Month: September 2019

  • A Radical Proposal To Destroy The NHLs Loser Point

    The NHL’s “loser point” is the stupidest rule in sports. For the non-puckheads among you, here’s how it works: The NHL awards one point in the standings to a team that loses a game in overtime or a shootout. But teams get two points for winning a game, whether in regulation or beyond. You don’t need a degree in #fancystats to recognize the problem: There are a total of three points to distribute when a game goes to overtime but just two otherwise. So it really pays off to play for OT. As FiveThirtyEight contributors Noah Davis and Michael Lopez documented Wednesday, this encourages dull, passive hockey. Goal scoring falls dramatically in the third period of tied games, right when a game should be coming to its climax.This is more than a minor annoyance; the loser point has already changed the identity of at least one NHL champion. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings finished with 40 wins and 42 losses; they made the playoffs ahead of the 42-40 Dallas Stars because they accumulated 15 loser points to the Stars’ five. Then the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup.Fortunately, having a rule as dumb as the loser point means that almost anything would be an improvement. For instance, the NHL could award three points for a win in regulation. An overtime or shootout winner would still get two points. That would at least make each game worth the same amount in the standings.Or you could eliminate the shootout and go back to having ties. The NHL claims that 70 percent to 80 percent of its fans like the shootout but has never made any detailed data on this available to the public. As regular readers of FiveThirtyEight will know, there are lots of ways to manipulate survey questions to produce a desired outcome. Maybe the same consultants telling Donald Trump that he’d make a great presidential candidate are advising Gary Bettman on the loser point.But I have something more radical in mind. Here’s the idea: You keep playing hockey until someone wins. You know, like in the NBA and Major League Baseball and pretty much every other sport but soccer — and like the NHL itself during the playoffs.The usual objection is that this could lead to some extraordinarily long games for two measly points in the standings. What if the Flyers and Penguins play a five-overtime game and the Penguins need to catch a flight to Calgary? Why add even more ice time to a grueling, 82-game regular season?But these cases are rarer than you might think. If you played every NHL regular-season game under playoff rules — 5-on-5 overtime, indefinitely, until someone scores — it would increase ice time by only about 3 percent. In the chart below, I’ve tracked what percentage of overtime playoff games (since 1995) were resolved within a given number of minutes. In the majority of games — 56 percent — someone scored within the first 10 minutes. Only 7 percent of games, meanwhile, required two or more overtimes.Overall, the average overtime game required 13.6 minutes before someone scored. Since 23 percent of playoff games went to OT, that makes the average length of a playoff game about 63 minutes, as compared to around 61 minutes during the regular season.That’s not much of an increase, and if the NHL were concerned about it, it could counteract it by reducing the regular season to 80 games from 82. Then you’d have no shootouts, no ties, no loser point and no overall increase in ice time.Still, maybe we’re concerned about those cases when one team has played a multiple-overtime game and faces off against another on fresh skates. Equivalent cases come up all the time in other sports — baseball, basketball, tennis — and they deal with it. But you could argue that it’s a bigger problem in hockey given the punishing nature of the sport.The solution is to take players off the ice, which will increase scoring. This isn’t a new idea at all — during the regular season, the NHL plays 4-on-4 hockey in overtime, and there have been proposals to go to 3-on-3.But here’s my insight: Goals are scored so quickly during 3-on-3 play that you could play every game to sudden death and pretty much never inconvenience anyone. The players, the referees, the 13-year-old in Winnipeg who refuses to do his algebra homework until the Jets game is finished — they’d all be OK.You may have noticed, in the graphic above, that I drew a smooth curve (labeled “model”) alongside the historical data. The curve is formed by assuming that there’s a 7.4 percent chance of scoring a goal per minute of overtime play, which is the historical rate in the playoffs since 1995. As you can see, the curve “fits” the historical data extremely well. That means the length of overtime games is easy to model.1It also implies that the rate of scoring is fairly constant throughout overtime. If you know the overall rate of scoring, you can accurately guess how many games will require at least two overtimes, for instance.In 4-on-4 play, there’s a 9.1 percent chance of a goal being scored each minute (according to research by Stephen Pettigrew), about 20 percent higher than under 5-on-5 conditions. It’s 3-on-3 action that sees a really radical shift, however, with a 16.8 percent chance of a goal each minute.So what if overtime was played 3-on-3? About 60 percent of games would be resolved within the first five minutes, and 84 percent within the first 10 minutes. Only about 3 percent of overtime games would require double overtime, and fewer than 1 in 1000 would go to triple-OT. The average overtime game would require just six minutes to complete, barely longer than under the current rules.2And you’d reduce the number of overtime games since the loser point would be eliminated — teams would no longer have an incentive to play for OT. And with just three skaters on the ice at a time, teams could give their bench plenty of rest between shifts.The NHL could also adopt some compromise or another. It could play five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime immediately at the end of regulation, as it does now, then clean the ice3During the regular season, the NHL doesn’t bring the Zamboni out and clean the ice after regulation, something you’d probably need to do if you’re going to play more than a few minutes worth of extra hockey. As a fan, I don’t get why the NHL seems to be in a rush to finish overtime games during the regular season — I love the tension that builds up during the pre-overtime intermission in the playoffs. and play an indefinite amount of 3-on-3 overtime if needed. It could declare a tie if no one had scored after a full 20-minute period of 3-on-3 overtime. (Ties would be a rarity, almost like they are now in the NFL.) It could keep removing players from the ice until it was just goalie versus goalie.4The NHL would need to relax the rule that prohibits goalies from advancing past the red line. Would you not stop whatever you were doing to watch Henrik Lundqvist versus Tuukka Rask, one-on-one?Or insert your own proposal: Overtime decided by rock-paper-scissors? Nearly anything would be better than the loser point. read more

