more accurate in the future, and suss out potential trends in the game.And this year, PECOTA’s projections spat out something that may prove even more noteworthy than, say, the last-place finish they predict for the defending champion Kansas City Royals. The numbers suggest that MLB’s brief era of balance may soon be over. For the last decade or so, the spread of wins in PECOTA’s projection2As measured by the standard deviation. has been trending downward. That meant the algorithm was forecasting win totals with less variability and more parity. With most teams clustered around 81 wins — a .500 record — it was becoming more difficult to make precise predictions about each team’s finish. Partly for this reason, team-level projections had their most inaccurate season since (at least) 1996.31996 is the earliest year for which we have archival projection numbers. Factors like health and midseason trades, neither of which PECOTA can reliably predict, dominated any differences in talent among teams when it came to determining the outcome of the season.This year, however, PECOTA is projecting a much larger spread in talent. The standard deviation of its forecast win totals is the highest it’s been since 2013, when (perhaps not coincidentally) its predictions were much more accurate. Since a wider spread in team records implies greater confidence about which teams will be good or bad, it’s fair to wonder what’s driving this newfound certitude after such a bad year for the stats.Part of PECOTA’s confidence is based on improvements to the algorithm. For the first time, it’s incorporating the effect of pitch framing, or the ability of individual catchers to quietly improve the odds of a called strike through their receiving skills. A pitching staff’s projected earned run average can go up or down depending on the sleight of a catcher’s glove. So teams with good framers, such as Yasmani Grandal of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will see their projected ERA drop, while those with poor receivers, like the Philadelphia Phillies’ Carlos Ruiz, will allow higher ERAs.But the wider distribution of predicted wins hasn’t been driven completely by tweaks in the algorithms. Las Vegas’s over/under lines tell a story similar to PECOTA’s, forecasting their widest spread in win totals since 2013. Savvy bettors have known about pitch framing for years, so clearly some other factor is driving the change. And the reason may be as simple as a few great teams coming out of rebuilding mode — and several bad ones entering it — at the same time.Fully five teams project to win 90 or more games this season, compared with only three last year and two the year before. Some are to be expected, like the always-dominant-in-the-preseason Dodgers, and others have risen on the basis of defense (Tampa Bay) or pitching (Cleveland). But some, like the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets, simply represent the recent maturation of prospect-heavy farm systems.For instance, PECOTA thinks the defending NL champion Mets will win 90 games, largely on the strength of a young, flamethrowing rotation projected to add about 13 wins above replacement.4With assistance from the good framing of catcher Travis d’Arnaud, of course. And the Cubs figure to win oodles of games no matter which source you use for your projections: PECOTA has them down for 94 wins, while FanGraphs’ projections are even more rosy, calling for 97 victories. Only two other teams in the last four years were projected by PECOTA to win 95 or more games: the 2014 and 2015 Dodgers.5In reality, those L.A. teams won 94 and 92 games, respectively. (By comparison, there were six such teams in the four years before 2014.) Chicago has overwhelmed the projection systems’ conservative streak by following their breakout 97-win season with the best offseason of any MLB team, plus enough reserves of youth, depth and prospect firepower to procure extra wins at the trade deadline if necessary.The common thread is the transition from “building” to “built.” Graduating many of their most promising players to the majors in the last year or so, the Cubs and Mets are now seeing them play some of the best ball in decades. The concentration of so much young talent on so few teams, during an era where young players are more valuable than they’ve been in many years, has clearly played a role in the widening of win projections this season.And at the other end of the spectrum, two teams are predicted to win fewer than 69 games: the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. After failing to reach .500 these past few seasons, both teams have recently hired new general managers with long-term mandates. The new GMs (Matt Klentak in Philadelphia and John Coppolella in Atlanta) have embraced rebuilding as the new way of things, trading skilled veterans such as Andrelton Simmons to restock their minor league systems with prospects. In particular, the Phillies appear to be in for a rough year, with the worst win total projection of any MLB team since the Houston Astros in 2013. Like the Cubs and Mets at the top of the scale, these rebuilding teams are widening the spread of records at the bottom.Any time teams deliberately move away from .500, in either direction, we should see a more variable league. Projections like PECOTA may be getting more accurate thanks to additions like catcher framing, but a lot of the spread in predicted wins comes down to the old-fashioned distribution of talent across the major leagues. And in a welcome change from recent seasons, this year should give us a handful of great teams battling for playoff spots, instead of a mass of mediocrity. read more

