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Small Sample Sizes Be Damned, Let’s Talk About Baseball

First, since we’re nearly two weeks into the MLB season, we look at which teams are doing well and which teams are struggling. With the caveat that we’re working with a very small sample size — certainly our model hasn’t made many adjustments just yet — things look promising for the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox, back to their old trick of having an abysmal season and immediately rebounding. The Oakland A’s and Atlanta Braves have already recovered some from their shaky starts. And however much doomsaying Mets fans engage in as part of their day-to-day, it’s maybe the New York Yankees that should be worried about who, aside from Gerrit Cole, is going to deliver pitching for them. We also talk a bit about the Minnesota Twins’ decision to postpone a game on Monday in light of the protests of police brutality following the killing of Daunte Wright. It is as thoroughly understandable as it seems, tragically, like the new standard operating procedure for clubs.

Next, we turn to the WNBA draft taking place later this week. There are only 144 total roster spots in the WNBA, so of the 57 prospects who have declared for the draft this year, only a handful will likely see action on the court — although at least a few of them will probably do so for the Dallas Wings, who have four first-round draft picks. While the limited rosters allow the WNBA to draw from one of the most competitive talent pools in sports, it’s beginning to feel like the time is past due for introducing an expansion team or two. Moreover, breakout stars like Stanford’s Aliyah Boston or freshmen phenoms Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers are held back from joining the league by an age requirement of 22. This is good for NCAA dynasty-building but not much else — and certainly not for players who risk injury without the ability to monetize themselves or their considerable social media followings.  

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Neil walks us through all the action from the NHL’s trade deadline, which wasn’t as busy as it has been in previous years but did see a bunch of interesting swaps … and far more trading across the border between the U.S. and Canada than one might expect with COVID-19 still a concern. Probably the biggest trade was Taylor Hall going to the Boston Bruins from the forlorn Buffalo Sabres. But Neil thinks the most interesting deal was struck by the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals, who swapped Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 second round pick. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

  • MLB no-hitters by month. 
  • The Byron Buxton we were promised. 
  • The WNBA has a deep talent pool. 

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.