    READ MORE
  • MLBs Best Free Agent Doesnt Play Baseball

    Lost in the manic hustle of the trade deadline’s aftermath was some of the most significant news for the upcoming baseball offseason. Dave Dombrowski, the general manager of the Detroit Tigers since 2002, was fired from his post, becoming perhaps the most valuable free agent in baseball.I say perhaps because valuing front-office employees is difficult. Their Baseball-Reference.com pages are filled with transactions, not stats, and a team’s record is such an imperfect measure of its talent that it’s hard to judge a GM by a season’s success. Seemingly well-built teams can fall apart because of injuries or bad luck, and poor teams can sneak deep into the playoffs on the basis of a few timely hits.That’s why sabermetricians like to grade GMs by the skill of the players they acquire, not the number of pennants they’ve won. Recent research conducted by Lewie Pollis (formerly a student at Brown University, now employed by the Cleveland Indians) found that the best GMs can contribute MVP-level performances to their teams through savvy player acquisition.Dombrowski is one of the best GMs no matter how you measure “best.” He grades out as the sixth-best GM in the time frame that Pollis examined (1995-2013).It’s important to note that although Pollis’s model produces a ranking of GMs, the purpose of the model was to estimate the total range of GM skill levels, not the individual effect of each GM. As such, it does not take into account the priorities of the ownership, the state of a team before a GM’s arrival,1In Dombrowski’s case, he inherited a Tigers team in 2002 that was so depleted of talent that it put up the most losses in American League history the next year. or the inevitable variance of player performance. Even so, when you combine the empirical rating with the subjective opinions of sources around baseball and the strong record of his teams, Dombrowski appears to be easily one of the top GMs in the game.Pollis measured two facets of GM competence: free-agent signings and trades.2It’s important to note that Pollis’s estimates grade the whole Tigers front office and not Dombrowski directly. However, Dombrowski assembled that front office, recruited most of its staff, and managed the whole enterprise. It’s not unreasonable to believe that Dombrowski could build an organization of similar skill for a different team. Of course, GMs have many other duties, such as handling the media, developing players, and interfacing with the owners, none of which we can readily measure. These unexamined aspects of GM skill can only be gauged subjectively right now. Since Pollis’s model can’t take them into account, it suggests that, if anything, his estimates are conservative.Dombrowski’s strength is in trading. The part of Pollis’s model that measures skill in trading says Dombrowski is one of the very best GMs in the league, and that fits with his reputation. Under Dombrowski, the Tigers made a series of deals that gathered many of the current team’s best players. Most famous among these trades is the swap that brought Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins for what looks in hindsight like very little (headlined by Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller).On the other hand, Dombrowski grades out as a little worse than average on free-agent signings. That is partially because of Detroit’s position as a large-market team, which makes it more able to afford the kind of marquee free-agent signings that, while not valuable on a per-dollar basis, can help provide reliable production. For this same reason, Dombrowski doesn’t grade out as well in other models that measure wins per dollar. Dombrowski also became, to some extent, a victim of his own success: By keeping the Tigers within reach of playoff contention, he kept them on the part of the win curve where it was most worth it to overpay for free agents.Former Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder is a good example of Dombrowski’s skills, good and bad. Reportedly under pressure from Tigers owner Mike Illitch, Dombrowski signed Fielder to a mammoth nine-year deal worth $214 million. When Fielder immediately began to underperform, Dombrowski traded him to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler, who was able to contribute to the Tigers’ 2014 playoff run. Dombrowski rescued a poor free-agent signing with a smart trade that contributed substantially to his team’s chances to win at the time.Pollis puts the worth of a very good GM at up to 7 or 8 wins per year.3Note that this range does not match the numbers reported in the histogram above because the individual estimates are heavily regressed to the average. If Dombrowski is as good as a composite view of him suggests, then whichever team signs him will have upgraded itself just as much as if they had signed an MVP-level player. Best of all, because of the state of the current front-office-employee market, Dombrowski will cost notably less than any top free-agent player. If Andrew Friedman’s contract with the Dodgers is any indication, Dombrowski isn’t likely to receive a contract for more than about $10 million per year. That’s less than what Nick Markakis signed for with the Braves last year.That kind of value dramatically exceeds anything a team could achieve by signing players. Current St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward is likely to be the best free agent on the market this offseason (if he doesn’t sign an extension first).4Arguments could be made for various other players, but none is likely to be significantly better going forward than Heyward, according to projections. Heyward is both good (3.5 wins above replacement this year) and young (26), which will entitle him to a contract near $200 million over 10 years. For an average annual payment of about $20 million, Heyward should provide something like four WAR to the lucky team that signs him. That’s about half the win contribution that a great GM can provide — and for twice as much money. Even if you take a more conservative view toward Dombrowski’s skills and halve his estimated value, he’s likely to provide as great a contribution as Heyward but for much less cash. And Dombrowski is far less likely than Heyward to be injured or suddenly decline.Dombrowski is not without flaws, most notably his inability to construct even a halfway competent bullpen. But as the Tigers teams of the past decade have illustrated, even this problem has not prevented Dombrowski from building high-quality squads. It’s largely through bad luck and the variance of the playoffs that the small flaws in his teams’ bullpens snowballed into playoff losses.The Tigers were looking at a long rebuild for a team that has become burdened by bad contracts, and perhaps that contributed to Ilitch’s decision to part ways with Dombrowski. But the Tigers’ loss is some other team’s great gain. Whoever hires Dombrowski will be signing a major contributor to the team’s fortunes on the field for a fraction of the cost that a comparable player would command. Read more: “Billion-Dollar Billy Beane” read more

