After the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team beat Michigan last weekend, they found themselves ranked No. 8 in the AP Poll the following day.Wisconsin fans know all too well the inconsistencies of the poll and its tendency to undervalue the Big Ten as a whole — specifically the Badgers — seemingly every year.This inconsistency is based around the preseason poll, as writers from around the country construct a top 25 without seeing the teams play, and then require massive victories or surprising losses before they move a team far from their preseason rankings.The preseason poll is also often based around performances from the previous year, and not the current talent level of the teams.Football: Previewing Big Ten West before major conference gamesThe University of Wisconsin football team (3-0) has looked like a complete team through their first few games of 2019. Read…The most prominent example of this has been seen this year with Head Coach Paul Chryst’s Badgers.Chryst’s team came into 2018 after a stellar 2017 season in which they finished 13-1 and fell one drive away from a birth in the College Football Playoff.They began the year ranked No. 4 in the nation despite losing much of their defensive talent from the previous year.Wisconsin then won in week one and dropped to No. 5, won in week two and dropped to No. 6 and narrowly lost in week three and dropped to No. 18. This movement makes sense in the context of last year: The team won their first two weeks against poor teams but didn’t look dominant doing so, and then went on to lose to an unranked BYU in week three.The Badgers dropped out of the rankings after week nine and ended the season ranked outside of the top 25.Football: Return of Cephus brings vitality to Badger air attackBefore the 2019 season began, Badger fans knew little of what they could expect from newly reinstated junior wide receiver Read…After a disappointing 2018 season, Chryst returned his defensive core and injured players and entered the season undoubtedly with a far more talented offense and a better quarterback under center.Fairly, the AP Poll had the Badgers ranked No. 19 entering the year.What has happened during the first four weeks of the year has shown the AP Poll’s inability to forget its preseason rankings and actually evaluate the teams based on their performances during the present season.The Badgers opened the season with a 49–0 victory on the road against South Florida.The win was an impressive one and saw the Badgers look dominant on both sides of the ball. Nearly all of their preseason questions were answered this game, including whether Jack Coan could effectively lead the team, if the new offensive line would hold up and how the defense would perform without T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly and D’Cota Dixon.Despite the dominant performance, the Badgers moved up only two spots. Two spots. And they were still ranked below Oregon, a team who lost week one.Football: How Jonathan Taylor can take down Heisman favoritesWhen Jonathon Taylor burst onto the scene back in 2017, it was immediately clear he was the new face of Read…Had the “original” rankings come out after the first week of the season, which is what should happen, the Badgers would have been ranked at least in the top 12 and close to the top 10.Joel Klatt—a college football analyst for Fox Sports—agrees. In back-to-back tweets last week, Klatt mentioned two major grievances with the AP Poll.First, Klatt said that preseason polls suck because teams that don’t deserve to be in the top five, like Clemson, still find themselves there after four weeks because of preconceived bias.He followed this tweet up just a day later stating that without the preseason polls, Wisconsin might be a top 3-5 team in the rankings right now based simply on the “eye test.”Nevertheless, Chryst’s team followed up their shutout victory week one with another shutout, this one 61–0 against Central Michigan. Over two weeks, the Badgers had outscored their opponents 110-0, their best point differential through two games since 1915. How far did they move up after another dominant performance? Three spots, to No. 14.They still sat behind Texas, who lost that week, and Michigan, who needed overtime to beat Army.Week four came around and the No. 13 Badgers throttled No. 11 Michigan 35–14, and only moved up to No. 8.Football: The meteoric rise of Badgers quarterback Jack CoanThe rise of quarterback Jack Coan was a fast one and has Wisconsin Badger fans expecting big things from their Read…Through three games the Badgers have outscored their opponents 145–14 and now, in the words of the national media, have finally played somebody good.After ranking the Badgers No. 19 to start the season, the AP writers have been hesitant to move them above other teams in the rankings, despite the Badgers looking like one of the most dominant teams in the country.This year can’t be the only time the AP undervalued the Badgers in the preseason, right?After searching the AP Poll records dating back to 2004, history shows that since that year, the Badgers have ended the season with a ranking higher than their preseason ranking in ten of 15 years, including going from unranked at the beginning of the season to ranked at the end of the season on four different occasions.In order for the AP poll to improve its authority, they must do two things. First, release the first poll after the first week of games, not in the preseason. Second, evaluate teams based on their performance, not whether they’re in the Southeastern Conference with the likes of Alabama.If the AP can change their system in these ways, the Big Ten and the Wisconsin Badgers will start getting the national respect they deserve.
Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start x-Game 5: at Dodgers, Sunday, 5:15 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11x-Game 6: at Red Sox, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11x-Game 7: at Red Sox, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11x- if necessaryHead to head: Teams have not met since 2016 (Dodgers won two of three in L.A., Aug. 5-7). SERIES SCHEDULE (all times PT)Game 1: at Red Sox, Tuesday, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11Game 2: at Red Sox, Wednesday, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11Game 3: at Dodgers, Friday, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11Game 4: at Dodgers, Saturday, 5:09 p.m., Fox/Ch. 11 How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco TALE OF THE TAPE (OFFENSE)Dodgers (MLB rank) … category … Red Sox (MLB rank)804 (5th) … Runs scored … 876 (1st).333 (5th) … OBP … .339 (1st).442 (3rd) … Slugging Pct … .453 (1st).774 (3rd) … OPS … .792 (1st).250 (14th) … Batting Avg. … .268 (1st)235 (2nd) … HRs … 208 (9th)75 (17th) … SBs … 125 (3rd)TALE OF THE TAPE (PITCHING)Dodgers (MLB rank) … category … Red Sox (MLB rank)3.38 (2nd) … Team ERA … 3.75 (8th)3.19 (2nd) … Starters ERA … 3.77 (8th)3.72 (T-8th) … Bullpen ERA … 3.72 (T-8th)1.15 (1st) … WHIP … 1.24 (2nd)9.54 (4th) … Ks per 9 inns … 9.61 (3rd).669 (2nd) … Opponent OPS … .698 (10th).230 (4th) … Opponent Avg. … .237 (T-7th)PROJECTED LINEUPSRed Sox: RF Mookie Betts (.346, 32 HRs, 80 RBIs, 30 SBs, 1.078 OPS), LF Andrew Benintendi (.290, 16 HRs, 87 RBIs, .366 OBP), DH J.D. Martinez (.330, 43 HRs, 130 RBIs, 1.031 OPS), SS Xander Bogaerts (.288, 23 HRs, 103 RBIs, .360 OBP), 1B Steve Pearce (.279, 7 HRs, 26 RBIs, .394 OBP), 3B Rafael Devers (.240, 21 HRs, 66 RBIs), 2B Ian Kinsler (.240, 14 HRs, 48 RBIs), C Christian Vazquez (.207, 3 HRs, .540 OPS), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.234, 13 HRs, 59 RBIs, .717 OPS)Dodgers: LF Joc Pederson (.248, 25 HRs, 56 RBIs, .843 OPS), 3B Justin Turner (.312, 14 HRs, 52 RBIs, .924 OPS), 1B Max Muncy (.263, 35 HRs, 79 RBIs, .973 OPS), SS Manny Machado (.297, 37 HRs, 107 RBIs, .905 OPS combined between Dodgers and Orioles), CF Cody Bellinger (.260, 25 HRs, 76 RBIs, .814 OPS), RF Yasiel Puig (.267, 23 HRs, 63 RBIs, .820 OPS), 2B Kiké Hernandez (.256, 21 HRs, 52 RBIs, .806 OPS), C Austin Barnes (.205, 4 HRs, 14 RBIs)After a down year offensively last year, the Red Sox signed J.D. Martinez as a free agent. The boost has been obvious. Martinez led the league in RBIs (130), was second in home runs (43) and went 1-2 in batting average and slugging percentage with Mookie Betts. As a team, the Red Sox led the majors in runs scored (5.41 per game). They are (as always) particularly dangerous at Fenway Park. But they have some vulnerability to left-handed pitching (which the Dodgers have in abundance) – the team OPS against right-handers (.817) dropped considerably when facing left-handers (.719) during the season. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman called the outfield defense of Betts, Benintendi and Bradley “the best defensive outfield I’ve ever seen.” But the Sox will have to compromise that by moving Martinez to right field in L.A. when the DH is not in use. They are toying with moving Betts to second base for those games (benching Ian Kinsler). Betts has not played second base since 2014 and then for only 14 games. EDGE: Red SoxSTARTING PITCHERSRed Sox: LHP Chris Sale (12-4, 2.11, 0.861 WHIP, 158 IP, 13.5 K/9), LHP David Price (16-7, 3.58, 1.142 WHIP, 176 IP), RHP Nate Eovaldi (6-7, 3.81, 1.126 WHIP, 111 IP), RHP Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28, 1.176 WHIP)Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.6 Ks per 9 innings), LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.7 Ks per 9 innings), RHP Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9.9 Ks per 9 innings), LHP Rich Hill (11-5, 3.