Report Wide receiver Trevon Grimes to transfer from Ohio State to Florida

Freshman wide receiver Trevon Grimes (8) walks onto the field during the Ohio State vs. UNLV game on Sept. 23. Ohio State beat UNLV 54-21. Credit: Ris Twigg | Assistant Photo EditorFreshman wide receiver Trevon Grimes will move on from Ohio State before the completion of his first season with the program, according to a report by the Sun-Sentinel.The newspaper reported Friday the former four-star prospect out of St. Thomas Aquinas (Florida) will transfer to Florida. Grimes has been away from Ohio State since October when he left the team to deal with, what head coach Urban Meyer called, family health issues. On November 8, Meyer said he was taking classes in Florida and he expected Grimes would eventually rejoin the team.This season, Grimes had three catches for 20 yards. He caught one pass for eight yards against Army and had two catches for 12 yards against UNLV. Grimes was the 41st-ranked player in the 2017 class and the No. 6 wide receiver, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.An Ohio State spokesman was not able to confirm the report. read more

ExMan Utd coach Lingard is the English version of Iniesta

first_imgRene Meulensteen has hailed Jesse Lingard as England’s answer to Barcelona and Spain icon Andres Iniesta.The Dutch coach worked for the Manchester United first-team during the final six-and-a-half years of Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden career and helped bring Lingard through the youth ranks at Old Trafford.Across recent weeks, the 26-year-old has impressed greatly under interim coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with the Norwegian praising him for “fantastic” development earlier this week.Lingard has managed three goals and two assists in seven starts since his former academy boss replaced Jose Mourinho in December.And now Meulensteen is the latest to praise Lingard, who he believes not only has all the qualities that Ferguson valued most in a player but shares many similarities with Spanish midfield maestro Iniesta.“Sir Alex always had a clear picture of what a good player looked like and they had to have quick feet, quick brain, and a big heart,”  Meulensteen told 888sport.“That is basically everything that Jesse had but he was very slight for his age. I worked with him from the age of eight or nine, taking him abroad for tournaments. He was always having to fight battles because he was tiny in build.Harry Maguire, Manchester UnitedLiverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“But all things level themselves out and eventually those three things make a difference – quick feet, a quick brain, and a big heart. And he has done ever so well.“The fans always need to associate themselves with players who have come through the ranks.“While I was there and Sir Alex was there, it was so important to keep bringing young players through.“The difference with Jesse is that he was always the English version of Iniesta. He can play in the pockets, he’s very mobile and very agile.“He can beat a man and he’s good in combination play. The last few seasons he started to score important goals as well.”Lingard will hope to continue his solid run of form in United’s trip to the King Power Stadium on Sunday in a Premier League match against Leicester City.last_img read more

Businessweek Sees First Quarter Upswing in Ad Pages

first_imgBloomberg Businessweek relaunched in April 2010. The redesign included an “Opening Remarks” column for each issue. The magazine was also divided into five sections: global economics, companies and industries, politics and policy, technology and markets and finance. The boost in editorial is a result of utilizing 146 bureaus in 72 countries. Bloomberg Businessweek is certainly seeing the fruits of its redesign labors.According to figures released by the Publisher’s Information Bureau, Businessweek experienced an increase of 49 percent in ad sales for 2011’s first quarter, compared to 2010’s first quarter.Businessweek has also been nominated for the National Magazine Awards, and is launching a new iPad app this month.Hugh Wiley, the publisher of Businessweek, said, “We’ve positioned ourselves in the marketplace as an investment story – sending the strong message that we’re the only business magazine that is investing while others are cutting back – and as the only weekly and global business magazine with an eye on preparing our readers for the week ahead.”last_img read more