    READ MORE
  • These Western Conference Playoffs Are The Most TopHeavy Of The Modern Era

    With the NBA playoffs tipping off this weekend, it’s time to figure out which first-round series will bring the excitement — and which will be hopelessly lopsided affairs. (Hint: This year’s Western Conference series probably won’t fall into the “exciting” category.) In this video, we measure how (im)balanced this year’s playoff fields are by conference and compare them to conference playoffs gone by. Where does 2016 rank?Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 NBA Playoff Predictions.

    READ MORE
  • The Bobby Bonilla Retirement Plan Quit Baseball In 2001 Get Paid Until

    Bobby Bonilla hasn’t played in a professional baseball game since 2001, yet on July 1 of this year, the New York Mets paid him $1.19 million. And they will every July 1 until 2035, as part of a deferred contract that the Mets negotiated with Bonilla after the 1999 season. Instead of paying him $5.9 million that year, the Mets would owe Bonilla almost $30 million over the course of the deferred contract. How’d that happen? Watch the video above to find out.Read more: Bobby Bonilla Was More Than The Patron Saint Of Bad ContractsThe Undefeated: Bobby Bonilla Was More Than Just That Mets Contract read more

    READ MORE
  • Building Stacks Victor Cruz Reportedly Dancing His Way to

    Victor Cruz is reportedly close to signing a long-term deal with the New York Giants before the beginning of training camp, which starts on July 26.Cruz signed his early restricted free-agent clause worth $2.879 million last month, but neither the star nor the Giants were satified with the deal. The wide receiver clearly felt he is worth more, and the Giants said they wanted him to commit to a long-term contract.According to an ESPN report on Monday, after negotiating for months, Cruz and the Giants organization are now putting final touches on the long-term contract and are solidifying the details. read more

