The 2021 Atlanta Braves did not get off to a very impressive or memorable start to their season. They hovered around .500 throughout the majority of the first half and on June 30th sat at fourth in the NL East with a 37-41 record, and a 15% chance to make the playoffs. The Braves’ postseason prospects for 2021 got even worse when, on July 10, their star right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr tore his ACL and was ruled out for the season. Before his injury, Acuña was slashing .283/.394/.596 with a 155 OPS+ as a prime MVP candidate, and the floundering Braves without their superstar seemed destined for a disappointing finish to 2021. Yet, in November, the Braves were the team hoisting the championship trophy as the World Champions. What mid-season changes did the Braves make to execute this impressive turnaround?
With Derrick Henry’s recent success in the NFL, his first attribute many point out is his 6’ 3 stature that looks almost comical to other running backs. After leading the league in rushing yards in 2020, some are starting to think that the conventional 5’ 10 build for a running back is no longer ideal. I wanted to test this theory amongst running backs across NCAAF and even more specifically, the ACC.
It seems like yesterday I was formulating a big board for the 2020 draft, but here we are again–another NBA Draft is finally here! My draft circadian rhythm is still shaken, but as the world propels itself into normal life, evaluators can get back to the schedule and pacing they are used to. We only had about eight months to dive deep into this years’ draft, and with an occasional case of burnout, that amounted to about six-and-a-half months for yours truly. However, it didn’t take nearly that much time for me to realize that this is an exciting draft from top to bottom. In an incredible rarity, I have given two prospects Tier 1 grades, in addition to two Tier 2 prospects. Last year, I perceived the 2020 Draft as having no Tier 1 guys and two Tier 2 prospects (Anthony Edwards and Lamelo Ball). As great as the top of the draft is, there is also extraordinary depth as you work your way down. You could convince me someone outside my top 20 like Kai Jones deserves to be in the top 10. I’ve seen intelligent arguments of exactly that nature. There are so many quality players and not enough slots to do their talents justice. I could see myself looking foolish by some of these rankings, but that is what makes the draft fun!
The 2020-2021 off season for Major League Baseball progressed as slowly as any offseason we have seen. Combine the COVID-driven caution many teams have for signing players who hit the free agent market in their mid-30s, many big leaguers were left unsigned until Mid-January and February. Nonetheless, all 30 clubs made their moves, big and small, and here we look at the teams who had the best offseasons as well as other teams who made intriguing moves.
By the time Cade Cunningham stepped on Oklahoma State’s campus, he had put together one of the most successful 12 month stretches by any prospect in recent memory. A Nike EYBL MVP after averaging 25.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. A gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Cup, after starting every game and finishing third in points and second in assists on a team full of former and future lottery picks. Multiple player of the year awards for his role in leading Montverde Academy to a 25-0 record, shooting 59.2% from the floor and 47.7% from 3. Cunningham’s complete skill set and utter dominance drew Luka Dončić comparisons, and Cunningham emerged in a tier of his own as the consensus number one pick.
The new coaching regime in Washington created a cultural impact immediately felt throughout the organization. With Ron Rivera battling cancer, Scott Turner managing a QB room riddled with injuries/off-field drama, and Jack Del Rio inheriting the 27th ranked defense in yards allowed from 2019, the group wasn’t exactly dealt a stellar hand. Regardless, their ability to still earn a division title has proven that with Bruce Allen gone, the opportunity for improvement is very real in Washington.
Despite his 5-4 record, Trevor Bauer is the obvious choice for the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner. However, W-L records are no longer as relevant, as seen when Jacob deGrom won the National League Cy Young Award in 2018 and 2019 with a 10-9 and 11-8 record respectively. Along with that, Bauer’s team, the Cincinnati Reds, had the lowest team batting average (.212) during the regular season since 1910 and the 2nd lowest ever.
Shane Bieber’s 2020 season was historically impressive and dominant. Bieber, the ace for the AL Central champion Cleveland Indians, won the American League pitching triple crown, leading all pitchers in ERA (1.63), Wins, (8), and Strikeouts (122). He also led all AL pitchers in several more advanced statistics, including H/9 (5.35), FIP (2.07), Adjusted ERA+ (281), and WPA (3.0). He also led all American League players with a WAR of 3.2. Bieber’s performance and 8-1 record become even more impressive when compared to the poor state of the Indians’ offense, who finished bottom-five in the MLB in both OPS and runs scored.
The All-NBA teams for the 2019-20 season were officially announced last Wednesday. Voting took place prior to the league’s restart, and was based on play through March 11th. Players received five points for first place votes, three points for second team votes, and one point for third team votes. Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo received perfect 500’s—first place votes from all 100 voters.