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A Discussion of WAR Wherein I Ardently Attempt to Avoid any WAR-Related Puns

21st November 2017

This article assumes a lot of prior knowledge about the discussion of Wins Above Replacement, you can catch up here

First off, none of us are here without Bill James. We are all at our very best merely Chaucer or Joyce to his Shakespeare. All sabermetrics predating him flowed into his work and all sabermetrics after him carries echoes of his work.

To the discussion at hand.
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Posted in Academics, Advanced Stats, Baseball-Reference.com, Stat Questions, Statgeekery, Trivia, WAR | 1 Comment »

Neutralized Baseball Stats Back and Better Than Ever

26th May 2017

When we launched our new site three months ago, one of the casualties was the neutralized stats tables we printed on player pages. Those tables were originally built using code that had grown increasingly unwieldy and were not something we'd be able to adequately maintain moving forward. That said, we're happy to announce that we have rebuilt these tables and added new features, as well.

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Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Baseball-Reference.com, Data, Features, History, Play Index, Redesign, Statgeekery | 3 Comments »

2017 NCAA Tournament Forecast

14th March 2017

Based on 5,000 simulations, here is our 2017 NCAA Tournament Forecast. We have Gonzaga as the likeliest champion, and 10-seed Wichita State as the 14th-likeliest champ. Don't forget to check this out before you fill out your bracket!

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, CBB at Sports Reference, Features | Comments Off on 2017 NCAA Tournament Forecast

Russ & Harden’s Oscar-Worthy Performances

5th January 2017

We all know Oscar Robertson became the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double when he averaged 30.8 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 11.4 APG in 1961-62. Though he didn't have the benefit of first-class air travel, modern nutrition and training techniques, he did have the benefit of playing for a team that averaged an estimated 124.9 possessions per game, while playing over 44 minutes per game. Though I don't want to diminish the stamina required to perform at a high level at such a frenetic pace, the point stands that there were more opportunities for a player to accumulate counting stats in 1962 than there are in 2017, where the average game has about 96 possessions.

Still, even if we adjust statistics to a Per 100 Possessions basis, few have ever matched Oscar's production. Robertson averaged an estimated 26.7 Pts, 10.8 Reb & 9.9 Ast per 100 possessions in 1961-62. At Basketball-Reference, we have estimated per 100 possessions statistics for every player back to 1973-74 (when the advent of tracking of offensive rebounds, among other stats, made the estimates more reliable). From 1973-74 to 2015-16, a total of just four player seasons (by three players) matched The Big O's Per 100 Possession statistics. They were by do-it-all forwards Grant Hill & LeBron James (twice) and then Russell Westbrook, last season. But, now, the 2016-17 NBA season has TWO players doing that. Russell Westbrook, in his most ridiculous form yet, and James Harden, who has emerged as the perfect player for Mike D'Antoni's relentless attack. But it's not that these guys are matching Robertson's production. They're obliterating it.

Let's first consider Westbrook's numbers.

And yet, saying that Westbrook is like a combination of peak Jordan's scoring with peak Malone's rebounding and peak Kidd's passing doesn't even do justice to how breathtaking his level of activity on the floor is.

As for Harden, the numbers aren't as eye-popping as Westbrook's, but his scoring and rebounding are roughly equivalent to peak LeBron James, except with 50% more assists thrown in. So, I guess that's pretty decent.

