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1hJim Caple and David Schoenfield

Ten ways to boost offense

1hJim Caple and David Schoenfield

Ten ways to boost offense

Offense is on the decline. Can the trend be reversed? Here's how the hitters can strike back.

Getty Images
1hDan Szymborski

Szymborski: Overrated, underrated in BBTN 100

With the help of his ZiPS projections, Dan Szymborski identifies the players who are overrated (including Miguel Cabrera and Jose Abreu) and those who are underrated (including Josh Donaldson, Phil Hughes).

Baseball Tonight Video

Giant question marks in San Francisco (1:05)

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Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports
56mRob Nelson

Biggest World Series risers, fallers

Rob Nelson breaks down the most significant changes in the 2015 World Series odds. The biggest risers have been the Chicago Cubs and the biggest fallers the Philadelphia Phillies.

Getty Images/USA Today Sports
21hKeith Law

Top 50 MLB prospects update

Keith Law updates his top MLB prospect ranks, noting what has changed and how the players have looked since his last update Jan. 29.

MLB Video

Nationals hampered by injury bug (0:59)

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John Leyba/Getty Images
1dJim Caple

The 20-year anniversary of the strike ending

It's been 20 years since the baseball strike ended. LaTroy Hawkins, now the oldest player in the majors at 42, and several former players look back on what they did during the shutdown.

Icon Sportswire/AP Images
1dJerry Crasnick

Should MLB bring back bullpen carts?

One way to help pick up the pace of play in baseball -- and provide a few smiles along the way -- would be to bring back the kitschy-but-beloved bullpen cart.

Now

Bettors high on the Cubbies

Heading into the opening week of baseball season, more money has been bet on the Cubs to win the World Series than any other team at two of Nevada's largest sportsbooks. The Cubs are 6-1 to win the World Series at the MGM. Only the Washington Nationals (5-1) have better odds.

No reason for Nats to be concerned
MLB 

The Nationals' position players are being bit by the injury bug, but Buster Olney said it's no reason to panic, especially with their rotation and the fact that "among their first 39 games this season, they play 3 against teams that had records over .500 last year."

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MLB 

Getting back the offensive numbers

The .251 MLB batting average last season was the lowest it's been since 1972. How can we get the offense back? Jim Caple and David Schoenfield have some thoughts, and it all begins with cutting the K's. 10 ways to boost offense

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Justin Verlander won’t throw Friday; regular-season start April 8 in doubt. Verlander: 26.2 WAR from 2010-2014 4th among pitchers

Axford's son in stable condition

Rockies RHP John Axford's 2-year-old son, Jameson, is in stable condition a week after getting bitten twice by a rattlesnake. Doctors have likely saved the foot, though he could still lose a toe or two, Rockies officials said.

AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

Justin Verlander won't start Friday

The Tigers RHP, who's also supposed to start next Wednesday, has a "slight strain" to his triceps. Said manager Brad Ausmus: "It's a little bit of a stretch right now [for him to make that start]. But we won't waive it off yet."

Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos/Getty Images

New ball leads to more homers

The new flat-seam baseball seems to be increasing home runs in NCAA Division I baseball, as they are up 39 percent. College baseball switched from a raised-seam ball with the hope of putting more offense in the game.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Shane Victorino wins starting OF spot

Despite hitting only .188 this spring, Victorino is the likely Opening Day starter in right, Red Sox coach John Farrell said Tuesday. Victorino beats out Rusney Castillo, who missed two weeks this spring with a strained oblique.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Olney's best fantasy sleepers

Buster Olney has his fantasy sleepers all picked out, and he thinks an outfielder on the South Side of Chicago will be taking a lot of at-bats with the bases filled with White Sox. All the sleepers (Insider)

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

MLB panel releases top players in MLB

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100. The top 5:

  1. Mike Trout, Angels
  2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
  3. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
  4. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
  5. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Aaron Crow to undergo Tommy John

The Marlins reliever will seek a second opinion, but he expects to have the procedure. He went 6-1 with a 4.12 ERA last season with Kansas City. The 28-year-old will be the Marlins' third pitcher since May to have the surgery.

Anthony Rendon will start season on DL

The Nationals third baseman has been diagnosed with a sprained left MCL after initially hurting his knee making a diving stop in early March. Surgery is not expected.

AP Images/Evan Vucci

Biggest MLB risers, fallers at Westgate

According to Westgate SuperBook in Vegas, the Cubs have been the biggest risers to win the World Series from Oct. 12 to today, going from 40-1 odds to 16-1. The biggest fallers at Westgate are the Braves, now 100-1 after being 20-1 in October.

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Juan Lagares, Mets reach deal

The Gold Glove outfielder and the Mets agreed to an extension through 2019, worth more than $20M, with an option for the following year, sources told ESPN. The 26-year-old hit .281 with four homers and 47 RBIs last season.

Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports

Batting around the NL's top five offenses
MLB 

Doug Glanville's surprise offensive team in the NL this season? The Cincinnati Reds, believe it or not: "They're not getting a lot of love ... but this is a deadly lineup. Hamilton starting it off, you have the acquisition of Marlon Byrd, [if] Joey Votto bounces back ... this is a lineup."

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MLB 

The reason behind MLB offensive decline
MLB 

There seems to be a consensus among players that starting pitching is just better, with many agreeing with Cleveland's Nick Swisher: "Now these dudes are coming out in the first inning blowing 100 mph ... moving it, sinking it, dropping it!"

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MLB 

Jim Bowden @JimBowden_ESPN

#Mets & Juan Lagares have agreed on a 4-year extension with a club option…deal expected to be over $20m covers all arb yrs &1FAyr w opt

Kris Bryant could still be ROY

The uber prospect will start in the minors, which could be motivating, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers writes: "It’s only fitting that the best player in college in 2013, the Arizona Fall League MVP ... and the reigning minor league player of the year takes home the [NL] rookie of the year award."

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Mets decide on Gee as 5th starter

Righty Dillon Gee joins the rotation, sources told ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Gee started Opening Day last year, but with Matt Harvey's return, his spot was in jeopardy. Zack Wheeler's injury reopened a spot. Gee will join Harvey, Bartolo Colon, Jacob deGrom and Jonathon Niese.

Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports