Category Archives: Stats Posts
Does Tim Tebow’s fame confuse you as much as it confused me?
I took a long, long time to study the phenomenon, and this essay is the result. Touching on historical, statistical, sociocultural, and media-related causes, this essay is a truly comprehensive study of Tebow’s baffling fame. Some of this stuff just might surprise you.
As it stands on this humid, overcast June 3rd, the Phillies are in 3rd place in the NL East with a 27-30 record. With the team just 7.5 games back from the division-leading Braves and 8.5 games back from the wildcard slot, many fans are still be clinging to the hope that this team can turn its fortunes around and make a playoff run. Cliff Lee is pitching out of his mind again and Domonic Brown has finally blossomed at the plate, so it makes sense that some would be optimistic about the team’s immediate future.
But like the murky skies and sticky air outside, all the signs for this Phillies team portend rain.
Beware, Phillies fans. Don’t let that record fool you. Even though a playoff berth is seemingly within reach, the fact is that the Phillies have been extraordinarily lucky just to have as many wins as they have right now.
The untold story of the Phillies’ record – the one not mentioned by radio personalities, and often ignored by the newspapers as well – is that the their 27 wins-to-date is a house of cards. They may have the 3rd best record in the east, but they’ve scored a whopping 49 fewer runs than they’ve given up in just 57 games. That’s an average of -.86 runs per game, 3rd worst in the National League and ahead of just the Mets and Marlins.
Total run differential is an excellent predictor of a team’s record (like, d’uh) and the Pythagorean Wins calculation, originally invented by Bill James, is an accurate formula for determining how many wins a team ought to have. Having scored 202 runs and allowed 251, the Phillies’ Pythagorean Win-Loss record is 23-34. This means that, over the course of the season so far, their 27-30 record is actually 4 wins better than it should be.
In fact, they’re the luckiest team in the whole National League. Only one other team is ahead of their Pythagorean W-L record by 4, and that’s the 35-win Pirates. So even with the benefit of good fortune, the Phillies are still sitting far away from a playoff spot. Read the rest of this entry
Braydon Coburn has long been considered a solid, consistent defender and has been a fixture on the Flyers’ top-two defensive pairings since he was acquired at the 2007 trade deadline. So consistent, in fact, that during the 2011-12 season, the Flyers jumped at the chance to extend his contract for 4 years at a healthy $4.5 million-per-year price tag. Hardly a small commitment for a team that is perennially bumping its head against the salary cap.
But Coburn’s 2013 season was – and I’m being kind here – a break from the mold.
Oh who am I kidding? It was awful. In order to set up the second half of my analysis, I’ll spend the first half explaining just how awful it was.
Here is a quick recap of Coburn’s career in terms of the standard statistics:
WARNING: Minors, the elderly, and those living with a heart condition may wish to avert their eyes from the row marked ’2013′
|Scoring Stats||Goals||Assists||Ice Time|
Those numbers look bad. Really bad. But the season was shortened to start and Coburn was on the DL for 1/3 of those games, so it may help to break down his 2013 stats in terms of ice time.
Stats per 60 minutes of ice time (with career rank):
Goals/60: .08 (2nd worst)
Assists/60: .322 (worst)
Points/60: .402 (worst)
Plus-Minus/60: -.804 (worst)
PIM/60: 3.3 (2nd worst)
Shots/60: 3.06 (worst)
Even Strength Points/60: .402 (worst)
Yuck. How about a nail in the coffin? In the 33 games in which Coburn played, the Flyers went 13-17-3, averaged 2.64 goals for and 3.12 goals against. In the 15 games in which Coburn did not appear, the Flyers were 10-5-0, averaging 3.07 goals for and 2.53 goals against.
Now, I already trashed Coburn’s lockout season a month ago, but I swear I’m really not trying to pile it on. I am simply attempting to provide some perspective. I went into this study because I was genuinely baffled that such a dependable player could just roll over and die at the prime age of 28. How was this possible? Outside of my private suspicions that Dan Bylsma spent his off-hours poking needles into a Braydon voodoo doll somewhere in the bowels of the CONSOL Energy Center, there was seemingly no explanation for such a precipitous fall…
Unless, of course, you like advanced stats. I’ve recently shown my ardent support for the proliferation of advanced statistics, and this seemed like a ripe opportunity to break them out. As it turns out, the fancy numbers indicate that it wasn’t simply poor luck or bad mojo that led to Coburn’s bad year.
There was another reason:
It’s time to upgrade our thinking – and our platitudes – for the 21st century. Screw inches. Our beloved pastimes are really all games of probability.
And Philadelphia’s teams are finally catching up. It’s about damned time.
The two most recent hires in the big four of Philly sports, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and now 76ers GM Sam Hinkie, are not traditionalists. The foundations for their respective philosophies, Chip’s playcalling and Hinkie’s talent acquisition, are built on foreign, impenetrable, numerical concepts such as “expected values.”
Many people have a problem with probabilities – and by extension the study thereof, that mathematical voodoo known as analytics. The term ‘analytics’ often conjures a couple of images, and neither are particularly flattering. One is that of the pasty, bespectacled weakling with a pocket protector and a TI-89, jealously crunching numbers as he fantasizes about athletic prowess he’ll never have, cheerleaders he’ll never date, and popularity he’ll never achieve. The other, more sinister depiction is the business executive in a 15th floor office furnished with exotic hardwoods and floor-to-ceiling windows, dispassionately assigning numbers to real people from high on his throne and then buying, selling, or trading them as he might deal in rice futures or credit default swaps. But stereotyping aside, I suspect most fans simply misunderstand the concept.
