Monday, January 31, 2011

Haters Stop Hatin : The Liverpool Edition

Monday January 31st - The longest day in football analysis... ever.

As trades are made up until 11pm tonight, people across the football world will be asking, who is my team getting and who are we losing. That brings us to the major trade talk of this transfer period, the Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez & Andy Carroll.

This trade is not smart, but it helps Liverpool. Lets do some simple math. Now this is all speculation of course on fees and prices, but most of them are Pretty Accurate

Torres to Chelsea = + £50 Million
Carroll to LFC = - £35 Million
Suarez to LFC = - £23 MIllion
Total = £8 Million

Now lets get this correct, Liverpool are getting the Dutch footballer of the year, Andy Carroll who is currently 3rd (11 goals) in the league for goals scored.

This is why i love John Henry, one has to admit his ability to buy according to market is smart. Surely Carroll is not worth £35 million, but is the under performing Torres actually worth £50 million pounds, the answer is no. Torres is a great football player and I will not hate on him. But the Player is old. He is 26, while Suarez (24) and Carroll (21) are both younger, and they show their youth, while Torres shows his age with his lack of performance and injuries of old. It is not just liverpool either, Torres's goals in the World Cup (2) is far less than Suarez and Carroll.

The way to look at the trade is 8 Million for an extra player, rather than 35 for one player.

God Bless Liverpool

Friday, January 28, 2011

Athletic Gods - Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong brought the Tour de France to America, one of only two Americans to do this. But Lance did more than just win a really hard bike competition, but he did it 7 times. That is more than any other person. Lance brought a cycling culture to America that was unparalleled to any other sport. Men biking up and down mountains made real television, it was on the nightly news. Just six years after his final race, the Average American couldn't tell you what time of year the Tour was, or who was winning. That's because they know its not Lance Armstrong. Besides Lance being a robot (i mean he ran a sub 3hr marathon), he is all-around american, (minus that divorce of course). He has started up his own charity selling, as stupid as it sounds, wrist bands that say livestrong on them. Its not just a story of a biker, but an American Triumph. A guy who battled cancer, and then learned how to beat pain. Below is a graph of Tour De France winners, the four years before lance, and the four years after lance. Just look at the dip in times, and see the God that is Lance Armstrong.

Sports Myths : Defense wins championship

I am sure, like me, you have heard a million times : " Offense wins games, Defense wins Championships". The problem is, that statements does not actually hold up.

A neat sabermetrics statistic, can predict the winning percentage of a team by using a fancy formula. The surprising thing is that this formula works accross sports. The same formula WP = (Runscored*Runsagainst) / ((RS^2)+(RA^2) , works for Hockey but with goals. Sadly the formula does not work for American Football. I am not entirely sure why this is the case, but the fact of the matter is true.

Then there must be some linear weights that one can assign to Points For and Points Against, right? Well the first thing i did was run a correlation of the two fields against the amount of wins a Team gets over a reason.

Points for (r value) = .766496
Points against = -.26189

Now this makes sense a little, and i'll do my best to explain this. The negative number means that as points against goes up, meaning a team starts giving up more points, their total (and chances of) wins goes down. While points for means the opposite, the more points the more total wins the team will have. This is logical right? Well, the next thing is not so obvious, its the degrees of those values. The Points for is way more associated with victory than points against, meaning that scoring points is a lot more important to winning than giving up points, those are just merely secondary.

I am sure some of you are reading and saying "What about Playoffs?", teams that cant hold their opponents clearly lose games in the playoffs. That statement is actually false. Over the last 10 years, the teams with the better offense and worse defense won 75% of the games. Shocking i know, but teams that score a lot more have a better chance of winning the game than those who stop the other team from scoring*. Now there is on exception to this rule, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are the only team in the last 10 years to win with a better defense, and not a better offense.

All in all, Championships are not made by defenses, they are indeed won by Offenses, the people that do the scoring.

Where art thou - Alex Ovechkin

So to little surprise, Ovechkin is on the struggle bus. Where has he gone, has he lost his mojo? Well, one thing is for sure, Ovechkin, like many athletes (Torress, Crosby,L.James,D.Wade) are under performing their value. Nothing more is frustrating for an owner (not that i would know), than paying a lot for an athlete that does not earn his worth. Ovechkin right now is like paying for a Lexus and getting the Chevy Volt.

