Giancarlo_Stanton

Miami Marlins All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton is leading the majors with 32 home runs. He’s just one home run ahead of Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Baltimore Orioles outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz in that category.

But there’s one thing in particular that sets Stanton apart: he doesn’t discriminate.

All three hitters in the hunt for 2014’s home run crown have shown impressive pop, but Stanton’s consistent power to all parts of the field is what truly distinguishes him. Stanton has hit 10 of his homers to left, four to left-center, seven to center, eight to right-center and three to right field, drilling round-trippers into every corner of the stadium.

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Contrast that to Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who thrives almost exclusively when pulling the ball. He’s smacked 23 home runs, but 22 of those have been hit to left or left-center.

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Granted, Bautista is an extreme case. Ninety-five percent of his home runs have been pulled to left field as a right-handed hitter.

So what about when Stanton is pitted against his 30-plus-homer brethren?

Abreu, the 27-year-old Cuban, has hit 12 homers to left, four to left-center, nine to center, and only seven total to right-center and right. The MLB rookie has racked up an impressive total of home runs to the bleachers straightaway from home plate. However, his home run total to the opposite field (7) doesn’t stack up to Stanton’s (11).

The same narrative plays out with Cruz. The 34-year-old has hit seven opposite-field home runs compared to 24 hit to all other parts of the field.

Stanton’s raw power is virtually unrivaled by anyone else in the Majors. Five of his long balls have traveled 450 feet or more, including this 484-foot blast against the San Diego Padres on April 3.

Cruz hasn’t hit any such moonshots. Of Abreu’s 31 home runs, only one traveled at least 450 feet.

On top of those numbers, the 6’6”, 240-pound Stanton is significantly younger than the other guys in the hunt for the 2014 home run crown. At age 24, the Marlins’ best hitter is three years younger than Abreu and a decade younger than Cruz.

Even 23-year-old Los Angeles Angels phenom Mike Trout hasn’t displayed the same opposite-field strength as Stanton this year. Of his 27 home runs, only four have been hit to the opposite field.

Stanton has established himself as arguably the best home run hitter in the game, and he has yet to hit his prime. If you’re an opposing pitcher in the National League, that’s a terrifying thought.

The Marlins front office needs to do everything in its power to lock up Stanton to a long-term deal moving forward. He’ll be a dynamic power threat for years to come.
Miami can’t afford to lose him.

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In baseball, it’s nice to go on a hot streak. But it’s even nicer when that hot streak comes as a pleasant surprise—and is critical for securing your team’s playoff berth. We’ll take a look at 9 of the hottest streaks from this past month, then decide which was the hottest of them all.

How do we know what’s hot? At FindTheBest, we perform a weekly hot-or-not calculation based on a running 7-day average of batting statistics. The formula mostly tracks at bats and hits, but factors in volume to avoid false positives and to reward consistency. Here’s what we found for our most recent calculation:

The 9 Hottest Batters from August 8th through 14th:

Danny Santanna – 14 hits – 28 at bats – Twins
Adrian Gonzalez – 13 hits – 26 at bats – Dodgers
Justin Morneau – 10 hits – 20 at bats – Rockies
Manny Machado – 8 hits – 16 at bats – Orioles
Jarrod Dyson – 6 hits – 12 at bats – Royals
Freddie Freeman – 12 hits – 25 at bats – Braves
Jake Merisnick – 12 hits – 26 at bats – Astros
Carl Crawford – 11 hits – 24 at bats – Dodgers
Nick Castellanos – 9 hits – 20 at bats – Tigers
Norichika Aoki – 8 hits – 18 at bats – Royals

But what does it take for a streak to truly be “hot?” We’ve picked three qualifiers. First, a hot streak must be supported by the numbers. We need to see lots of hits over comparatively few at bats. Sorry Jeter: a handsome mug alone just doesn’t cut it. Second, a hot streak has to be able to generate buzz at a meaningful, league level. A solid batting average is nice, but if you’re on the Astros, there’s ultimately nothing hot about it. Wake us up when you start contending for the playoffs. Third, a hot streak has to be at least a little bit of a surprise. When a player is just consistently stellar, his hot streak ceases to be a “streak.”

With apologies to the Twins, Rockies, and Astros, Santanna, Morneua, and Merisnick are disqualified on principal. They’ve all had good steaks (particularly Santanna), but a 70-80-win season has a way of spoiling even the best individual performances.

