In addition, the ATP synthase engines are so arranged in pairs (dimers), their F0 parts almost touching, their F1 parts separated, by angles ranging from 40° to 70° depending on the species. These dimers are then arranged in long rows like one might see in a hydroelectric plant. In this way, the flow of protons is channeled exactly where it is needed for optimal performance of the turbines. Concerning this “striking arrangement,” the authors said, “We propose that the supramolecular organization of respiratory chain complexes as proton sources and ATP synthase rows as proton sinks in the mitochondrial cristae ensures optimal conditions for efficient ATP synthesis.” The authors had virtually nothing to say about how this might have evolved, noting only that the structure is “conserved during evolution” in every sample they examined (3 species of fungi including yeast, potato, and mammal). What this means is a lack of evolution over nearly two billion years, in the standard evolutionary timeline. Furthermore, it is apparent that evolutionary theory contributed little or nothing to their investigation. It was really a study of how these structures are optimized for function: “The mutual arrangement of electron transfer complexes as proton sources and ATP synthase complexes as proton sinks in the membrane is therefore of fundamental interest and importance for understanding mitochondrial energy conversion.” They used the word optimal three times in the paper. 1. Davies et al., “Macromolecular organization of ATP synthase and complex I in whole mitochondria,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print August 11, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103621108. We have to just keep piling it on till people get it and vote Darwin out of office as Science Czar. In terms of understanding designs in nature like this, are you better off than you were 150 years ago?(Visited 95 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 As if ATP synthase was not amazing enough, a team of scientists in Germany now tells us they are arranged in rows with other equipment to optimize performance. From electron micrographs of intact mitochondria, they were able to detect the rotary engines of ATP synthase and other parts of the respiratory chain. Their diagram in an open-source paper in PNAS looks for all the world like a factory. CEH has reported on ATP synthase many times (for concise explanation with animation, see CMI). Your body, and every other living thing on earth, depends on a steady supply of the ATP “energy pellets” they synthesize. The two-part rotary engines rely on a constant flow of protons (proton motive force, or pmf). These protons are produced by other engines, Complex I (NADH dehydrogenase; for structure of this piston engine, see 07/06/2010), Complex III (cytochrome c reductase), and Complex IV (cytochrome c oxidase), through a series of mechanical and chemical reactions. The protons enter ATP synthase through its bottom structure, called F0, which is embedded in the mitochondrial membrane, causing it to rotate (the authors said it “works like a proton-driven turbine”). A stator and central stalk transfer the energy to the top part, F1, where three catalytic centers, arranged like orange slices, take in ADP and phosphate to create ATP – molecules with stored energy that travel throughout the cell to power almost everything. Each of these molecular machines are wonders of design efficiency in themselves. The new paper by Davies et al. augments that wonder by showing how they are all arranged for maximum performance.1 In order to save words, we are attaching their diagram (Figure 5) from the open-source paper; readers are encouraged to go to the source provided for caption and details.1 The proton-pumping machines (green) are arranged along folds of the cristae (blue) so that the protons don’t wander away from the ATP synthase machines (yellow). Since Complexes I, III, and IV act as proton “sources” and ATP synthase as proton “sinks”, a flow is set up toward the tight folds where the ATP synthase (yellow) are located.
Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games That’s why Racela is sticking it out with burly Joshua Smith as the Texters try to bounce back from the silly manhandling they got as TNT and favored San Miguel break a 1-1 tie on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. also at the fabled Big Dome floor.“They (Beermen) had a scheme [for] Joshua,” Racela said. “The problem was how we reacted to the other things they were doing.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutOne of those ugly reactions came from rookie RR Pogoy, who was coming off a career game in the series opener. Pogoy had a short night after losing his top and striking Arwind Santos in the groin to get ejected.He was lucky enough to duck suspension and just be slapped a P30,000 fine despite being whistled for a flagrant foul 2 penalty. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next “We lost our composure, especially in the second quarter,” Racela said as he offered no excuses after the Texters blew an early 17-point lead and trailed by more than that when the third quarter came along. “In the PBA, the team that loses composure is normally the team that loses.”Needless to say, Racela will make preparations for the third game—and the rest of this series—to make sure that his Texters don’t fall into a lapse similar to that of Game 2, where they failed to score in the first seven minutes of the second quarter to lose the lead—and the game—right there.And preparations like that need to be in place especially with Racela knowing just where this series is headed.“We’re expecting a Game 7,” he declared.San Miguel’s Leo Austria, meanwhile, is bracing for a tough fight—despite coming off the very authoritative win—as he believes that just suffered such a defeat will have all the energy to bounce back hard.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netRookie TNT KaTropa coach Nash Racela was not about to offer any excuses for what happened Friday night.“We did not lose because of the import,” Racela said matter-of-factly, minutes after his Texters got blown off the Smart Araneta Coliseum floor in Game 2 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup title series with San Miguel Beer.ADVERTISEMENT That’s exactly what the Beermen did after they gave up the first 17 points of Game 2 and looked ripe to fall into a 0-2 hole.“It would have been very tough coming back from that, because Talk ‘N Text is such a talented team,” Austria said.