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Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

High Quality and Low Imbalance — Which League Has The Best of Both Worlds?: Chris Anderson of Soccer By The Numbers looks for the European league that combines quality and parity most.

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The NFL Network’s Top 100 Show Finalizes This Week, But the Way They Voted Makes No Sense: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead sheds some light on the bizarre way the NFL set up voting for their Top 100 of 2011 series.

The numbers that defined 2010 — 5.6: CHFF’s Jonathan Comey explains why poor Yards Per Play allowed doomed the Pats and Falcons in the playoffs despite gaudy records.

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Worst Game Stat Lines in the Last 20 NBA Seasons: Weak Side Awareness lists the lowest single-game Hollinger Game Scores and Berri Win Scores of the past 20 years.

Taking a look at the numbers behind the NBA labor dispute: At the Wages of Wins, a detailed breakdown of the financial math behind the NBA’s current lockout situation.

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Mike Cameron Has Been One Of The More Underrated Talents Of His Generation: Baseball Nation’s Jeff Sullivan appreciates the underrated career of Mike Cameron, who was DFA-ed by the Red Sox today.

One Week Until FanGraphs Live in Long Beach: Be sure to check out FanGraphs Live if you’re going to the SABR convention next week.

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Colby Rasmus, Sabermetrics Nerd?: As Aaron Schafer of the Riverfront Times reports, Rasmus actually used BABIP to explain his recent slump.

A Baseball Argument 13 Years in the Making: Fangraphs’ Jesse Wolfersberger finally puts to rest that burning question… which MLBer had the month’s best performance in June of 1998?

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Matusz’s Zipless Fastball Hurting His Changeup: As Baseball Analytics’ David Golebiewski notes, Brian Matusz’s release velocity is way down this season, and it’s killing the separation he once had between his fastball and changeup.

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The Best Thing About Baseball: Getting philosophical about baseball, Adam Dunn, and randomness at South Side Sox.

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Winning First Titles Back to Back: Andrew McKillop of SportsDelve.com has a neat list of teams (college or pro) who won their first 2 championships ever in consecutive seasons.

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2011 Draft vs. IIHF International Hockey Rankings: Derek Zona of The Copper & Blue breaks down the 2011 entry draft by country of origin, and sees how that data tracks with the current IIHF rankings.

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100 Greatest Wins Produced Players since 1978: At the Wages of Wins, Arturo Galletti posted a chart showing the leading players by total Wins Produced since 1978.

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All-Star Game — Reward or Showcase?: The great debate at Fangraphs? Whether the ASG should be a reward for a great 1st half of the season, or showcase of the expected “true” best players going forward.

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Is Terrell Owens a Hall of Famer?: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead uses the concept of “Value over Baseline” to explain why it’s not smart to say we can’t compare modern WRs to ones from earlier, less-pass-happy eras.

Buyer Beware ($): At BBall Prospectus, Kevin Pelton lists 5 overrated free agents who will likely bring buyer’s remorse to whichever teams sign them.

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Are there two Jonah Lehrers?: At THT, psychologist Mike Stadler weighs in on the Jonah Lehrer controversy by noting that the thesis of Lehrer’s Grantland article seems to contradict his previous work in psychology and neuroscience.

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Crawford vs. Reyes: Jose Reyes’ career path through 2011 is tracking with Carl Crawford’s through 2010, writes BP’s Michael Jong, so expect a huge payday if he keeps it going.

Justin Upton’s Contact: Justin Upton’s dramatically increased production in 2011 is in part fueled by a lower rate of strikeouts. As David Pinto points out, he’s not swinging less or differently with 2 strikes, but he’s definitely improved his ability to make contact on the outer half of the plate when facing 2-strike counts.

Un-Stars: Step into BP’s Wayback Machine and travel back to summer 2005, when James Click listed the most undeserving All-Stars ever.

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Jo-Jo Reyes Actually Doesn’t Stink: Bluebird Banter’s Jesse F. can’t believe it, but after working through a league-average ERA expectation for his context, he found that Reyes (while not average) is actually not a sub-replacement-level pitcher.

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Saves Aren’t Very Predictive, 2011 Edition: BtB’s Justin Bopp confirms what we all already knew — that there’s practically no relationship between a reliever’s FIP and his save total.

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Ben Zobrist, Stealth MVP Candidate (Again): Remember 2009, when Zobrist was either 1st or 2nd in AL position-player WAR (depending on which source you use)? He’s at it again, Jonah Keri writes.

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A Look Back at Past “World Series Previews”: Does a regular-season interleague matchup between the eventual World Series combatants predict who wins the Fall Classic? The Captain’s Blog dug up the data since 1997.

