WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Labor awarded $500,000 to Indiana as part of a nationwide program aimed to improve worker misclassification detection and enforcement initiatives in unemployment insurance programs.In total, $10,225,183 was awarded to 19 states.“This is one of many actions the department is taking to help level the playing field for employers while ensuring workers receive appropriate rights and protections,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Today’s federal grant awards will enhance states’ ability to detect incidents of worker misclassification and protect the integrity of state unemployment insurance trust funds.”The funds will be used to increase the ability of state tax programs to identify instances where employers improperly classify employees as independent contractors or fail to report the wages paid to workers at all. The states that were selected to receive these grants will use the funds for a variety of improvements and initiatives, including enhancing employer audit programs and conducting employer education initiatives.Under an innovative, “high-performance bonus” program, four states will receive a share of $2 million in additional grant funds due to their high performance or most improved performance in detecting incidents of worker misclassification. The remaining $8,225,183 was distributed to 19 states in competitive grants.The maximum grant available under the competitive grant award process was $500,000.
Butlerville, IN—Jennings County sheriff deputies were on the scene investigating a personal injury crash in Butlerville around 5 am this morning, involving a semi that left the roadway and drove through the old Campbell Township Firehouse. The building was unoccupied at the time of the crash. The accident took out the east communications repeater that was housed in one of the destroyed buildings.The semi missed an emergency siren tower and the 200-foot communications tower by just 6 feet. It traveled through both buildings and came to rest behind the Butlerville Post Office. Plans are in motion to deploy a temporary communications repeater to this area. Please caution if driving through Butlerville and watch for a lot of traffic around the crash site today.
THE winner of Trinidad and Tobago’s only medal at the just-concluded Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Keshorn Walcott, has chalked up the country’s poor performance to a lack of unity.According to Walcott, who was featuring in his second Olympics, having shocked the world with a gold medal in London 2012, the camaraderie and team spirit were low in 2016.“We did not do so well as a team this year because honestly, for my part, we were not a team. We did not come together as a unit as in 2012. I was young in 2012 and I was one of the younger ones and I saw the gelling of the team, but here it was not like that,” said Walcott.The two-Olympic medallist believes the lack of unity, in large part, was not the athletes’ fault, but rather the delegation sent to provide support.“I would not say it was the athletes, I would have to say it was the heads. You need to be able to understand that for a team to be able to perform properly you need to bring them together,” he said.“It is the environment. When you as a team do not feel everybody is together (it) is like everybody is just concentrating on their own,” he added.Walcott was quick to add that he did not want to dwell on those things, but preferred to look at the goals he had in front of him, and wanted other athletes to do the same.
Elroy StephneyIN observance of International Women’s Day, the Department of Youth, Region 2 will host its 4th annual cricket festival today at Imam Bacchus ground in Affiance.Several teams from across the Region will participate including the hinterland communities. International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March, 8.There will be a colourful atmosphere and keen rivalry is anticipated.The competition is being coordinated by Sports Organiser Debra Daniels along with Youth Officer Herald Alves who disclosed that the idea is to promote unity and togetherness among women through sports as well as for them to interact and to have fun.He added that each team will be presented with a token of participation. There will be Winners, Most Runs, Most Wickets and Player-of-the-Day trophies.The Department is also using the occasion to promote activeness among women in sports and community participation.“We need to recognise our women in a tangible way and for them be given a level playing field to showcase their talent,” according to Alves.He also thanked Imam Bacchus Group of Companies for providing the facilities free of cost.The public is invited to attend. The first match is scheduled for 10:00hrs.The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is: ‘I am generation, equality, realising women’s rights’..
