Currently I am involved with an assortment of projects. So my ability to contribute in this forum (or for any other blog I am involved with) is limited. Although I am not writing much on-line (I am writing quite a bit elsewhere), I am still reading stuff. And here is some of the stuff I have read recently (in case you are interested…)
Let’s start with something from Jonathan Weiler. At the Huffington Post, Jonathan writes about people who think Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson are somehow comparable. The entire post is well worth reading. But I want to highlight two particular points. The first is about Bill James:
In his last Baseball abstract, Bill James, the pioneering baseball statistician and godfather of the Sabermetric revolution had a righteous rant about the fact that Andre Dawson was named the NL MVP in 1987. James opined about Dawson’s selection “there are occasions in your professional life that make you think you’re not making any progress. The election of Andre Dawson as the National League’s MVP is one of mine.” James noted that people criticized him all the time for an over-reliance on statistics at the expense of “intangibles” and the “little things.” James pointed out, however, that Dawson’s selection had nothing to do with intangibles or the little things (particularly since the Cubs finished in last place in 1987) — it had to do with the fact that the “Hawk” hit 49 homers and drove in 137 runs and that MVP voters overwhelmingly voted for players with high RBI totals. In other words, whether they admitted it or not, their votes were based on statistics — and really, one statistic. And James argued, if we’re going to rely on stats to evaluate players, we should understand what it is we’re relying upon. James insisted that if you took all of Dawson’s measurable contributions into account as well as the context in which he was playing — Wrigley Field — you’d know that he wasn’t one of the thirty best players in the National League in 1987.
And then a few paragraphs later Jonathan says the following:
Listen to any coach talk about winning basketball. What will they talk about? Intensity and heart and all that good stuff, of course. And again according to their peers, Magic and Kobe were each off the charts in those terms. What next will coaches say? Good shot selection. Rebounding. Being unselfish and moving the ball. And we have good data for evaluating those things — rebounding, assists-to-turnovers, shooting percentage. And on those fronts, the two players are not comparable.
Again, the entire column is well worth reading. Especially for people who really think Kobe ranks somewhere near Magic.
Of course, Jonathan’s work is not the only thing I have read lately.
The coverage of Jeremy Lin continues. Certainly we have spent a fair amount of time discussing Mr. Lin in this forum. And here are three more stories worth noting:
First, the amazing Ty Willihnganz (more on him in a moment) makes an important observation. One reason Lin looks so great is that the other options for the Knicks at point guard are just awful.
Alan Reifman –who has a new book called “Hot Hand: The Statistics Behind Sports’ Greatest Streaks” (which I hope to discuss in more detail soon) – has a blog that focuses on the subject of “hot hands”. And currently he has a short post noting that Lin’s recent ability to hit shots is somewhat unusual. Of course, the turnovers from Lin… (that’s another story for another day).
And finally on the subject of Lin, David Tufte – my colleague at Southern Utah University (who also has a blog) – has a short post on Lin’s high school coach: What a riot: Jeremy Lin’s high school coach bought the rights to the URL linsanity.com a couple of years ago, because he thought it a good investment for when Lin made it big in the NBA.
Beyond the subject of Jeremy Lin, let me note again the amazing work of Ty Willihnganz at the Courtside Analyst. This is a website that I think definitely doesn’t get enough attention. And yet, every few days Ty puts up some fairly amazing analysis. Here is some of his recent work:
- On the subject of basketball, Ty has released his “Ty Rating”, or his measure of team quality. Who would have guessed the Celtics were rated so low (okay, they lost to the Pistons today so I guess we all have a clue now).
- On the subject of the NFL draft, Ty has noted that Andrew Luck is not statistically much better than every other college quarterback available in the upcoming draft. This is not exactly the story told by the draft gurus.
- And also on the NFL, Ty recently explored the role tackling played in all the records NFL quarterbacks set this past season.
Again, Ty’s work is always interesting. So if you are looking for something to read, check out the Courtside Analyst. Of course, don’t stop reading all the wonderful stuff in this forum.