“Trailing that big [early] pricked their pride,” he added. “And they just worked hard for it (series-tying win). And that’s what we don’t want to happen (allow TNT to bounce back).”Despite proving they have the ability to bounce back from a bad start, reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo said it is crucial that San Miguel bursts out of the starting gate with a lot more energy.“We can’t start flat in the first quarter,” Fajardo said in Filipino. “If we can go hard, we should go hard immediately.The Beermen’s anchor said the lock-down defense the team played after falling behind, 0-17, to start the game will play a key role in the tie-breaking match.“We had a better defense [after falling behind early] and it’s a credit to my teammates,” he said. “They saw that I was having a hard time defending TNT’s import and they helped me. Our coaching staff had a good adjustment, and Kuya JayR (Reyes) and Kuya Yancy (de Ocampo) taught me how to defend the import better.”“We were able to adjust from what they did in Game 1, so we expect them to do the same for the next game. We’ll see what we can do more for Game 3,” Fajardo added. 1 dead in Cavite blast, fire Heart Evangelista admits she’s pregnant… with chicken World’s 50 Best Restaurants launches new drinking and dining guide WATCH: Firefighters rescue baby seal found in parking garage What ‘missteps’? Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments LATEST STORIES Stallion forces draw on leader Meralco MOST READ
Nokia India had announced the launch of two new touch phones in its Asha series – Asha 305 and Asha 311 in the Indian market.Asha 311, priced at Rs 7,139, is powered by a 1 GHz processor. It has a 3-inch scratch resistant capacitive touch screen, internal memory of 256 MB and a 3.2 megapixel camera.The phone also offers users 40 EA games to download for free. These games range across action, arcade and sports, and include titles such as Tetris, Bejeweled, Need for Speed: The Run and Fifa 2012.”With the launch of Nokia Asha touch range, we are strengthening our range of ‘mobile internet’ devices that offer these experiences to the customers,” Viral Oza, director marketing, Nokia India, said.According to the company, the Asha touch device is supported by Nokia Browser 2.0 that offers consumers faster and cheaper internet access as it compresses data consumption by 85 percent using cloud acceleration technology.- With inputs from IANS
Mathura, Dec 25 (PTI) Shankaracharya Adhokshajanand Deo Tuesday demanded that the BJP clear its stand over remarks by the party’s leaders on Lord Hanuman.The seer’s reaction came after Uttar Pradesh Religious Affair Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary dubbed Lord Hanuman as a Jat, saying like Jats, the deity never tolerated injustice towards anybody, anywhere.The minister made the remark Friday after a BJP MLC from the state, Bukkal Nawab, dubbed Lord Hanuman a Muslim on the ground that his name rhymed with Islamic names like Rahman, Arman, Qurban etc.During an election rally in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had termed the deity a Dalit.”On one side the BJP, from time to time, has been bringing up the Ram temple issue and on the other, its leaders are making absurd remarks on Hindu gods and goddesses, hurting religious sentiments,” Shankaracharya Adhokshajanand Deo Tirth said here.”The Ram temple in Ayodhya will be incomplete without Lord Hanuman as Ram had himself praised Hanumanji terming Hanuman equal to his brother Bharat,” he said.If the remark made by Nawab has the BJP high-command’s approval, “then the party will have to get a mosque constructed for Lord Hanuman”, the seer said.The chief minister had hurt religious sentiments by terming Lord Hanuman a Dalit, even as his office later issued a clarification, claiming that Adityanath was misquoted, the shankaracharya said.Lord Hanuman has been termed a Jat, Thakur, a sportsman and even a Muslim, even though gods and goddesses are above caste and religion, he stated.advertisementUttar Pradesh Sports Minister and former cricketer Chetan Chauhan had said on Sunday that Hanuman was a sportsperson.However, he had dismissed his party colleagues’ attempts at identifying the deity’s caste and said gods don’t have castes.The seer asked the BJP to clear its stand on the remarks and claimed no clarification was issued by the party on the statements on Lord Hanuman.”The silence by BJP higher ups and RSS functionaries (on the remarks on Lord Hanuman) indicates that for the BJP, the Ram temple is a tool to garner votes,” he said, adding that the temple in Ayodhya will be constructed by seers and dharmacharyas.In a meeting held in Vrindavan, the coordinator of the Mathura Nagar Nigam Tara Chandra Goshwami also condemned the remarks of BJP leaders on Hindu gods and goddesses. PTI CORR ANBANB
Leicester boss Puel hopeful Vardy fit for Chelseaby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLeicester City boss Claude Puel is hopeful that he will have Jamie Vardy available for the clash against Chelsea.Vardy was not put into the game against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, which Leicester lost on penalties.But Puel believes more training in the week should see Vardy ready for the weekend’s Premier League contest.”I hope we can have Jamie on Saturday. There wasn’t enough time for him to play today,” Puel said after the game.”He trained one full session and then played against Palace in the Premier League for 90 minutes. It was important to keep him fresh.”We have to be careful to avoid another injury. It is the second time with the same groin. I hope he can play against Chelsea on Saturday.”Vardy has five goals this season. About the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Glazers investing in Old Trafford upgradeby Paul Vegas14 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United’s owners, the Glazer Family, have plans to revamp Old Trafford in the coming years.The Glazers have come in for criticism regarding their spending on stadium maintenance and upgrades – leaving Old Trafford aged and lagging behind their rivals’ new modern facilities.The belief has been that the owners has been shocked by spending on transfer fees and player wages in recent years and have scaled back plans to spend on the stadium.However, the Daily Express says the Glazers do intend to pump money into Old Trafford – and have overseen a £20million investment already.United have an ongoing multi-million pound refurbishment plan. Last summer that squared to £2m and, this summer, to £3.9m.