So let’s respectfully forget the cellar-dwellers and focus on the playoff contenders. Of the remaining six players, Dyson, Freeman, and Castellanos have been solid…but not exactly surprising. From a big picture perspective, none of the three jump out as a big late-season surprise, each of whom have produced a series of similar streaks at earlier points in the season. The Oriole’s Manny Machado makes a stronger case, with a series of 2- and 3-hit games after a slow start in the spring. But Machado’s improving performance has been more gradual than sudden, a season of steady increases rather than a genuine hot streak. So we’ll put him aside as well.

Manny Machado This Season

And so it comes to the two Dodgers on our list, who both happen to be on hitting streaks that pass all three of our qualifiers. Both Gonzales and Crawford have been critical for LA recently, popping off a combined 24 hits in a 7-day stretch: enough to secure a win over Milwaukee and three against Atlanta. Thanks in large part to their performances, the Dodgers have remained comfortably ahead of the flailing San Francisco Giants. Of the two players, Gonzales has been healthier and more consistent, rarely dipping below a .250 average all season. His ongoing contributions have kept LA in great shape heading into baseball’s final six weeks, despite a small summer swoon.

Gonzales Since June

Crawford Since June

Crawford’s recent hot streak, however, is likely even better news for the Dodgers, and ultimately the “hotter” of the two streaks. After sitting out 40 games with an ankle sprain, Crawford has slowly worked himself back into shape, culminating in two weeks of truly impressive hitting. There was no guarantee that Crawford would come back this strong, so the recent streak is both a pleasant surprise—and crucial shot in the arm—for LA’s final stretch. For the Dodgers, this streak is coming at the perfect time. Think Blue.

Greg_Maddux_2008

Greg Maddux has no equals.

The recent Baseball Hall of Fame inductee arguably possessed the most precise command of any pitcher to ever grace the mound. His perfect mechanics inspired a generation of young hurlers to try and copy his effortlessly fluid windup motion, and he practically invented the art of painting two-seam fastballs on the inside corner.

From 1992-1995, he won four consecutive National League Cy Young Awards, with the first coming as a member of the Chicago Cubs and the last three earned alongside fellow Hall of Famer Tom Glavine for the Atlanta Braves. During that span, as hitting statistics peaked with the growth of performance-enhancing drug use in baseball, Maddux was an anomaly, outclassing the Senior Circuit in nearly every major pitching category, traditional or sabermetric.

Maddux led all NL pitchers in ERA, WHIP, win probability added (WPA) and complete games thrown in three out of those four years. He was durable, throwing the most innings of any pitcher across that period. Despite not being a strikeout king, he paced the NL all four seasons in fielding independent pitching (FIP), which punishes guys like Maddux who pitch to contact.

And perhaps most impressively, he led all Major League players—not just pitchers—in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 1992, 1994 and 1995.

So it’s a fool’s errand to try and find anyone who has recently dominated the league in the same manner (though Clayton Kershaw has achieved some of the above feats, he hasn’t once led the NL in WAR, FIP or innings pitched). But what is a more reasonable quest is to search for someone who could do that in the near future.

Before Maddux’s unconscious four-year tear, he was just a solid piece of the Cubs rotation for several seasons. In 1991, no one knew the terror that “Mad Dog” was about to unleash upon Major League hitters for the next 15 years.

In hindsight, however, there are a few statistical trends that partially foretold Maddux’s emergence as a mastermind of pitch control, and can be used to predict which young pitchers of today are poised for similar breakthroughs.

In 1991, Maddux accumulated 3.5 WAR while recording a 6.8 K/9 rate and a 2.3 BB/9 rate, with the latter two being career bests by a decent margin. Those rates were particularly telling—Maddux never logged a lower walk rate, and only failed to top a strikeout rate of 6.0 K/9 once in the next decade after never reaching that mark before 1991. Even though Maddux didn’t rely on strikeouts, he needed to become at least average at punching out hitters before he could morph into an annual Cy Young threat.

Greg Maddux’s 1991 Season

So which young pitcher is showing similar signs of promise? We need someone with comparable numbers, a couple years of experience in the big leagues, and room to grow.

With this in mind, one player emerges as a viable match—Atlanta Braves starter Julio Teheran. Apparently, there’s something in the water in Atlanta. And for the Braves’ rivals, the scary thing is that in his fourth season in the Majors, Teheran’s All-Star performance has actually been far more impressive than Maddux’s early results in many ways.

In an alternate universe where the 1991 version of Greg Maddux is pitching this season, Teheran has comfortably led Maddux in ERA since mid-April.