Stretched between two tournaments, the USC women’s tennis team came out of the weekend with plenty of momentum following their performances in Las Vegas and Palm Springs.The Freeman Memorial Tennis Championships tournament in Las Vegas proved to be the more successful of the two trips, as sophomore Sabrina Santamaria took home the doubles title while paired with junior Kaitlyn Christian along with her own singles title.The tournament featured conference rivals Stanford and UCLA, while UNLV and the University of North Carolina also were in the field.Santamaria easily won the day as she and Christian showed why they are rated the nation’s best doubles pairing. The heralded duo notched an 8-4 win over UCLA’s tandem of Courtney Dolehide and Pamela Montez in the semifinals before defeating the UNC duo of Ashley Dai and Whitney Kay in the finals.Seniors Danielle Lao and Valeria Pulido reached the semifinal round, but fell to the eventual runner-up team of Dai and Kay.In the singles’ division, USC and UNC separated themselves from the rest of the tournament field, with each team represented by three girls in the quarterfinals.Lao and Santamaria each made it out of the top six, but Christian did not advance to the semifinals.From there, Santamaria and UNC’s Gina Suarez-Malaguti, who ranked No. 2 in the tournament and No. 11 nationally, squared off in the finals. Santamaria capped off her big day in a mild upset with a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing.Back in California, the rest of the team almost matched their teammates’ performance in Las Vegas, but fell short once again to the crosstown rival Bruins.With sophomore Zoe Scandalis — the only veteran and ranked player -— attending the tournament, the Women of Troy came in as the heavy underdogs, with UCLA bringing their top team to Palm Springs, Calif. Both the singles and doubles divisions ended up with a pair of USC and UCLA players in the semifinals.In singles, No. 6 Robin Anderson of UCLA took down a pair of USC sophomores as she defeated sophomore Gabriella DeSimone before winning a hard-fought finals battle against sophomore Giuliana Olmos, who is in her first season with the program.“For us in Palm Springs, Guiliana [Olmos] had match point on Robin Anderson — and remember this is her first college tournament,” coach USC coach Richard Gallien said. “She’s done a super job out of the gate and we couldn’t be happier to have her on the team.”In the semifinal round for doubles, Anderson and Morton got the best of Olmos and freshman Ellie Yates while DeSimone and Scandalis defeated the UCLA tandem of Harrison and Ray.The doubles’ final had Anderson and her partner Skylar Morton square off against a Women of Troy team composed of DeSimone and Scandalis. UCLA triumphed in the championship match with Anderson and Morton taking down DeSimone and Scandalis by an 8-6 margin.With a team full of depth, it will be interesting to note the varying lineups that the Women of Troy trot out on a week-by-week basis.“This year we will see more flexibility [in the lineup] — we have eight excellent players and try to move things around a little bit, we want everyone to be competing and playing hard,” Gallien said. “The whole thing is a sales job to help the girls understand the better our practices are and the more competitive our practice matches are, the better prepared we will be for the tough teams we’ll have to play.”All in all, Gallien was pleased that the Women of Troy had a valuable experience against strong competition, especially for the newcomers and younger players.“We have a really tough team and we’ll be able to compete with everyone on our schedule,” Gallien said. “Hopefully we are in a healthy place and playing our best tennis by the end of the year and, as far as where I see our team today, we have a bunch of battlers and we love our team.”
“We have been informed that Taurean is taking a leave of absence from Syracuse University,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said in a statement to Syracuse.com. “My understanding is he wants to go to school closer to home due to some family health issues.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThen, on Thursday, Carino reported that Thompson has enrolled at former Syracuse Big East foe Seton Hall.Per NCAA rules, Thompson must sit out the 2017-18 season. He will be eligible in 2018-19. The 6-foot-9 forward nearly committed to SHU out of high school, per Carino, but chose Syracuse instead. As a freshman there he averaged 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18 minutes per game while shooting .546 from the field and .645 from the free-throw line.The top 100 recruit played his junior year of high school at St. Anthony (New Jersey) High School, less than 20 miles from Seton Hall’s campus.In high school, he was a consensus Top 100 recruit who played his junior year at St. Anthony, averaging 10.7 points per game and finished up at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire.At the forward position, SU has only Paschal Chukwu, the 7-foot-2 Providence transfer who missed most of last season after eye surgery, and Bourama Sidibe, an incoming 6-foot-8 freshman. Comments Former Syracuse forward Taurean Thompson, who on Monday left the program, has transferred to Seton Hall to be closer to his home, according to Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press. Published on September 1, 2017 at 4:50 pm Contact Matthew: email@example.com | @MatthewGut21 Facebook Twitter Google+
