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Yankees, Dodgers top Astros in MLB Future Power Rankings

Compared to the normal Power Rankings that focus on where a team currently is, ESPN.com’s Future Power Rankings tackle the trickier task of figuring out how teams will fare over the next five years. Predicting future success isn’t easy, especially because time machines don’t exist. To tackle this uncertainty, Buster Olney provided the overview on where things stand for each team, while Dan Szymborski ranked teams in four categories, explained below, to attempt to cut through the fog of uncertainty. The rankings were used to compute each team’s overall score out of 30 points.

Current talent: 25 percent of the ranking. While a team’s farm system has the heaviest weighting, the talent a team has right now is a large part of predicting the future as well. Good players now, especially those younger than 30, are likely to continue to be contributors for the next few years. Current talent also can be traded for future talent.

Here, we’re looking for front offices that most capably combine their strengths in the first three categories and, whether now or later, maximize their team’s success. We’re also looking for owners with the willingness to be patient with and to support the plans laid out by their front offices.

What this means for fantasy baseball managers is that you can take a somewhat passive approach to drafting home runs, considering the glut of them on the market. I find the .240/30 threshold particularly interesting. There were 35 such players last season, the most in 13 seasons and fifth most in history, trailing only four years that fell within what is widely regarded the “steroid era” (2000, 46; 1999, 45; 1996, 43; 2001, 41). Just three years earlier, there were only 10 such campaigns, the fewest in any non-strike year since 1992 (9).

Similarly, Carlos Santana and Adam Duvall might both be in that .240/30 tier we’re focusing on here. Santana has a BB/K that is seemingly always in the elite 1.00 neighborhood. Duvall’s career BB/K is a scary-bad 0.23, and if you give a six-point minimum value to each home run (4 TB, 1 RBI, 1 run), then his 170 whiffs last year came dangerously close to wiping out all of the positive value of his 31 homers. Guess who I’m not spending up for?

Kyle Soppe: Power is king. It’s that simple. Want some fun numbers to prove it? There were 165 players who hit 15-plus homers in 2017. How crazy is that? There were more players who hit at least 15 homers than there were players who stole at least five bases (I’m not setting the stolen base bar all that high; Duvall swiped five bags last season). Heck, there were 20 more 15-plus home run hitters than batting average qualifiers.raiders_007-223x223

Houston is 29 and coming off an injury-riddled season.

Turning only 29 in August, Taylor has a few good years left as a versatile veteran stopgap. It just won’t be for Buffalo, which will move on to find a true franchise guy it totally trusts. Arizona and Denver are Taylor’s best fits elsewhere.

Yet he still played 15 games in 2017 and produced 9.5 sacks, his highest total since his 22-sack, monster 2014 season. The Chiefs want him on that defense. They need him on that defense. He’s not going anywhere.

Protecting him would be paramount to the team’s success, as last year’s 1-10/5-0 splits prove. Upgrading a unit Football Outsiders ranked as 18th-best in pass blocking will certainly be on Lynch’s to-do list. Left tackle Joe Staley put together a typical Pro Bowl season, but at age 33 his play could begin to decline next fall.

The rest of the line — Laken Tomlinson, Trenton Brown, Brandon Fusco, and Daniel Kilgore — was effective in the running game but below average when it came to protecting its quarterbacks. Fusco and Kilgore are each free agents this spring, and their departure could create space for upgrades in the middle of the line.

Now Carr has the chance to be the best quarterback that Gruden’s ever had, which seems like a perfect storm for getting the Raiders back into the postseason. There’s work to be done on defense, but if DC Paul Guenther is able to do as well has he did in Cincinnati, the Raiders could immediately look better in 2018.

During the fourth stage, the individual will try to out-fan those around them in peacock-like displays designed to show dominance. With inhibitions gone, the fan will risk life and limb to prove that their safety is nothing compared to an Eagles win.

Heady off a feeling of community, the individual will risk their safe-being believing their newfound friends will be there to catch them, should they fall off something very high. This faith is often rewarded, but sometime misplaced — leading to injury.patriots_025

Connor Hellebuyck makes 34 saves, Jets beat Blues 4-0

Connor Hellebuyck shut down the St. Louis Blues — again.

Hellebuyck made 34 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist in the Winnipeg Jets’ 4-0 victory Friday night.

Hellebuyck has three shutouts in six career games against St. Louis.

The good news for the Wings is that it’s not a displaced fracture, so Mantha isn’t expected to miss any games, although he will be required to wear a full face shield.

“It is difficult,” Mantha said of wearing the face mask. “When you look down to try to find the puck between your legs, the lower part is kind of weird, but I guess you get used to it.”

The Wings are also expecting to get defenseman Mike Green back for Saturday’s game. Green has missed the last four games due to an upper-body injury.

“He skated today,” Blashill said Friday. “He felt good, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. But I would say he’s a game-time decision.”

How many more games Green will play as a Wing is another decision that must be made soon. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and Monday is the trade deadline.

On Thursday, the Panthers faced the Washington Capitals — Florida’s first home game since the Feb. 14 shooting. There was a moment of silence before the game as well as an extended tribute featuring video and speakers, similar to what the Vegas Golden Knights produced for their Oct. 10 home opener after a mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that month.

Seventeen people died when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which is about 10 miles from the Panthers’ arena in Sunrise and just less than four miles from their practice facility in Coral Springs. Many Panthers employees and players — including goalie Roberto Luongo and captain Derek MacKenzie — live in the neighborhood and have children enrolled in the school district.