The Determinants of Foreign Talent: Fangraphs’ Bradley Woodrum searches for the factors that determine why some countries crank out MLB players at a rate disproportionate to their population, while other countries produce fewer players than we’d expect.

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June 29, 2011

The NBA Finals and statistical bias: Sick of responses to Jonah Lehrer’s anti-saber Grantland piece yet? Don’t let it keep you from reading this Tom Haberstroh rebuttal.

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Sabermetrics — Hatred of numbers comes to business and politics: Slate’s Josh Levin posts a list of non-sports “quotes” that express the same anti-stats sentiment as we’ve seen from the likes of Jonah Lehrer, Joe Morgan, and Murray Chass. How ridiculous would it sound if people in other fields viewed analytics the same way the saber-bashers in sports do?

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The SEC vs the Miami Hurricanes: LiveBall Sports’ Greg Trippiedi examined the NFL’s Top 100 players of 2011 list, and found that Miami alone almost had as many players as the vaunted SEC.

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Conference Realignment: Andrew McKillop of SportsDelve.com looks at the impact a conference change usually has on a school’s W-L.

Projecting the 2011-2012 Flyers’ lineup and production: Some advanced-stat projections for next year’s Flyers squad, courtesy of Broad Street Hockey.

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Non-Sports Expert Journalist wades into Sports Analysis, with predictable results: Another take on Lehrer’s article, this time from Gabe Desjardins of Arctic Ice Hockey.

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Adam Dunn and the Worst Designated Hitter Seasons in MLB History: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead lists the 9 worst OPS+ seasons ever by full-time DHs who, like Dunn, had solid track records as hitters going into the bad season.

The numbers that defined 2010 — 2.08: The significance of 2.08? As CHFF’s Jonathan Comey explains, the 2010 Raiders were the only team since 1978 to improve their point total by a factor of 2.08 vs. the previous season.

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Formation Analysis – Empty Backfields: More formation data from FO’s Aaron Schatz, this time looking at the most frequent and best practitioners of the empty set.

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Analyzing the 10 most disappointing oversights of the past 25 years ($): Writing for ESPN, FO’s Brian McIntyre lists the worst “oversights” — that is, players who were let go by one team only to become stars elsewhere — since 1986.

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Analytic Football’s Lehrer Response & Survey on Future of Sports Analytics: A great response to the Lehrer piece from Ben Alamar of Analytic Football. Alamar also has a survey about the future of analytics in sports.

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Will Irving be better than Wall?: Ethan Sherwood Strauss of HoopSpeak.com debates Irving-vs-Wall — yes, Irving’s college efficiency numbers were better… but the sample was much smaller.

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Back to the Internet ‘stone ages’ for the NBA: Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop wrote about a bizarre consequence the lockout will have for NBA.com, specifically its player stat cards.

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What advanced stats say about Markieff Morris: Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns takes a tour of the stat projections for Morris as a pro.

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2010-11 Top Underpaid Players (*according to wins produced): At The Wages of Wins, a list of players who really wish salaries were handed out according to wins produced.

SportScience – Kawhi Leonard (video): Neat video from SportScience regarding Leonard’s wingspan and shooting mechanics.

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Who Played the Hardest Defenses? Adjusting playoff stats by competition Part I: At Back Picks, ElGee looks at the quality of playoff defenses faced by MVP candidates in their primes (a similar concept to this BBR post from 2010.)

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Hoops Analyst Draft Grades: Ed Weiland of Hoops Analyst hands out his draft grades. Of interest: when the #1 draft pick comes down to a decision between a point guard and a forward, the PG is almost always better. (You can bet the Cavs’ front office, influenced by stathead Dan Rosenbaum, knew this when choosing between Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams.)

Same Numbers, Two Views of Fernandez: Rob Mahoney of the NY Times writes about the Mavs’ recent trade for Rudy Fernandez… The public set of plus/minus data at BasketballValue says Rudy was an average player at best over the past 2 seasons, but Dallas’ in-house +/- is impressed by the Spaniard. (For what it’s worth, the predictive Regularized Plus-Minus sees Rudy as a net negative.)

Premature End – 30 Years of Fired Coaches in NBA: Weak Side Awareness researched NBA coaching changes since 1982 — how many coaches did each team fire, and how many coaches resigned on their own?

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Top Japanese Import, Matsuzaka or Kuroda?: Among Asian pitching imports, the less-heralded (and far cheaper) Hiroki Kuroda has been the better player, Jeff Zimmerman writes at Fangraphs.

Point/Counterpoint: Do Statistics Belong In Baseball?: Baseball Nation’s Grant Brisbee responds to Jonah Lehrer’s Grantland article with a funny point-counterpoint that turns both sides of the debate into ridiculous caricatures.

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Historical roster trend: At The Book Blog, Tango noticed that the percentage of roster space devoted to pitchers rose to around 50% for the first time starting in 1992 and has been there ever since, a contrast to where it had been (mid-40s) for practically all of the modern era leading up to the 1990s.

The Worst in the Majors: Fangraphs’ Steve Slowinski presents baseball’s least-valuable players (in terms of WAR runs) at the midpoint of the season in a variety of areas.

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Bastardo’s Closer-Worthy Stuff: Baseball Analytics’ David Golebiewski has “chase-rate” heat maps that show just how nasty Antonio Bastardo’s high fastball and slider away have been in terms of fooling hitters into swinging at pitches outside the strike zone.

One more look at wOBA and AVG/OBP/SLG: Another follow-up on why BA, OBP, and SLG complement wOBA, this time from Mike Jaggers-Radolf of The Yankee Analysts.

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Right is wrong for the Red Sox: Baseball Analytics’ Bill Chuck has heat maps that underscore why J.D. Drew (and his potential replacements) are killing the Sox’s production in RF.

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The Error of the Reached on Error: At Fangraphs, Matt Klaassen leads a discussion about the ROE — how it distorts a player’s PA total in the official record books, and generally shares the same problems as the error statistic on the defensive side.

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Cliff Lee Quiets Red Sox: To get an idea of how impressive Cliff Lee was vs. Boston, check out the fastball and curveball heat maps from his outing, courtesy of David Golebiewski and Baseball Analytics.

Putting Greinke’s clunker in context: Don’t Bring In The Lefty uses a strikeouts-and-walks-only ERA estimator to show how rare his poor outing vs. the Yankees really was.

A Jubilee Year For Baseball… And a Double-entry Playoff System: Big Bad Baseball’s Don Malcolm lays out an interesting new playoff-system proposal.

The virtual 1955-62 Kansas City A’s (Part 3:  1959-60): More from Steve Treder’s series at THT on how much history would be different if the 1950s/60s KC Athletics had not been a de facto farm team for the Yankees.

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Pinpointing Pitcher Injuries: At Baseball Prospectus, Corey Dawkins and Ben Lindbergh break down the points in the delivery where injuries are most likely to occur.

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Once in a Lifetime: At Walk Like a Sabermetrician, Patriot calculated your probability of seeing your favorite team win at least 1 World Series in your lifetime.

Vlad Guerrero, FVHOFRCUH: Baltimore picked up Vladi because he was supposedly a “Feared, Veteran, Hall of Fame, Real Clean-Up Hitter”. Daniel Moroz had his doubts about this before the season, and at Camden Crazies he looks at how short Guerrero has fallen compared to preseason expectations.

But wOBA can’t handle {blank}: Tangotiger on what a variety of SABR stats can and cannot handle. Odds are that a weakness of one is covered by another.

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June 28, 2011

Using the TPI to Set Realistic Expectations at Aston Villa: At Pay As You Play, Zach Slaton uses the relationship he found between expected performance and transfer fees to judge just how unrealistic Villa’s expectations are.

Does Recent Performance Affect Transfers?: Sarah Rudd of On Football wondered after seeing the NY Red Bulls apparently make a transfer in reaction to recent poor performances.

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Re-evaluating the assist – Part I: Nucks Misconduct’s Cam Charron put together an “adjusted assists” stat based on the shooting percentages of players on the ice with a player when he gets an assist.

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Top 20 Adjusted +/- Ratings And Saves Percentages: From The Puck Stops Here, a look at how well team save percentage differential tracks with “adjusted +/-” (normal plus/minus relative to the team average).

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Thoughts on Rudy as a Mav: Dallas’ acquisition if Rudy Fernandez shouldn’t be a surprise, Wayne Winston writes, because his adjusted +/- stats are really strong.

Breaking Down How the Champions Did in the “Most Important Stat”: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead followed up on his post last weekend, researching if Passer Rating Differential is really the single best team stat in football.

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Drive-By Efficiency – Lions @ Bears, Week 1: From Drive-By Football, a sample drive-by-drive efficiency summary for last year’s Lions-Bears game in Week 1.

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The Greatest Wins Produced Seasons and The Wins Produced All NBA Teams: At The Wages of Wins, Arturo Galletti puts the best Wins Produced seasons in graphical form and lists the chronology of the top players at each position by that metric.

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Why the Spurs were wrong to trade George Hill: Numeranda’s Jamie Merchant explains how Hill’s trade will haunt San Antonio.

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Rich Gossage vs. Mariano Rivera: At Cybermetrics, Cyril compares both Gossage and Rivera to the average relievers of their times.

