A Few Wednesday Notes

Here are a few comments for Wednesday. 

A quick summary…. Stacey Brook is going to be on the radio, a column from Ed Glaeser indicates that we don’t know how to blog, and I posted a few more comments on the Milwaukee Bucks.

Stacey Brook on the radio!

This is the big news for today.  Stacey Brook will be a guest on The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti tomorrow morning (Thursday, November 1) to discuss the influence money has on professional sports. The Current is broadcast on CBC at 8:30am (EST).

Apparently I don’t know how to blog

Ed Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University (and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics), is now writing columns for the New York Sun.  Last Friday he responded to a comment made by Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution.  

“Why is Ed Glaeser writing for the New York Sun? Essentially he’s blogging. Without blogs I can’t imagine it would make sense for Ed Glaeser to do that.”

Here is part of Glaeser’s response to Cowen:

Blogs and columns are quite different, and The Marginal Revolution illustrates what can make blogs exciting. Mr. Cowen and his collaborators post to the website with astonishing regularity. Their blog posts are often brief introductions to some external source of information. The best bloggers use an informal style that make the readers feel as if they are old friends. If you read the Freakonomics blog, you will be let into the private life of one of this age’s great economists. The chatty conversational style of blogs works well with the discussions that they facilitate among readers who react to an initial blog post and then to each other.

By contrast, an op-ed column is a somewhat formal 750 word art form that usually contains some sort of clear policy punch line. I am thinking of imitating Cato’s constant repetition of Delenda Est Carthago by ending each column with the mantra “Manhattan needs more construction and rent control must end.” Good columns are self-contained, since they should be accessible to readers who have never previously heard of the author.

While I am flattered by Mr. Cowen’s describing me as a blogger, I am much more of an old school columnist. My nineteenth century soul limits my ability to use the easy conversational style of the great blogs. I have no inclination to write on a daily basis. I cherish the hate mail that I receive, but I don’t need feel the need to encourage it further by featuring reader feedback on my own website. Since I can’t blog, I am grateful to bloggers like Mr. Cowen for citing my work, because they reach a set of readers hungry for their talents that I could never get on my own.

When I read Glaeser’s thoughts I realized that after 18 months of blogging, we don’t know how to blog at The Wages of Wins Journal.  Almost everything we post in this forum is more consistent with what Glaeser sees as an op-ed column.  We tend to post 750 words (okay, often more than 1,000) that are often a self-contained story.  We almost never make a brief comment that links to some external source.  In sum, we are writing columns here, not blog entries.  And this is true when I write, or something is written by Stacey, Marty (or our guests like Stephen Walters and JC Bradbury).  I guess we think of ourselves as freelance columnists.  And since I think freelance is another way of saying “unemployed”, I guess we are just unemployed columnists.

A Note to Milwaukee Fans

Recent columns have presented my take on the upcoming season.  In looking at the Eastern Conference I noted that there are two great teams (Boston, Chicago), two good teams (Cleveland, Detroit), ten teams that could win between 35 and 45 games, and then the Milwaukee Bucks.  Additionally, in September I wrote a column that argued the Milwaukee Bucks were “the least interesting team in the NBA.”  Apparently, all this negative stuff about the Bucks has led a few fans of this team to become somewhat vexed with me.

Let me see if I can explain why I think the Bucks are going to have problems this year.  Last year the Bucks were led by in Wins Produced by Ruben Patterson (see The Milwaukee Bucks in 2006-07 and 2005-06).  Patterson posted a WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes] of 0.166 and he produced 8.7 wins.  Of all the players employed by this team in 2006-07, Patterson was the only player to eclipse the 0.150 mark in WP48.  

This past off-season Patterson signed with the LA Clippers.  The Bucks then went out and signed Desmond Mason.  Mason was nearly an average player early in his career, but his Wins Produced has been in the negative range (and that is really way below average) each of the past three seasons.

If Milwaukee gives Patterson’s minutes to Mason, and Mason does for Milwaukee what he did last year for the Hornets (-0.044 WP48 and -2.3 Wins Produced), the Bucks will be about 11 wins worse in 2007-08.  That is the impact of just this one move.  This team only won 28 games in 2006-07, and they made a move that reduces wins by nearly 11.  

Now Milwaukee fans believe that Charlie Villanueva – who has been below average each of his first two seasons – will suddenly improve.  A similar story is told for Andrew Bogut, who has been somewhat above average his first two season.  But even if these two players do improve (which could happen but is not easy to forecast), Mason is going to have to suddenly play better than he has in any of the past three seasons for the Bucks to contend for the playoffs.

Of course it’s possible that Villanueva, Bogut, and Mason all improve (although Mason’s Win Score in the preseason was in the negative range).  But in looking at the future we have to consider what seems most likely to happen.  And none of these proposed improvements – I think – fall under the category of “most likely.”  

And yes, I did it again. This post has gone over 1,000 words.  Once again I am writing a column not a blog post.  Hopefully someday I will figure this medium out.

– DJ

For a discussion of other teams see NBA Team Reviews: 2006-07

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at wagesofwins.com provides more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced and Win Score are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

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