Sports Reference Blog

Success Rate Comes to Pro Football Reference!

Posted by Jonah Gardner on September 1, 2023

We've added a brand new stat to PFR. It's Success Rate, one of the coolest and most interesting new advanced stats to enter the football discussion in the last few years.

Success Rate starts with the idea that not all plays in football have the same objective. On first and 10, a two-yard run would be considered a bad result; on third and one, that same two-yard run would be celebrated for moving the chains. This means we can't just use stats like yards to measure how effective an offense is. Instead, Success Rate shows us how effective players and teams are at staying on schedule and creating productive plays.

As a result, a successful play depends on the context. We define it as a play that gains at least 40% of yards required on 1st down, 60% of yards required on 2nd down, and 100% on 3rd or 4th down.

As mentioned, it can be measured for both players and teams, for passing, rushing, and receiving. For example, here are the leaders in 2022 in rushing yards per attempt:


Rushing Table
Rk Player Tm Y/A
1 Justin Fields CHI 7.1
2 Lamar Jackson BAL 6.8
3 Josh Allen* BUF 6.1
4 Daniel Jones NYG 5.9
5 Khalil Herbert CHI 5.7
6 Aaron Jones GNB 5.3
7 Tony Pollard* DAL 5.2
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2023.

And here are the leaders in rushing success rate:


Rushing Table
Rk Player Tm Succ%
1 Lamar Jackson BAL 64.3
2 Josh Allen* BUF 61.3
3 Cordarrelle Patterson ATL 60.4
4 Jalen Hurts* PHI 59.4
5 Daniel Jones NYG 59.2
6 Josh Jacobs*+ LVR 57.4
7 Isiah Pacheco KAN 57.1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2023.

There's some overlap, of course, but also some key differences. Josh Jacobs averaged 4.9 yards per attempt, outside the top 10, but situationally he was one of the best RBs in the league last year. Meanwhile, Justin Fields averaged the most yards per attempt, but his scrambles and designed runs were less effective at keeping the team on schedule than QBs like Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, or Jalen Hurts.

Success rate is also in Stathead! Our historical data goes back to 1994, when we first have play-by-play data to calculate this, so you can look up career leaders, single season leaders, rookie leaders, single-game leaders, and more.

This was one of our most requested adds; we love user feedback! If there's something you'd like to see on the site, please let us know!

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Historical Franchise Nicknames Altered on Baseball Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 29, 2023

In SABR's Fall 2019 Baseball Research Journal Ed Coen produced some remarkable research on the history of franchise nicknames.

Coen wrote:

Of the major league teams that trace their history before 1960, most started out with several short-term unofficial nicknames or even no nickname at all. Although several reputable sources provide a history of these nicknames, there are numerous contradictions between the available sources, and sometimes even when these sources agree, they conflict with the original sources. In other words, they do not reflect what the team was actually known as at the time.

Coen then performed exhaustive research using local newspapers to find out what teams were actually most commonly referred to at the time in their home cities. Thanks to his research, we are now able to use the actual names these teams were mostly commonly known as locally at the time on Baseball Reference. In many cases, you'll see the teams had no nicknames at all and were just known for the city and league they played in. Below is a list of the changes we have made: Read the rest of this entry

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A Thank You to the Summer Intern Class of 2023

Posted by Adam Darowski on August 18, 2023

Believe it or not, we’re in the second half of August and the summer is winding down. That means that our summer interns are wrapping up their final projects with us before beginning their next adventures in the Fall. We are very proud of our summer internship program at Sports Reference and we were once again fortunate to welcome another talented group. Here’s a brief intro to each member of that class…

Brendan Avey, Data Intern, is a rising junior at the University of Notre Dame studying Business Analytics and Economics. He roots for the New York Rangers, Giants, and Knicks, but currently lives in northern Virginia.

Brendan will return to campus this fall in search of a management consulting internship before studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, in the spring. His favorite project was implementing player nicknames into our Hockey Reference site.

Sara Barshap, Data Engineering Intern, recently graduated from Villanova University, where she studied Information Systems and Business Analytics. She is enrolled in a Master of Data Science program at Rice University. Sara has lived in New Jersey her whole life and is an avid New York Rangers fan who enjoys watching golf.