The Streaming Wars Other Battlefront User Experience as Important as Content Survey

first_imgContent is king — but the queen for direct-to-consumer streaming services is overall user experience, according to a new study.It’s well understood that the price/value ratio for subscription VOD hinges on access to content, including exclusive originals and popular library titles. But just as important is an SVOD offering’s ease-of-use and other consumer-friendly features, consulting firm PwC found in a recent research survey.On average, the correlation between content to value (with a 0.73 correlation coefficient) is roughly comparable to that of experience to value (0.70), according to PwC’s study.“The biggest surprise to me was that the importance of the user experience, while not surpassing content, was as prevalent,” said Mark McCaffrey, PwC’s U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader. “It’s stronger than I thought it would be.” User experience (“UX”) has long been a focus for Netflix, the worldwide SVOD leader, as well as Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Now the sector is about to get significant new competition from well-funded new entrants, including Disney’s Disney+, Apple TV+ and WarnerMedia’s forthcoming SVOD services. Related ×Actors Reveal Their Favorite Disney PrincessesSeveral actors, like Daisy Ridley, Awkwafina, Jeff Goldblum and Gina Rodriguez, reveal their favorite Disney princesses. Rapunzel, Mulan, Ariel,Tiana, Sleeping Beauty and Jasmine all got some love from the Disney stars.More VideosVolume 0%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcutsplay/pauseincrease volumedecrease volumeseek forwardsseek backwardstoggle captionstoggle fullscreenmute/unmuteseek to %SPACE↑↓→←cfm0-9Next UpJennifer Lopez Shares How She Became a Mogul04:350.5x1x1.25×1.5x2xLive00:0002:1502:15 And with the streaming market getting more crowded, McCaffrey said, “differentiation is becoming more imperative.”On the PwC-commissioned survey, when asked why a given SVOD service is their favorite, 33% of respondents picked “ease of use” among their top three criteria. That was followed by reliability (26%) and content-related factors — “It has full-length TV shows I love” (25%); “I know I’ll always be able to find something to watch” (22%); “It has complete seasons of shows, not just a handful of episodes” (21%); and “There’s an endless amount of content to choose from” (18%).The results are based on a PwC online survey fielded in March 2019 to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. consumers 18-64 who have access to the internet.Clearly, content is the carrot that drives subscriber signups: 36% of survey respondents said they have subscribed to a new video service expressly to watch a show that was exclusive to the service (and among those 18-29, nearly half — 46% — have done so).Meanwhile, price point is a the single strongest indicator of whether a consumer keeps or cancels an SVOD provider: “Low monthly cost” was cited by 65% of respondents as among the most important features. That was followed by “little to no ads” (35%), an easy-to-use interface (25%), and binge-able full seasons of TV shows released all at once (24%).But the quality of the UX is what drives overall retention, according to McCaffrey. “If you can improve the user experience, that tends to drive more loyalty in the customer base,” he said.PwC’s survey found consumer usage of pay-TV and SVOD services to be similar — 58% said they watch subscription TV daily and 57% said they use subscription VOD daily. That’s followed by daily use of virtual pay TV services (25%) and ad-supported VOD services (20%). According to PwC, the frequency of daily use correlates with how users perceive convenience: Traditional pay-TV and SVOD services are much more likely to be viewed as “convenient” compared with vMVPDs and AVOD services. Popular on Variety Variety Announces Inaugural Silicon Valley Summit Here are some of PwC’s other takeaways from the report, “Streaming ahead: Making UX + content strategy work together”:Usability and experience factor significantly more into subscriber retention than “loyalty” reward programs like monthly discounts on subscriptions or free trials.Letting users easily find exactly what they’re looking for is more important so than a casual browsing experience.Consumers do, however, want expanded browsing options, like being able to search by mood or length of content. Stay Longer, Save More at The Plaza New York Experience more and up to 25% off when you extend your stay at The Plaza and savor all that New York City has to offer. Ad by The Plaza NY See More AdChoices Media Companies Trail in Artificial-Intelligence Adoption Amid Fear, Unfamiliarity: PwC Researchlast_img read more