Ovi - Great guy, but numbers are down all around, well he passes more, probably because he cant score!

As Seen by the graph above, OVI has dipped in all categories per game. He has the least amount of goals per game, the assists have dropped. His points per game have also dropped. Where has the production gone!

His time on ice remains the same just over 21 minutes per game, but he isn't producing. Or is he?

I think the theme to Ovi's season should be Hit me with your best shot! And i dont mean shots on goals, i mean hits. I added his hits per game to the above graph, it is seen below. He is increasing his hits per game. He wants to be a wrecking ball of destruction on the ice, that or it could just be from the frustration of goal production.

Now the great question... How are the capitals.

The Caps as a team are doing worse, they are scoring less per game than they normally do, and are giving up more goals. Hopefully they can turn things around, if not, it could be middle of the pack for them.

But the question at hand "Where art Thou Mr. Ovechkin"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

State of the Union - Statistics

No, this actually has nothing to do with politics. It is simply a look at words and their length and how often they appear, nothing more.

Speech Length (in Minutes) : 71 minutes
Speech Length (in words) : 7,032

Average: 99.04 Words per minute

Longest Word(s): Counterterrorism(used once) , transcontinental (used once)

Average Word Length : 4.75 characters
Median Word Length : 4 characters

There were 80 applause breaks

The President Mentioned Republicans 10 times, while only mentioning his own party 8 times.

Make comments if there is something you wanted to know about the speech and I will look into getting that question answered.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fulham - Winning on the Cheap

Money - It is colourful, and to most sports fans it helps you win, right?

I have a problem with this, mainly because football teams spend way too much on players that are just average. However, this article is about teams as a whole, and not for individual players (quite yet anyway).

The big four teams spend money, and thus they win. Although I would love to rebuke this, I honestly cant.

Quick Facts
- Since the Premier League started in 1992 only 4 teams have won the League, only one of them was not a big four team [Blackburn Rovers 1993].

- Manchester United has won it more than any team, 11 times actually.

-The last time at least 3 of the 4 "Big Four" were not in the Top Four [UEFA Qualfiers] was 1995-1996 season.

By this point, I'm assuming most of you just figured that this post was a waste. But if looking at the results meant anything, we wouldn't need in depth statistics. The thing is that a team can still be great even though they havent overspent for players. A great example of this is Fulham and Everton.

Fulham - an American favourite, because well it has a lot of Americans compared to other Premier teams, and by a lot of course i mean more than zero. Fulham actually has two Americans (Dempsey and Johnson). Fulham reached the number six position in the 2008 - 2009 season. And for those non-dieheart soccer fans, that means they were able to qualify for the Europa Cup (Its the JV European soccer cup, but still honourable). How much money did they spend to do this? A whopping £46.2 million. The team finishing ahead of them, Aston Villa spent nearly double that with £70 mill, and the team below them, West Ham Unite spent the same amount. How did a team with such little money produce so much. The answer, hidden talent. Fulham doesn't spend money on high market players. Why? There are two reasons, one is that they really cant afford it. They are the smallest team in their market, compared to Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenhem. The other reason is logic! Teams that pay for Rooney, or Ronaldo pay a premium. Granted that premium wins League Cups, but the pay off is at a really high cost.

Quick Facts about Fulham
- Never won the Premier League
- Never won the F.A. Cup (came runner up once)
- Came Runner-up in the Europa 2010

One of them is not like the other? Thats right, they came Runner-Up to the second most important cup in Europe for a non national team. How much money did they spend, oh thats correct 46.2 British sterling.

Fulham is like Eating at Fogo de Chao of $10. Its like buying a New Car at a used price. The amount of money they spend is in the bottom half of the league, but they finish in the top half. What Fulham is a demonstration that money wins Championships, but teams win Cups. Now for most that makes no sense. But it steams from a general philosophy of this blog, and sports in General. Teams with a lot of money tend to pay a lot for quick fixes, and they can improve their team in the middle of the season. Teams with a little bit of money learn to play with what they have, and are willing to take a Draw if it means they will advance in the tables.

Below are graphs that pseudo make this point. The red points are the big four, the orange piece is Fulham. Now places 5,6,7 all go to the Europa, so see how those spots are pretty much up for grabs, and money doesn't necessarily mean you will get those spots.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Haters Start Hatin : Lebron James

Ok this one isn't even fair, it is just too easy to hate Lebron James these days. I mean seriously, he probably gets more hate mail than any other athlete. But this is more of a statistical hate for me against Lebron James. If we look at him objectively and say, alright Lebron, switch teams but keep that stats, well "agree to disagree". But Mr. James is starting to decline a bit with the heat. Granted, the odds of Lebron James getting injuried in the next three seasons is around 75 - 80 %. This is based off of performance, minutes and the time from rookie year to first career injury. I'll do a moderate break down of why i think the move just wasn't good enough for the All-Star.

Scoring - The obvious choices, Lebrons scoring has gone down, and this is factually correct. He is actually at the lowest average since his rookie year. However, this kind of makes sense, since its all about ball sharing in Miami. And by ball sharing, i mean between Boss, Wade and James. But like any good sabermetrican (or statistician for that matter), we like to play the percentages, not the figures. Although the drop in points did hurt my fantasy team. Lebron has dropped in Field Goal percentage as well as his Free Throw percentage. Despite declining in most categories, Lebron has improved his shot from the distance, increasing his Three Point Percentage. Good Job Mr.James, or not so much?

Passing - So right, three stars one ball, someone has to score, so maybe its not James? Actually, James Declined in this category too. He averages 7.2 assists per game, that is a 5 year low for him! So Lebron isnt scoring, he isnt passing, what is he doing, just playing? This is partially true, because Lebron sees the same amount of minutes a game! He averages the same amount of time on court.

Defense - Now if you are anything like me, you LOVE Lebron's defensive blocks. Check out this video if you do not think they are sweet. So maybe Lebron will create some more videos blocking awesome shots, i mean he isn't scoring and he isn't passing. BUT NO! Again, Lebron dropped! He actually dropped to the lowest point in his career, averaging 1 block every two games, which is half of what he use to get. Guess what, steals are down too, so are rebounds! Lebron James has lowered himself in all but one category! If you go to ESPN's website, you wont see his picture any category. He has hurt himself as an athlete. Why? Because he is playing the same amount of minutes per game, which means he is running back and forth, putting strain on his body and creating a higher risk with less reward.

Team - Its all about the team right? The team wins championships. But the Heat are just average to be honest. Their bench is full of High School seniors, their coach is on the brink of being fired, and things dont look put together. The Heat struggle against Playoff teams : Boston,Orlando,Chicago,Atlanta, Denver. All of these teams look playoff bound, and if the Heat cant beat them... well they arent going to make it far. What about the Cavs with Lebron? They actually only lost twice to Boston, they beat the Magic, they beat the Hawks, they beat the Lakers,the Nuggets, the Bulls.

I am not saying the Heat wont win the Championship, because in the NBA it really only takes 16 wins to do that, and well everyone gets in the playoffs. But as for Lebron, maybe splitting the stats was not as good as you thought it would be. Maybe you did go in Wade county Florida, instead of James,Akron,Ohio. Besides loyalty, you are risking your athletic build without the increase in production.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Haters Stop Hatin : The Brett Favre Edition

As Brett Favre Rolls his wheel chair down retirement lane, hopefully the football community will stop hating. Thats correct, Brett Favre is not actually an idiot or a bad quarterback. Sure he threw an interception that kept the Vikings from getting to the Super bowl, but who is to say that it wasn't Adrian Peterson's fault; of course Brett Favre haters.

2007 - 2008. After the 2007 season, the Green Bay Packers decided to push #4 out the door, and move onto to their new up and coming Quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Now Rodgers is a good quarterback, but there was actually nothing wrong with Favre. In quarterback categories, Favre was in the top 25% on every category, including sacks(15), which was the third lowest in the league. Statistically, Favre was as sound as any quarterback, and it was certain the man was gonna play everygame.