    READ MORE
  • Is Showboating Hurting The Warriors

    Momentarily setting aside the Cavaliers’ improbable comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals, no NBA team has figured out a blueprint for beating the Golden State Warriors when it matters most.Golden State is on the cusp of finishing with the league’s most efficient offense for a third season in a row even as the league as a whole is more efficient than it’s ever been, effectively putting to rest the question of whether this is the greatest scoring club in NBA history. The Warriors have the two best shooters in the world sharing a backcourt, plus a nearly 7-foot-tall forward who may very well be the purest scorer in the game, and a reigning Defensive Player of the Year who is just as skilled at passing the basketball and logging triple-doubles as he is at protecting the basket most nights.Aside from the Houston Rockets — who own the NBA’s best record and may eventually rise to this challenge — the only team seemingly capable of beating Golden State is Golden State. For all the Warriors’ feats of dominance, the team is remarkably sloppy, and it seems to be getting worse.The Warriors throw the ball away more than any other team and have grown progressively more careless with their passes over the course of their four-year run of greatness. Their reckless passes — which are often of the one-handed, behind-the-back or alley-oop variety — have resulted in turnovers on a league-high 8.8 percent of their possessions so far this season, according to data from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats. This would represent the second straight year that the Warriors led the NBA in bad passes that resulted in turnovers and the fourth consecutive season in which Golden State saw its bad-pass rate increase.This problem seems to have an easy solution: Cut out the showboating. But the fix is more difficult than you might think. Coach Steve Kerr has said in the past that asking fiery forward Draymond Green to calm down on the court would diminish the passion that makes him special, and the Warriors coach told me he feels similarly about the team as a whole, which makes him reluctant to lay out hard-and-fast rules on how they should distribute the ball.After all, even with their turnover problem, the Warriors are generally a very good passing club, leading the league in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio by a country mile. Plus they’ve won two championships with the same swagger they possess now.“[The passes] are the one thing I do have to stay on them about,” Kerr said. “I talk about hitting singles all the time instead of hitting home runs. I don’t mind turnovers that are the result of us trying to make the extra pass. It’s the ones that are out of motion that don’t stand much of a chance to get through that bother me. So if we just hit singles with this team, we have so many playmakers and shooters that it’s all going to come in the wash pretty positively.”Translation: Just make the simple play, since most teams would have no chance at beating us on talent alone unless we do them a favor by repeatedly turning the ball over.There’s a lot of truth to that. Warriors’ opponents are scoring 18.4 points per 100 possessions off Golden State’s miscues, the NBA’s third-highest mark. And the data suggests that Golden State can’t shake off the turnovers like it’s done in the past. The Warriors went 7-1 and 10-4 in games where they had at least 20 turnovers in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively. But last season they went 4-2 in those games, and they now own a 3-3 tally when coughing it up that frequently.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/whateven.mp4Media error: Format(s) not supported or source(s) not foundmejs.download-file: https://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/whateven.mp4?_=100:0000:0000:05Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Still, it’s fair to wonder what, if anything, prompts the Warriors to play more loosely or conservatively. Golden State, known for putting on a show in front of its fans at the deafening Oracle Arena, seems to play to the home crowd — which may mean taking more gambles. The Dubs are throwing the ball away 9.5 times per 100 possessions at home this season, compared to 8.2 passing turnovers per 100 possessions on the road, according to Second Spectrum data.The Warriors also appear to suffer from a lack of focus at times. They not only turn the ball over far more often when the game is turning into a laugher in either direction,1Their turnover rates are highest when they’re down by at least 16 points or ahead by 20 or more. In fairness, though, this could be at least partly a function of less-talented reserves subbing into the game when it’s not close. but they also turn the ball over at a slightly higher rate against teams positioned to land in the lottery (15.8 turnovers per game) than against clubs currently on track to reach the playoffs (15.2), according to HoopsStats.com.But as Kerr said: Not all turnovers are created equal. Some of these flubs come on plays made for the right reasons.Golden State was an overly stagnant club during Mark Jackson’s final year as coach, ranking dead last in the league with 243.8 passes per game before Kerr came along and changed the team’s offense to prioritize spacing, ball movement and screening away from the action of the play to better distract defenses. By the end of Kerr’s first season, the Warriors were averaging 306.6 passes per night, ranking ninth. And now, the team’s dishing is so contagious that they’re sometimes unselfish to a fault, bypassing wide-open shots that they’d be better off taking.“We’re just overpassing, to be honest,” Durant said back in 2016. “It’s the stuff we can control — it’s not like [defenses are] getting into us and turning us over themselves. We’re … getting into the lane and trying to make the second or third pass when we have a layup on the first or second one.”The Warriors are also prone to taking a bit more risk because of the nature of their offense. For example, most teams complete a lot of easy “passes” by simply handing the ball off to their guards as they come around screens. Steph Curry and his teammates, by contrast, employ far fewer pick-and-roll sets per game than any other team in the league. As a result, Curry is throwing longer passes on average than most players.The team also falls victim to miscommunication at times because of what some Golden State coaches refer to as “backyard basketball” — the team’s unusual, highly improvised offense, which calls for guards to screen for bigs and stars to sometimes set picks for the backups. With that system, and the constant confusion it’s designed to create for defenses, occasional mistakes are bound to happen.Yet none of that excuses the flair-based miscues — especially in key situations. With just over five minutes left in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, Curry, the superstar point guard, flipped the ball behind his back toward Klay Thompson. But the pass was errant, bouncing out of bounds and giving the Cavaliers the opening they needed to complete the series comeback and win their first NBA title.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/curryto.mp400:0000:0000:04Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“I still think about that [turnover],” Curry said last year. “[But] in thinking about that game, it’s funny because I know the concept of making the right play, making a simple play, understanding that there are deciding moments in games and the difference between winning a championship or not could be one of those plays. [That said], I came out in preseason this year and threw a behind-the-back pass because I have confidence that I can do it and it won’t change that.”That attitude, perhaps more than any other, explains why these Warriors may always roll the dice, even when they don’t necessarily have to.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