Sara interned for the first half of the Summer before leaving to start a full-time role at FanDuel as a Sports Trader. Her favorite project this Summer was writing code that manipulated certain features of the PFRef fantasy section to improve engagement and accessibility.

Tim Clay, Data Intern, is a rising second-year student at Northeastern University, majoring in Data Science. Having grown up just outside Boston, he is a fan of all Boston sports teams, but is an especially devoted Red Sox fan.

This fall, Tim will continue to take classes on campus, while also assisting Northeastern's varsity baseball team as a student manager. Over the course of the summer, Tim has tackled several projects, his favorite being gathering biographical information for every potential draft pick in this summer's NBA Draft.

Jordan Doyle, Engineering Intern, attends Kalamazoo College pursuing a major in Computer Science and minor in Computational Mathematics. She is a Detroit-native and a women’s lacrosse enthusiast.

Jordan will be headed back to Kalamazoo, Michigan in the fall to start her sophomore year. Her favorite project this summer was adding WNBA awards voting data to Basketball Reference to match NBA functionality.

Alison Gilmore, Data Intern, attends Syracuse University and is majoring in Sport Analytics. Unlike many Pennsylvania natives, Alison roots for collegiate and professional teams across the country. Topping the list are the Baltimore Orioles, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Dream, Oklahoma State Cowboys/Cowgirls (her dad is an alumnus), and of course, the Syracuse Orange. She is also an avid golf fan.

Alison will be graduating in May, looking to work in analytics for a Major League Baseball team. Her favorite project this summer was collecting data on WNBA assistant coaches to add to the site.

Amanda Le, Product Intern, is a junior at Rice University studying Cognitive Sciences and Entrepreneurship. A Bay Area native, she loves the SF Giants and hiking with her family!

Amanda will return to school in Houston in the fall. One of her favorite projects was collecting and prioritizing user feedback on the Immaculate Grid in order to prioritize next steps for development.

Kristiana Passeri, Marketing Intern, attends DePaul University and is majoring in Digital Marketing. She has lived in the Chicago suburbs her whole live and is thus a Chicago sports fan—primarily the Bears and Fire—and is also an avid FC Barcelona, Argentine/US soccer, and Formula 1 fan.

Kristiana will be graduating in the fall and looking to start the new year in a marketing role within sports. Her favorite project this summer was executing an email campaign promoting engagement for the Women’s World Cup, as well as FBref tools to add another level to the fan experience.

Eric Tran, Business Analytics Intern, is a Cal Poly alum and current master’s student in Business Analytics at UCLA. As a Northern California native, he is a Golden State Warriors and San Jose Earthquakes (and soon-to-be Bay FC!) fan, while also rooting for Real Madrid and Cal Poly/UCLA women’s and men’s basketball.

After graduating from UCLA in the fall, Eric plans to start a career in (sports) analytics and data science. His favorite projects at Sports Reference this summer involved analyzing business metrics for FBref as a result of marketing activations surrounding the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup and 2023 Women’s World Cup and data/modeling work on grid difficulty for SR’s Immaculate Grid.

Jhalen Vines, Marketing Intern, is a Sports Management minor and Communication Studies minor at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. As a native of Charlotte, NC he is a fan of all things Carolina: the Tar Heels, the Panthers, the Hornets; even minor league baseball team Charlotte Knights.

In the fall, Jhalen will be starting his senior year at Temple while also playing rugby for the university’s club team. His favorite project this summer was working on an influencer marketing campaign for Pro Football Reference on Youtube, partnering with content creators to promote the powerful sports research tool Stathead as well as the viral online trivia game Immaculate Grid.

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Arena Information for Every Game in NBA & ABA History Added to Basketball Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 18, 2023

Basketball Reference is thrilled to announced that it has added arena information for every game in NBA (including BAA) and ABA history to the site.  We believe this to be the first time this data has been compiled so comprehensively. It can be viewed on our league-wide schedule pages and also on our box scores, such as this one for a 76ers/Bullets game played at Boehm Junior High School in Yardley, PA.

