The buyer’s guide to the MLB trade deadline

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Baseball’s trade deadline is just around the corner, leaving front offices around the league just days to give an honest assessment of their team’s chances of making the playoffs and, for some, a championship run.

A few teams already have made their choice. The Chicago Cubs acquired left-handed ace Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox, mortgaging their future for a chance to become the first back-to-back World Series winners since 2000.

Shortly after, the New York Yankees pulled off a seven-player trade with the White Sox, picking up former all-star third baseman Todd Frazier, former all-star closer David Robertson and reliever Tommy Kahnle for prospects — three players coveted by their division rival, the Boston Red Sox.

All three teams appeared to be justified in their choice.

The White Sox were never a legitimate threat to make the playoffs this year, so it makes sense they would be sellers at the deadline, and the Yankees and Cubs are now expected to win 88 and 85 games, respectively, with decent chances of reaching the divisional series during the 2017 MLB playoffs.

The key for a true contender, though, is to get to the 90-win plateau. Since 1997, 33 teams of the 40 that eventually won the pennant were victorious in at least 90 regular season games. A large majority of recent World Series winners — 17 of the last 20 — also won 90 or more games that year. The lowest number of wins by an eventual champion was set by the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, who won 83 games en route to a parade down Market Street.

That gives us some solid benchmarks against which to rate this year’s contenders and also shows us who should be buying at the July 31 MLB trade deadline.

Los Angeles Dodgers, 111 expected wins in 2017, 29.7 percent chance of winning the World Series

The team everyone is chasing. The Dodgers are the second-best hitting team in baseball this season, creating runs at a rate that is 12 percent higher than the league average after adjusting for league and park effects (112 wRC+), with the best pitching staff in the majors (3.37 FIP — what a team’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing).

They could, however, use another left-handed arm in the bullpen. Alex Wood solidified his move from the bullpen into the starting rotation after Julio Urias was lost to injury and is 11-0 with a 1.56 ERA, striking out 30.7 percent of batters faced this season, the sixth-highest among starters with at least 80 innings pitched. That leaves Luis Avilan as the only available left-handed reliever for the Dodgers. And among the teams the Dodgers could face on their way to the World Series, three, the Houston Astros, Washington Nationalsand Arizona Diamondbacks, are among the top four teams in hitting against right-handed pitchers.

Houston Astros, 106 expected wins, 17.7 percent chance of winning the World Series

The Astros have a 15 1/2 game lead in the division and are on cruise control until the playoffs.

This team can hit — it is creating runs at a rate that is 29 percent above average (129 wRC+), a level never before seen in baseball history, rivaling the power-hitting Yankees of 1927, a team led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Pitching, however, is an issue. Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. have started just 28 games between them, and Mike Fiers could come crashing down to earth any game now. His 3.75 ERA is well below his 5.18 FIP, indicating he is getting some fortunate bounces while on the mound.

If they can’t pry a starter from a team at the deadline, Houston should address its bullpen. The team’s reliever’s aren’t bad — they have allowed three fewer runs than expected this season when you account for men on base and outs recorded — but the Astros’ bullpen pales in comparison to some of the other World Series contenders, ranking them 15th in the league overall.

Washington Nationals, 97 expected wins, 9.7 percent chance of winning the World Series

Give the Nationals credit for acquiring relievers Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle from the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, but there is still a lot of work to do if Washington wants to be taken seriously as a title contender.

Its bullpen has allowed 40.6 more runs than expected this season — only the New York Mets’ relievers have allowed more, but only barely (40.7) — largely because of its inability to strike out batters (20.9 percent, lowest in the NL) and keep the ball in the park (1.6 home runs allowed per nine innings, the highest in baseball this season).

In fact, if the Nationals don’t find a way to prevent home runs soon, they could end up allowing the most home runs per nine innings since the 1950 Los Angeles Dodgers (1.71).

Arizona Diamondbacks, 93 expected wins, 4.9 percent chance of winning the World Series

The Diamondbacks made a move to shore up their outfield, acquiring slugger J.D. Martinez from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for three prospects, but they can’t stop there — the only batters providing above-average production at the plate are first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (154 wRC+), third baseman Jake Lamb (122 wRC+) and outfielder David Peralta (117 wRC+).

And their defense took a hit when the club learned shortstop Nick Ahmed would miss six to eight weeks with a fracture in his right hand. Ahmed was worth three defensive runs saved this season thanks to his fielding prowess, while his replacement, Chris Owings, has cost the team four runs.

Getting a shortstop with some pop at the plate would help bolster the lineup. And if he could improve the team’s ability to get on base from the leadoff spot, all the better — Arizona’s leadoff hitters have a below-average on-base percentage (.320 vs. 324) this season.