    READ MORE
  • David Wrights Career Wasnt Supposed To Go This Way

    —David Wright3B100042.65.92.20.70.20.0 Perhaps Zimmerman’s rebirth can provide hope of a similar renaissance for Wright and the Mets. Just last Thursday, Wright told reporters that he still hopes to return to the major leagues, perhaps as soon as next season. But if Wright wants to contribute anything going forward, he’ll have to contend with history: Since 1901, only three position players — Ken Griffey Jr., Arky Vaughan and Richie Ashburn — produced at least 40 WAR through age 31, fewer than 1.0 WAR per season from ages 32 to 34, and still came back to generate at least 2.0 WAR from age 35 onward. (For his part, Wright had 50.7 WAR through age 31 and 0.3 WAR per season over the next three years.)Even if Wright does buck that trend, he’ll be a long way from the path that once seemed so certain for him and for the Mets. More likely, he’ll serve as a cautionary tale that even the most probable of future Hall of Famers can get derailed on the path to Cooperstown.Check out our latest MLB predictions. In a narrow sense, the recent announcement that New York Mets captain David Wright needed surgery — thus ending his latest rehab stint — was just another line item in what was already an absurdly injury-wrecked, grossly disappointing Mets season.Wright’s setback, however, was more a symbolic blow for the Mets than anything else. The once-great third baseman hadn’t played a game since May 2016 and turns 35 in December, so he probably wasn’t going to add much production on the field, at least not anytime soon. But Wright is also the top position player in franchise history according to wins above replacement (WAR),1Averaging together the Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs versions of WAR. and the Mets’ second-best player ever, period (behind Tom Seaver). He’s just the fourth captain in club history and was once on the shortlist of the most popular players in the game.As difficult as it is to remember now, a healthy Wright was among baseball’s upper echelon of players for a very long time. He was also easily on track to become a Hall of Famer — the rare member to spend his entire career with the Mets, who have a tendency to either pick up HOFers mid-career or jettison them too soon.2Only one of the 14 Hall of Famers to suit up for New York (Seaver) produced more than half of his career WAR in a Mets uniform. This is not how the future was supposed to look for both Wright and the Mets.In the decade from 2005 (Wright’s first full MLB season) to 2014 (his last full season), only four position players — Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Beltre — put up more WAR than Wright. Looking at primary third basemen since 1901,3The first season of MLB’s modern, two-league era. Wright also ranked ninth in total WAR through age 31 (Wright’s age in 2014). Even more so than his longtime infield partner Jose Reyes, Wright was widely viewed as the kind of ballplayer that a franchise could build around for years to come.Certainly that’s what the Mets were thinking when they extended Wright’s contract by eight years and $138 million in November 2012.4Meanwhile, the Mets let Reyes bolt for the Miami Marlins when his contract was up after the 2011 season. At the time, it was the 17th-biggest contract in baseball history, but Wright’s future appeared to warrant the investment. Here’s a list of Wright’s most similar historical players through 2012, according to The Baseball Gauge, along with how many WAR each ended up producing over the following five seasons: Wright isn’t the only recent third baseman who appeared to be on a HOF trajectory, but then fell off quickly heading into his 30s. Like Wright, Eric Chavez was supposed to anchor the Oakland Athletics’ infield for years to come — and like the Mets, the A’s chose to extend their star third baseman over their star shortstop (with Miguel Tejada playing the role of Reyes). But in the middle of his prime, Chavez started battling a seemingly endless procession of neck, shoulder and back ailments. Shockingly, he ended up generating just 3.5 WAR from age 29 on.Some star third basemen even begin to drop off like Wright and Chavez, but then manage to recover their form. Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals was an All-Star with multiple Silver Slugger Awards early in his career, but suffered from injuries and mediocre play as he neared age 30. After a miserable 2016 performance that rated below the replacement level, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Zimmerman’s days of being a productive major leaguer were over. And yet, Zimmerman bounced back this season with a vintage performance, particularly at the plate. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe 16Dick Allen3B87043.48.73.14.0-0.11.1 6Carlos BeltranCF89739.75.37.13.20.74.5 4Chipper Jones3B90239.35.94.23.64.53.7 Most David Wright types hit their mid-30s in strideSeasonal WAR totals for David Wright’s most similar historical players through age 29, and year-by-year WAR through age 34 3Eric Chavez3B90334.50.1-0.5-0.50.41.6 Seasonal WAR is pro-rated to a 162-game schedule for shortened seasons.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs, The Baseball Gauge 7Gary SheffieldRF89625.93.46.34.54.67.1 2Ryan Zimmerman3B91534.10.7-1.22.9—— 15Shawn GreenRF87327.51.92.11.1-0.80.2 10George Brett3B88654.64.22.98.33.92.9 12Evan Longoria3B87642.54.23.6——— 1Scott Rolen3B93746.81.35.72.13.04.7 11Robinson Cano2B88533.76.85.82.86.63.4 13Adrian Beltre3B87540.12.77.15.76.95.3 14Harlond Clift3B87338.21.1-0.41.80.00.0 5Carl YastrzemskiLF89852.59.23.92.75.53.6 All newsletters 17Greg LuzinskiLF86821.94.02.72.5-0.20.0 9Andrew McCutchenCF88939.12.9———— RKPLAYERPOSSIM SCORETHRU 293031323334 20Travis Fryman3B86330.00.64.7-1.0-0.70.0 WAR BY AGE A good number of Wright’s top comparables lived up to their lofty expectations as franchise cornerstones. For instance, the longtime Phillies and Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen — Wright’s most similar player through age 29 — wound up producing excellent seasons well into his 30s, basically matching the career benchmarks for Hall of Fame third basemen (Rolen has 70.2 WAR; Hall members at the position average 71 WAR). And Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves — Wright’s fourth-most similar player through 29 — had an even more impressive run in his 30s. From age 30 to 36, Jones never produced fewer than 3.5 WAR in a season, and from age 37 onward, he never had fewer than 2.2 WAR.5For the sake of context, Baseball-Reference.com lists 2.0 WAR as the threshold for a viable starter, and 5.0 WAR as the mark of an All-Star season.And then there’s the still-active legend on Wright’s list of comparables: Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers. Beltre, who recently collected his 3,000th career hit, has remained extremely productive deep into his second major-league decade, helping power Texas to four playoff appearances in the last seven seasons. Speaking of active players, even 31-year-old Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has started his thirties in a way that suggests he could join Beltre, Rolen and Jones in Cooperstown someday.Wright, however, has seen his stardom put on hold ever since he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in 2015. After that and several more injuries, Wright finds himself pushed significantly off of the HOF path:6In the chart, Wright’s future performance is projected by the “Favorite Toy,” a Bill James invention that uses a player’s age and recent level of performance to project how much more of a statistic — in this case, WAR — a player has left in his career. 8Aramis Ramirez3B89518.83.81.9-0.43.05.6 18Del EnnisLF86730.73.8-0.7-0.3-1.1-1.0 19Dale MurphyCF86731.62.47.52.91.51.2 read more

