Latest #MLB Projections

I have steadily had a Cleveland versus San Francisco World Series prediction going since a week or so before the All Star break. I am not here to change that, however there seems to be some uncertainty around the MLB world as to who will make it to the postseason in a few races. The AL East seems to have a new leader weekly and the Giants have some company in the NL West thanks to the Dodgers playing well of late. I think there are a few things to consider when predicting what will happen and that is to look at who’s playing well at the moment as well as some key stats from years past. As we go division by division we are going to dissect those key stats and look at important data right now to give an educated projection of the what will happen. The key things we are going to look at are: offense and pitching since the All Star break and run differential. There have been only 2 instances since 2010 where a +100 run differential did not make the postseason. In 2011 the Boston Red Sox missed the postseason despite posting a +138 run differential and in 2012 the Tampa Bay Rays missed the postseason despite posting a +120 run differential. That is the list the last 5 years, if you get to over +100 run differential you are in. The worst playoff run differential clubs since 2010 are: 2015 Rangers (+18), 2014 Royals (+27), 2012 Orioles (+7). Every other playoff team had a run differential higher than +50. In 2010 EVERY playoff team had a run differential above +100. I think this shows that this stat matters.

AL East

Right now the Blue Jays have the 0.5 game lead over the Red Sox and 2.5 game lead over the Orioles. Since the All Star break in AL team ERA the Red Sox are 3rd, the Blue Jays 4th, and the Orioles are 13th. In AL runs scored the Red Sox are 1st, the Blue Jays are 6th, and the Orioles are 13th. Now we look at Run Differential. The Red Sox have a +121, Blue Jays have a +96, and the Orioles have a +20. Note: the Advantage-Boston Red Sox

AL Central

Right now the Indians have a 7 game in the division. Since the All Star break the Indians are 11th in the AL in ERA-Detroit (2nd), Kansas City (6th), and Chicago (10th). As for offense Cleveland is 2nd in the AL in runs scored since the All Star break and along with the Red Sox are the only other AL club with a run differential higher than +100. The Indians boast a +104. Advantage-Cleveland Indians

AL West

Right now the Rangers have a 6 game lead. That is about where the feel good stops, they are 8th in the AL in ERA and 11th in runs, to add to that they only have a +5 run differential FOR THE YEAR. Still advantage-Texas Rangers but they need to get it together.

NL East

Right now the Nationals have a 9.5 game lead in the division. They possess the 4th best post All Star ERA and are tied for 2nd in runs scored. The Nationals have the 2nd best run differential in all of baseball at +146 and the only other team in the division that is positive is the Marlins at +13. Advantage-Washington Nationals

NL Central

Even though it is an exercise in futility to come up with enough good things to say about this season’s edition of the Chicago Cubs we are going to point out what they have been doing. The Cubs have a 13 game division lead, have the #1 team ERA BY ALMOST A  FULL  RUN. The Cubs have the 4th best runs scored total in the NL post All Star break and have the best run differential in the sport at +215! Advantage-Chicago Cubs

NL West

Right now the Giants have a 0.5 game lead over the Dodgers. In team ERA post All Star break the Giants are 8th and the Dodgers are 12th, in runs scored post All Star break the Dodgers are 5th and the Giants are 13th. In run differential this season the Dodgers are +55 and the Giants are +51. While I think that both of these two will make it, I feel that if the Dodgers ever get Kershaw back then they will be the favorites to win a down to the wire division. Advantage-Los Angeles Dodgers

These stats only measure which teams are going to likely make it to the postseason, as we have seen the last 5 Octobers anything is possible. In 2010 all the teams were very good and the Giants came out on top. In 2011 the Cardinals has the second to worst run differential of any playoff team and won it all. In 2012 the Giants and Tigers met in the World Series despite having the worst and second to worst run differentials in their respective leagues. In 2013 we got the Red Sox and Cardinals who had the best run differentials in all of baseball. In 2014 the Giants beat the Royals despite the Giants having the second worst run differential in the NL and the Royals having the worst AL. And last season the Royals and Mets met, with the Royals coming out on top, despite them both being mediocre in the run differential stat. This season I am going to stick with my Giants-Indians pick because the MLB postseason is a literal crapshoot but getting there takes being a really good team over the course of 162 games.

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Potential ramifications from #Big12 Expansion

I have produced many articles on college conference expansion. We know it is a matter of when, not if, the Big 12 expands. What we do not know if whether they will expand to 12 or 14. While I would like to see some horse trading to get the geography straightened out a bit, that is not likely to happen. There seem to be a multitude of possibilities and those all have ramifications for the Group of 5. In the hypothetical world this article lives in we will expand the Big 12 and realign the Group of 5 into 5 better suited conferences. We will even rename 1 or 2 of them.

