The Red Sox Need Some Balance
Sports |  Source: masslive.com

The Red Sox Need Some Balance

You can only win so many games with just offense.

Hitting, fielding and pitching.

Those are what a baseball team needs to be successful. Undoubtedly, the Boston Red Sox are the best hitting team in baseball. And defensively, they're one of the better teams. It's just their presence on the mound that's hurting them.

At 39-30 through 69 games, they're just a game out of first in the American League East. Their team batting average and OPS are tough to match and they don't make many errors. On the mound, however, it's a little different.

The Red Sox pitching staff is about average. But they have a knuckleballer named Steven Wright in the running for the American League Cy Young Award and two of the game's highest paid pitchers: David Price and Rick Porcello. The back end of their rotation (and part of their bullpen), in contrast, has been dreadful.

In 26 starts pitched by guys not named Wright, Price or Porcello, the Red Sox have surrendered 100 earned runs 126.1 innings (7.12 ERA).

(Math on that (9*(40+21+16+7+9+7)/(56.66+22.34+20.66+12.34+10.33+4)))

College students know the struggle of balance and being a well-rounded person: between school, sleep and their social life. To borrow an idiom, the Red Sox would truly be hitting it out of the park in the classroom. David Ortiz has the highest OPS in baseball, Xander Bogaerts could win MVP, Mookie Betts is on pace for over 30 home runs, Dustin Pedroia is hitting about .300, and Jackie Bradley Jr., one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, has established himself as one of the best hitters too.

If you think of fielding as social life then the Red Sox are the life of the party. Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts and Bradley Jr. are sharp defensively. Behind the plate, Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon are elite - they just don't hit well. And Hanley Ramirez shocked everyone by becoming a great defensive first baseman. All he used to be able to do was hit and while he's not a bad hitter, he's only about average now. His defense is where he at least is kind of earning his $22 million this year.

Now what about sleep? The Red Sox would be sleeping for about four to five hours per night as opposed to the seven to eight needed for a healthy life. There's a saying about pitching winning championships. And when people don't sleep enough, they're bound to break down after awhile. If the Red Sox don't upgrade the back half of their pitching staff, there could be a breakdown.

If there's a breakdown, they won't have to worry about the postseason - even if they're supposed to meet the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

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Jose Quintana Needs A Little Help From His Friend

Some run support would be nice.

Jose Quintana, the number two starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, is a magician. His trick? Making the offense completely disappear.

There's only one problem: it's not just opposing offenses that disappear. His team's does, too.

Quintana is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, and you probably haven't heard much about him.

He leads the American League in ERA, has the sixth highest in the majors, fourth highest WAR, and is somehow only 5-5.

Here's a couple more stats for you: he has 53 no decisions over the last four years and less than three runs of support per start.

In comparison, the three other regular starters for the Sox average nearly five runs of support per start.

The offense disappears when he pitches, and people are noticing.

Things are getting so bad for Quintana that he's turning to superstition.

If I was Quintana, I'd be freaking out. I'd be at my teammates' throats demanding to know why they simply cannot score when I'm on the mound. Quintana laughs and makes handshakes... he's a bigger man than I am.

This has been his best season, having won five games so far. It took him until July to get that many wins last season. But still his run support woes continue. After losing to the Mets 1-0 May 30, Quintana's ERA went down, but he still got the loss. As the Sox offense is struggling during this stretch of the season, Quintana's woes just get worse. But he still goes out there and gives you a quality start.

While it sucks to be Quintana, the Sox are certainly happy to have him, especially this season when he's dominating.

Maybe for his next trick, he'll make the White Sox score.

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Sports |  Source: bostonglobe.com

Hanley Ramirez Is Pulling His Weight Again

He's been really good this year.

Last year, some Red Sox fans probably hated Hanley Ramirez. Now, they probably all love him.

The Red Sox tried Ramirez out in left field last year. His bat was strong until he hit the disabled list thanks to an injury he suffered in the outfield. But when he came back, his bat slumped -- and people realized how poor his defense was in the outfield.

This year, the Red Sox realized they probably shouldn't have expected an infielder to play the outfield, so they gave him a shot at first base.

There were some doubters -- probably because of his play in left field.

But it's worked out well at first.