When Bobbie Kelsey signed up for the job three years ago, she knew it would not be a cakewalk. Whoever was going to assume the Wisconsin women’s basketball head coaching position would have to work to make the Badgers a national contender.As the 2013-2014 season winds down for Kelsey and Wisconsin, the results from the previous two seasons have not improved, and the record may show that they may have even regressed.But Kelsey knows that some day it will turn around and plans on channeling the persistence and determination from her playing days to make Wisconsin a contender.“Being patient, that’s probably the hardest part about right now because you want it now and to be successful immediately,” she said. “Some people walk into ready-to-win situations, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here.”Patience was key for Kelsey as a player during her freshman year at Stanford in 1992. She suffered an ACL injury that kept her sidelined while her team went on to win the national championship that year.She came back the next year and was voted most improved by her teammates. The Cardinal would make two more runs at the Final Four her redshirt junior and senior year, but she was unable to participate her senior year because of yet another ACL injury.Kelsey immediately got into coaching after attaining a bachelor’s degree in communications, taking her first job as an assistant at Boise State. After one season there, she joined the staff at Florida, where she made her first postseason appearance as a coach in 1999.Florida’s regional matchup that year was coincidentally in Madison. Kelsey still remembers her first trip to her future home and the Kohl Center.“I remember the fans were very loud and it was just a great atmosphere,” Kelsey said.From 2000-2004, the Decatur, Ga. native coached two years apiece at Evansville and Western Carolina. In 2004, she landed in Blacksburg, Va. as a member of the Virginia Tech coaching staff, where she helped the team reach two NCAA tournaments.Kelsey returned to her alma mater in 2007 as an assistant coach. Stanford made four consecutive Final Four appearances in her four years there, finishing as the runner-up twice.Under her tutelage, the Cardinal became a premiere defense in the nation. The top three scoring defenses in Stanford history were during her tenure, and did not allow more than 56.0 points per game in her last three years in Palo Alto.Defense is the primary aspect of the game Kelsey imparts on her players. She is a cerebral person (Stanford educated, with a master’s degree from Duquense University in Sports Leadership), and her players realize that.“She focuses on the little details that go into everything,” junior Jacki Gulczynski said. “She sees things that us players on the court would not normally be able to see, and that’s obviously a very important trait to have as a coach.”On April 11, 2011, Bobbie Kelsey was named the sixth head coach in women’s basketball history at Wisconsin.Fifth year senior Taylor Wurtz remembers the first time she met Kelsey. The new Wisconsin coach walked into the locker room, introduced herself and had the team make a circle. It immediately created a sense of team unity and togetherness.“Her passion for coaching really stands out,” Wurtz said. “She really loves coaching and wants to see her players succeed, on and off the court, and that’s really special.”She added Kelsey always expects 110 percent effort from her players and demands an intense work ethic from them year-round.In her first season at the helm, the team struggled, finishing the season 9-20. Her second season was an improvement, with the Badgers going 12-19, highlighted by winning a Big Ten tournament game for the first time since 2010 and taking down then-ranked No. 8 Penn State during the regular season.This season has also proved lackluster. The Badgers are currently 10-15 with only three conference wins. Kelsey cites inconsistency and the lack of a locker room leader as the main causes for a mediocre record.During her brief tenure as a head coach, she quickly learned the different challenges than those of an assistant coach.“It’s different, that’s for sure,” Kelsey said. “It’s definitely more stressful and challenging. The final decision is the head coach’s and, right or wrong, you have to live with it.”Kelsey says that she was drawn to Wisconsin because of the atmosphere she remembers from her trip with Florida in 1999. She was impressed with the school and the athletic department, as well as the overall support of the administration and student body.Kelsey attempts to employ those same aspects when recruiting players that will fit into her system at Madison. Now in her third season, Kelsey’s first recruiting class are now sophomores and beginning to make an impact, most notably sophomore Nicole Bauman, who was the Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of high school.“Our main recruiting focus is keeping the in-state kids in Wisconsin,” Kelsey said. “You don’t have to go to one of these great programs to be great. Some kids want to go where it’s already been done. I pitch the challenge and satisfaction of bringing national recognition to your home state, and it’s an integral part of what we’re doing here.”Kelsey landed her most prominent recruit as a head coach this season, Cayla McMorris, a Minnesota native. McMorris is ranked No. 86 in the country by ESPNW and will look to make an immediate impact. Looking ahead to the 2016 class, Alona Johnson from Milwaukee has also verbally committed to UW. She is ranked No. 52 in that class by Blue Star.Will these players finally turn the tide for Kelsey and the Badgers? Only time will tell, but if there was a coach to guide the Badgers during these trying times, Kelsey is the one to do it.