First off the Big 12-As of this moment you can go search Big 12 expansion and there are a few options. If they only expand by 2 I think that BYU and either Cincinnati or Houston will be called up. But, I do not feel they will only expand by 2. I think that to truly insulate themselves from being raided again they will expand by 4. Then you can add either Colorado State or New Mexico to go with the 3 institutions I mentioned earlier. The whole purpose of expansion is getting more eyeballs to TV’s and Denver, Colorado is larger than any market in New Mexico. So we have BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, and Houston joining the Big 12. (I have wrote that these are the best 4 before)

This leaves the American Athletic Conference with the proposition of dissolving again like the Old Big East did or raid Conference USA (Which was how we got the AAC to begin with). I think that this conference, along with the Mountain West, are the 2 premier non Power 5 conferences out there. That means that they are both worth saving. Having researched this beforehand there are a few options for the AAC. The most likely options in my opinion are Massachusetts (became independent this season), Marshall (C-USA), Old Dominion (C-USA), and Southern Mississippi (C-USA). If/when Cincinnati and Houston move to the Big 12 then that would leave these 4 for 2 spots. I started this piece thinking that Southern Miss and Marshall would be odds on favorite because of their on the field football success and that may play a major role in ultimately what decides this thing. However if you look into size of endowment, athletic budgets, and markets you will find that UMASS and Old Dominion are ahead. Because of that information I will cast my unofficial AAC vote of expansion to those two institutions. Now the conference once again has 12 members: Central Florida, Connecticut, East Carolina, Navy (associate member in football), Massachusetts, Memphis, Old Dominion, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, and Tulsa.

We decided that Colorado State would be invited to join the Big 12 and that would leave the Mountain West with only 11 members. To rectify this, we again turn our sights to Conference USA and the member that best suits is UTEP. The “EP” is for El Paso, Texas and that is further west by far than any other institution we have on the board. With UTEP, the Mountain West is back to 12 members: Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, UTEP, and Wyoming.

Also, I am not touching the MAC. I think this conference is just fine the way it is and blowing up something that actually gets it right is absurd.

So we are left with the remnants of the Conference USA and the Sun Belt. There are roughly 24-25 institutions left that play football at the FBS level. One interesting thing to take note here is that the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR) is a Sun Belt conference member, but it does not have football. Another institution to keep an eye on is James Madison University. I mention them because they have the 61st highest athletic budget in America. The following 5 athletic budgets in order are: Houston, Old Dominion, Boise State, Memphis, and Hawaii. They already operate like an upper tier Group of 5 school. I believe they will make the jump to FBS soon, as they have been expanding their stadium just like Old Dominion did before their leap. There was a time when Conference USA and the Mountain West contemplated a merger of the two conferences and we could see that for revenue generating purposes from the 25 or so schools that we haven’t picked off and moved yet. But, I think that simplicity is the better genius sometimes. Especially when it comes to who should be in what conference so we are going to create a new (an old) conference and place institutions together by proximity. The schools in the Group of 5 do not generate nearly the revenue of their Power 5 brethren and travel costs hurt. So by placing the rest of everyone in these two new (old) conferences we are attempting to solve that.

Conference 1 will take an old name and be known henceforth as the Southwest Conference. I happen to live in a state (Arkansas) that once was in the original Southwest, resurrecting this brand would be good for college athletics. There happen to be 12-13 members that would be perfect for this as well: Arkansas State, UALR (everything but no football), Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, South Alabama, Southern Miss, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, and Texas State. A lot of Texas and Louisiana schools if you could get all of them to accept this I think this is a very viable group. They could negotiate deals with regional FOX and whoever else to broadcast competitions.

Conference 2 could either be called the Sun Belt or we could make the East Coast Conference (ECC). The rest of the institutions are either in the Eastern Time Zone or if they aren’t the distance is minimal. These include: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina (they just joined the Sun Belt days after winning the College World Series), UNC-Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison (logical for this conference if they do make the jump to FBS), Marshall, UAB (welcome back Blazers), Troy, and Western Kentucky. The same regionalized TV deals could be expected for this as the Southwest.

These two conferences split up old C-USA members so there would be a growth period for both of these new leagues. I feel as though this would be a better way for these schools to get the most bang for their buck, reports are that the MAC will be getting more TV revenue than C-USA now and if you regionalize the old C-USA and the Sun Belt I think that these 3 leagues could expect to get roughly the same kind of deals for their leagues.

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#NFL Season Predictions

We all watched Peyton Manning ride off into the sunset, 31 other franchises watched it too. The next day they all began plotting the overthrow of the Broncos as the King franchise. Who has the best chance? There are the usual suspects like the Patriots, Panthers, Steelers, Seahawks, Packers, and Colts. There also may or may not be some surprises as we go along the regular season. There is usually a shakeup in the playoff positioning after the dust settles. We are going to project a regular season record for each team and project each playoff matchup all the way to Super Bowl LI.


