Just the Stats: NCAA Tournament Preview, Rds. 1 & 2

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Just the Stats: What to Watch For in the NL

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Just the Stats: What to Watch For in the AL

The following statistics are completely true pieces of information. Use them at your own risk. Results may vary. As always, follow @StatTardiff on Twitter for more insights.

This week and next, we’ll preview the 2017 MLB season, starting with the American League this week and the National League next week.

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AL East – Boston’s Arms Better Than the Rest
The Boston Red Sox captured the AL East crown in 2016, and are in prime position to do the same in 2017. They added Chris Sale to a rotation including a pair of Cy Young winners (David Price and Rick Porcello), and have a lineup that will threaten to lead baseball in runs scored for the second year in a row. Keep in mind this next-level nugget we found at the time of the Sale signing; two pitchers have struck out 200+ batters and walked fewer than 50 batters in three-or-more consecutive seasons. Both of them, Sale and Price, will pitch for the Red Sox in 2017.

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AL Central – Tribe Time Again in 2017
The gap between the division winner and the second-place team is widest in the Central Division in the AL, where the Indians are projected (by FanGraphs) to win by 11 games. Everyone knows how silly-good Andrew Miller was in the 2016 postseason, and the Indians added free agent Edwin Encarnacion to a lineup that was 5th in MLB in runs scored. Encarnacion has taken the most trips around the diamond in MLB since 2011 (210 home runs), and has been in the top-7 in the league each year since 2007.

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AL West – What’s There to Make Sense Of?
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple of seasons, it’s that the AL West is unpredictable. As much as we would love to give points to the Seattle Mariners for the nicest Spring Training hats, subjectivity has no home here. What we do know is that Robinson Cano continues to be one of the most solid players in baseball. He’s played in 156-or-more games in every season since 2006, and is one of three players with 100+ runs and 100+ RBI in three separate seasons, dating back to 2010. If Cano can come close to the 39 HR he hit in 2017, he’ll pace a Mariners team that could make some noise in the AL West.

Just the Stats: Super Bowl 51 Recap

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Just the Stats: Super Bowl Preview, Pt. 2

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Just the Stats: Super Bowl Preview, Pt. 1

The following statistics are completely true pieces of information. Use them at your own risk. Results may vary. As always, follow @StatTardiff on Twitter for more insights.

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Just the Stats: NBA MVP and NFL Conference Champ. Predictions

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Just the Stats: A Snapped Streak, and NFL Divisional Round Predictions

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Just the Stats: Point Guards Rule and The Playoffs Cometh

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Just the Stats: Peaking Interest

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Did the Best Team in NBA History Peak Too Early?
The NBA season is about 30 games deep, and to the surprise of no one, the Golden State Warriors are the league’s best team at 27-5. After opening the 2015-16 campaign with 24-straight victories, many wondered if the Warriors peaked too early last season. The thing about a really good team, is that even when they’re not peaking, they’re still really good. In any 20-game stretch in 2015-16, Golden State was never worse than 16-4 and was outscoring opponents by 142 or more cumulative points in those games. From Game 20 through Game 82, there was one instance where Golden State had 300 more points than their opponents in their previous 20 games. Already in 2016-17, the Warriors have five such instances.

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Rest for the Weary in the NFL Playoffs?
As the NFL approaches their postseason, four teams will receive a first-round bye. Does the week off help teams rest up for the Divisional Round, or does it leave teams rusty entering their first win-or-go-home matchup? There’s a similar phenomenon to the Warriors, in the sense that the teams receiving first-round byes are the best teams in the league; teams that usually win. To that effect, top-two seeds are 21-7 in the Divisional Round since 2010, including a perfect 4-0 mark in 2016. That’s good news for the New England Patriots, receiving their seventh-consecutive first-round bye, and the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched home-field advantage in the NFC after Week 16.

Sports Day

The NHL’s Hottest Teams Are…Who?
If you hit the parlay that the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild would have concurrent winning streaks of 10-plus games, our hats are off to you. If there’s one thing the casual hockey fan can grasp about the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s that a hot goaltender can get you to June; the same is true about December for these two clubs. The Blue Jackets’ Sergei Bobrovsky (league-leading 21 wins) has posted a perfect 1.000 save percentage while his team is shorthanded (23 saves), and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild leads the NHL with a 1.57 GAA, .948 save percentage, and five shutouts. The netminders are getting it done for the Midwestern teams, and (dare I say) could be getting it done against each other in the summer of 2017.

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Matt Tardiff is the resident stat head at Chin Music Pod, and is fully aware of the proper spelling of ‘pique’ and the use of puns. For more wordplay on statistics in the world of sports, follow @StatTardiff on Twitter. As always, check back next Tuesday for more stats.