September 30, 2009

Ben Gordon and the Bulls?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 5:41 pm

On I was (correctly) quoted as saying the Bulls should not have let Ben Gordon go, especially to a bitter divisional rival (Detroit). Gordon’s performance has been erratic but last year was 18th in the league in our Adjusted +/- and he was 4th in Impact, which measure how you change the chance that your team wins. If you saw the Celtics-Bulls series you saw how his clutch shooting can change a game. In 2007-2008 Gordon had a negative impact, but this could be because the team was poor and  many players mail it in when the games have no meaning.  His offense held up in 2007-2008 but his defense was very poor, leading me to believe he might have mailed it in near the end of the season, In 2004-2005 Gordon had the the league’s 2nd best impact!. He plays over 30 minutes a game.   While below average on defense, he is always an above average offensive player.  The Bulls were at their best against the Celtics with Miller, Gordon, Hinrich and Rose on the court. They won by around a point a minute with these guys on the court. This 4 man combo cannot be used anymore. Is Ben a bad influence off the court? I have no idea. But on the court he will be missed.

Looking at his 2007-2008 season Hinrich began the season in a really bad shooting slump  (he shot 33% in November) and Gordon’s offensive rating was poor(Gordon shot 37%), probably because the defense could lay off Hinrich. Gordon’s defensive rating was horrible after January 1, indicating that he may have mailed it in. If he is healthy and wants to play I believe he is worth $10 million a season.

September 19, 2009

To Onside Kick or Not?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 10:55 am

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal’s Numbers Guy blogged about the recent SI article on the high school team  coached by Kevin Kelly that never punts.

The SI article also mentioned that the high school coach always onside kicked because his team recovered 25 % of the onside kicks and he estimated that other team got the  ball on their 33 yard line on average when he kicked deep and on their 48 yard line when he kicked onside.

Plugging in our point values for every yardline (described in my new book Mathletics) we find that a high school team should kick onsides if they have at least a 28% chance of recovering the kick. Thus Coach Kelly was not far off.

  In the NFL teams kick off from the 30 yard line (in high school the 40 yard line) and we estimate that you need at least a 52% chance to recover an onside kick to make it worthwhile.

Of course, near the end of the game if you are down, you need to onside kick, but in this post we are talking about a team that simply wants to mazimize its expected margin of victory.

September 18, 2009

Sebastian Telfair Redux

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 7:41 pm

Thanks to all of you who posted comments on Sebastian Telfair. Several of you thought that Telfair’s +6 points rating (per 48 minutes) was probably due to the “bad backups.” This is not the case.  Telfair’s primary backups Foye and Ollie were not bad last season. Foye had a +3 rating and Ollie a +2 rating. My figures in previous post were adjusted +/- by the way.  I guess maybe the lesson is that Foye and Ollie played poorly at the point, but then surely they played great during the rest of their time on the court.

Again my book on math and sports, Mathletics ,is  available on Amazon. I will soon be posting some comments on team prospects for the 2009-2010 season, Watch for them! I will start by  telling you why I think the Bulls will not make the playoffs.

September 13, 2009

The Yankees or the Rest of the Playoff Teams?

Filed under: Uncategorized — wwinston @ 7:33 pm

On the wonderful PTI show last week, Tony R asked Tony K whether he would pick the Yankees or the rest of the playoff field towin the world series. Tony K took the Yankees. I would certainly take the field! To win the World Series the Yankees need to win 3  series. For the Yanks to have more than a .50 chance to win the World Series they need around an 80% chance (.80 to third power = .51) to win each series. As we will see below, this is probably not the case. The bookmakers have made the odds on the Yankees winning the series to be 2-1,which means they think the Yankees have around a 30% chance to win the series. This implies the Yankees have around around a  2/3 chance t o win each series, which seems more  reasonable. Including games of September 12 here is for each likely playoff team how many runs better than average the team is.


Yankees 1.15, Red Sox 1.12 Angels 0.92, Tigers 0.18.


Dodgers .91 Phillies .38 Rockies .49 and Cardinals .22.

This implies of course, that there is no way that the Yankees have an 80% chance to beat Angels or Red Sox in the ALCS and no way they have an 80% chance to beat the Dodgers (if they make it) in the World Series. As soon as the playoff matchups are set we will post each team’s chance of winning the series. We will adjust each team’s regular season rating based on their likely playoff pitching rotation. Here are a few other interesting baseball tidbits.

  • Toronto has played toughest schedule and Cardinal’s the easiest. Toronto’s schedule is 0.85 runs per game tougher than the Cardinal’s.
  • The Padres play in the best pitcher’s park (1.26 runs per game less than average scored  per team while the Rockies play in the best hitter’s park ( 0.96 more runs than average per game scored  per team).

The math behind all these calculations is described in my new book Mathletics, which is now available on

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