 

AFC East: Buffalo (7-9) Miami (4-12) New England (11-5) New York (8-8)

AFC North: Baltimore (8-8) Cincinnati (5-11) Cleveland (10-6) Pittsburgh (12-4)

AFC South: Houston (7-9) Indianapolis (10-6) Jacksonville (6-10) Tennessee (8-8)

AFC West: Denver (10-6) Kansas City (8-8) Oakland (12-4) San Diego (6-10)

Pittsburgh (1) and Oakland (2) get Wild Card byes

Cleveland (6) goes to New England (3)  and Denver (5) goes to Indianapolis (4)

New England beats Cleveland and Indianapolis beats Denver

Indianapolis (4) goes to Pittsburgh (1) and New England (3) goes to Oakland (2)

Pittsburgh beats Indianapolis and Oakland beats New England

Oakland at Pittsburgh AFC Championship Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC Champions


 

NFC East: Dallas (10-6) New York (10-6) Philadelphia (3-13) Washington (7-9)

NFC North: Chicago (6-10) Detroit (5-11) Green Bay (11-5) Minnesota (12-4)

NFC South: Atlanta (4-12) Carolina (12-4) New Orleans (9-7) Tampa Bay (6-10)

NFC West: Arizona (12-4) Los Angeles (6-10) San Francisco (3-13) Seattle (10-6)

Carolina (1) and Minnesota (2) get Wild Card byes

Seattle (6) goes to Arizona (3) and Green Bay (5) goes to New York (4)

Arizona beats Seattle and Green Bay beats New York

Green Bay (5) goes to Carolina (1) and Arizona (3) goes to Minnesota (2)

Green Bay beats Carolina and Arizona beats Minnesota

Green Bay at Arizona NFC Championship Game

The Arizona Cardinals are NFC Champions


 

Super Bowl LI – Arizona vs Pittsburgh

The last time these two matched up in a Super Bowl it was epic. I feel as though this edition of that matchup would be as stellar of a game. However I feel that this is the Cardinals season and I am predicting the Arizona Cardinals as Super Bowl LI Champs

 

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Greatest #CollegeFootball Programs…EVER

Today the AP put out their Top 100 College Football Programs of all time. You can read all about it here: http://collegefootball.ap.org/top-100

It uses a formula that is really good, but I wanted to know what would happen if some other variables were added. So on top of the AP formula counting poll appearances (one point) to mark consistency, No. 1 rankings (two points) to acknowledge elite programs; I edited the bonus National Championship (10 points) to include claimed National Championships, then Total Victories (1 point) and Bowl Victories (5 points) were also added in. The results are similar to the AP list but I did not go down 100 schools (might have taken until the start of the season to compile that data). I am going to give a Top 25 with an “others receiving votes” starting at #26 and ending at #35. Data for calculations taken from: http://www.winsipedia.com/ & http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/

Other’s Receiving Votes: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Iowa, Syracuse, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, & Stanford.

25 Ole Miss – 281 AP appearances, 3 #1 Rankings, 3 claimed National Titles, 655 Total Wins, & 24 Bowl Wins

Ole Miss was 29th in the AP article

24 Georgia Tech – 307 AP appearances, 0 #1 Rankings, 4 claimed National Titles, 714 Total Wins, & 24 Bowl Wins

Only team in Top 25 to have never been ranked #1

23 Pittsburgh – 294 AP appearances, 21 #1 Rankings, 9 claimed National Titles, 704 Total Wins, & 13 Bowl Wins

I had no idea Pittsburgh had 9 National Titles, it did not change their position from the AP list though

22 Arkansas – 410 AP appearances, 1 #1 Ranking, 1 claimed National Title, 702 Total Wins, & 15 Bowl Wins

The Hogs just do not have enough postseason or #1 ranking success, hard to change that in the SEC West

21 Clemson – 387 AP appearances, 7 #1 Rankings, 1 claimed National Title, 703 Total Wins, & 20 Bowl Wins

Clemson almost added to an impressive resume last season, have a shot this season as well

20 UCLA – 521 AP appearances, 7 #1 Rankings, 1 claimed National Title, 585 Total Wins, & 17 Bowl Wins

The Bruins consistency of being ranked is why they are so high without the lofty win totals that some schools below have

19 Michigan State – 375 AP appearances, 29 #1 Rankings, 6 claimed National Titles, 681 Total Wins, & 11 Bowl Wins

Everything looks like the Spartans are one of the most successful programs ever, except they only have 11 bowl wins-head scratching