Last-man-standing or battle royale games are the latest trend in the gaming world, and the rise has been explosive, to say the least.Another emerging sector – growing exponentially faster following the Supreme Court’s decision on PASPA – is esports betting, and the two may be on course to unify in a big way. A $100m (£74m) investment from Epic Games towards Fortnite esports specifically, might expedite this process even more rapidly; consider with us why we foresee battle royale being the next biggest facet of esports gambling in this week’s ESI Gambling Report.How big is battle royale?The last-man-standing concept is certainly not new, however it’s a genre that has been brought to life exceptionally in the last few years with profound releases such as H1Z1, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Fortnite being recognised as leaders of the sphere.It’s important in this discussion to understand the scope of the battle royale genre and how large it is at the moment – while we could just tell you at face value it’s amassing an empire, we gathered some numbers that might help better illustrate its prominence. Back in March, data analysts Newzoo graphed nearly a third of PC gamers were playing a battle royale game in February – PC being the most utilised gaming platform, that’s quite a staggering number. While H1Z1 piqued the initial interest of this format, it was PUBG that hit the ground the fastest, dethroning League of Legends as the most watched game on Twitch in August 2017 – a streak that hadn’t been broken for 34 months. Although that triumph is almost a year old at this point, battle royale hasn’t slowed down a hair since it’s breakthrough into the gaming world, and is rapidly expanding.Credit: GamolocoWhile we could elaborate with regards to the prevalence of these games today, its relevance in this discussion lies in battle royale’s extreme popularity. PUBG and Fortnite particularly are being adopted by a wider audience that is inclusive of not only serious, competitive gamers but casual players and newcomers alike. The concept of last-man-standing is incredibly easy to understand, so whether you’re playing or spectating, it’s easy to follow along the action (comparatively to more daunting games such as League of Legends or Dota). All of these elements can equate to a very attractive and viable product for bookmakers, and here’s why.Let’s talk bettingThere’s a pretty extensive list of games played professionally, some more popular than the next – bookmakers have identified pro-gaming as a lucrative sector in their line of work and its success is undeniable. Business Insider valued the esports betting market at $900 million in the beginning of 2018, although that number is likely significantly higher after weighing in a sizable unregulated skin gambling market. With such a lengthy list of esports and so much money at stake, some might wonder why bookmakers only offer odds on a select handful of them – this boils down to a few things.AudienceThe battle royale audience is meteoric, to put it simply – while there’s no hard numbers on just how many people are playing the game, Forbes wrote in January the combined number of players between Fortnite and PUBG was floating around 77 million.Those are dimensions too big to ignore, especially with Twitch viewership of Fortnite and PUBG consistently toppling leading betting suspects such as League of Legends, Dota and CS:GO. The width in audience size is a key component for an esports’ betting prospect as it’ll be able to generate a higher number of bets; many great games are left off the roster due to mediocre viewership – something battle royale has no shortage of.Credit: Riot GamesStructureConsistency of tournaments and events is identified as a critical part of a game’s consideration as a feasible betting product; take a look at any of the leading wagered esports – between the collective favourites there’s rarely a gap between matches to put money on. The most recently launched NBA 2K League went straight from commencement to the bookshelves of sportsbooks – a feat we attribute to the tightly organised season, streamlining a circle of games for fans to spectate and bet on weekly.MarketsIn CS:GO, we see additional lines being offered on items such as ‘first AWP kill’ or ‘first bomb plant’ – each of PUBG, Fortnite and H1Z1 all offer distinct elements that bettors could in theory be wagered on. Kill counts, over/under in finishes, and even potential for proposition bets based on the unpredictable and quirky nature of battle royale games.PUBG creator Brandon Greene went as far as comparing the essence of battle royale to a game of poker in an interview with Rolling Stone. “Sometimes, you’re dealt an awful hand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it to the final table.” The depth of an esports’ betting market can invoke a more complete-feeling menu to punters, providing them the ability to wager on more than