Good morning, Nation. We’re back with our weekly installment of “This Week in Baseball”, where Taylor, Jeff, and Matt will highlight interesting and/or important stories happening throughout baseball. As always, hope you enjoy – and let us know what you’ve been reading in the comment section.

Are long baseball contracts worth it? by Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe

With the Red Sox new acquisition of aging stars Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, the Boston Globe asks the question “are long baseball contracts worth it?” Researcher Martin Kleinbard uses a formula to calculate who the most underpaid and overpaid players in baseball are. See why 30 years old isn’t the new 20 and why new studies are challenging old beliefs that the team that spends the most, wins the most. (Jeff Gangloff)

No Runs, No Hits, New Era: Baseball Ponders Legal Ways to Boost Offense by Tyler Kepner, The New York Times

With runs per game the lowest it’s been since 1976, is it time for Major League Baseball to look at legal ways to boost offense? The New York Times delves into the issue and analyzes why the offense has been slipping and what baseball can do to change it. (Jeff Gangloff)

The Value of Rest in Baseball by Lindsay Berra, Sports on Earth

In 2014, only 40 players appeared in 154 games or more – the lowest number in 20 years. Only four players in the MLB played in all 162. It seems baseball managers and executives are slowly creeping into the modern, analytical era, and this includes analyzing the positive impact of rest on players over the course of a season. If you were looking for an article in which Clint Hurdle compares the Pirates to the Golden State Warriors, look no further. You’ve found it. (Taylor Ballinger)

From Bad to Among Baseball’s Best? by Paul Casella, Sports on Earth

Last year, four teams improved by 10+ wins  to reach 90 wins and the postseason: the Angels (+20), Giants (+12), Orioles (+11), and Nationals (+10). In this article, Casella lists the seven teams he believes are poised to have a big bounce-back year. WHAT ABOUT THE REDS, PAUL?!? (Taylor Ballinger)

You’re Killing Us, Smalls: The Only ‘The Sandlot’ Character Rankings You’ll Ever Need by Shea Serrano, Grantland

Ok, so it’s not MLB related – but it’s “The Sandlot” and  I can’t resist articles ranking characters from movies and TV shows from my childhood. #thesultanofswat #thecolossusofclout #thegreatbambino (Taylor Ballinger)

Selecting MLB’s All-Under-25 Team, Position by Position by Joel Reuter via Bleacher Report

Its always fun to take a look at the rising stars in the game, and in this article there is a position by position breakdown of the top players at each position under the age of 25.  To qualify, players must already have MLB experience, so guys like Kris Bryant of the Cubs or Byron Buxton of the Twins, two of the top prospects in baseball were not considered. Any Reds on this list?  No…but hey…it would be nice to picture guys like Trout and Puig in Reds jerseys. (Matt Korte)

Pitchers Rule Early, Shutouts Pile Up All Over Big Leagues  by Associated Press,  New York Times

If you have been watching scoreboards across MLB this opening week, there is one thing you have been seeing a lot of: “0.”  Out of the gate pitchers are mowing down hitters at a historic pace.  Through the first 101 games played in 2014, there were 13 shutouts.  Through only 46 games this season…14 shutouts.  This article highlights the historical significance of this tepid start for hitters throughout the majors and cites notable reasons for the lack of production.  Perhaps most impressive is the start by the Detroit Tigers pitching staff and their cruelty towards the Twins to start the season. (Matt Korte)