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Mike Trout’s career-best start has us wondering what’s possible in 2021



Mike Trout's career-best start has us wondering what's possible in 2021

It’s May 3rd and Mike Trout is batting .413. 

He also has seven homers, a .515 on-base percentage and 1.290 OPS, with 2.0 bWAR and 259 OPS+.

“What I’m seeing right now is pretty darn good,” Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters on a recent pregame Zoom call. 

MORE: A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo breaks finger in unfortunate video game incident

Even a sore elbow — he was hit on a pitch by Houston’s Christian Javier on April 22 — proved to be nothing more than a hiccup. He missed a couple of games, but has hit .458 in the six games since he’s returned to the lineup. 

This is, by most measurements, his best start to a season. Those numbers we referenced are all career bests to start a season, with the exception of the home runs. Trout had 11 homers through May 2 in 2018, but “only” a .433 on-base percentage and 1.084 OPS. 

So, two questions pop to mind.

1. What’s different this year? 

Trout struggled a bit in the shortened 2020 season; his on-base percentage fell under .400 for the first time since 2014 and he posted the lowest OPS+ of his career (164). 

Yes, every word of that sentence is ridiculous. His down season still resulted in a fifth-place finish in the AL MVP race. 

“You’re talking about somebody in a different galaxy. Even when he’s going badly, it’s still really good,” Maddon said. “The standards for him are so high, it’s very difficult to maintain them constantly. Just by the conversation that surrounds him that we’re all aware of, I think the right word maybe is ‘pressure.’ He feels this pressure to at least be that, and he’s always tried to do more. He’s got this high standard to live up to and he does.” 

The key so far this year, Trout told reporters via Zoom, is timing. 

“It all starts with getting that foot down,” he said. “When it’s not down, I don’t recognize pitches, the chase rate goes up. Being on time and recognizing the pitch is big.”

2. What’s possible this year? 

A month does not a season make, of course. He’s played 23 games, which is a crazy-small sample size. And yet, we’ve learned to expect greatness from Trout in his career. If he retired tomorrow, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Fame choice. 

Still, Trout is not going to hit .400. Well, he’s almost certainly not going to hit .400. He’s only topped .315 twice, and that was way back in his rookie year of 2012 (.326) and in 2013 (.323). He hasn’t even finished at .300 since 2018. To hit .400 would be a huge jump. 

Trout obviously isn’t the first person to finish April with a batting average north of .400. Since 1961, when baseball expanded its season to 162 games, a total of 72 players have finished April with at least 75 plate appearances and an average of .400 or better. 

You already know how many of those 72 finished at .400 or better: Zero. No hitter has topped .400 for an entire season since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941. 
Barry Bonds tops that list of 72; he was batting .472 with 10 homers and a .696 — not a typo — on-base percentage at the end of April 2004. He finished at .362, 45 and .609.

A few other end-of-April notables …

— Larry Walker was at .456 in 1997, when he finished at .366
— Tony Gwynn had an average north of .400 at the end of April three times (1984, 1996 & 1999).
— Bonds, Rod Carew, Paul O’Neill and Pete Rose all finished April with an average of .400 or better twice in their careers.  
— Pete O’Brien did it twice, too, in back-to-back years! He was batting .433 at the end of April 1988, and he finished at .272; he was batting .400 in 1989 and finished at .260. 

Again, it’s a small sample size, but Trout is crushing the baseball so far this year. 

Here are a few StatCast numbers, from, which tracks numbers starting from 2015: His hard-hit percentage is 58.9 percent. His barrel percentage is 19.6. His average exit velocity is 93.8. All three of those totals are StatCast-era bests for him. And remember, he won two AL MVP awards and finished second two other times in that era. 

Could he top 50 homers for the first time? Set a career high for doubles? Crack the 11-bWAR club? Those things are all possible in his Age 29 season. 

“He’s got everything going on right now,” Maddon said.

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NBA playoff scenarios 2021: Updated playoff picture, seeds ahead of play-in tournament, first round



NBA playoff scenarios 2021: Updated playoff picture, seeds ahead of play-in tournament, first round

What do we know about the NBA playoff seedings with just two days remaining in the 2020-21 regular season? Well, not much.

After Friday night’s slate of games, only the 76ers, Celtics and Spurs know exactly where they stand. Philadelphia has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while Boston (No. 7 in the East) and San Antonio (No. 10 in the West) have locked in their spots for the play-in tournaments.

NBA STANDINGS: Seeding scenarios, breakdown for playoff spots

With teams still jockeying for position, here is a breakdown of the clinching scenarios for Saturday’s games along with the possible seedings in each conference.

NBA playoff scenarios 2021

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers
2. Nets or Bucks
3. Nets or Bucks
4. Hawks, Heat or Knicks
5. Hawks, Heat or Knicks
6. Hawks, Heat or Knicks
7. Celtics
8. Hornets, Pacers or Wizards
9. Hornets, Pacers or Wizards
10. Hornets, Pacers or Wizards

  • The Hawks clinch the Southeast Division title with a loss by the Heat.

Western Conference

1. Jazz or Suns
2. Jazz or Suns
3. Nuggets or Clippers
4. Nuggets or Clippers
5. Mavericks or Trail Blazers
6. Mavericks, Trail Blazers or Lakers
7. Trail Blazers or Lakers
8. Warriors or Grizzlies
9. Warriors or Grizzlies
10. Spurs

  • The Trail Blazers clinch a playoff spot with a loss by the Lakers.
  • The Jazz clinch the best record in the West with a loss by the Suns.