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.2 Ks per 9 innings)What is a starting pitcher these days? Sale, Porcello, Eovaldi, Hill and Kershaw have each made relief appearances already this postseason. The Dodgers’ rotation will be jumbled after a seven-game NLCS while the Red Sox have had time to reset and will throw Sale and Price in the first two games at Fenway Park. A healthy Sale could tip the scales in the Boston’s favor. But he was sidelined with shoulder inflammation for a good chunk of the second half and has not been throwing as hard since returning. Cy Young winners Price and Kershaw can commiserate over their shared October woes. Price finally got his first postseason win as a starter in Game 5 of the ALCS but still has a 5.04 ERA in the postseason (despite his six scoreless innings in that clincher). EDGE: EvenBULLPENRed Sox: RHP Craig Kimbrel (5-1, 2.74 ERA, 42 saves, 63 games, 13.9 K/9, 0.995 WHIP), RHP Matt Barnes (6-4, 3.65 ERA, 62 games, 14.0 K/9), RHP Ryan Brasier (2-0, 1.60 ERA, 0.772 WHIP, 34 games), RHP Joe Kelly (4-2, 4.39 ERA, 1.355 WHIP, 73 games), RHP Heath Hembree (4-1, 4.20 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 67 games), LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (13-5, 3.82 ERA, 23 starts, 1.265 WHIP, 10.1 K/9), RHP Brandon Workman (6-1, 3.27 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 43 games)Dodgers: RHP Kenley Jansen (1-5, 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 0.99 WHIP, 10.3 Ks per 9 innings), LHP Julio Urias (0-0, 0.00 ERA in 4 regular season innings), LHP Scott Alexander (2-1, 3.68 ERA, 3 saves, 1.27 WHIP, 7.6 Ks per 9 innings), RHP Ryan Madson (2-5, 5.47 ERA, 4 saves with the Nationals and Dodgers), RHP Pedro Baez (4-3, 2.88 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.9 Ks per 9 innings), RHP Kenta Maeda (8-10, 3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 11.0 Ks per 9 innings), LHP Alex Wood (9-7, 3.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), LHP Caleb Ferguson (7-2, 3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 10.8 Ks per 9 innings), RHP Dylan Floro (6-3, 2.25 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.2 Ks per 9 innings combined with Reds and Dodgers)Heading into October, the Dodgers’ bullpen was a lingering area of concern, the one facet of the team that could most easily have derailed them before now. But they have been solid, posting a 1.30 ERA in 41-2/3 innings over the first two rounds. Veteran Ryan Madson has been particularly clutch, allowing one run over 6-1/3 critical innings so far. The Red Sox had their own bullpen doubts entering the postseason after posting a 4.28 ERA in the second half. Even the untouchable Kimbrel wasn’t immune to it. He had a 4.79 ERA and three blown saves in his final 18 regular-season appearances. The Red Sox suspect he was tipping his pitches, a correctable problem. As for the bridge between the starters and Kimbrel – the Red Sox have used displaced starters like lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, Sale, Porcello and Eovaldi to build it. EDGE: DodgersBENCHRed Sox: 1B Mitch Moreland (.245, 15 HRs, 68 RBIs, .758 OPS), 2B Brock Holt (.277, 7 HRs, 46 RBIs, .774 OPS), 2B/3B Eduardo Nuñez (.265, 10 HRs, 44 RBIs, .677 OPS), C Sandy Leon (.177, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs, .511 OPS), C Blake Swihart (.229, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs, .613 OPS)Dodgers: C Yasmani Grandal (.241, 24 HRs, 68 RBIs, .815 OPS), OF Chris Taylor (.254, 17 HRs, 63 RBIs), 2B Brian Dozier (.215, 21 HRs, 72 RBIs combined between Twins and Dodgers), OF Matt Kemp (.290, 21 HRs, 85 RBIs), IF David Freese (.296, 11 HRs, 51 RBIs)Roberts will continue to platoon aggressively with Taylor, Kemp and Freese almost certain to replace Pederson, Puig and Muncy in starting lineups when the Red Sox throw lefties Sale and Price. Frustrating to watch at times – and no doubt most of all for the players involved – it has worked. The DH rule in the American League park will actually give Roberts an opportunity to get an extra right-handed bat in the lineup against Sale and Price. The Red Sox will do their own matchup-chasing, with Moreland the biggest threat off the bench. EDGE: DodgersMANAGERWith all the attention Brewers manager Craig Counsell’s machinations drew, Roberts simply outmanaged him in the NLCS. At nearly every turn, Roberts got the matchups that he preferred while Counsell maneuvered himself into a box, failing to maximize the advantage Josh Hader provided. This matchup of former Dodgers teammates (Roberts and Alex Cora played together in L.A. for parts of three seasons) figures to be more straightforward with little of the subterfuge of the NLCS. Roberts has been through it before. Cora was the bench coach for the Astros last year, but he has not been through this as a manager. EDGE: DodgersSERIES PREDICTIONThese teams met in the World Series 102 years ago. The wait for their World Series mulligan after last year’s seven-game disappointment against the Houston Astros seemed just as long for these Dodgers. At times, it distracted them from the business at hand – a six-month regular-season grind. They have their do-over now. But it is against a Red Sox team that had the best record in baseball during the season, won 16 more games than the Dodgers, dispatched the defending World Series champions in the ALCS and will have home-field advantage for this matchup. RED SOX IN SIXStaff writer Jeff Fletcher contributed to this scouting report.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error