    READ MORE
  • Extraordinary expectations awaiting Ohio State football

    It’s hard to imagine there being more hype surrounding the Ohio State football program than there is right now. Coming off an undefeated season in 2012, the expectations for the 2013 Buckeyes are to be better than they were a year prior. Nearly all of the ridiculously early preseason polls have OSU ranked somewhere in the top five. Braxton Miller – who appeared on this week’s cover of “Sports Illustrated” – is one of the favorites to win the Heisman trophy, despite being on the list with last year’s winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Anything short of an undefeated regular season, a victory in the Big Ten championship and an appearance in the National Championship game will likely be construed as a failure for Urban Meyer and his squad this year. Perfection, after achieving it in 2012, is the goal for OSU in Meyer’s second season at the helm of the program. It’s March, though, and no one – not even juggernaut Alabama – is perfect right now. There are plenty of questions that OSU will start trying to answer come Tuesday, the first day of spring practice. Here are five: 1. Is OSU still angry? With the 2012 Buckeyes ineligible for the postseason, Meyer chose to motivate his players last season by telling them to take their fury out on the teams OSU faced. “You’re an angry football team. You’re a hungry football team,” Meyer was heard saying on “ESPN All-Access: Ohio State Training Days” last August. This season, though, Meyer, will have to go about getting his team focused and motivated differently than he did a year ago. Is the drive for a national championship better inspiration than the rage and “shock the world” mentality the Buckeyes had on way to a 12-0 season in 2012? 2. How much better will Braxton Miller be? Like the team itself, it will be hard for Miller to be much better than he was in 2012. The then-sophomore quarterback broke OSU’s total yards record for a season and was the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year. Miller and his coach, however, see plenty of room for improvement. Fundamentals and footwork are the key for the rising junior, Meyer and Miller both have said. “If he becomes fundamentally the best quarterback in America, I think he will be the best quarterback in America. I think it’ll be comical what he’ll do,” Meyer said. “But he’s not there yet.” How much closer has Miller gotten to getting there? 3. Who are the leaders? Meyer called the 2012 senior class one of his favorite groups of players he’s ever coached. Along with being close to Meyer’s heart, they were the most important leaders of the team. Without the leadership of John Simon, Zach Boren and co., OSU wouldn’t have achieved anything close to an undefeated year last season, Meyer said. Who will fill that role this season? Rising redshirt senior Jordan Hall was a captain in 2012 despite being injured for most of the year, and Meyer has said he’ll be a captain again. Apart from the speedy playmaker, Miller, rising redshirt junior cornerback Bradley Roby and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier are likely candidates for captaincy. 4. Who’s Miller going to get the ball to? OSU gained 5,085 yards of offense in 2012, and 93 percent of that output is returning. The Buckeyes are only losing 370 yards with the graduation of wide receiver Jake Stoneburner, fullback Boren, punter Ben Buchanan (gained six yards on a fake punt) and the transfer of wide receiver Verlon Reed. Wide receivers Corey “Philly” Brown and Devin Smith, along with tailback Carlos Hyde, were Miller’s favorite targets in 2012. Will that change in 2013? Hall, now healthy, is likely to be featured heavily in the upcoming season’s offense. He’s made the move from running back to the “No. 3” hybrid role made famous by former Florida playmaker Percy Harvin. Meyer brought in a top three recruiting class that featured speedy talent at nearly every skill position. Incoming freshman wide receivers Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, James Clark and Corey Smith, along with running back Ezekiel Elliott, could all see the field come fall. None of those five will be on campus in time for spring ball, though, but come August they could push the upperclassmen. Is Miller excited for the crop of offensive talent OSU will display this season? “Heck yeah,” Miller responded when asked about the situation at an OSU men’s basketball game against Northwestern in February. 5. Will OSU make the jump other programs have in year two of a new system? Meyer is now in his second season at the helm of the OSU football program. In year two at Florida, Meyer won a national championship. So did Jim Tressel in his second year at OSU, as did Bob Stoops in his second season at Oklahoma. Are this season’s Buckeyes capable of winning it all in year two of the Meyer System? We’ll find out in the fall, but if it’s going to happen, we might get glimpses of the possibility starting Tuesday. read more

    READ MORE
  • Commentary Ohio State offense regular season grade Carlos Hyde running backs score