just one aspect of the match.The state of competitive battle royaleThe H1Z1 Pro League was the first of the battle royale gang to make the leap into an organised competitive gaming class – despite H1Z1 being meagre in comparison to the rest of the band (losing over 90% of its fan base to PUBG and Fortnite), the league is priming the genre for its introduction into the galaxy.ESL has been hosting periodic PUBG tournaments since last year, while the matches aren’t as routine as fixed leagues such as Blizzard’s Overwatch League or the 2K League – getting the genre’s feet wet in an authentic competitive atmosphere is a good start.While Fortnite trails in the dash to competitive stardom, we’ve seen some telling movements that are pointing towards a fiery esports outset, when things inevitably get underway. Epic Games’ aforementioned $100m contribution towards competitive Fortnite prize pools sent a tremor across the pro-gaming community; while a competitive Fortnite stage has been on the minds of their more serious player-base for awhile now, the investment should punch the throttle on the process. Massive esports organisations such as Team SoloMid, Team Secret, FaZe Clan and Team Envy have already started signing players onto Fortnite teams in anticipation as well.Betting on battle royaleBattle royale betting isn’t an untouched market, esports betting platform GG.bet were the first recorded bookmakers to offer lines on PUBG in 2017 – an effort that coincided with PUBG’s debut esports tournament, the Gamescon Invitational.The sportsbook initially allowed bettors to wager on streamer’s kill counts among other markets – however, offering spreads outside of organised events isn’t a practical, or reliable option for bookmakers. Affiliate Partnership Manager at GG.bet, Damir Dedic, gave gambling news and analysis publication, The Lines, his insight on its prospective success: “If big event organizers and viewers will turn up, then PUBG can become a huge betting market”.Fortnite hasn’t seen the limelight on sportsbooks quite yet with its current tournament deficiency – although smaller online contests have been filling the cavity in the meantime. Competitive esports facilitator UMG is just one of a handful of companies hosting online Fortnite tournaments for cash prizes – UMG’s weekly competition ‘Friday Fortnite’ has gained quite a bit of traction recently. While this is a stretch from bookmakers picking up battle royale comprehensively, it identifies a deep yearning for a competitive league.Overall, there appears to be a myriad of similarities between battle royale games and those esports which lead in the volume of wagers. In speculating battle royale’s prospective betting outlook, one stand-out quality is how H1Z1 and PUBG have assumed a skin gambling trade of their own, mirroring the rampant virtual cosmetic currency Steam has been under fire for due to its shoddy legality. Steam has cashed in heavily as an upshot of the skin gambling market, including tradable skins in PUBG seems like the profitable move – regardless, the parallel between a favorable betting esport and battle royale is eye-opening.While you may be able to find select lines on any of the battle royale bunch, an unabridged betting menu likely won’t exist until a structured league is introduced. While H1Z1 Pro League is on its way to that, it still remains the most minuscule of the group in audience size, placing a dampener on its betting likelihood. There’s no telling when we’ll see battle royale start populating bookmakers pages – however, the eagerness among community and publishers for a more organised professional arena to compete in is promising in hopes of sportsbooks beginning to embrace its presence.
Thanks to the baseball resurrection of one Juan Uribe, Mattingly drilled a double off the wall.The Dodgers now are moving onto the National League Championship Series, where they will face either the Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals, after Monday’s dramatic 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves that sent Dodger Stadium into a frenzy.But not without a bit of deft card-playing by Mattingly, who opened himself up to criticism and perhaps even calls for his job by simply making the right call.A tough call, but the correct one.With his Dodgers needing one win to dispose of the Braves and avoid heading to Atlanta for a winner-take-all Game 5, Mattingly called on ace Clayton Kershaw to take the mound in Game 4 on three days’ rest. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The first rule of hitting in clutch situations never needed to be explained to Don Mattingly, a former batting champion with a career OPS of .859 in close, late-game situations.It’s simple, really.Don’t mess around. Don’t over-think the situation. Always think fastball and adjust to the off-speed pitch.So when Mattingly stepped to the plate to make the most important decision of his young managerial career he sat fastball, got exactly that and took a mighty cut. Knowing full well if he failed, Zack Greinke was his safety net in the event of a Game 5.Needing one win and having two games to get it, he bracketed his bet with his two best pitchers and never looked back.