On top of that, at age 23, Teheran has struck out batters more often (8.1 per nine innings) than Maddux ever did. That should really come as no surprise, since Teheran possesses more electrifying stuff now than “The Professor” did even on his best days. What is somewhat shocking, however, is that up to this point in 2014, Teheran has beaten Maddux at his own game.

Teheran has only walked 1.9 batters per nine innings this season. Not only is that better than Maddux’s mark in 1991 and 1992, when his Cy Young streak began – it’s virtually identical to Maddux’s career BB/9 (1.8). And then consider Teheran’s solid ERA, especially impressive next to Maddux’s 1991 season:

It’s certainly true that the Braves youngster has a long, long way to go before baseball historians start comparing him to Cooperstown’s newest inductee. Maddux became a legend over the course of his career—not in a single season. But if Teheran can continue on a Maddux-like trajectory for, oh, the next 15 years or so, the next generation’s great ballplayers will be able to look back fondly on the time they spent trying to duplicate Teheran.

Consumer Brands

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Have you ever found yourself deciding between Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Lucky Charms? Doritos or Lays? KFC or Taco Bell? It might matter for your taste buds, but not so much for the company that owns them. Every brand we just mentioned is owned by the same huge corporation. In fact, only a handful of companies own the hundreds of consumer brands you see, buy, and use every day.

We used our companies topic to find not only what these mega corporations produce, but how much they made in revenue in 2013, and how many people they employ in the U.S. So to see which 10 corporations saturate America from the workforce to the pantry and the medicine cabinet, start our by clicking on the button above.

When we analyzed smoking rates in every state throughout the U.S., one thing was clear: Kentucky out-puffs the rest.

Not only is Kentucky’s smoking rate of 31 percent higher than any other state’s by a margin of 4 percent, but it’s also home to five out of the top 10 counties (Logan, Lewis, Ohio, Jackson, and McCreary) by smoking rate in the nation. McCreary County claimed spot number one, with a smoking percentage of a whopping 42.2 percent.

Read the Full Story on Business Insider

With digital camera sales tanking (down 36% year-over-year) about as fast as smartphone sales are growing (up 38%), it’s safe to say that the phone has begun to cannibalize the point-and-shoot camera. So what did the digital camera do wrong?

In a word: nothing. Despite huge advances in smartphone camera quality, even the lowest-end digital cameras still beat phone cameras on key camera specs. In 2014, the average smartphone camera has 9.4 megapixels, but the average point-and-shoot has 16.5. A typical smartphone has a sensor size of about 1 / 3.2” (translates to 5.7 mm), but a point-and-shoot still wins at 1 / 2.3” (8 mm). The fact is: point-and-shoots are still taking better photos than iPhones and Galaxies. And yet the mass public doesn’t seem to care.

Perception and Convenience

So the digital camera’s big issue isn’t the spec sheet, but rather the realities of day-to-day life. In 2005, the difference between a point-and-shoot snap and cell phone pic was striking, even to an untrained eye. Today, your lasagna dinner will look nearly identical through the lens of an HTC One (M8) and Canon PowerShot. For most prints, more than 9 megapixels is overkill, and you simply don’t need a giant sensor as long as you’re in a well-lit room.

Sure, if you print out a refrigerator-sized photo or take three courses in professional photography, you’ll begin to see the differences. But 9 megapixels and 5.7 mm of sensor is plenty for Facebook and Instagram…and on a smartphone, it’s a whole lot more convenient, too.

Read the Full Story on PCWorld

Every year, thousands of students across the nation enroll in AP classes in the hopes of scoring credit for college courses. But what percentage of test-takers actually pass their AP exams at the end of the year?

According to data we pulled from the College Board, the rates may not be as high as you’d expect.

The state where the highest percentage of students achieve a passing score of at least 3 is Maryland, where the passing rate is still only 29.6 percent. Maryland is closely accompanied by Connecticut (28.8 percent), Virginia (28.3 percent), and Massachusetts (27.9 percent).

As for the bottom-performing states? A handful have passing rates below 10 percent, including West Virginia (9.4 percent), Louisiana (5.3 percent), and Mississippi (4.4 percent).

Read the Full Story on The Huffington Post

Research Public Schools on FindTheBest

If you ask a person to name the highest-ranking executive within a corporation, chances are high that they will answer correctly: CEO.

But what about the highest-ranking executive after the CEO?

In a jumble of COOs, CFOs, and other titles that start with ‘chief’ and end in ‘officer,’ it’s difficult to say which C-suite position claims the spot of head honcho number two, but compensation is a helpful indicator—presumably, the more an executive is paid, the more their company values them.