Colorado Rockies, 90 expected wins, 2.1 percent chance of winning the World Series

It’s amazing that Colorado’s pitching, which plays half its games in the most hitter-friendly park in the majors, is allowing a below-average rate of home runs allowed this season. The Rockies’ quartet of rookie starters — Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, and Antonio Senzatela – have been better than expected, combining to provide 5.1 wins above replacement with Hoffman and Marquez striking out better than 20 percent of batters faced.

But the team felt it necessary to skip Freeland’s turn in the rotation and recently recalled Senzatela after he was demoted for allowing 33 runs in 44 1/3 innings, showing a need for more depth in the starting rotation.

Plus, the starting rotation only gives the team a quality start (six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) in 42 percent of its starts, a below-average rate that could come back to haunt the team in the postseason.

Boston Red Sox, 90 expected wins, 6.7 percent chance of winning the World Series

The team released Pablo Sandoval this week, just two years after signing him to a disastrous five-year, $95 million contract. Sandoval was batting .212 with a .622 OPS, production below replacement level. Sandoval, along with Devin Marrero, Josh Rutledge and four other players, combined to hit .224 with a .284 on-base percentage and .309 slugging as Boston’s third basemen, by far the lowest production at the position this season.

The Red Sox also need bullpen help in front of closer Craig Kimbrel. Blaine Boyer is allowing a .395 batting average against with a 1.111 OPS in the eighth inning and Heath Hembree has allowed three more runs than expected this season after accounting for men on base and outs left in the inning. Reliever Ben Taylor has seen half his pitches put in play classified as “hard hit,” with five hit on the sweet spot of the bat, giving him the third-highest rate of barrels on the team.


Air purifier buying guide Here is what to look for

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Due to rapid urbanisation, construction, vehicular pollution and dust, India is home to 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that 1.3 million people in India die as a result of indoor air pollution. Moreover, one third of the world’s asthma patients are from India. That makes staying healthy outdoors and at home more important than ever.

Not many people in India are aware of the fact the air pollution is abysmal especially in the metros. But people are now slowly waking up to the need to invest in an air purifier for their homes and cars.

While most people understand that the air outside is harmful due to visible pollution, many don’t realise how deadly the inside air is. We spend the maximum amount of our time indoors – at home, in a car, inside a public building and at a workplace. Pollutants and allergens such as residues, fungal spores, cleaning agents, cooking smoke, paint fumes, varnishes, pet dander, and accumulated dust can make your indoor air even more deadly than outdoor pollution.

However, with the lack of knowledge and industry standards being haywire in India, buying an air purifier can be tricky. There are many factors to be kept in mind before making an informed purchase decision. It is not only important for a consumer to be aware of certain specifications while buying in an air purifier but also not to be influenced by the sales executives.

The below guide will help you identify with what to look for while buying an air purifier –

1. Room size

This is the most important factor to consider while shopping for an air purifier. The room size will determine as to what kind of air purifier you need (ranging from compact to bigger ones). It is advisable to go for a product that is designed bigger as compared to the size of the room. Also, just don’t go by the room area mentioned on the product, consider the room height as well while choosing an air purifier. For example, it will be effective to buy an air purifier which can cater to a 450-500 sq feet room if the size of the room is 300 sq feet with room height of 9ft.

2. Performance

a. Delivery Rate (CADR): CADR stands for clean air delivery rate which means the CADR level will show you how much clean air is coming out of the purifier and how quickly the product functions. Higher the CADR, better is the air filtration capacity of the air purifier. Depending on the type of room space, go for a product that has the highest CADR rating.

b. Air Changes Per Hour (ACH): ACH determines how quickly and often the air purifier can clean the room in an hour. Given the level of pollution we have in cities like Delhi, opt for a product which offers four ACH as the air purifier needs to constantly clean the air every 15 minutes (4 times in an hour).
Considering the fierce competition in the market, brands will boast about their CADR but will not say much about the ACH rating. So even if the product has a high coverage area capacity but shows a low level of ACH, please re-think on the air cleaning capacity and overall quality of the product and chose accordingly.

3. Technology

Technology is a critical parameter to look at while selecting an air purifier. There are products available with both Active and Passive filtration technology. It is important to understand this difference in technology. An air purifier using Active technology releases elements into the air to ionize pollutants that might lead to ozone generation. On the other hand, an air purifier using passive technology are media based filters that arrests and absorbs the pollutants without releasing any ozone making them a better option to consider while buying the product.