Read the rest of this entry

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Pre-2002 Statistics Adjusted on College Football Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 18, 2023

Sports Reference is happy to announce that we have resolved a long-standing issue on our College Football site: the fact that our statistics from before 2002 were a mixture of totals that sometimes included and sometimes excluded bowl games. Thanks to our friends at Sports Data Research, our pre-2002 statistics have uniformly had bowl games removed. This is in line with official NCAA policy. So you'll notice that today we no longer list Ron Dayne as the all-time FBS rushing leader, but rather Donnel Pumphrey. In the future we hope to have statistics for all (or most) bowl games, which will allow for users of our site to add them in (or back them out) if they'd like. For more on this change, I'm including a blog post from SDR's Shane Holmes below. Read the rest of this entry

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WNBA Award Voting Added to Basketball Reference

Posted by Mike Lynch on August 11, 2023

Basketball Reference has added awards voting data for many WNBA awards to its database. This information can be accessed via the pages for individual awards and clicking a link for full voting. For instance, our page of WNBA MVPs has a 'voting' column where you can see every player who received votes for various awards in that season. Here, for instance, are the 2022 WNBA awards votes. This information goes all the way back to the league's inaugural season in 1997. Read the rest of this entry

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We’re Listening: Immaculate Grid No Longer Requires Qualification for Rate Stats

Posted by Adam Darowski on August 3, 2023

When we re-launched Immaculate Grid under the Sports Reference umbrella, we completely changed the underlying data source for the game. A few small changes were made when updating this API, one of them being that rate stats (such as batting average) would require qualification for the batting title.

Made sense, right? When people talk about (or used to talk about) player’s past batting averages they often do so in the context of the batting title. And to get a batting title, you need to qualify. Qualification means you need at least 3.1 plate appearances per team game (which comes out to 502 plate appearances per 162 game season).

But Immaculate Grid is different. When some people see “.300 Batting Average Season” they think of players like Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Albert Pujols, or Ichiro. But more than a few of you enjoyed playing with former “.300 hitters” like 1930s pitcher Wes Ferrell (a .300 hitter three times, never in more than 179 times up), infielder Jeff Treadway (.320 in 336 plate appearances in 1991), or even Jacob deGrom (.364 in 33 PA in 2021).

Part of the fun of Immaculate Grid is pulling those really unique (or “sicko”) names out of your head and the leaderboard requirements made that a little harder. So we’ve removed them starting today. Go forth and use your Ferrells, Treadways, and deGroms as .300 hitters. I know I’ll be waiting to use John Paciorek.

Posted in Announcement | 1 Comment »

The Versus Finder is Now Available on Stathead Baseball!

Posted by Jonah Gardner on July 27, 2023

In April, May, and June, we launched the Versus Finder on Stathead for Hockey, Basketball, and Football. Last but not least, we’re excited to announce that we’ve launched the Versus Finder on Stathead Baseball!

The Baseball Versus Finder has many of the same powerful tools as the Versus Finders across our other Stathead sports, as well as a couple of new ones that are specific to baseball. Here’s a primer on what it offers and how to use it.

Read the rest of this entry

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Sports Reference Makes Two Summer Hires in Marketing and Engineering

Posted by Adam Darowski on July 27, 2023

This summer, Sports Reference has added Becky Ligon (Test Engineer) and Kyle Brown (Community Marketing Coordinator), bringing the full-time staff size to 33. Welcome Becky and Kyle! Here's some more about our new teammates:

Becky Ligon, Test Engineer, joined Sports Reference in the middle of 2023. Becky previously worked as a technical business analyst and performance/automated test engineer in the wholesale industry. She is a Virginia native and loves playing volleyball and watching soccer, hockey, and college football.

Kyle Brown, Community Marketing Coordinator, joined Sports Reference in the middle of 2023. He has worked at sports media companies such as Bleacher Report and The Athletic. He calls the Bay Area home, but currently lives in Southern California. He is a fan of the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, Warriors, Oregon Ducks, and literally anything that Steph Curry does.

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Just Launched: Immaculate Grid Hockey

Posted by Sam Nipatnantaporn on July 26, 2023

We are proud to announce that Immaculate Grid now includes hockey! Alongside baseball, football and basketball, you can now test your hockey knowledge daily. New grids launch at 9am ET.

Integrating into and Stathead, Immaculate Grid Hockey will include the same great features: hyperlinked player pages, possible answers for each cell, most popular answers, accuracy, rarity score, and player scores.

Play now at

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