2008-2009. After crying his way out of retirement, Favre played for the New York Jets, who were looking for a quick fix after Chad Pennington dropped the ball, or rather threw it other team very often (TDI of 1.11). The thing about the Jets is that they have bigger issues than needing a Quarterback. In the last 10 years, the Jets have been in the bottom third of TDI, Passing Yards and Sacks. Despite this, Favre had an average year. He scored above average in every category except Yards per attempt. Thus this raggedy old man was actually not bad. Sure he wasnt the man of old, but his career wasn't over, and far there were worst quaterbacks in 2008 (cough: Ben Roethlisberger, Kyle Orton and Jamarcus Russell).

2009 - 2010. The Vikings, a team built for Favre. They had a solid running game, good pass protection, and more importantly a chance to win the Super Bowl. Brett Favre finished second in passer rating, first in TDI [ thats correct haters, Brett Favre threw more touchdowns per interception than anyone else in the league], not only that, but he finished first in sacks allowed. Lets think this through, Brett Favre had statistically the best year out of any quarterback and you expected him to not come back? Granted the changes and injuries to the vikings killed him at the ripe age of 40, but the man was actually a great quarterback.

Overall Favre proved his worth as a Starting Quarterback, and he shouldn't be at blame for wanting to come back after great seasons (statistically of course).

Why The Redskins are a Terrible Team

I started doing some research on Quarterbacks after watching this weekends Playoff games. I noticed that Jay Cutler (as i have always noticed) is actually a terrible Quarterback. His Touchdown to Interception ratio (TDI) this season was a mere 1.43. The League average is 2.03 (but it a bit skewed thanks to Tom Brady who scored a 9). However, more onto the point of this post, is to why the Redskins are actually a bad organization.

As a current DC Resident, I tend to catch a lot of the Redskins games on the TV. Next season i might watch Reruns of the Antione Dodgson reality show than watch the games, because the redskins are actually that bad. Despite being the third largest Market in the world, the Redskins still continue to miss the playoffs and finish last in the league. But again, enough of my complaining and let me spit some statistics at you.

Donovan McNabb, he was the one to blame right, he was so terrible that is why Philadelphia got rid of him. Well, Donovan McNabb became worse once becoming a redskin. His TDI while playing for the Eagles was 2.31, and even in his so said "Decline" his TDI was still 2.00! Now ready for the hard facts, since playing for the Redskins, McNabbs TDI is .933. Thats right fokes, that means he threw more interceptions than touchdowns, a feat that only 6 Quarterbacks have accomplished this year, a statistics normally granted to rookies, not an 11 year Veteran Pro Bowler. Sure Donovan caused some of this, with his aging legs and failure to run the two minute offense, but that does not explain such a large drop.

Rex Grossman, sure he must have been the savor right? Nope, 7 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, not a very high number especially with the small sample size.

Kyle Shanahan, the coordinator must have caused all of this, right? Sad to say, no! While coaching for the Houstin Texans, a Shanahan quarterback never threw a TDI less than 2.

So then, whats wrong? This I dont know exactly, but i assume it stems from the top down. It looks like the Redskins have the typically European Soccer flaw, buy big, pay too much and dont fix the small things.

Lets think this one out. Sure some quarterbacks are just terrible (as in Jay Cutlers Case), however others just make bad decisions when they are rushed. The Redskins are in the bottom quarter of the league for time allowed to throw the ball. Thus McNabb (and Grossman) are forced to throw the ball to their receivers with less time to think about where go. This seems to be a trend with the Redskins Quarterbacks, over the last 3 seasons (since Mark Brunell left), the Redskins TDI is 1.1 , League average 2.1.

My suggestion - An offensive line, surprisingly cheap, the Average salary of the Patriots offensive line (the best pass protection and run protection in the league) is a mere 2.3 million dollars per year, thats about 4 million less than McNabb's. Now I understand you cant build an O-line with his salary but its a start. Protect the quarterback so he can throw some touchdowns, and let you win the game.

(By Vick, McNabbs's replacement for the eagles threw a 3.5 TDI).

See chart below, red dot is McNabb according to this year. That really high point is Tom Brady.