It took a couple of bold pickups the week of the trade deadline, but the Kansas City Royals had finally done it.Solidified themselves as clear front-runners for the American League pennant? Emerged as outright World Series favorites?Not quite.Kansas City’s big accomplishment was simply amassing enough talent to break .500 down the season’s final stretch — at least in the eyes of the statistical projections. Although the Royals had never dropped below .566 all season (and had posted the best winning percentage in the AL), leading sabermetric think tank Fangraphs hadn’t pegged them to win more than half of their remaining games until July 26.1KC hit a rest-of-season win projection of exactly .500 on May 11. For most of the year, Kansas City has had the record of a contender but the forecast of a lightweight.We’re not picking on Fangraphs. The 79 wins it forecast for the Royals before the season started (barring major personnel changes or extreme breakouts from current players, the preseason forecast largely determines a team’s rest-of-season projection) were actually on the high side. Although KC won 89 games and went to the World Series in 2014, a consensus average of betting over/unders2Using data compiled from the same sources we used here, plus implied win totals derived from preseason World Series odds when available. and other statistical systems3Including Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections for the team, as well a regressed average of its Pythagorean winning percentages over the previous two seasons. would have pegged the Royals for 76 wins this year, a number that will likely end up at least 15 games low. Any projection system tied to the Royals’ comparatively weak preseason forecast would have been similarly bearish on their future record.And the Royals aren’t alone: The Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees could all potentially beat their consensus preseason projections by double digits, while the Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners may undershoot theirs by that margin. Forecasting the fates of 30 different baseball teams has always been tricky work, but this season has seemed so unpredictable that it has sparked extra rounds of self-examination among statheads.Paradoxically, in an age of unprecedented baseball data, we somehow appear to be getting worse at knowing which teams are — and will be — good.In an absolute sense, this season’s forecast win totals aren’t any further off than usual.4Extrapolating records to 162 games, the root mean square error between actual and predicted wins is lower this year than the seasonal average from 1996 to 2014. But that obscures the way predictions — and, in fact, actual team records — have also gotten more compressed over the years. As a result of the trend toward parity in MLB, preseason projections explain less of the variation among teams’ records now than they have at any point in the last 20 seasons.Strangely, the projections are doing fine at the player level. Neither hitter nor pitcher projections are necessarily to blame for the downturn in team-level forecasts. If anything, PECOTA is better now at projecting rate statistics for batters than it was five years ago, and at the very least it has gotten no worse on the pitching side. Likewise, PECOTA’s ability to nail playing-time estimates (both plate appearances and innings pitched) has only improved over that span. So in the aggregate, it’s hard to detect the slump in team projection accuracy by looking at the performance of individual player forecasts.But while PECOTA’s absolute prediction errors are getting smaller across the entire population of MLB players, its squared errors — a gauge more sensitive to outliers — have increased over the last five seasons. For that kind of discrepancy to exist, there can be only one explanation: The big misses are getting bigger, at least relative to the normal, everyday misses. And, notably, more of those extreme errors come when predicting the performance of young players.By now, it’s no secret that baseball is in the midst of a historic youth movement. As the average age of players has decreased, a lot more of the game’s value has been concentrated among its fresh faces. That’s hailed as a good thing for the game, but it may be a bad thing for projection systems. For hitters ages 24 and younger, we found that absolute prediction errors in their rate statistics are on the rise since 2009, with an even more pronounced trend toward inaccuracy if outliers are given more weight. Since those players now contribute more to the game than at any other point in recent memory, they could be playing a role in driving the recent projection crisis.There could be other culprits. Teams may be better now at assessing themselves than public metrics are. If the internal projection systems some clubs employ are superior to the ones driving published preseason forecasts, those teams could be buying and selling talent according to a different rubric. As a result, they could be constructing their rosters in a way that would amplify team-level errors in the public forecasts — for example, loading up on publicly underrated players — even if the player-level accuracy of public projections hasn’t changed much.Then again, maybe it’s all just luck — we mean literally. By definition, the compression of team records across MLB means that random variance is playing a larger role in the standings than it used to. How much larger? Computing the spread of true talent in a season using the standard deviation of team winning percentages, it turns out that a whopping 64 percent of the observed variation among teams so far this season can be explained by binomial luck — by far the highest single-season proportion of the past two decades.Even if that number regresses a bit over the season’s final third, 2015 will shatter the previous post-199551996 was the first full, 162-game season after MLB’s 1994 strike. record for luck’s sway over team winning percentages. This fact alone may go a long way toward explaining why projections are struggling.It’s tough to know what all of this means for a team like Kansas City. The Royals were smart to go all-in at the trade deadline, and as an older team they figure to be less affected by the predictive uncertainty currently plaguing baseball. Ironically, though, that means we should probably be more confident in the relatively unimpressive rest-of-season forecast set for them by a site like Fangraphs, which still regards the Royals as a team with 84-win true talent even after accounting for their deadline pickups.6This also takes into account playing time missed due to injuries, such as the strained groin that will keep star outfielder Alex Gordon out for a few more weeks.It’s a long-held saying that baseball’s playoffs are a crapshoot, but the unexpectedly great performances of teams like Kansas City this year might indicate the regular season is headed in that direction, too.
Cincinnati Reds Chicago Cubsneil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Last year’s NL Central was one of the strongest divisions in memory, particularly between the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates at the top. But Chicago had an unbelievable offseason, and most sources consider them the best team in baseball going into 2016. So, to get us started, what do we think about this stacked roster the Cubs have assembled? Do we buy the hype about this team’s potential to end the franchise’s 108-year championship drought?craigjedwards: I absolutely buy the hype. A lot of things had to go right last season for the Cubs to make their big leap earlier than expected: Kris Bryant instantly playing to his talent level, most of the team staying healthy (particularly in the rotation), Jake Arrieta’s incredible breakout year, etc. This season, the Cubs don’t need as much good fortune. By signing John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, and bringing back Dexter Fowler, they’ve built a bit of a buffer in case of bad luck.rob: I agree — the Cubs start the year with an excellent roster, loaded with depth. There’s a reason they’re favored so highly by PECOTA, Steamer and just about every other projection system. On top of its excellent starters, Chicago has prospects and the budget to add contracts mid-year, so if a major player suffers an injury or performance decline, they should be able to handle it.craigjedwards: But whether they can end the drought is a difficult question to answer. For most teams, just getting to the playoffs means the season was successful. But if the drought means a World Series title or bust, the team is setting itself up for disappointment. It’s really difficult to win three straight postseason series against other good teams.rob: Right. As much as I buy that this is a stacked roster, I have some bad news for Cubs fans: A good roster at the beginning of the year guarantees nothing. Between injuries, cluster luck and various other kinds of bad breaks, many a preseason powerhouse has exited the playoffs early — or worse yet, failed to reach the postseason at all. (As a Cubs fan, I have been trained to expect the worst.)neil: Baseball is quite different from, say, the NBA, where the Golden State Warriors’ stacked roster means they’re a coin-flip to win the NBA title. Being the best MLB team means you have, what, a 15 to 20 percent chance (at best) of winning?rob: Yes, the difference between MLB teams is much smaller. We’ve never seen (and will never see) a baseball team like the 2016 Warriors or 1996 Bulls. Win projections in the high 90s are about as good as it gets, and that’s where the Cubs are right now.craigjedwards: The best players in the NBA handle the ball constantly, whereas a hitter comes to the plate four or five times per game, and an ace might only pitch twice in a playoff series. Plus, only eight teams make the divisional series, so even the worst playoff team is not going to be far from the best in terms of talent. The Cubs went 3-5 in the playoffs last year, and they were a success story.rob: If only Arrieta could pitch every game.neil: Another (possibly underrated) thing working against the Cubs’ chances is how top-heavy the NL is. According to FanGraphs, Chicago ranks first in projected team wins above replacement, but Nos. 2 through 5 — and seven of the top 10 teams — are in the NL.rob: That’s true — this year’s decrease in parity has been driven mostly by NL teams, particularly the Dodgers, Cubs and Mets. That will make the NL playoffs more of a crapshoot than usual. Even within the Central, the Cubs will have to contend with two difficult challengers in the Pirates and Cardinals.neil: They’d have an easier path to the World Series in the AL, I’d think.rob: Also, they’d get to play Kyle Schwarber at DH, where he probably belongs.craigjedwards: If the Pirates or Cardinals win 93 games, and the Cubs win 92 — which, again, would be a very successful season — all of a sudden Chicago is in the Wild Card game, hoping for a coin flip just to get to the Division Series. And some very good NL teams, at least on paper right now, will not even get to the playoffs.The difference might not be how a team does against other contenders, but rather how badly they can beat up the NL’s worst teams, some of which are very poor.rob: We saw that in the NL East preview, with two teams racing to the bottom and two strong outfits up top; there’s a similar pattern going on in the Central. Across the league, teams seem to be committing more to a particular trajectory in the competitive cycle, either rebuilding or making a championship run.neil: If the Cubs do have 95- to 100-win talent, the upper bound on that is one of the best teams ever. (Which could very well happen.) But I have a feeling the bottom bound is also lower than we think. What could send this seemingly stacked Cubs team there? Just the obvious scenario, a rash of key injuries?rob: A good, approximate rule of thumb is that team-level projections are 90 percent certain to be within +/-10 wins. So the bottom bound is something like 80 to 85 wins, which is probably not making the playoffs in this division. That’s the reason I’m cautious about the Cubs.craigjedwards: I think the bottom likely comes if the pitching falls apart. The projections aren’t exactly conservative on Arrieta and Jon Lester. Losing one of them would be a major blow, and there are some concerns about Arrieta’s crazy workload last season. Plus, Lester is one year older and has apparently been pitching at the risk of injury for some time now.rob: I think there’s still some reason to suspect Arrieta could turn back into a pumpkin. Lester’s inability to throw to first has been well-documented, yet strangely not taken advantage of as much as it could be. He’s also a pitcher older than 30, and those can fall apart at any time (remember Cliff Lee?). If you combine the risk of a rotation and bullpen collapse, that’s the most likely way I see the Cubs’ season falling apart.craigjedwards: But as far as their lineup goes, they are pretty well-insulated.rob: Yep, they have too many good, young position players to have a bad offense. Embed Code neil: If the Cubs do falter from their lofty projections, there are plenty of teams in this division waiting to pounce. Let’s start with the Cardinals, who won 100 games last year and looked unstoppable at times. Yet, they also suffered some offseason losses and outplayed their BaseRuns by more than any other team. Are the Cardinals still on the same level, or might they be due for a decline?rob: I think they are due for some decline. Even if they returned the exact same team as last year, the odds were against them outperforming their underlying stats to such an