“I think I’d question myself a lot more when you have two aces and if you don’t play them both,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got two chances to … we’ve got two chances if something doesn’t work out the way we want it to tonight, then we’re sitting with an ace in Game 5.”We now know it won’t come to that, not after Uribe saved the Dodgers from a win-or-go-home situation with one of the biggest home runs in the history of the franchise.The Dodgers trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth when Uribe came to bat with Yasiel Puig standing at second base after a lead-off double. Twice Uribe attempted to bunt Puig to third, where a fly ball would score him and tie the game.Only to foul off both attempts.With bunting no longer an option, Uribe blasted a David Carpenter pitch deep into the Dodgers bullpen in left field for a two-run home run to make it 4-3.Dodger Stadium erupted and Mattingly was justified.Because the way Atlanta starter Freddy Garcia neutralized the Dodgers’ bats, they needed Kershaw to keep the game as close as he did to give them a chance to win it with one swing of the bat.Something Ricky Nolasco, the scheduled starter, was no guarantee to do.It was a risky decision, and on some level it reeked of desperation. But maybe not for the reasons you think.The danger was Kershaw never before had pitched on such limited rest, and an adverse reaction probably would mean a return trip to Atlanta for Game 5 at Turner Field, where the Braves had a 56-25 record during the regular season.The risk was Kershaw’s body not reacting well to being rushed back to action after throwing 124 pitches in Game 1.Remote as the concern might be, the potential of injury always is a worry. But Mattingly consulted multiple times with Kershaw, who insisted he felt great and was up to the challenge.“If he wasn’t a 100 percent on board and, again, I think the words that we listen to and his words, that’s why he works so hard,” Mattingly said. “He works so hard to get to this position and to be in this game.”The desperation isn’t that Mattingly knows his job might be on the line if the Dodgers flame out in the first round of the playoffs and he turned to Kershaw to help ensure advancement to the next round for selfish reasons as much as any other.Mattingly is flying without a parachute this postseason, his contract is up at the end of the season and the Dodgers are non-committal about bringing him back.Right or wrong, his job security would have taken a gigantic hit with a first-round exit. But Mattingly’s been practical about his future all season and there were plenty of opportunities this year for him to push things for his own purpose.But he always resisted.This was not about Mattingly’s job. He wants to remain with the Dodgers, but if it doesn’t work out here there will be other opportunities for him — a potential opening with his beloved New York Yankees perhaps one of them.“No, it’s nothing to do with my future. It’s just winning, period,” Mattingly said. “We’re trying to win a game today. We’re trying to put ourselves in the best position to win a game today.”The desperation is that right now, the Dodgers have only two sure things in their pitching rotation in Kershaw and Greinke and nothing but uncertainty behind them. That is an issue that may cost them down the road.So he went with his best bet, trusted his instincts that Garcia’s junk-ball repertoire might be a bad match-up for his aggressive-hitting Dodgers and minimized any anxiety by giving Kershaw the ball rather than the struggling Nolasco.The Dodgers had a chance to put the Braves away, buy themselves four days of rest before the NLDS and line up their pitching rotation with Greinke and Kershaw for Games 1 and 2 with both available for Games 6 and 7 if needed.All that potentially could been compromised with another bad outing by Nolasco, who surrendered five, six and five earned runs in three of his last four starts.Why chance it, then, when you have Kershaw essentially demanding the ball?Think fastball, adjust to the off-speed pitch. Then jump on the cheese if it’s there.Was it risky? Sure. But Mattingly was holding onto one more card, and it made all the difference in the world.Even if Kershaw stumbled, Mattingly knew he had Greinke on regular rest for Game 5.As he and the Dodgers mulled over the possible scenarios, the Greinke factor helped seal the deal.“As we kept looking at it, it made more and more sense,” Mattingly said. “If it worked out, again, if it worked out, that you’d be able to go Clayton Game 4. Then if something wouldn’t work out here, have Zack for Game 5.”It was a risky, bold move to be sure. But it was the right call.