Luongo, a Parkland resident, gave an emotional statement about the bravery of those who lost their lives trying to save others and how inspiring the students have been coping with the tragedy.

“The first 10 minutes of the game was very difficult. I was not in a zone, that’s a good way to put it. Emotions were still running high from the ceremony,” said Luongo, who lives in Parkland, where the shooting occurred.jays_520_41b40ff4f2f65fdb-180x180

Slumping Heat host Grizzlies

When the slumping Miami Heat play host to the woeful Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, it will be the Florida franchise’s first home game since Feb. 9.

The Heat, who lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 124-123 in overtime on Friday night, have lost eight of their past nine games, putting the franchise in danger of missing the playoffs.

Miami (30-29) is a defensive-minded team, ranking third in points allowed, although some of that has to do with their slow pace of play (28th out of 30 teams in that category).

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (heel) is gone for the season, having played only 12 games, and wing Chandler Parsons (knee) has been severely limited.

The Grizzlies, who will miss the playoffs after qualifying for seven consecutive years, have seen their 14 players miss a combined 175 games due to injury or illness this season.

That situation could be made worse by the time they arrive in Miami since guard Tyreke Evans left the Cleveland game midway through the fourth quarter due to a rib injury.

“We may have our shortcomings,” Grizzlies interim coach JB Bickerstaff said in a massive understatement told to the Commercial Appeal, “but our effort and competitive nature are still there.”

“I just think being the leader of this team, I don’t think he thinks he can take games off, because, you know, guys being hurt and going through a rough patch, and now new guys coming in,” Lue said before the Cavs’ 112-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “So, I think he’s trying to lead and lead by example … I think we still got to be smart about the situation, but [the training staff] say he feels good.”

Friday was the 58th game of the Cavs season and the 58th that James played in. He recorded a triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists) in 37 minutes of action.

Last season, James rested in the Cavs’ 11th game of the season and played in 74 games total.

Cleveland came into the season with eight new players, then went through a rotation shuffle in late December through early January when Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson were worked back onto the court after rehabbing injuries and are in the midst of more change since dealing away six players and adding four more in their place at the trade deadline.bears_093-223x223

Paul Millsap (wrist) practices, but no timetable for return

Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap on Wednesday returned to his first full practice since undergoing left wrist surgery in November.

Although Millsap said it felt good to be back with his teammates, he stopped short of putting an exact date on when he’ll return to game action.

“When he is back, there’s a good chance I start off by bringing him off the bench,” Malone sad. “He’s missed 42 games right now. And I think we’re 23-19 without him, and our group is playing at a high level.”

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets welcomed back center Mason Plumlee, who hasn’t played since Jan. 29 due to a calf injury. Plumlee is expected to play Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

“It’s just great to have those guys back,” Malone said, according to the Post. “We’ll figure out who plays and when they play, but being healthy with 24 games to go [is] a good thing to be.”

The Warriors would face the Sacramento Kings during the 2018 preseason.

During their one trip to Washington, D.C., this season, the reigning champion Warriors will spend time with area kids, according to sources, having been uninvited from the customary trip to the White House.

Golden State star Kevin Durant played his rookie season for the Sonics before moving with the team, which became the Thunder. Durant returned to Seattle to play in front of a sellout crowd at Seattle Pacific University during the Crawsover Pro-Am in the summer of 2013, telling fans, “I miss you guys. Thank you for the warm welcome. I can’t wait to come back.”

According to a source, the Warriors had hoped to schedule an exhibition game in Seattle last fall but were unable to do so because of their preseason trip to China.jaguars_001-223x223

Super Bowl 52 is being called one of the greatest NFL title games ever, but many people apparently wouldn’t know this — because they didn’t watch the game.

According to NBC Sports, the game drew an average of 103.4 million viewers. That gives it the lowest TV viewership of any Super Bowl since 2009, when 98.7 million people watched the Steelers defeat the Cardinals.

While analysts have blamed the NFL’s lower ratings on everything from the national anthem controversy to a glut of broadcasts, you can’t blame a lack of excitement in Super Bowl 52 for its lower ratings. The Eagles’ 41-33 victory was the second-highest scoring game in Super Bowl history, and the two teams set several NFL postseason records, with Tom Brady passing for a record 505 yards.

It’s also worth noting that the way traditional viewership is measured has changed, with more fans opting to stream games on their mobile devices and computers. NBC reported that a total of 106 million viewers watched the game across all platforms, including NBC Sports app, NBCSports.com, NBC.com, NFL.com and NFL Mobile from Verizon. Fans also watched a record 633.7 million live-streaming minutes of the game.

Running back Corey Clement took the snap and pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who then astonishingly found Foles wide open in the end zone as he became the first quarterback in Super Bowl history to catch a touchdown pass.

That put the Eagles up 22-12 at halftime, and Pederson’s nerve held on the most crucial drive of the game after the Patriots had taken a 33-32 lead.

Faced with a fourth down on his team’s 45-yard line and needing a yard to move the sticks, Pederson put the ball in Foles’ hands and he again delivered with a stunning show of poise to find tight end Zach Ertz and keep the drive alive.

In Cincinnati’s 21-13 playoff win over the Seahawks (Seattle was an AFC team then) on Dec. 31 1988 to reach the AFC Championship, the Bengals played a low-risk grind. Esiason was seven-for-19, 108 yards and Wilcots had an interception. The game included 12 punts. However, Wilson stood out, busting a 20-yard carry and twice scoring on 3-yard runs.patriots_045_0c6d6d893c15f4a1-180x180