Defensively, he's been one of the better first basemen in baseball this year after putting in a lot of work at the position in spring training. And now that he's healthy, the guy is tearing the cover off the ball. Through 143 games, he had hit .289 with 29 home runs and an .866 OPS. Sure, that's good. But he has been hot at the plate lately which has to make the Red Sox feel good as they gear up for the postseason.

After all, he did this not long ago.

It's also worth noting Ramirez had hit .355 with an 1.118 OPS in 124 at-bats against against left-handed pitching in 124 at-bats this season. It works out nicely for the Red Sox because David Ortiz does most of his damage against right-handed pitching (1.092 OPS off righties in 393 at-bats this year). Either way, they'll have at least one scorching bat in their lineup.

After the criticism he received last year, Ramirez might lead the league in apologies and people admitting they were wrong. Beat writers even admitted to they were wrong. When does that happen? Not often.

Hanley is playing his best stretch of baseball since he was red-hot in 2013 -- a year he missed nearly half of due to injuries. And cumulatively, it would have to be his best year since 2009 -- even if some advanced stats might not agree -- like WAR. But those kinds of numbers value his subpar defense elsewhere *like shortstop) much higher than above-average defense at first base.

It's almost as if Hanley were failing last year, so he switched majors and now he is acing everything. The Red Sox put him in a lousy spot. But now that he's comfortable, everything seems to be going his way.

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Sports |  Source: masslive.com

Yoan Moncada Could Be the Red Sox Savior

This kid is for real.

The Boston Red Sox have a couple MVP candidates (David Ortiz and Mookie Betts), a Comeback Player of the Year candidate (Hanley Ramirez), a Cy Young Award Candidate (Rick Porcello) and arguably the greatest player in MLB history (Sandy Leon).

What else could they possibly need? Not much. But they went ahead and brought in a nice upgrade anyways.

With roster expansions in September, they went ahead and brought up the top prospect in all of baseball, 21-year-old Yoan Moncada, to help solve their third base issue. Moncada had been best known for the $31.5 million signing bonus he received, the highest ever given to an amateur baseball player. Now, however, he could be known for a lot more.

Travis Shaw had been struggling at third base, hitting .205 with a .632 OPS in 75 games from May 29 to August 31. And his backup, Aaron Hill, hit .210 with a .545 OPS in his first 35 games in Boston -- since coming over in July. With that in mind, it is easy to see why the Red Sox wanted an upgrade. It had been the worst spot offensively for the best lineup in baseball.

So, yeah, Moncada dethroned Shaw as the Red Sox starting third baseman. It's the old late season top prospect boost the Red Sox are so fond of. They did it in 2013 when they called up Xander Bogaerts to help curb their issues on the left side of the infield. And they did it in 2007 when Jacoby Ellsbury came up and tore the cover off the ball and stole center field away from Coco Crisp. What happened both those years? Oh, the Red Sox won a World Series. And they're in a pennant race this year. Coincidence? We'll see.

At 21 years old, the Red Sox are relying on Moncada to make-or-break their season. There's millions of dollars on the line. If that doesn't make him better at life than most 21 year olds out there, then I don't know what would. Only like Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift were more successful at that age.

To put it into realistic terms -- because Yoan Moncada is a once in a lifetime kind of guy -- he's like a freshman phenom coming onto a college team and stealing a spot away from an upperclassman, several years older than he is. Except in Moncada's case, it's the big leagues.

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Sports |  Source: wordpress.com

The Keys to Winning Daily Fantasy Baseball

There's massive aspects you're probably overlooking.

You're probably not going to win a million dollars playing daily fantasy baseball. But you don't need to fall into the trap of being one of the minnows, losing hard-earned money against the sharks either.

FanDuel and DraftKings are pretty much the same to play on and in order to win on either, just remember: it's all BULLSHIT. Yes, that's an acronym. Let's break it down so you can make some money on these sites.

Ballpark Factors - Where guys are playing can have a major impact on the game. Obviously, there are a few big time hitter's parks like Fenway Park and Coors Field. But at the same time, there are pitcher's parks like Petco Park and Safeco Field. It does not even always have to be the obvious parks either. Here is how ESPN is rating ballparks this season.

