Editor’s note: This post is part of our Sports Analytics Roundup series. You can read more about the series here.
Hockey analytics feature: The Winnipeg Free Press’ Ed Tait has a huge future on the art and current state of hockey analytics. This is a must-read article as the playoffs roll on. Here’s a bit of an intro segment about what life is like today:
“Welcome to the NHL of the 21st century, where a player is no longer evaluated primarily on the basics such as goals and assists, his plus-minus rating or goals-against average. In fact, if all the numbers now available to general managers were displayed on the back of a player’s hockey card, they would roughly be the size of a highway billboard. This is all part of the NHL’s data revolution — an analytics arms race where the 30 teams are not only waging war on the ice, but looking for every kind of advantage they can find off it by crunching numbers into a variety of metrics.”
Criticizing baseball stats: One of the most-shared statistics articles of the past week actually was an anti-sabermetrics rant from Scott DeSmit, a general assignment reporter and weekly columnist The Daily News in Batavia, New York. In post one, he shared how he just wants a player who knows how to play the game. In post two, he detailed how he had been cyber-bullied but was sticking to his gut about not wanting to read about computers. I feel bad for the guy, somewhat.
Future of box scores: Are printed box scores now outdated? Steve Gress of The Corvallis Gazette-Times asked that question earlier in the month after one fellow Oregon newspaper made the decision to print only MLB line scores, not the full box. I grew up on box scores and devouring them each day in my local newspaper. But should newspapers be changing the mold in 2014? Has the Internet made printed box scores mostly obsolete? It's a fascinating question.
On outliers: Last week, The Spread’s Trey Causey wrote about outliers and what they really mean. He began with the example of field goal attempts based on distance and concluded with an alternative word that we can more appropriately use to explain odd occurrences within large samples. I notice that fans often struggle enough with the value and meaning of “average.” Outliers are an entirely different monster.
Basketball deep dives: Alex Suchman has one of the best explanations thus far about ESPN’s Real-Plus Minus statistic. It’s a really easy-to-read blog post that explains how it attempts to improve upon other established plus-minus formulas. Daniel Forsyth had a post a few weeks back that is catching eyes on NBA Twitter: Is basketball a weakest link sport? The math is laid out for the reader and although it is pretty intense, most should be able to follow along with the philosophical formulation.
Basketball news and notes: Wabash College profiled alumnus Brian Kopp, who is the senior vice president for sports solutions for STATS Inc. ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh had a really entertaining postseason awards article last week. SB Nation's Doug Eberhardt had an extensive guide on defending the pick-and-roll in the NBA. Saving the Skyhook's Matthew Hochberg noted that LeBron James increased his field goal percentage for an eighth straight season. GotBuckets’ Kevin Hetrick laid out a request for a research project last month.
Other analytics news: Brian Burke, one of the godfathers of American football analytics research, recently rebranded his website to now be www.advancedfootballanalytics.com. It appears he has some really neat projects coming up soon, so you’ll want to stay tuned there. In addition, the new Journal of Sports Analytics continues its push for submissions with a special issue coming up on sports law analytics.
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.