So to demystify the order of executive rank after the CEO, research engine FindTheBest set out to determine the total annual compensation, on average, for every chief officer position.

They did so by compiling data from annual proxy statements filed with the SEC, where publicly held companies are required to release the compensation of their CEO, CFO, and the next three highest-compensated executives.

Unsurprisingly, are CEOs the highest-paid executives. They make a whopping 76 percent more in total annual compensation than the next highest-paid officer. In 2013, the CEO with the highest total annual compensation was Charif Souki of Cheniere Energy ($142 million), followed by Mario J. Gabelli of Gamco Investors ($85 million).

But what about the next highest-paid chief officer? See the results in the graph below.

The second highest-compensated chief officer is the COO (Chief Operating Officer), making an average of $2.1 million per year. The role of a COO is highly variable from company to company, but they are generally responsible for implementing procedures and managing daily operations. Among today’s highest-paid COOs are Steven J. Kean of Kinder Morgan, Thomas E. Dooley of Viacom, and Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, who made $30.8, $29.1, and $16.1 million in 2013, respectively.

Making an average of $1.7 million per year, CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) claim the third highest-paid position. The role is a relatively recent development that grew in sync with the maturation of technology-based industries like computer development, biotech, and defense. In 2013, the highest-paid CTO was Poly Shield Technologies’ Rasmus Norling ($81.8 million), followed by Facebook’s Michael Schroepfer ($12.6 million).

After the CTO, come the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), C-suite executives with less common titles like Chief Medical Officer or Chief Administrative Officer, and CIO (Chief Information Officer), all of which make more than $1 million per year, on average.

Only two C-suite positions don’t break an average of $1 million per year—the Chief Accounting Officer ($816,000) and the Chief Lending Officer ($570,000).

Still, that’s no small sum.

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The national unemployment rate has recovered from 10 percent in October 2010 to 6.2 percent today. Yes, it’s a more sluggish increase in jobs than in other post-recessionary periods, but 2014 has been a strong year–1.5 million jobs were added over the past six months, marking the strongest six months for hiring since 2006.

The cities that are most responsible for the employment growth in terms of raw numbers are naturally some of America’s biggest. From July 2013 to July 2014, New York added the most employees to its workforce (96,000), followed by Los Angeles and Houston, which added 41,400, and 27,400 employees respectively.

But while these cities rank highest for employment growth by pure volume, they aren’t the ones that are recovering the fastest. So to find which cities offer strong employment prospects beyond sheer numbers, research engine FindTheBest analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiling the following list of the top 10 U.S. cities whose workforces grew the fastest (by the largest percentage) over the past year.

Click the button above to see which cities made the list.


Time.com

When Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer on August 9 in Ferguson, MO., media outlets around the nation characterized the protests and violence that ensued as a struggle between white and black.

But framing the conflict in those terms “distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor,”  wrote former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jammar in a piece for TIME.

Ferguson, he says, “is not just about systemic racism—it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back.”

The violence escalated Sunday, as protesters hurled Molotov cocktails, threw stones, and looted stores, while police volleyed tear gas and one or both sides fired shots. But while Brown’s death may have been the catalyst for this mass unrest, underlying socioeconomic conditions were the primer, according to Abdul-Jammar’s logic.

To understand the conditions culminating in today’s ‘class warfare,’ we went beyond the commonly cited statistic of late—that Ferguson’s racial makeup is 65 percent African American, and 31 percent white—to provide a more complete snapshot of the city.

First, we looked at income.

Ferguson has a significantly higher percentage low-income earners than does its surrounding county, state, or the U.S. as a whole, and a much smaller percentage of high-income earners.

Its jobless rate (percentage of people unemployed or out of the workforce), meanwhile, is much worse than the national average.

Additionally, the quality of K-12 education in Ferguson is extremely poor. Its public schools have a rating—based on an average of each school’s performance on standardized statewide testing—of 33 out of 100.

Despite the low quality of its high schools, Ferguson actually has a smaller number of non-high school graduates than the U.S. as a whole—12.36 percent vs. 14.28 percent. And while the city falls short on four-year higher education (only 14 percent of its population holds a Bachelor’s Degree), 35 percent still achieved an Associate’s Degree.

And finally, for those who are curious, here’s a breakdown of ethnicity in the city.

So Ferguson is more African American, poorer, and less well-educated than the rest of the U.S, but there are many such cities in the country. The question left is whether Ferguson can affect social change for the lot, or if the Michael Brown killing will fade into obscurity as so many of these incidents do.