Keep the weather at these parks in mind too. Fenway Park won't be as hitter friendly in April and September--when the weather cools in New England. And the west coast parks see a dip in offensive production when the Marine Layer comes around. Most importantly though: Make sure your game is not rained out.

Umpires - This might be the most overlooked aspect when making fantasy picks. But an umpire could be more influential. Umpires are probably a bigger influence for pitchers than hitters because if a guy can make contact, the umpire isn't as big of a factor. Note: umpire assignments are not made public until about an hour before the game.

Last Seven - Baseball players aren't consistent. Find out who has been doing well lately because nearly every player goes through hot streaks and slumps. Go after the guys who seem to have something going as of late and stay away from the ones who are slumping unless there is a great reason to believe they will turn it around that given day.

Lineup - Make sure the guys you want are actually in the lineup. Make sure they are also a fit, salary-wise. Even regulars take days off every so often, so making sure guys are actually playing is key. The other aspect here is where guys are batting and who is surrounding them. RBI's are worth a point and those only come if a player is put in the proper position for them.

Splits - In fantasy baseball, splits are everything. Platoon splits are huge to look at, which are how a player performs against left-handed or right-handed pitchers. It's easier to pick out some quality right-handed bats cheap who have nice numbers against lefties because they tend to be bench players and dirt cheap as a result.

Think about it: Ben Zobrist is elite against left-handed pitching but against righties, he's just above-average. And when the Red Sox face lefties, Chris Young is a sexy pick but against righties, you'd be better off hitting the pitcher.

The other split worth looking at is what team guys are facing. This goes for hitters and pitchers. If a pitcher is facing the Atlanta Braves or New York Yankees, they will probably do pretty well because those teams are not hitting well. And if there looks to be a pitcher who could struggle, stack against him.

Home/Away - A lot of guys put up better numbers when they are home than when they are away. There is a reason why teams win more games at home than they do in the road. It's called home field advantage. Take advantage of it a bit. Guys just always seem to be better when they're staying at their own home than when they travel across the country.

Injuries - Learn the health status of the players and the team they are facing. Healthy players play the best baseball and if their opponents are beat up and carrying a lot of replacement players, then they probably won't be too competitive (see: 2012 Red Sox).

Time - The simple concept of when the game is played can have an impact on a player's performance. Some guys play better at night because it is what they are used to. But someone like San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Jake Peavy, who is legally blind, has pitched better in the day during recent years. Some guys like day games. Others like night games. Figure out who likes what for an advantage.

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Sports |  Source: sportingnews.com

David Ortiz Set Another Record

What a year he's having.

The average 40-year-old probably couldn't reach home plate if they were asked to throw out the first pitch. David Ortiz is not the average 40-year-old.

His arm isn't the best and with a bad achilles, he can't really run anymore. But ignore that and focus on his hitting for a minute. And wow, you'll be surprised if you haven't been following the Boston Red Sox this season.

On Tuesday, he set the MLB record for most home runs in a final season. He went deep twice, tying the record with his 35th and setting it with his 36th.

That pitch was 97 mph on the outside part of the plate. Not many guys can do that.

Sure, that's great for him: he set the record at 36. But it's probably not safe there. Ortiz still has some regular season baseball left in him.

Unlike Dave Kingman, whose record he broke, Ortiz isn't only good for homers now. Kingman struck out a ton and didn't walk. Ortiz has hit .318 through 140 games with a .403 on-base percentage and led the league with 47 doubles, a .634 slugging percentage and 1.037 OPS. Take that, Mike Trout.

Of any Ortiz' seasons, this one has to be the most exciting. Here's a look at everyone he passed on the all-time MLB home runs list: Eddie Murray (HOFer), Gary Sheffield (PED user), Mel Ott (HOFer), Eddie Mathews (HOFer), Ernie Banks (HOFer), Ted Williams (HOFer), Frank Thomas (HOFer), Willie McCovey (HOFer), Jimmie Foxx (HOFer) and most recently, Mickey Mantle (HOFer). With 539 career shots, Ortiz is 17th on the all-time home runs list. And that is where he will likely stay.

Luckily for him, the Red Sox are in serious postseason contention, so his career will live on at least a little bit longer. Before the season, he told me he wanted "a crown" this year, but that's a story for another day.