The most valuable and most profitable teams in baseball are named/guessed at

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The annual Forbes franchise valuation article is out and, not surprisingly, the Yankees are considered the most valuable baseball team. They’re worth $2.5 billion, to be inexact. And, yes, while Forbes takes maybe the boldest stab at such things each year, pegging how much money closely-held businesses — many of them family businesses — which notoriously hide the ball as to financial matters make or lose this exercise is an inexact science.

With that caveat in mind, guess the most profitable. Give up? It’s the Cardinals, who an operating income of $65.2 million. I wouldn’t have guessed that given their market size and not-so-great TV deal, but there you go. More surprising: the Astros were second at $55.9 million. Which tells you what a low payroll will do for you. Indeed, going up and down the list of operating income and you see all manner of surprising things, actually. But then you have to remember that team owners do things like create management companies consisting of the owners and their families as a means of taking untold amounts of money from the club and putting it in their pockets, and you realize that these guys can make the numbers do anything they’d like.

Still, fun stuff. A nice snapshot, but not much more. There just isn’t enough data out there for anyone to check these numbers and the only people in a position to correct them — the owners themselves — wouldn’t dare reveal what they really make or lose.

Braves’ prospect Ronald Acuna wins AFL MVP, helps clinch AFL Championship Game

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The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.

At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.

Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.

From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.

Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.