Beyond the picture postcards

first_imgBattling the scorching summers of Delhi, pigeons take refuge where once cannons struck Kashmiri Gate. 11 May 1857: the saga of Mangal Pandey, the followed up Sepoy Mutiny, the first war of Indian independence, and the post war catastrophic fall of the Mughal era; the date stands for a tumultuous epoch in the history of Indian independence. The carousel of life oscillates between time, bringing back the memories of 1857 and its imprints on Delhi post 156 years. It was in the sweltering heat of May that the sepoys blitzkrieg-‘ed’ into  the walled city of Shahjahanabad to strengthen Mughal power under Bahadurshah Zafar and overthrow Britishers. Roused by the incident of animal fat on cartridges, they marched to topple British power in Delhi. The remnants of Shahjahanabad’s walls, the confines of Kashmiri gate, the shrouded telegraph memorial, and the garden of Qudsia beckon you into history.Saddle up your horses to gallop into the lanes of Kashmiri gate and witness some of its vignettes this May. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’ Kashmiri Gate Swerving through the lanes of Old Delhi, his school bus travelled from Ludlaw castle, passing by Qudsia Bagh, through the then open gates of Kashmiri gate back in 1954, revels the 63 year old Chartered Accountant, Suresh Malik. The gate is now confined, literally, to the four walls under the Archaeological survey of India.Leading to the road to Kashmir, walled city’s northern gate was built by Shahjahan in 1638 AD. Withering through the onslaught of 1857, it came under the downpour of cannon balls; marks still visible in the holed up façade taken over by the pigeons to rest in peace now. A plaque inside the monument entails the story of 1857; how the mutineers assembled and strategized here, and how on the morning of 14 September, 1857 the left bridge and the right leaf of the gate were bombarded by British forces, gradually marking the end of the siege in Delhi. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixSt. James ChurchOne of the oldest churches of Delhi lies a stone’s throw away from Kashmiri gate. The copper ball and the cross atop its dome bore the scathing attack from sepoys in 1857. The marks may not be visible as the replicas took over but the magnificence of British era emanates through its grandeur. Telegraph Memorial and the magazineShrouded by trees stands Telegraph Memorial: the site from where the revolt was signaled off to Ambala before the officers on duty evacuated their cabin in fear. The magazine next to it was blasted by the Britishers  in fear of loss of weaponry to the mutineers. Interestingly one plaque  calls the mutineers as rebels and the other below bestows an honor of ‘patriots’ to the sepoys  Nicholson CemeteryLike Pere Lechaise in Paris, it doesnt have violonists but it  still conjures up lives of people in 19th century. Walk through its carved tombs, read through its epitaphs; the moss grown gravestones turn into expression of poetry in mourning;, offering a peaceful experience dedicated to the British Brigadier General John Nicholson who was mortally wounded in 1857.   Qudsia BaghA wisp of elegance en-wraps it. Once Yamuna ran through its sides, breezing in air through its corridors. Though the river changed its course, the garden still dots with men playing cards, laborers  catching up noon’s nap, and tired travelers. A mosque, a gateway and some domes carved in diamond cut style, is what remains of the sprawling palace of Qudsia, made by Mohammad Shah Rangeela in honor of his begum.  The palace bore the brunt of the British forces during the seige of 1857. Perhaps, one can take down bricks and mortar, but the signature of splendor stays on.last_img read more

News channel Al Jazeera Arabic has launched a new

first_imgNews channel Al Jazeera Arabic has launched a new look with a complete redesign of studios and graphics and has launched on HD on the Nilesat satellite platform.Ahmed bin Jassim al Thani, director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network, said that the move was the first phase of a plan that also included the lauc of new programmes.“The Al Jazeera screen is part of people’s homes, so we’ve exerted a great deal of effort to modernise our presentation and look. We have employed the best and latest technology in the industry to maximize the production value. Al Jazeera has distinguished itself through outstanding news coverage and reports. Today, it adds more to its account through the new look,” said Al Thani. “This is the first phase of a comprehensive progression plan for the network which includes launching new programs. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to our audience, and all staff for their dedication to continuously perfecting the performance of our network.” He said the move to HD took “the high quality production standards of Al Jazeera to a new level”.last_img read more