As the college football season gets under way, my buddy Jeff and I put together a brand new college football ranking for ESPN the Magazine (insider required, in print 9/17/2012). We started with ESPN’s pro franchise ultimate standings as a template, and tried to make things as quantitative as we could to make the ranking defensible. We’ve inspired some feedback already. The SEC does well of course but didn’t land the number one team — check it out if you get the chance!
Posted in College Sports, Financial Analysis, Football
Tagged American, College and University, college football, college football ranking, college football season, ESPN, ESPN college football rankings, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN ultimate standings, football, franchise, insider, Jeff Phillips, NCAA Division I-A, Sports, Tyler Williams
Yesterday, based on my past research with my buddy Chris, I predicted that the Wizards would take it to the Cavaliers last night. The Wizards were already locked into the 2nd lottery position, while the Cavs could still move up or down. Well, I was right. The Cavs looked good to start the game and then slowly faded away.
Our research shows that teams who haven’t clinched play worse than teams that have. In other words, they tank. However, we haven’t determined how they do it. Are players actually trying to lose, or is it all personnel decisions? Last night’s game gave us some evidence for the latter: Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Causal Analysis, Commentary, Research Papers
Tagged alonzo gee, ankle sprain, basketball, causal analysis, Cavaliers tanked by sitting Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers vs. Wizards tanking, Cleveland Cavaliers, do teams tank NBA, draft position, eliminated from the playoffs, ESPN, how much tanking is there in the NBA, Kyrie Irving flu, Kyrie Irving flu is BS, National Basketball Association, NBA, NBA 2011-2012, NBA 2012, NBA draft lottery, NBA draft lottery incentive to tank, nba teams, personnel decisions, recent games, season finale, Sports, stomach flu, tank, tankers, tanking, Washington Wizards, when eliminated from the playoffs
“But he’s Canadian,” you say, “So what does he know about baseball?” Well, he’s from Toronto, the team most screwed by the current system, so let’s give it a shot:
A few days ago, the MLB announced that it was expanding its playoffs to include a second wild-card team. Under the new system, the two wild-cards will play a single game that determines who goes to the divisional series. Response has been, at best, mixed. The strongest criticisms, like this one from ESPN’s Joe Sheenan, have taken a traditionalist perspective. Sheenan worries about what this new system will mean for deep-seated, and still exciting, elements of baseball like the pennant race. He sees the wild-card system as debasing what has historically been one of the most exciting parts of being a baseball fan: following your team through a tense September race to win the division. By Sheenan’s estimation, the old system encouraged top teams to play their best throughout the whole season. If you happen to be one of the two best teams in the league by regular season record but can’t win your own division, tough grapes.
I sympathize with Sheenan and other traditionalists. Baseball’s regular season is long and arduous and does a pretty good job of determining the “best” team (or, at least, a better job than other pro-sports at determining the best team). Meanwhile, baseball playoffs, due to the nature of the game, are pretty close to random. As Billy Beane said, “my shit doesn’t work in the playoffs” – seven and five game series are simply too short to give us a good idea as to which team is best. In the 17 post-seasons since the advent of the wild-card, the wild card team has won five times Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Common Sense, Pop Culture, Probability Analysis, Rules Analysis
Tagged Adrian the Canadian, baseball, Billy Beane, Boston Red Sox collapse, coin flip game, coin flip game is dumb, Division Series, ESPN, George Will, Joe Sheenan ESPN, League Championship Series, Major League Baseball, MLB playoff system is stupid, MLB playoff system proposal, MLB playoffs, MLB playoffs new rules, MLB playoffs new system, New York Yankees, pennant race, playoffs, probabilities, St. Louis Cardinals wild card World Series, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays, Wild Card, wild cards, World Series, World Series odds
The Kings got a little hometown boost from the clock operator last night and scored with (supposedly) 0.4 seconds left to beat the poor Blue Jackets. If you watch the highlight video from the 25 second mark to the 35 second mark, you’ll see that the clock freezes with 1.8 seconds left. The NHL has admitted that more than 0.4 seconds elapsed during the freeze (so the goal probably shouldn’t count), but they aren’t going to change the outcome.
What was the Kings’ defense? From Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi (written to ESPN): Continue reading
Posted in Hockey, Science
Tagged brother Evan, Clock error, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dean Lombardi, ESPN, Game clock, Kings, Kings clock error, Kings clock explanation, Kings goal shouldn't have counted, Kings last second goal, Lombardi, Los Angeles, National Hockey League, NHL, should Kings goal have counted, why did the clock stop Kings game, Wikipedia
A few months ago, my buddy Jeff and I did some research for ESPN the Magazine on paying college athletes. We ignored all the institutional issues and got right to the accounting: considering costs and revenues, how much profit is each player worth to his team?
We focused on the University of Florida and found that top college football players are worth millions of dollars, while basketball players are worth a couple hundred thousand. Check out the details on the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference blog or in my previous post.
Posted in College Sports, Financial Analysis
Tagged American, blog, College and University, college football, ESPN, ESPN The Magazine, Fair market value college athletes, football, how much should college athletes be paid, should college athletes be paid, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Sports, University of Florida
David Schoenfield put up a fairly useless blog post about the Tigers signing Prince Fielder yesterday. It just became even more useless, as ESPN confirmed that Cabrera will shift to third base to accommodate Fielder (Schoenfield said this would never happen). I knew about this way before ESPN, thanks to Brother Evan passing along a local news link.