NBA standings 2021: Eastern Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. 76ers* 48-23
2. Nets* 46-24 1.5
3. Bucks* 45-25 2.5
4. Hawks* 40-31 8
5. Heat* 39-31 8.5
6. Knicks* 39-31 8.5
7. Celtics** 35-35 12.5
8. Hornets** 33-37 14.5
9. Pacers** 33-37 14.5
10. Wizards** 33-38 15
Bulls 30-40 17.5
Raptors 27-44 21
Cavaliers 22-49 26
Magic 21-50 27
Pistons 20-51 28

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth
Eliminated from playoff contention: Bulls, Cavaliers, Magic, Pistons, Raptors

NBA standings 2021: Western Conference

Seed Team Record Games back
1. Jazz* 51-20
2. Suns* 49-21 1.5
3. Nuggets* 47-24 4
4. Clippers* 47-24 4
5. Mavericks* 42-29 9
6. Trail Blazers 41-30 10
7. Lakers 40-30 10.5
8. Warriors** 38-33 13
9. Grizzlies** 38-33 13
10. Spurs** 33-37 17.5
Pelicans 31-40 20
Kings 31-40 20
Timberwolves 22-48 28.5
Thunder 21-50 30
Rockets 17-54 34

*clinched playoff berth
**clinched play-in berth

Eliminated from playoff contention: Kings, Pelicans, Rockets, Thunder, Timberwolves

NBA playoff bracket 2021


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Preakness live race updates, results, highlights from 2021 Triple Crown race



Preakness live race updates, results, highlights from 2021 Triple Crown race

Two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the second leg of the Triple Crown Race is here.

The 2021 Preakness Stakes has even more intrigue this year because of the controversy surrounding Medina Spirit, winner of the Derby. A test result from after the race found the horse to have 21 picograms of betamethasone, 11 more than the legal race limit. Trainer Bob Baffert insists that the positive test wasn’t a result of drugging, calling Churchill Downs’ decision to invalidate the horse’s win — pending a second positive test — “an injustice.”

Adding to the controversy: Mandaloun, the runner-up from the Derby, will be retroactively deemed the winner at Churchill Downs should a second test confirm the first. But Mandaloun will not run at the Pimlico Race Course. So we could have a scenario in which Medina Spirit wins the race without being in the official running for the Triple Crown.

All the more reason to watch Saturday’s spectacle. Follow along as Sporting News provides live updates during the 2021 Preakness Stakes.

MORE: Payout breakdown for 2021 Preakness Stakes

Preakness Stakes finish order

This section will be updated with final race results.

Post position Horse Win Place Show
1 Medina Spirit      
2 Mandaloun      
3 Hot Rod Charlie      
4 Essential Quality      
5 O Besos      
6 Midnight Bourbon      
7 Keepmeinmind      
8 Helium      
9 Known Agenda      
10 Highly Motivated      

Watch the 2021 Preakness Stakes

This section will be updated.

Preakness Stakes live updates, highlights, results

All times Eastern

2:49 p.m.: For those curious to see how Medina Spirit will perform in today’s race:

2:23 p.m.: And winner of Race No. 7 at the Preakness: Mischief Afoot.

2:16 p.m.:Your winner for the 2021 Gallorette Stakes: Mean Mary!

2021 Preakness Stakes post time

Coverage of the 2021 Preakness Stakes will begin at 2 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. NBC will take over coverage at 5 p.m. ahead of the race’s scheduled post time of 6:50 p.m. ET.

You can also stream the Stakes live with fuboTV, which offers a seven-day free trial.

Preakness Stakes post positions

Below is the full list of starting spots, as well as each horse’s morning line odds of winning the Preakness Stakes.

Post position Horse Odds
1 Ram 30/1
2 Keepmeinmind 15/1
3 Medina Spirit 9/5
4 Crowded Trade 10/1
5 Midnight Bourbon 5/1
6 Rombauer 12/1
7 France Go De Ina 20/1
8 Unbridled Honor 15/1
9 Risk Taking 15/1
10 Concert Tour 5/2

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Ben Wallace to be inducted into 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Class, per report



Ben Wallace to be inducted into 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Class, per report

The first name of the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame class has been revealed: former Pistons star Ben Wallace.

Marc Spears of The Undefeated first reported the news of Wallace’s impending enshrinement; several other outlets corroborated the report with their own sources. The entire 2021 enshrinement class will be announced on Sunday.

MORE: How to watch Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan’s HOF induction

Wallace attended Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, Ohio) from 1992-94 before transferring to Division II program Virginia Union from 1994-96. Despite his prowess at that level — he was a Division II All-American and led the Panthers to the Division II Final Four in 1996 — he went undrafted.

Wallace played for the Bullets/Wizards (1996-99) and Magic (1999-2000) before finding a long-term home with the Pistons. From 2000-06, Wallace averaged 7.9 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 1.6 steals per game with Detroit, winning an NBA championship in 2004. He was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006 and a four-time All-Star from 2003-06.

Other accolades from that time include making at least All-NBA Third Team every year from 2002-06; earning All-Defensive First Team honors from 2002-06; becoming the NBA rebounds leader in consecutive seasons in 2002 and 2003; and becoming the NBA blocks leader in 2002.

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