Editor’s note: This post is part of our new Sports Analytics Roundup series. You can read more about the new series here. One of the goals of this new series is to foster engagement within the analytics community. Thus, I encourage you to comment with your opinions and thoughts.
March Mayhem: If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a $1 billion prize available for anyone with a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket. That’s bringing mathematicians out in droves to come up with a perfect solution. The New York Times’ Mary Pilon wrote about a March Madness math training session that took place in Manhattan. About that prize, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Ford had an amusing column on math’s impact and the odds of winning. Spoiler alert: It’s about one in nine quintillion.
What tools should fans be looking at? From earlier in the week, Derek Volner at ESPN’s Frontrow blog provided an inside look at BPI, the organization’s new college basketball rating. BusinessWeek’s Eric Chemi peered into the capabilities of Ed Feng’s Power Rank formula. And, as always, you should be looking at Ken Pomeroy’s website for the usually beneficial efficiency stats and Four Factors rankings.
Analytics Suck Sometimes: One of more popular posts of the week was this Friday afternoon piece from Sports Grid’s Matt Rudnitsky. Another Sloan Conference recap, he shared some frustrating thoughts about the current state of the industry. These were two of my favorite lines in the must-read article:
“As my friend Rick Ipedia informed me, ‘analytics is the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data.’ If it’s not meaningful, it’s not ‘analytics.’ It’s just fancy noise.”
“Most of the easily-fixed flaws in sports analysis seem to be out there. Or maybe the next generation has arrived, but it’s hidden. Which means it’s not being shared anytime soon.”
Big Data’s Effect on Sports: What are the key ways in which data will continue to change the sports world? This post from CIO’s Lauren Brousell shares eight such innovations, including strike zone precision, wearable technologies, fan analytics and more. One that I’m most fascinated about: More resources for people like us.
Baseball Numbers: This past week was the SABR Analytics Conference out in Phoenix. After a slightly underwhelming visit to the Sloan Conference, I’m marking down SABR next year for a hopeful visit. ESPN.com’s Christina Kahrl has recaps from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the conference. Especially, check out the Day 3 post for a discussion on whether baseball analytics is in an evolutionary or revolutionary stage. There are tons of presentations to explore and I’m sure we’ll be reading more and more about the conference this week. Notably, FanGraphs’ Jeff Zimmerman made his slides available for his presentation on PITCH f/x data with respect to pitcher injuries.
NFL Data: How is "Moneyball thinking" seeping into the NFL? Inc.com’s Ilan Mochari looks at current analytics trends in the sport. One of the big themes: The “proper” valuation of running backs, with many coming up short in this year’s free agency and in the draft. And I just stumbled upon this great April 2013 piece from Football Perspective’s Chase Stuart. The thesis: Are certain teams better at drafting than others? The effect of randomness may surprise you. I really enjoyed his look at coin-flipping theory and how sometimes, teams just get lucky.
Launch of FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver's website will re-launch today under a new ESPN umbrella. The site will be heavily data-driven and will cover areas such as sports, science, business, food, and others.
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.