extraordinary degree again. So they probably won’t be quite as good, though they’d be falling from such lofty heights that it would still make for a decent team. FanGraphs has them at 85 wins, with PECOTA projecting 82.craigjedwards: Although a repeat of last season’s win total is unrealistic, the Cardinals also have a pretty high floor. They cannot repeat their success with runners on base this season, but the rotation is arguably more talented than it was a year ago. Nobody on the team is projected to have a great season, but that also means nobody is irreplaceable, and they have quite a few players with ceilings well above their projections.neil: That rotation could be impressive, with five starters carrying a FanGraphs projection of at least 2 WAR.craigjedwards: The rotation has its questions, though, most being injury-related. With health, they might approach their run prevention from last season, but no pitching staff stays healthy all year. For instance, I wonder about Michael Wacha as we head into the season — he tired at the end of last year, after being shut down in 2014 with a shoulder issue. Wacha has pitched at an ace-level for stretches, but if he can’t command his fastball he’s closer to an average pitcher.rob: I think a huge unknown on the team, and a big determinant of its fate, is Yadier Molina. He was injured last year and turned in an uncharacteristically mediocre pitch-framing performance behind the plate. Framing makes such a big difference because its effect, while small for any given pitch, are spread out across every pitch a staff throws. If Yadi returns to his normal level — which seems possible if his decline came from injury, and not aging — the staff will get a big boost. If not, those 2-WAR projections may be overly optimistic.craigjedwards: Right. Molina’s bat has also gotten significantly weaker over the past two seasons, and two offseason thumb surgeries make you wonder about his hitting ability. The projections might be overrating that, expecting a bounce-back that might not be possible. His leadership and game preparation are unquestioned, but Molina’s body is compromised at this stage of his career.neil: For all of those concerns, though, these are still the Cardinals. Have they earned the benefit of the doubt given the way the franchise has re-tooled on the fly in the past? Or is that more of a narrative that gets applied to them post-hoc because they’ve been so successful?rob: I don’t like to give any team the benefit of the doubt. Some teams do figure out major advantages before others, but we can usually follow along and figure out what those advantages are (or were). The Cardinals might have some kind of player-development talent that other teams are lacking, or they might just be exceptionally well-run and good at acquiring skilled players. But I’m not inclined to give them a “Magic Beans” bonus.On the other hand: They have produced historic RISP performances — both in terms of pitching and hitting — over the last five years. I don’t know what to make of that. Maybe they do have a secret we don’t know about.craigjedwards: I think the benefit of the doubt is almost a required narrative that has turned into a joke. The David Freese–Allen Craig–Matt Carpenter–Matt Adams pipeline of “unknown players rising to prominence” seems like it has run dry. But what the Cardinals have been good at over the past few years — in contrast with the Cubs, who have developed position players — is developing pitching. They’ve targeted athletes and guys who can throw the change-up, and those pitchers seem to have worked out. Milwaukee Brewers A FiveThirtyEight Chat The 2016 Major League Baseball season opened on Sunday, and FiveThirtyEight is assembling some of our favorite baseball writers to chat about the year to come. In today’s edition, we focus on the National League Central with Craig Edwards, managing editor of the Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos, and FiveThirtyEight’s own baseball columnist, Rob Arthur. The transcript below has been edited.Chicago CubsSt. Louis CardinalsPittsburgh PiratesMilwaukee BrewersCincinnati Reds rob: In any event, I suspect that, like last year, this division will be one of the most exciting in baseball. Even if the Cubs wrap it up early (and they probably won’t), the Cards and Pirates will go down to the wire competing for WC spots. It should be fun to watch.craigjedwards: The division is Chicago’s to lose, but both the Pirates and the Cardinals are contenders who could win under the right circumstances.neil: And at least we won’t have to hear those incessant “Back To The Future” references around the Cubs this season.craigjedwards: Don’t worry, the Cubs will come up with something at least as annoying this season. Between them and the Cardinals, the NL Central has morphed into the new AL East in terms of insufferableness. St. Louis Cardinals neil: So Milwaukee sounds like they’re in a better place than Cincinnati.craigjedwards: The Brewers saw the opportunity to start rebuilding, and they took it. The Reds, on the other hand, had the opportunity to start a major rebuild, but their heart wasn’t really in it.rob: Yes, they haven’t gone as far or received as much of a return. They’re holding onto Joey Votto now (which is understandable), but they also kept Aroldis Chapman too long. And they haven’t been as experimental as the Brewers, taking fliers on high-variance players. That will hurt them down the road when some of the Brewers’ risks pan out.craigjedwards: If they’d dealt Chapman and Jay Bruce for a few extra prospects at last year’s trade deadline, we might look at the Reds differently. Instead they hung onto Bruce, who collapsed at the end of the season; then Chapman’s offseason domestic violence investigation hurt his trade value. And now it’s difficult to see Votto drawing a package good enough to justify trading a franchise player.