Only four position players in the 2010s produced a bWAR of 9.0 or higher, and two of those players will patrol the outfield for the Dodgers in the 2020 season. Both are very much in the primes of their career. That’s pretty incredible.Cody Bellinger hit the 9.0 mark last year, when he won the NL MVP award. He’s joined by Mookie Betts, who produced a 9.7 bWAR in 2016, when he finished second in the AL MVP voting, and a 10.9 in 2018, when he won the award. 10. RedsThe starters: LF Jesse Winker, CF Nick Senzel, RF Nicholas CastellanosWhy they’re here: There’s at least a decent chance the Opening Day outfield looks a bit different. Castellanos, who just signed a four-year deal to join the Reds, is the only guaranteed starter. Senzel or Winker could be moved in deals to help shore up other areas, because the Reds also have Aristides Aquino, who hit 19 home runs in 56 big-league games last year, and Shogo Akiyama, who signed as a free agent from Japan this offseason. However it plays out, though, it’s a solid grouping. RIVERA: Grading the Mookie Betts tradeThe 10.9 bWAR, by the way, is the best mark produced by any player other than Barry Bonds and Cal Ripken Jr. since 1975 (Mike Trout’s career best is 10.5). And Betts did it in just 136 games in 2018. And now Betts, who is just 27, is playing alongside Bellinger (he’s 24!) in the Dodgers outfield, as the franchise embarks on yet another quest for its first World Series title since 1988. That’s one heck of an outfield duo, with Bellinger in center and Betts in right. Both won Gold Glove awards last year, remember? So, yeah. The Dodgers have the best outfield in baseball, and it almost doesn’t matter who plays left field for that to remain true. A.J. Pollock, when he’s healthy, will be the primary player there, but Chris Taylor will see time in left, too, especially if Pollock struggles. Enrique Hernandez and Matt Beaty figure into the mix, as well. What other teams have the best outfield groups? Let’s take a look.2. YankeesThe starters: LF Giancarlo Stanton, CF Brett Gardner, RF Aaron JudgeWhy they’re here: There isn’t a more powerful corner duo in baseball. If Stanton and Judge are still healthy when Aaron Hicks comes back from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees’ trio would be the only team capable of taking the top spot from the Dodgers. 3. AstrosThe starters: LF Michael Brantley, CF George Springer, RF Josh ReddickWhy they’re here: That’s a solid group. All three of those outfielders, though, are set to become free agents after the 2020 season. 4. BrewersThe starters: LF Avisail Garcia, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Christian YelichWhy they’re here: Yelich was next level in 2019, even compared to his 2018 NL MVP campaign. Garcia was better than you probably realize for Tampa Bay last year, and even though Lorenzo Cain’s offensive numbers dropped, he’s not done yet. 5. NationalsThe starters: LF Juan Soto, CF Victor Robles, RF Adam EatonWhy they’re here: Soto and Robles both posted bWAR numbers above 4.0. Soto’s entering his Age 21 season, Robles his Age 23 season. Eaton, 31, isn’t what he once was, but he was healthy in 2019 and posted a .365 on-base percentage batting mostly first or second in the lineup. MORE: 20 reasons why baseball will be awesome in 20206. AngelsThe starters: LF Justin Upton, CF Mike Trout, RF Brian GoodwinWhy they’re here: If we’re being honest, pairing any two people from the stands with Mike Trout on a game-by-game basis would still keep the Angels in the top 15. He’s that good. Upton’s 32 and was hurt most of 2019, and Goodwin’s a fine, but unspectacular, player. 7. BravesThe starters: LF Marcel Ozuna, CF Ender Inciarte, RF Ronald Acuña, Jr.Why they’re here: Acuna’s a superstar, no doubt about that. But Ozuna, it seems, overestimated his value, which is why he settled for a one-year free-agent deal with the Braves. Inciarte is an outstanding defensive center fielder, but he’s coming off an injury-shortened year that produced just an 89 OPS+. 8. TwinsThe starters: LF Eddie Rosario, CF Byron Buxton, RF Max KeplerWhy they’re here: Kepler and Rosario combined to hit 68 homers, score 189 runs and produce 199 RBIs in 2019, and that ain’t too shabby. Buxton, the perennial would-be superstar, produced the best OPS of his career (.827) but injuries limited him to just 87 games. If he ever stays healthy and becomes the player we know he can be, this is a top-five group. 9. PhilliesThe starters: LF Andrew McCutchen, CF Adam Haseley, RF Bryce HarperWhy they’re here: Bryce Harper was perfectly fine in his first season with the Phillies: 35 homers, 4.2 bWAR, 125 OPS+, 98 runs. McCutchen was cruising along with a .378 on-base percentage and 10 homers before his season ended after 59 games with a torn ACL. If he’s healthy and Haseley develops in his second year in the bigs, this group rises.