4. Filters

We all know that filters are the main components of an air purifier. Hence, the type and quality of the filter determines the effectiveness of the product (just like the battery life of a smartphone). The filter must be equipped to remove pollutants like pollen, dust, smoke, odour and other harmful substances from the air. The air purifier should have a pre-filter that can remove large particles from the air at the initial filtration stage. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are most effective as they are tested and certified. One should consider that the cost of replacing the filter is huge so the product should have optimum number of filters that lasts for a considerable amount of time before needing a replacement (roughly four-five months). Having said that, one should change the filters regularly to increase the lifespan of the purifier.
Another important factor while buying an air purifier is the “Filter replacement” indicator which indicates the health of filters for timely replacement.

5. Portability

Portability of the air purifier and weight plays an important role. A small air purifier can also have the ability to clean a big room effectively. Don’t go by the size and weight as a big air purifier will be costlier and can take up a lot of room.

6. Noise and energy consumption

It is recommended to go for an air purifier which produces less noise so that it doesn’t disturb your sleep. Also, it should go easy on energy consumption so that it is light on the pocket.

General points to keep in mind –

1. Air Purifiers don’t work effectively when doors and windows of the room are kept open
2. One size does not fit all i.e. a portable air purifier will only cater to one room
3. Considering electricity costs, go for an air purifier with energy saving options/ratings
4. Make sure that the air purifier comes with a warranty, and offers good customer service and easy replacement of filters
5. For best results, air purifiers should be kept running always


A guide for buying one of Microsoft’s excellent Surface computers

Microsoft now has a variety of Surface devices that are designed to replace your laptop. There’s the Surface Book with a removable display, the Surface Pro with a kickstand, and now the new Surface Laptop that is the most traditional laptop Microsoft has ever made. I’ve been using all three extensively recently and have been able to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each. If you’re thinking about buying one of Microsoft’s Surface devices, here’s what you need to know.


Surface Book
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

I reviewed the original Surface Book nearly two years ago, and while I’ve been using it as my day-to-day laptop, it’s far from perfect. Microsoft created the Book with a detachable display, and it’s something I rarely ever use. You can push a button and the display will release and transform into a large tablet. I’ve used this for taking down notes or showing friends YouTube videos, but unless you’re an illustrator, it’s not a feature you’re likely to use regularly.

Using the Surface Book as a tablet isn’t ideal, either. Battery life when detached from the base is only around three hours, and it doesn’t have a kickstand to prop it up on a desk or table. Windows 10 still lacks tablet apps, so its best for basic tasks like watching videos or browsing the web. If that’s all you want to do, then it’s fine for that, but for anything more you’ll want a dedicated tablet like the iPad.

If you stick to using the Surface Book as a laptop, you’ll have a better experience. While the display is a little wobbly and top heavy at times, the base for the keyboard is sturdy and great for writing long emails or typing out dissertations. I rarely use the touchscreen, but I do occasionally reach up and swipe away notifications, scroll a webpage, or pinch-to-zoom on a picture. A touchscreen on a laptop isn’t essential, but you’ll notice a lack of one if you get used to something like the Surface Book.

The overall dimensions of the Surface Book make it heavier and chunkier than most 13-inch laptops, so consider that if you’re looking for a lighter laptop. The bonus of this heft is the battery packed into the base and the option to get a model with an additional GPU inside. The GPU-equipped Surface Books make a big difference for if you’re using them with external monitors and apps like Photoshop, and I’ve found the battery life on the Surface Book is solid at around seven hours for mixed usage.

Full Surface Book review.


Surface Pro (2017)
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

I’ve been using a Surface Pro 4 as a secondary device, mostly in my living room, for around 18 months now. Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro simply improves the internals, the Surface Pen, and introduces some minor design changes. While the Surface Pro 4’s battery life only lasts around four hours for me, the latest Surface Pro stretches to about seven hours, which is a solid improvement. It’s more of a refined Surface Pro than a wholly new generation, but Microsoft has also solved some of the fan issues that have plagued the Surface Pro 3 and Pro 4.

If you opt for the Core i5 model you’ll never hear the fans as it’s a fanless design (and it’s not a Core M chip inside), but even with the Core i7 version I’ve only heard the fans once when I was running games and apps like Photoshop on an external monitor. During regular use, I’ve never noticed the fans, which is wildly different than the Surface Pro 4 that would spin its fans up at every opportunity.

The biggest drawbacks to the Surface Pro for me are the display size and the kickstand. I’d love to use the Surface Pro as a laptop replacement, but when I’m travelling to tradeshows I find it difficult to use in my lap for long periods of time. The kickstand isn’t sturdy enough, and the keyboard has a lot of flex when it’s not seated on a table. Microsoft’s 12.3-inch screen size is just a little too small for me, and I prefer the bigger 13.5-inch displays on both the Surface Book and Surface Laptop.

Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro also includes support for an updated Surface Pen. While the Surface Pen is now sold separately, it now supports tilt for shading and is way more responsive. I’m not an illustrator, but I’ve noticed the Surface Pen is definitely more responsive compared to the Surface Pro 4.

One of the other benefits to the Surface Pro is its weight. At 2.3 pounds with the Type Cover attached, it’s barely noticeable in a bag. I do occasionally travel into the office with the Surface Pro on days when I don’t want to carry the significantly heavier 3.6 pound Surface Book.


Fitbit Flex 2 Buying Guide: What You Need To Know

Everything you need to know about Fitbit’s entry-level tracker.

Fitbit has long been the leader in the wearable fitness tracker sector, but in the last few years the firm’s lineup of trackers has grown into a diverse range in order to appeal to a broader audience, from your average Joe keeping in shape at the gym, right up to Pro Athletes.

Matter of fact, at the time of this writing, Fitbit has no fewer than eight fitness trackers available: the Fitbit Zip,  Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex 2, Fitbit Alta, Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Blaze, and Fitbit Surge.

One of the most popular models of the lineup is the Fitbit Flex 2, due to its all-around great features, good design, and reasonable price. Here we take a look at everything the Fitbit Flex 2 has to offer. But don’t worry, if you still don’t think it’s for you, there are seven other types of Fitbit to choose from.

A few notable things about the Fitbit Flex 2: it’s Fitbit’s slimmest band yet and the tracker actually comes in the form of a small pill-shaped device that you slip into the band—or bangle, or pendant. In other words, the Flex 2 has a design that could fit many different formats.

Fitbit Flex 2: Health Features

The Fitbit Flex 2 is packed with health features. These include: all-day Steps, Calories & Distance tracking; Auto Sleep Tracking; SmartTrack Auto Exercise Recognition so it’s able to detect if you are walking or running; Reminders to get up and move; and it’s water proof and can track your strokes in the pool. Combine all this with a simple and light design and the Fitbit Flex 2 is clearly a great choice for a fitness tracker.

Fitbit Flex 2: Other Features

But the Fitbit Flex 2 also has other features as well. Among the best are: a 5-day battery life; Call and Text notifications; the aforementioned ability to slip the tracker into various bands and pendants; and an LED display that has a progression meter that shows how close you are to your daily goals.

Fitbit Flex 2: Style

The great thing about the Fitbit Flex 2 is that you are not just limited to wearing it on your wrist. Though there are myriad styles of wristbands you can buy to slip the Fitbit Flex 2 tracker into, you can also buy bangles (fancy bracelets) and pendants to hold the tracker and fit your style. Off the shelf editions of the Fitbit Flex 2 come in black, lavender, magenta, or navy color wristband options.

Fitbit Flex 2: Who Is It For?

The Fitbit Flex 2 is great for those who want to get a simple no-nonsense tracker that does the basics—and does them well. It’s also for those who might want to change the look and design of their tracker, ie: those who might be find wearing a plastic wristband while working out at the gym, but want to disguise the tracker a bit more by putting it into a fancy pendant when going out to a party in the evening. Overall, it’s a fantastic all-around good choice for those shopping for an entry-level fitness tracker.


Your go-to guide for buying the right sunglasses this summer



Ronak Sheth, founder Opium Eyewear; Uma Singh, medical consultant at Ozone Group; and Ganesh Iyer, country head at, have the following advice:

UV ray protection
Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the cornea and the retina. Look for good sunglasses that protect you completely. When the eye receives too much light, it naturally closes the iris. Once it has closed the iris, the next step is squinting. The result is damage to the retina.

The size of the frame should be compatible to the size of your face.

Good sunglasses can block light entering the eyes by as much as 97%. The point of wearing sunglasses is to protect your eyes from ultraviolet light emitted by the sun. Don’t let this consideration take the backseat for the sake of fashion or saving money.

Certain surfaces, such as water, can reflect light. Good sunglasses can completely eliminate this kind of glare using polarisation. Polarised lenses block most of UVA and UVB rays. They also block excess sunlight.

The material of the frame also plays a critical role in the comfort, usage and care for your sunglasses. (Pinterest)

The right frame
The size of the frame should be compatible to the size of your face. The frame size should closely mirror the face size, for instance, smaller frames work better with smaller face. Keep that in mind while shopping for sunglasses.

The material of the frame also plays a critical role in the comfort, usage and care for your sunglasses. Each frame material comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. There are various material options available in the market from metal and nylon to plastic and titanium.