My Batter Strikeout Blog – Keeler v Sewell: Using his new historical batter strikeout research, Jonathan Frankel examines whether Willie Keeler or Joe Sewell was better at avoiding strikeouts.

“Paradox” – Expectation of being favored to win – vs – Expectation of winning: Tangotiger looks into a seeming paradox — a discrepancy between a pitcher’s “true” expected winning percentage and the sum of his expected wins.

The Stat Community Responds to Jonah Lehrer: Grantland’s Jonah Lehrer wrote an anti-sabermetrics article yesterday, and it was a big topic of discussion at BBTF, The Book Blog, Fangraphs, and Baseball Prospectus. Update: And Beyond the Boxscore.

Carlos Quentin – Best Ever?: Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris noticed that Carlos Quentin is on pace to own the highest rate of HBP per PA of any hitter ever.

Inducing Whiffs – Breaking Balls: BtB’s Josh Weinstock calculated predicted whiff rates for pitchers based only on the PITCHf/x data on their breaking balls.

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Taking shape in the AL East: THT’s Lucas Apostoleris graphs the AL East’s standings have taken so far.

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Where All The Runs At? Part II: Beyond the Box Score’s Bill Petti takes a second look at whether the offensive decline has been due to an influx of great young pitchers in the past few years.

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Who’s an All-Star?: In determining All-Stars, should we focus on performance in 2011 so far, or expectced performance going forward? Luckily, THT tackles the issue from both angles.

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June 27, 2011

Formation Analysis – 6OL Sets: FO’s Aaron Schatz used his game-charted data to list the teams that used 6-offensive linemen sets the most, and which ones were the most effective at it.

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Players & Coaches Who Won Championships With Multiple Teams: Research from BBR — every player and coach to win a title with 2+ teams.

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Why Almost Every NBA Team had a Good Draft?: Weak Side Awareness aggregated draft grades, and found a serious Lake Wobegon effect.

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AVG/OBP/SLG in an Age of wOBA: Even though we have wOBA, Matt Klaassen writes, the old-fashioned slash stats still have their charms.

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Which sports do Democrats and Republicans like most?: A graphic from the National Journal showing the sports that skew toward each political party’s supporters, as well as the voter turnout of fans of each sport.

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Roy Halladay – The Modern Day Sandy Koufax: Dave Cameron compares the two players… and it’s actually pretty close.

2011 Interleague play – Same old, not-so-same old?: Steve Treder of THT calculated the AL’s interleague winning percentage this season, and found that it was the lowest in 7 years. Does this mean the leagues have more parity?

MLB Team Travel: From Dave Allen and Fangraphs, a look at which teams covered the most travel distance since 2005.

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Teixeira, Cano have small hole to close: At ESPN New York, Mark Simon found that Robinson Cano & Mark Teixeira have struggled to cover the hole between 1B and 2B this season.

Blue-Eyed Players Hit Just Fine in Day Light: Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron researched Josh Hamilton’s claim that blue-eyed players had bad day/night splits, and found that it wasn’t really all that true.

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Top 5 Draft Picks In Consecutive Years – How Much Does The Team Improve?: There’s a Stat For That examines the typical fate of a team that has a top-5 pick in back-to-back drafts.

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More On Wigan’s Unusual Goals – A PS From ESPN: At Soccer By The Numbers, Chris Anderson follows up on an earlier post he made about Wigan’s strange goal-scoring distribution.

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How often does the Best Team Win?: Objective NHL assigns “true strengths” to each team, simulates 20,000 seasons, and tracks how often the true best team hoists the Cup.

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Passer Rating Differential — The Most Important Stat? The Case Has Not Been Made Yet: Jason Lisk of The Big Lead questions CHFF’s assessment that team passer rating differential is “the Most Important Stat in football.”

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Most Top-10 MVP Finishes (since 1977): Just what it sounds like from Back Picks — a list of post-merger players who finished in the top 10 of MVP voting most often.

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Dear Adam Dunn: Stop Stinking: Fangraphs’ Eric Seidman compares Dunn 2011 to other massive single-season isolated power drop-offs.

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Historic June bashing: David Wade of THT researched the most homer-happy June performances in history.

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How can we separate referee bias from other sources of home-field advantage? Part II: At Sabermetric Research, Phil Birnbaum attempts to find instances of home-field advantage in baseball where the umpires are not involved.

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June 24, 2011

Flyers’ moves make no sense: Unfavorable assessments of Philly’s recent transactions, from Hockey Prospectus and Artic Ice Hockey/BtN.

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Watching The Watchers – The Best NBA Mock Drafts: Weak Side Awareness measured how accurate each site’s 2011 Mock Draft was.

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