(They also still owe Homer Bailey more than $80 million through 2019, and couldn’t figure out a way around Brandon Phillips‘ no-trade clause, so he’s owed another $27 million over the next two years.)rob: Having said all that, the nice thing about this iteration of the Reds is that, even though they won’t be too competitive in the Central, they have some fun players to watch. Votto is always great, and Billy Hamilton remains entertaining (even if he’s not living up to his promise).craigjedwards: They also have a number of interesting young pitchers, such as Raisel Iglesias (a big signing out of Cuba) and Robert Stephenson. If a few of those guys pan out, Cincinnati could rebuild quickly. But unfortunately for the Reds, the probability of success for that strategy is not incredibly high.The bottom line: Neither the Reds nor Brewers is likely to do well in the next two, maybe three seasons. And it doesn’t look like the Cubs, Pirates or Cardinals are going to go anywhere, either.rob: So, in a way, it makes sense to go for a longer-term rebuild. When the top of the division is strong and will be for a while, maybe it’s reasonable to wait until you can field a genuinely good team.craigjedwards: But then what do you with Votto? It seems like such a waste to have him on terrible teams.rob: I agree. (#freejoeyvotto!) Then again, he gives Reds fans a reason to watch, when they’re not complaining about his otherworldly OBP.craigjedwards: That’s what makes him hard to trade. He’s a truly great player, but his enormous contract depresses his long-term value and limits Cincinnati’s trading partners. We just saw the Rockies go through this with Troy Tulowitzki. They waited too long to trade their franchise player, and ended up with a return that wasn’t as good as it would have been a year earlier.It almost seems as though having a player like Joey Votto provided the illusion of a bright long-term future. The same thing might be happening with the Angels and Mike Trout, but in Los Angeles they have more opportunities to spend their way out of it than in a market like Cincinnati.rob: The margin for a mid-market or small-market team is so thin. The couple of months’ difference between trading a player at the peak of his value and just off of it can multiply into a year’s difference in the competitive window. neil: The Pirates round out what was this division’s Big Three last year. But the statistical projections seem a little down on them — 83 wins at FanGraphs, 82 at Baseball Prospectus. Are you guys sensing a drop-off in Pittsburgh? Or do they extend a run that’s seen them average 93 wins the past three seasons?rob: I believe either the Pirates or Cardinals will get to 90 wins and probably snag a Wild Card spot. The Pirates are about as likely as the Cards, with a similar “benefit of the doubt” narrative surrounding them. As one of the most visibly sabermetric teams in the game (between ground balls, shifting, their health monitoring, etc.) it’s plausible to me that they’ll defy the projections slightly. If they do have a secret, I think it relates to their health, which has been notably better than other teams the last few years.craigjedwards: On the position-player side, they have a lot of talent, particularly in the outfield. Pitching-wise, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano make for a very good one-two punch, though the rest of the rotation is not great. But if there’s a new magic-beans narrative going around, it’s in Pittsburgh, with Ray Searage getting unforeseen performances out of his pitchers. Juan Nicasio might be the beneficiary of that this season.rob: And they may not even need those kinds of secret advantages. This is a solid roster featuring one of the best players in the game — Andrew McCutchen — and a true ace in Cole. It’s also remarkably even across the board: Not a single lineup spot is projected to be below replacement-level, according to Baseball Prospectus.craigjedwards: But like you said, Rob, health is the key. The Pirates face the same problem as many teams in a similar financial situation: a lack of depth. If injuries force them to rely on reinforcements, it’s difficult to see them repeating the success of the past few seasons.rob: I agree, they are hurting for depth. You could easily see this team collapsing with only a few DL trips.neil: And even if they turn out OK in that department and make the playoffs, I’m not sure that fanbase can take another defeat in the Wild Card game.rob: Unfortunately, there’s a decent chance that’s exactly what will happen.neil: Again?rob: The wild card is a cruel mistress.craigjedwards: Pittsburgh got a bit unlucky being forced to go against Jake Arrieta last season, but Cole is also a good guy to have for a one-game playoff. The NL Wild Card could see another great pitching duel when you look at the aces who could be featured: Cole, Arrieta, Matt Harvey, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright.rob: With the Cubs and Cardinals as competition, it’s hard to see the Pirates capturing the division (although it’s possible). It’s easier to see them putting up another solid 92-win season, landing the Wild Card, and facing one of those pitchers in a do-or-die game. At that point, it’s basically a coin flip, one the Pirates have lost a couple of times running now.craigjedwards: So they are probably due? That’s how coin flips work, right?rob: For the collective sanity of Pittsburgh’s residents, I hope so. neil: And now comes the time when we have to talk about the dregs of this division. Who should we discuss first, Brewers or Reds? Both were awful last season, though PECOTA actually sees Milwaukee vaguely edging in the direction of .500 this year.rob: The Brewers are kind of fun because they are obviously experimenting, and they’ve made some great moves this offseason in that direction.craigjedwards: They also aren’t tied down with as many long-term contracts as Cincinnati. It’s part of why Milwaukee seems to have the slightly brighter long-term future, if that counts for anything.neil: The Brewers even have the ninth-best farm system in MLB, per Baseball America.craigjedwards: The big question for them will be, “When will they trade Jonathan Lucroy, and how much will they get for him?”neil: And, “how much has Lucroy’s framing value gone down these past few years?”rob: A huge question with Lucroy is whether his framing went down or if everyone else’s went up. (This applies to Molina as well.) If the league as a whole improved at pitch framing, then guys like those two — who used to be leaps and bounds better than everyone else — will look like they’re declining. It even matters for Lucroy’s trade prospects, because if it’s a matter of him declining, then he could go back up. But if the league’s catchers all rose to his level, there’s not much prospect for improvement.craigjedwards: How much of an effect injuries might have had is another question that I don’t believe we can answer at this point. But even without the framing, he hits well for a catcher and is in a team-friendly contract over the next two seasons, so he should still be a good asset for the Brewers to flip and improve their farm system even more.rob: However, outside of Lucroy (and maybe Ryan Braun), the Brewers have a ho-hum, strikeout-prone lineup and an unimpressive rotation. They aren’t going to be very good this year.craigjedwards: Milwaukee looked like it was on the Oakland A’s track of trying to never rebuild, but after the team squandered a division lead in 2014, the bottom fell out last season and it was time for a major rebuild.neil: Rebuilding usually means promising youngsters. Anybody to keep an eye on this year?craigjedwards: Orlando Arcia. He’s their shortstop of the future with Segura gone.And to Rob’s earlier point about experimenting with players, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana are the type of guys you try out when you know you have no hope of contending. They could easily disappoint, but there are no bad long-term ramifications if they can’t hack it in the majors.rob: “Hack” being the operative word; Santana had a contact rate of 67 percent last year. But yeah, there’s nothing to lose on high-variability players — Rymer Liriano also comes to mind — and a lot to gain, so they’re correct to invest in them.craigjedwards: If they hit on a couple of these guys, it could really help the team’s long-term outlook.rob: Right, this is a year where they feel out some of those young guys and see who can contribute to the next competitive Brewers team. Ben Lindbergh joins the Hot Takedown podcast to preview the 2016 MLB season. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Pittsburgh Pirates
102012Phillies.640.776+.136 72005Pirates.650.803+.153 10Jeff SamardzijaGiants9873-25 Nelson was awful last season, but he’s striking out more than two extra batters per nine innings this year — and walking two fewer — in part by ditching his lousy sinker. For his part, Anderson was nearly as bad as Nelson last year; his 2017 tonic has been a drastic reduction in homers allowed, from 1.7 per 9 to 0.7.Needless to say, neither is likely to be so lights-out going forward. But of the two, Nelson seems more likely to hold on to his gains (he has the better peripherals and is allowing softer contact). And for now, the Brewers have two of the best pitchers in baseball — completely out of the blue. It’s one of the biggest reasons why the Brew Crew are above .500 and a game up on the Cubs for the top slot in the NL Central, after being projected in preseason for a fourth-place finish. Just call them the anti-Mets.Check out our latest MLB predictions. 13Sean ManaeaAthletics9877-21 Source: FanGraphs When a previously solid hitting team (such as the Blue Jays, whose 2016 OPS was 1 percent better than average) suffers a poor April and bounces back in May, they usually deserve the benefit of the doubt. In a regression predicting each team’s rest-of-season performance based on its OPS in the first two months and its OPS the previous year4Again, using data since 2002., April is the least predictive. Performance in May and the previous year combined to carry about three times as much relative importance5According to the “lmg” (Lindeman, Merenda and Gold) function in R’s “relaimpo” package.. Also of particular note for an elderly roster such as the Toronto’s: Age was not significant in the prediction after controlling for a team’s various OPS splits.This isn’t to say a poor April means nothing. The Jays’ projected rest-of-season OPS would be 14 points higher if they’d hit in April like they did in 2016 as a whole. (That’s the difference between having the fifth-best offense in MLB and merely the 10th best.) But in conjunction with the lineup’s May recovery, it was more a blip on the radar than a sign of impending collapse.Now for the bad news, Toronto. A poor April record can sink a team’s playoff chances, even if it doesn’t represent their true talent level. Since MLB added the extra wild card in 2012, the worst April record by an eventual postseason team was 7-14 (.333), by the 2015 Texas Rangers. By comparison, Toronto’s April record was a full game worse, at 8-17 (.320). Of course, some of that is chalked up to the fact that teams with playoff-caliber talent don’t tend to suffer such rough starts, but it also speaks to the challenge posed by falling so far down the standings, so quickly. Even if every game were a coin-flip from May onward, the Jays’ April record dropped their playoff odds from 33 percent in preseason to 10 percent after one month.They’ve since risen to 21 percent under “coin flip mode” — or higher, if you account for the talent on Toronto’s roster. But any way you cut it, a team that boasts one of baseball’s top 10 or so most talented rosters will probably find itself outside the playoffs at season’s end. And if that does happen, they can look back and blame it the extra month of spring training that Toronto decided to take in 2017.Milwaukee’s dynamic duoEarlier this week, we detailed the horror show in Queens, formerly known as the Mets’ pitching staff. The Mets entered the season with several pitchers who they thought were aces, only to see a historic decline in 2017. The Milwaukee Brewers are enjoying the opposite scenario: Several pitchers who looked like liabilities before the season have transformed into elite starters (for now).Specifically, each of the two hurlers who’ve reduced their fielding independent pitching (FIP)6Relative to the league, so using FIP-. most between 2016 and ’17 wear Milwaukee uniforms: Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson. (These numbers are through the games of June 5; Nelson and Anderson have both made — and won — starts since.) Less than a month into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays seemed as good as dead. Toronto had 17 losses against only six victories (the worst record in baseball), was getting outscored by 1.1 runs per game and found itself threatening franchise records for April offensive futility. The Jays had enjoyed a handful of good seasons in recent years, but with such putrid stats — and the second-oldest roster in baseball — the party appeared to be coming to an ugly, abrupt conclusion.Then, just like that, the Jays started winning ballgames again. It started with two straight victories to close out April, followed by a .500 record in the first week of May. (Baby steps!) Then they got legitimately hot: Seven wins in an eight-game span as the month neared its midway point. And, after another brief mid-month hiccup (losing five of six), eight wins over the final nine games of May. Toronto was hitting again, pitching pretty well and clawing its way back into an absurdly stacked division race.Baseball can be a strange sport in that way, with hot and cold streaks coming and going without warning. So when a team has such a mercurial start to a season, how do we know which version is the genuine article? Toronto is hoping it’s the one from May, and history has good news — that’s more likely than it being the awful edition that showed up in April. But even so, one poor month may have buried the Jays in too deep a hole to escape.It’s hard to be much colder than Toronto’s hitters were in April. Out of the 480 MLB team-seasons since 2002,1The earliest season of monthly splits in FanGraphs’ splits leaderboard tool. the Blue Jays’ .645 April