18 Washington – 401 AP appearances, 15 #1 Rankings, 2 claimed National Titles, 702 Total Wins, & 18 Bowl Wins

Washington is has been a sleeping giant lately, this year they may be awakened

17 Texas A&M – 424 AP appearances, 7 #1 Rankings, 3 claimed National Titles, 717 Total Wins, & 17 Bowl Wins

The Aggies have a rich history, they have been good in the SEC but we are all waiting for that breakout

16 Miami – 458 AP appearances, 67 #1 Rankings, 5 claimed National Titles, 596 Total Wins, & 18 Bowl Wins

Much of the success of The U has been in the last 35 years

15 Florida State – 540 AP appearances, 72 #1 Rankings, 3 claimed National Titles, 522 Total Wins, & 26 Bowl Wins

The Seminoles are another run like they were under Bobby Bowden, watch out America

14 Auburn – 532 AP appearances, 9 #1 Rankings, 2 claimed National Titles, 748 Total Wins, & 23 Bowl Wins

Everything about the Auburn program screams top 15-20 in the nation, no surprise here

13 Florida – 562 AP appearances, 41 #1 Rankings, 3 claimed National Titles, 701 Total Wins, & 21 Bowl Wins

There was a lull in between Spurrier and Meyer, then another one after Meyer left, now it seems they are rolling again under McElwain

12 Georgia – 532 AP appearances, 15 #1 Rankings, 2 claimed National Titles, 787 Total Wins, & 28 Bowl Wins

Georgia is almost always a threat to win double digit games each year

11 LSU – 575 AP appearances, 30 #1 Rankings, 3 claimed National Titles, 770 Total Wins, & 24 Bowl Wins

As long as those recruiting grounds in Louisiana stay fertile, LSU will stay relevant

10 Tennessee – 568 AP appearances, 18 #1 Rankings, 6 claimed National Titles, 820 Total Wins, & 27 Bowl Wins

Now we are into Top 10 territory, the Volunteers can stand up to almost everyone in the country and this year it seems they will add to this rich history

9 Penn State – 589 AP appearances, 19 #1 Rankings, 4 claimed National Titles, 856 Total Wins, & 28 Bowl Wins

The Nittany Lions are just outside the Elite 8 (to borrow from the basketball tourney). Lets stop here and take a moment. The next 8 college football programs are hands down the elite of all time. There are no other arguments, you may can crunch numbers to jockey up the order but if these next 8 are not in your top 8 then you have a list that is not worth reading.

8 Texas – 703 AP appearances, 45 #1 Rankings, 4 claimed National Titles, 885 Total Wins, & 27 Bowl Wins

Just look at how the numbers take a defined leap from Penn State to Texas, and they’re only in the 8 position

7 Nebraska – 717 AP appearances, 72 #1 Rankings, 5 claimed National Titles, 880 Total Wins, & 26 Bowl Wins

Under Tom Osborne, Nebraska enjoyed one of the longest (if not the longest) runs of sustained excellence the nation has ever seen – last program under 2000 total points

6  USC – 743 AP appearances, 91 #1 Rankings, 11 claimed National Titles, 813 Total Wins, & 33 Bowl Wins

The Trojans have the 2nd highest total of bowl wins and national titles in the country

5 Michigan – 806 AP appearances, 34 #1 Rankings, 11 claimed National Titles, 925 Total Wins, & 21 Bowl Wins

The Wolverines have the most total wins in the country

4 Notre Dame – 766 AP appearances, 98 #1 Rankings, 11 claimed National Titles, 892 Total Wins, & 17 Bowl Wins

The Irish are an 8 win season away from being the second program in the country to amass 900 total wins

3 Oklahoma – 784 AP appearances, 101 #1 Rankings, 7 claimed National Titles, 861 Total Wins, & 28 Bowl Wins

The Sooners have the 2nd most #1 rankings in the country

2 Alabama – 745 AP appearances, 74 #1 Rankings, 16 claimed National Titles, 864 Total Wins, & 36 Bowl Wins

The Crimson Tide have more claimed national titles and bowl wins than anyone else

1 Ohio State – 852 Appearances, 105 #1 Rankings, 8 claimed National Titles, 875 Total Wins, & 22 Bowl Wins

The Buckeyes are #1 in this and the AP list, they have appeared and been ranked #1 more than anyone else

 

Did you see the clear separation of the top 6? The amount of programs from the Big 10 and SEC? Now do you get why the media covers these teams and these two conferences more than the others. Now you get why the Big 10 and SEC play each other so often in the New Year’s Day games and why the Rose Bowl seems to have the same pool of teams squaring off each year. This list is proof of all those statements. Thanks for reading and if you want to dispute then bring your list to @originaldaveo on Twitter.

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