Mock drafts are stupid.
There, I said it. You and I know that as much as we all love them, they’re not consequential. They’re not inherently insightful. They’re often nothing more than speculative conversation pieces. At best, they’re educated guesswork.
Now I’m likely to be dragged to the town square and stoned for saying that, but so be it, it needed to be said. I’ll die a martyr for the cause of reasonable, retrospective sports analysis. A worthy ideal, certainly.
Sarcasm aside, I really was convinced that if there ever were a year when I could successfully prove that the draftniks really are all just soothsaying con-men, this was the year. There were no sure-fire top-5 quarterbacks, no stud wide outs or corners. No truly obvious picks. The consensus seemed to be that the real talent in this draft was along the lines, some of the hardest positions in the sport to scout. If there really is such a thing as a “draft guru,” this is the kind of draft that would expose him as either a true expert or a useless hack.
With this hypothesis in mind, I collected an assortment of 14 “final” 1st-round mock drafts published before the draft started last Thursday. As a control, I asked my buddy Frank to submit his own 1st-round mock. Frank watches far more college and pro football than anybody can reasonably consider healthy, but he’s not a paid analyst, nor does he have a support team, league sources, game film, nor any other resources that pro analysts or sports columnists can access.
Here’s what I found out.
With the 4th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected OT Lane Johnson from Oklahoma.
Let’s all take a minute to breathe a collective sigh of belief that it wasn’t Geno Smith.
Ok, now here’s what you want to know.
Who is Lane Johnson?
In short, he’s a ridiculous, freakish, otherworldly athlete.
Here are some unbelievable numbers from the draft combine:
4.72 second 40-yard dash
34.0 inch vertical leap
9’10″ standing broad jump
4.52 second 20-yard shuttle
You might expect results like that from an athletic tight end, or a big linebacker. You’d never expect that from a guy who is 6’6″ and weighs 303 lb.
But can he play football?
You tell me. He’s the one wearing #69.
Is Johnson a mauler? No. And he likely never will be. But Chip Kelly doesn’t require that of his players. What he does require is quickness and size. Johnson has both of those attributes, and then some. Johnson also played a fair bit of no-huddle at Oklahoma, so you know he’s capable of keeping up with Chip Kelly’s game speed.
Ugh, it’s about time.
Sam Carchidi of the Inquirer reported that at Friday’s practice, Danny Briere had been demoted from the second line to the third, paired with Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot. Matt Read was promoted to the top line. I’m praying that this change carries over to the starting lineup on Sunday against the Penguins. Despite the terrible fact that the average yearly salary of the three forwards on the third line would would be $4.15 million, this change should have been made a month ago.
In Laviolette’s defense, the delay is somewhat understandable: Despite netting a mere 5 goals in 26 games, Briere’s been getting about 2.6 shots per game on net, which is roughly in line with his career average, and he’s suffering from the worst shooting percentage of his career (7.8%, half his 14.8% career average). So there’s some bad luck involved on the offensive end.
But Briere, who always carried a reputation as a bit of a defensive liability, has recently become such a problem in 5v5 play that his time on the ice is doing more damage than good. Opposing teams consistently take more shots than the Flyers while he is on the ice (his Corsi rating is -5.57 despite facing mediocre opposing lines). If Briere were paired with two possession-driving players this might be surmountable, but pair him with Wayne Simmonds – who has similar issues (-2.06 Corsi) but provides a physicality that cements his spot on the 2nd line – and you have a recipe for failure. Brayden Schenn is good, but he’s not good enough to make up for the defensive deficiencies of both linemates. (Learn about Corsi here, stats via behindthenet.ca)
If you read the article I wrote on new defensive coordinator Billy Davis yesterday, you know that I wasn’t sold on the move from first glance. As a result, I wanted to take a deeper look at Davis and see what Eagles fans could expect from the new-look defense going forward.
Before we get into those numbers, however, here’s a brief outline of Billy Davis‘ career thus far.
|1991||Michigan State||Graduate assistant|
|1992-1994||Pittsburgh Steelers||Defensive assistant|
|1995-1998||Carolina Panthers||OLB coach|
|1999||Cleveland Browns||Defensive assistant/LB|
|2000||Green Bay Packers||Defensive assistant/DL|
|2001-2003||Atlanta Falcons||LB coach|
|2004||New York Giants||LB coach|
|2005-2006||San Francisco 49ers||Defensive coordinator|
|2007-2008||Arizona Cardinals||LB coach|
|2009-2010||Arizona Cardinals||Defensive coordinator|
|2011-2013||Cleveland Browns||LB coach|
In an offseason in which many expect GM Rubén Amaro Jr. to back up the Brinks truck once again for a top-flight free agent like Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn, the first substantial movement by the Phillies brass brings in some much needed defensive talent for the outfield and an aging stopgap at 3rd.
Ben Revere – OF / Bats: Left, Throws: Right
A defensive wiz with a knack for scoring from 2nd, the 24-year old speedster is expected to start in centerfield, plugging a gap that was never adequately filled after last year’s midseason trade of Shane Victorino. In his young career, Revere has already shown flashes of brilliance in the field: