Editor’s note: This post is part of our Sports Analytics Roundup series. You can read more about the series here.
Baseball begins: FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine looked into how spring training can matter. Mostly, it’s at the extremes of spring performances and only in slight ways. That’s pretty obvious to most, but still fascinating to have the math.
Fast Company’s Matt Hartigan shares more information on MLBAM’s ambitious new player tracking system. Associations Now’s Rob Stott chats with a web content editor at SABR. Baseball Prospectus’ Harry Pavlidis projects catcher framing stats for the 2014 season.
And earlier in March, High Heat Stats’ Adam Darowski looked into really what we mean by oWAR and dWAR. His point is that we really should be looking more at the individual components, not just these sexier terms. The math is a bit complicated.
More on baseball salaries: The Hardball Times’ Matt Swartz attempted to project long-term MLB salary growth based on everything we know; TV revenues will be the most interesting thing to watch here. This was really fascinating math to see how $/WAR might change.
That post was actually Part 3 of a series Swartz had before Opening Day. Part 1 and Part 2 investigated the various schools of thought related to $/WAR metrics. There is tons of information here to explore. This topic certainly isn’t solved; there are so many ways to continue to estimate how teams operate.
On the intriguing Mavericks: Dallas has been one of the more entertaining NBA teams this season. Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry explored the Mavericks in one of his latest articles, specifically looking at the “evolution” of mercurial guard Monta Ellis. Dirk Nowitzki’s shot map is also perfect.
But Jeff Fogle at Stat Intelligence took some issue with Goldsberry’s back-and-forth treatment of analytics during this piece and another one he wrote on Ellis earlier this season. Technically, Ellis is very much the same player he was in Golden State, with the odd blip being his terrible last season in Milwaukee. Goldsberry’s declaration of a new “analytics revolution” missing out on Ellis’ value add was a bit overzealous.
NBA Analytics: One of the most-shared analytics articles of the weekend was from the Boston Globe’s Baxter Holmes. The article discussed the current state of the NBA’s statistics movement, beginning with a look at the Celtics’ early adoption of the SportVU player tracking technology and how they use that massive amount of data now. This was a great read.
Among the notable tidbits: Danny Ainge said this about SportVU, “I think it’s blown way out of proportion of how much it’s actually utilized.” One NBA official said this: "It takes a lot of effort and infrastructure to get at it and then take advantage of it.” In general, the article shared tons of quotes from players, coaches and anonymous officials.
In the end, the Moneyball style of finding undervalued gems is a bit less practical in the NBA, where stars matter so much. And since basketball is such a flowing sport, unlike the isolated activities in baseball, that the game’s analytics will always be open for debate. Team context matters way, way more, undoubtedly.
Sports Analytics Innovation Summit: Finally, I’ll end today with this recap from Andy McGeady of the recent Sports Analytics Innovation Summit in London. This has a distinctly different feel than the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, especially so with the primary sports discussed. You should read the post to know more about the sports discussed. But here’s how McGeady concluded his recap:
“‘Sports Analytics’ is alive and well, but that term shouldn’t always be associated with log tables and pocket protectors. Behind all the big words, graphs and methodologies lies the one desire shared by every athlete and coach there has ever been – the desire to gain a competitive edge.”
Jacob Rosen is a graduate of the University of Dayton, where he majored in applied mathematical economics and was the school newspaper's editor-in-chief and sports editor. Currently, Jacob (an Akron native) contributes to WaitingForNextYear, a website dedicated to Cleveland sports.