    Offensive line: A This should be an A+, it should, but I couldn’t justify giving a perfect grade to the offensive line when it seems that without redshirt-senior left tackle Jack Mewhort, the Buckeyes are a different team. When Mewhort went down with an injury against Illinois, the Illini defense, which ranks 112th in the country in total yards allowed per game, began to bottle up a potent Buckeye rushing attack. Even with Hyde and Miller in the game, the departure of Mewhort hurt significantly for OSU, and it is never good to be heavily reliant on just one player. Still, this season, the offensive line has been perhaps the strongest unit on the team all season. With Mewhort in the game, senior left guard Andrew Norwell, redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley and sophomore right tackle Taylor Decker, OSU is in good hands. Even when redshirt-senior right guard Marcus Hall was ejected from the victory against Michigan, redshirt-freshman Pat Elflein came in and played well in the trenches. The ability of the offensive line is one of the Buckeyes’ top assets this year and could be the difference against a powerful Michigan State front seven. Junior tight end Jeff Heuerman (86) celebrates a touchdown during The Game Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium. OSU won, 42-41.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorAs the regular season wraps up and the No.2-ranked Ohio State football team (12-0, 8-0) prepares for the postseason along with a potential shot at the national title, here are The Lantern’s grades for the offensive units during the regular season. Quarterbacks: B It is hard to grade the quarterbacks too harshly when they have led the Buckeyes to their second straight undefeated regular season and a spot in the Big Ten Championship. But in the final half of the season, the passing game has taken a step back. Junior quarterback Braxton Miller was hot heading into the second half of the year, and managed to throw for more than 200 yards for four straight games in the middle of the year, but since his 233-yard performance against Purdue Nov. 2, Miller’s highest total is 160 yards through the air. As his passing game has slipped, he has also seen his numbers rushing sky rocket, tallying an average of 160.3 yards per game over the last three games of the year. With a big test in No. 10 Michigan State looming, pressure will be on Miller to keep up his great rushing numbers and pick his game up through the air to keep the undefeated season alive. Backup redshirt-senior Kenny Guiton did not see the field much in the second half of the season, but if his play in place of Miller when he was out with an injury is any indication of his ability, OSU fan’s shouldn’t worry when he comes on the field. Wide receivers and tight ends: C+ After a good start to the season, the receiving corp has had a rough go of it in recent weeks, partially because of Miller’s struggles through the air. After recording three or more catches in each of the first nine games, junior wide receiver Devin Smith has only managed one catch a game over the last three weeks. Although it helps that in each of the last two games that one catch has been for a long touchdown, Smith will need to find his midseason form against the Spartans to help the Buckeyes. Senior Corey “Philly” Brown has also struggled in recent weeks, only tallying two catches for six yards over the last two games. The lone bright spot for the Buckeyes recently has been the emergence of junior tight end Jeff Heuerman. With the exception of a no catch game against Illinois Nov. 16, Heuerman has been playing well lately, catching nine passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns in OSU’s last four games. Although Miller hasn’t been at his best as of late, the wide receivers will also need to step up their games for the Buckeyes to be successful against Michigan State Saturday. Academically, OSU doesn’t hand out an A+ grade, but it is hard to argue that the Buckeye running backs don’t deserve the highest grade possible. Since returning from a three-game suspension that was the result of an incident at a Columbus bar in July, senior running back Carlos Hyde has been stellar and invaluable to the Buckeyes undefeated regular season. Since Big Ten play began, Hyde has averaged 156.1 yards per game on the ground, including 14 touchdowns. Hyde also tallied two games of more than 225 yards in OSU’s final three games, running for the third best total in school history, 246 yards, against Illinois and going for 226 against Michigan. Hyde is averaging the sixth most rushing yards per game and is 16th in the nation with 1290 total yards, and he is the first running back under coach Urban Meyer to run for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. Freshman running back Dontre Wilson also made an impact this season, scoring three total touchdowns, one rushing and two receiving, and returning kicks for the Buckeyes. Redshirt-senior Jordan Hall started the year as the feature back for OSU but took a backseat after a knee injury sidelined him and Hyde made his return. Hyde a faces his toughest test of the year Saturday against the Spartans, who sport the nation’s leading rush defense, but will look to extend his run of seven straight games with more than 100 yards. Running backs: A+ read more

    READ MORE
  • Artifically intelligent judge developed which can predict court verdicts with 79 per

    first_imgTo develop the algorithm, the team allowed an artificially intelligent computer to scan the published judgements from 584 cases relating to torture and degrading treatment, fair trials and privacy.They computer learned that certain phrases, facts, or circumstances occurred more frequently when there was a violation of the human rights act. After analysing hundreds of cases the computer was able to predict a verdict with 79 per cent accuracy.“Previous studies have predicted outcomes based on the nature of the crime, or the policy position of each judge, so this is the first time judgements have been predicted using analysis of text prepared by the court,” said co-author, Dr Vasileios Lampos, UCL Computer Science.“We expect this sort of tool would improve efficiencies of high level, in demand courts, but to become a reality, we need to test it against more articles and the case data submitted to the court.“Ideally, we’d test and refine our algorithm using the applications made to the court rather than the published judgements, but without access to that data we rely on the court-published summaries of these submissions.The team found that judgements by the European Court of Human Rights are often based on non-legal facts rather than directly legal arguments, suggesting that judges are often swayed by moral considerations father than simply sticking strictly to the legal framework.Co-author Dr Dimitrios Tsarapatsanis, a law lecturer from the University of Sheffield, said: “The study, which is the first of its kind, corroborates the findings of other empirical work on the determinants of reasoning performed by high level courts.”It should be further pursued and refined, through the systematic examination of more data.”The research was published in the journal Computer Science. A computer ‘judge’ has been developed which can correctly predict verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights with 79 per cent accuracy.Computer scientists at University College London and the University of Sheffield developed an algorithm which can not only weigh up legal evidence, but also moral considerations.As early as the 1960s experts predicted that computers would one day be able to predict the outcomes of judicial decisions.But the new method is the first to predict the outcomes of court cases by automatically analysing case text using a machine learning algorithm.“We don’t see AI replacing judges or lawyers, but we think they’d find it useful for rapidly identifying patterns in cases that lead to certain outcomes,” said  Dr Nikolaos Aletras, who led the study at UCL Computer Science.“It could also be a valuable tool for highlighting which cases are most likely to be violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.” The European Court of Human Rights  The European Court of Human Rights  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

    READ MORE