on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) ranked 30th worst; it also represented the seventh-biggest April dip from a team’s previous full-season OPS, down 110 points as it was from Toronto’s .755 OPS showing at the plate in 2016. Although perennial-MVP-candidate third baseman Josh Donaldson was in and out of the lineup with a leg injury, his absence wasn’t the only explanation for Toronto’s struggles. Starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit poorly when healthy,2Only adding to his disappointing record since donning a Jays uniform two years ago. aging sluggers Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales looked well past their primes and second baseman Devon Travis was the worst regular batter in baseball.The Jays’ improvement at the plate in May was even more remarkable than their April slump. Since 2002, only two teams — the 2015 Texas Rangers and 2003 Detroit Tigers — improved their OPS as much from May to April as this year’s Jays did.3For all the good it did those Tigers; they still finished with 43 wins, the second-fewest of any team in the 162-game era. And it was their worst hitters from April who caught fire most when the calendar flipped: Bautista’s OPS leapt from .554 to 1.055, Morales’s from .667 to .930 and, most remarkably, Travis’s from .388 to 1.019 (!). Only the surging Houston Astros had a better month at the plate than Toronto did in May. 42007Tigers.727.888+.161 9Zack GreinkeDiamondbacks9974-25 6Luis PerdomoPadres11891-27 FIELDING INDEPENDENT PITCHING MINUS YEARTEAMAPRILMAYDIFFERENCE The biggest April-to-May OPS increases since 2002 22003Tigers.512.688+.177 PITCHERTEAMNEW TEAM?20162017DIFF. Includes pitchers with a minimum 100 innings per 162 team games in both seasons. Stats for 2017 through June 5.Source: FanGraphs 92004Expos.552.691+.139 8Josh TomlinIndians11488-26 12Sonny GrayAthletics11291-21 3Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacks✓12081-39 2Chase AndersonBrewers11878-40 5James PaxtonMariners6734-33 32017Blue Jays.645.809+.164 14Michael FulmerTigers8869-19 15Ivan NovaPirates✓9678-18 62004Yankees.723.877+.153 4Chris SaleRed Sox✓7943-36 82002Angels.684.836+.152 1Jimmy NelsonBrewers11970-49 11Dallas KeuchelAstros9271-21 52010Reds.713.873+.161 ON-BASE PLUS SLUGGING AVERAGE The most improved pitchers of 2017 7Chris ArcherRays9266-26 12015Rangers.611.797+.186
Ohio State then-freshman forward Tatum Skaggs (11) races to the puck in the first period of the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignThe Ohio State women’s hockey team (11-5, 7-3 WCHA) capped off a series sweep of Minnesota Duluth (5-6-1, 3-5-1 WCHA) with a 4-1 win on Saturday. Sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs led the way, earning the second hat trick of her college career.“It always feels good to sweep back at home and be able to put up a really great game for the fans,” Skaggs said. “Getting three goals is great, but that is not the main focus of what happened this weekend. We swept, and that is all that matters.”Much like Friday’s matchup, Minnesota Duluth took the lead early, less than four minutes into the first period. It was junior forward Sydney Brodt who snuck a shot around the corner by Ohio State goaltender Andrea Braendli to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage. Sophomore forward Anna Klein and freshman forward Gabbie Hughes assisted Brodt on the goal. Continuing the trend of similarities to Friday’s matchup, the game was tied up by Ohio State 12 minutes into the first period when the Buckeyes took advantage of a Minnesota Duluth penalty.Skaggs scored her first goal of the game for Ohio State getting a rebound on the power play from a blocked shot by sophomore forward Emma Maltais and slapping it in. Maltais and redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne were given assists on the play. Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall praised Skaggs’ play and her team’s resilience throughout the game.“When you play in a league like this, you need those reliable players or go to players like Tatum,” Muzerall said. “Playing against an Olympic gold medalist goalie and putting six goals on her in two games speaks volumes to our tenacity in front of the net. We were very relentless, and I am very proud of how they did not quit and kept plugging away.”With momentum on their side, the Buckeyes continued their relentless attack on Bulldog goaltender, redshirt junior Maddie Rooney. Ohio State’s efforts were rewarded just over a minute after their previous goal, less than 14 minutes in the first period. Freshman forward Sara Saekkinen found the net for the Buckeyes, giving them a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Madison Field and junior forward Olivia Soares were credited with assists for their effort on the goal. The second period saw no goals scored for either team, with Ohio State successfully killingtwo Bulldog penalties to maintain its 2-1 lead. The Buckeye defense limited Minnesota Duluth to only eight shots on goal for the entire period.Muzerall praised the Buckeye defense for its efforts against a talented Bulldog offense.“We worked on our forwards making sure they played 200 feet to back check,” Muzerall said. “If you know you have players coming through the middle of the ice, you can play a little more aggressive. We’ve been working on our forward angling and also on our gap control. We’ve done a better job with our stick positioning and they’ve just been more disciplined lately.”Ohio State continued firing shots at Rooney and got one in the net when Skaggs scored her second goal of the game seven minutes into the third period.Skaggs said she was pleased with how the Buckeyes took advantage of opportunities to score off Rooney.“You can’t take anything away from her, there’s a reason why she has a gold medal.” Skaggs said. “She played really well, but I think we just capitalized off their mistakes and it really feels good that we got a couple goals in on her.” With time winding down in the third period, Minnesota Duluth pulled its goalie in favor of an extra attacker to attempt to mount a comeback. It resulted in with an empty net goal with just over a minute left in the third period to give Skaggs a hat trick for the game. Skaggs credited her success to the fact that she played with a new line for this series.“My line was clicking really well due to our hard week of practice,” Skaggs said. “It helped us learn to work well with each other and push each other. It definitely flowed into the game with us making good passes and finding seams, which helped with the success.” Ohio State next travels up to Mankato, Minnesota to play Minnesota State. Games will be played at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 1 and at 3:00 p.m on Dec. 2.