The real issue with Schoenfield’s post Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Albert Pujols, baseball, brother Evan, Cabrera moving to third, Cabrera too fat to play third, Cabrera will play third, David Schoenfield, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Fielder, Fielder contract too big, Fielder contract too long, Fielder signing, Los Angeles Angels, Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch dumb, MLB, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder bad contract, Prince Fielder contract worth it, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, Victor Martinez ACL, Victor Martinez injury, Victor Martinez out for the year, World Series
There were no True Wins handed out yesterday. The Ravens, Patriots, Giants, and 49ers treated us to two extremely close football games. Close games generally come down to luck to determine the winner; indeed, I thought both games would be close but was fortunate to pick both winners last week. Regular season True Wins and actual wins both predicted the Patriots victory but failed on the Giants, who are underrated by wins measures due to their ridiculous strength of schedule. For the first time since 2007 (and only the fourth time since 2002), actual wins is going to beat out True Wins in predicting playoff games. Both measures suggest the Patriots will win the Super Bowl, since they have far more wins and True Wins than the Giants, and actual wins are a half game up going into the final (5.5 games correct to 5 games correct):
The two championship games had some common themes, actually. The “offensive” teams (Patriots, Giants), playing against good defenses, did not have their usual panache. However, they both stacked the box Continue reading
Posted in Commentary, Football, Rules Analysis
Tagged 49ers rely on turnovers, 49ers screwed by the officials, Adrian the Canadian, AFC, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ahmad Bradshaw forward progress, Andy Lee MVP, Baltimore Ravens, Belichick should have challenged Gronkowski catch, Bill Belichick, Billy Cundiff shank, Billy Cundiff sucks, Brady QB sneak, championship games, Ed Hochuli, Eli Manning, ESPN, football, Gronkowski ankle, Gronkowski catch, Gronkowski injury, Gronkowski should have challenged, Harbaugh fourth down and one, Harbaugh should have called time out, Harbaugh should have gone for the touchdown, Harbaughs should have gone for it on fourth down, Hochuli Niners Giants, iced his own kicker, Jason Garrett, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco inaccurate, John Harbaugh, Justin Tuck, Kyle Williams, Mike Reiss, Nate the Great, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, NFC, NFL, Niners bad luck, Niners lost because of Kyle Williams, Niners needed Ted Ginn, Niners screwed by the officials, Niners turnovers, Niners unlucky, Patriots, QB sneak around end, QB sneak off tackle, Ravens, referees Giants 49ers, Rob Gronkowski, San Francisco 49ers, Slate, Stefan Fatsis, Steve Weatherford, Super Bowl, Super Bowl rematch, Super Bowl revenge, Ted Ginn, Tom Brady, Torrey Smith, True Wins, turnovers, Vince Wilfork, why did Billy Cundiff miss, will Gronkowski play in the Super Bowl
On Monday, I posted the following riddle:
Suppose you are Tim Tebow, up 2 points with 25 seconds remaining in the game. You have the ball on your 5 yard line, 1st and 10, and the Raiders are in town (meaning that Sebastian Janikowski can hit a field goal from Mars). The Raiders have all three timeouts. You may assume that any punt will not be blocked. Without gaining a first down, how do you assure victory?
Turns out that Tebow had some more important riddles against the Patriots, like how to run against a disciplined defense that has seen your option before, or how to throw the ball in the cold (he was 9-26!), but let’s go through the best answers I got for the situation above. Continue reading
Posted in Common Sense, Football, Riddles, Rules Analysis
Tagged a half can end on an offensive penalty, a half cannot end on an offensive penalty, can a half end on an offensive penalty, clock management, Cold weather Tim Tebow, Conor, Denver Broncos, ESPN, football, Gregg Easterbrook, New England Patriots, NFL, NFL rule book, Oakland Raiders, penalty at the end of the half runoff, Sebastian Janikowski long field goal, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow couldn't handle the cold, TMQ, Tony
My apologies for missing the last couple days on the blog, but don’t worry, I was hard at work on two projects that I’ve just submitted with a couple other guys to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. I’ll have more to say about them soon — one project looks at the effects of temperature, rest time, and turf type on MLS games, and the other examines the true value of winning the NBA draft lottery and measures how much tanking really goes on in the NBA.
In the meantime, Kobe Bryant is lighting up scoreboards and shot charts. He must be reading this blog, but I think all I did was make him angry. He’s taken 31 shots in each of the last three games and managed 40 points in all of them. Reading the ESPN write up from the last one, it looks like we have our new MVP.
However, over those games he’s made 47 shots for a Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Commentary, Probability Analysis
Tagged Andrau Gasnum, Andrew Bynum, Andrew Bynum efficient, Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN, great potential, Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant expected points, Kobe Bryant inefficient, Kobe Bryant shooting percentage, Kobe Bryant shoots too much, Kobe Bryant true shooting percentage, Kobe Bryant volume shooter, Los Angeles Lakers, Pau "the Gas Man" Gasol, Pau Gasol, Pau Gasol efficient, Phoenix Suns, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the Gas Man, two-headed beast Andrau Gasnum, Utah Jazz