Kyle Dubas: One of the main “analytics” stories of the past week was actually the relatively ho-hum hiring of a 28-year-old as the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager. Dubas had served as the GM for three years of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The youngest such executive in the high-profile minor league system, he gained some notoriety for his passion for puck possession statistics. Toronto, meanwhile, was often ridiculed for its low Corsi/Fenwick stats and its archaic approach to the analytics revolution. CBC Sports’ Mihira Lakshman declared the hiring a victory for hockey analytics. Yahoo's Cam Charron profiled Dubas last summer.
Modeling Pitches: Leah Hunter of Fast Company Labs interviewed Ray Hensberger, a “baseball-loving technologist” who works for Booz Allen Hamilton. His team has reportedly modeled MLB data with near 75% accuracy about what pitch the pitcher will throw next. The article is pretty fascinating. Here’s one quote:
"We took the data, looked at the most common pitches they threw, then built a model that said ‘In this situation, this pitcher will throw this type of pitch--be that a slider, curveball, split-finger. We took the top four top favorite pitches of that pitcher, and we built models for each one of those pitches for each one of those pitchers.”
Why Replacement Level? Over the past few days, there have been several debates about the value of “replacement” or “average” level. Of course, in baseball, WAR has taken over as a predominant household advanced stat. That led to Tuesday’s blog post at Tango Tiger: “What is a replacement level NBA player?” The debate in the comments. It also spilled over into Twitter, where this tweet from analyst and consultant Christopher Long sparked further conversation:
I must be a replacement level analyst because I don't see that using replacement level is necessary or even desirable.— Christopher D. Long (@octonion) July 24, 2014
Baseball Links: Baseball Prospectus’ R.J. Anderson ($) looked at how often teams over-pay for closers at the trade deadline. Hollywood Reporter’s Andy Lewis got an inside look at MLB’s high-tech replay center in New York City. FiveThirtyEight’s Benjamin Morris added to the existing research on the value of elite general managers such as Billy Beane. FanGraphs’ Neil Weinberg re-introduced wOBA as a “gateway statistic.” And the most controversial article of the week was Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci on why MLB shoud outlaw the shift (I vehemently disagree).
Football Links: Boris Chen provided visualizations of his fantasy football rankings for the New York Times. Advanced Football Analytics’ Brian Burke looked into win values in the NFL, as sparked by the recent Jimmy Graham tight end debate. SB Nation’s Matt Mills introduced win probability graphs for college football. Noah Veltman has a fantastic visualization on player height/weight data over the last century. And Ed Feng compiled a free resource of the five best football analytics articles.
Basketball Links: Ken Pomeroy investigated whether to foul when tied late in a game. Nylon Calculus’ Matt D’Anna created team spacing charts based on shot profiles. A new study in the Journal of Sports Economics shared how the invention of the three-point line benefited big men the most. NBA.com’s John Schuhmann looked into why shooting is at such a premium in this year’s free agency. And at ESPN Insider ($), Kevin Pelton and Bradford Doolite had conversations about data with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Doug McDermott and Nerlens Noel.
Other Links: Fancy Stats’ Ryan Stimson looked at the value of shot efficiency, not just shot volume, in the NHL. Michael Lopez began a series on graduate degrees in statistics. There are currently three job openings with the Australian-based Catapult Sports. (Carmelo Anthony actually recently became a tech investor because of his intrigue with wearable technologies from Catapult, according to the New York Times’ William Alden.) Earlier this week at SAB, Jonathan Gordon wrote how FiveThirtyEight’s biggest problem is the philosophy behind its logo, a fox.