Query Results Table
Per 100 Possessions
Player Season Age Tm Lg PTS TRB AST
James Harden 2016-17 27 HOU NBA 37.8 10.9 15.9
Russell Westbrook 2016-17 28 OKC NBA 44.1 15.0 14.9
Russell Westbrook 2015-16 27 OKC NBA 33.9 11.3 15.1
LeBron James 2012-13 28 MIA NBA 37.5 11.2 10.1
LeBron James 2008-09 24 CLE NBA 40.8 10.9 10.4
Grant Hill 1996-97 24 DET NBA 30.9 13.0 10.5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.
Tonight, the former teammates will square off for the 13th time in their regular-season careers, with each player owning six wins to this point. Harden is currently the overwhelming favorite to the win the MVP Award, but it's still early. Anyways, with their matchup tonight, we just wanted to take the opportunity to gawk at their absurd 2016-17 seasons.
Top Candidates Table
Rk Player Tm W/L% eFG% FT% TRB AST STL BLK TOV PTS Prob%
1 James Harden HOU .750 .528 .847 8.2 11.9 1.4 0.3 5.7 28.4 57.6%
2 Kevin Durant GSW .861 .594 .868 8.6 4.7 1.2 1.6 2.3 25.8 16.1%
3 LeBron James CLE .765 .559 .683 7.8 8.5 1.4 0.6 3.9 25.8 8.8%
4 Russell Westbrook OKC .583 .462 .821 10.5 10.5 1.4 0.3 5.3 30.9 5.2%
5 Stephen Curry GSW .861 .575 .929 4.3 5.8 1.7 0.1 2.8 24.2 3.0%
6 Kawhi Leonard SAS .800 .530 .918 5.9 3.1 2.0 0.6 1.9 24.0 2.9%
7 Chris Paul LAC .632 .543 .877 5.3 9.5 2.2 0.2 2.3 17.7 1.9%
8 Kyle Lowry TOR .676 .585 .854 4.9 7.1 1.4 0.3 2.9 22.2 1.6%
9 Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL .529 .559 .779 9.1 5.8 1.9 2.0 2.9 23.9 1.5%
10 Kevin Love CLE .765 .534 .872 10.9 1.7 1.1 0.4 2.1 21.8 1.3%
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2017.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, History, Ridiculousness, Statgeekery | 1 Comment »

Links to Stats.NBA.com Added to Basketball Reference Player Pages

20th October 2016

At Sports Reference, we pride ourselves on having user-friendly search and navigation. We've heard a lot of frustration from Stats.NBA.com users unable to find what they're looking for in recent weeks. To that end, we've added links to Stats.NBA.com pages on our player pages. So you can now easily navigate to pages with features we're unable to provide, such as SportVU tracking stats for LeBron James, directly from Basketball Reference. These links now appear between our player Per Game stats tables and the player newsfeeds.

lebron-stats

We hope this new addition makes for easier browsing of a wide range of basketball statistics.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, Features | Comments Off on Links to Stats.NBA.com Added to Basketball Reference Player Pages

What the Heck is Corsi? A Primer on Advanced Hockey Statistics

13th October 2016

Good news for fans of zambonis, fighting, and the greatest video game of the 1990s: the NHL has finally returned! After a wild season last year, there are all kinds of juicy storylines to follow this year. Can the Pittsburgh Penguins become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup winners since the Detroit Red Wings of the 1990s? How will the San Jose Sharks bounce back from coming so close and falling short. Will Alex Ovechkin reach 1,000 goals? Can Connor McDavid build upon a promising rookie year and live up to the hype? What round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs will the Washington Capitals be eliminated in this year (I kid, I kid)?

This blog post will seek to answer none of those. Instead, this week, I wanted to dig into one of the major trends that's been sweeping across the NHL the last few years, among fans and front offices alike. I'm talking, of course, about the rise of advanced statistics.

If you're a sports fan, you're probably at least vaguely familiar with Moneyball and the advanced stat wars in baseball. And you may have read articles about how thinkers in other sports, like basketball, have used similar principles to deepen their understanding of the game. This movement has reached hockey in recent years, as researchers have uncovered several new ways of understanding the game beyond the traditional stats like goals, assists, and plus/minus. These new analytics can help us understand why a team is over or under-performing, and whether that performance is sustainable. They can also help us appreciate unsung players who do more for their team than we may realize, because they don't put up flashy traditional numbers.

So, with that in mind, here's some of the basics to get you started in the world of advanced hockey stats. Read the rest of this entry

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Hockey-Reference.com, Stat Questions, Statgeekery | 2 Comments »

Three Big Questions After NBA Free Agency

8th July 2016

The hype entering the 2016 NBA Free Agency period suggested that this would be the wildest one in league history. An unprecedented salary cap spike gave essentially every team in the league enough financial leeway to aggressively pursue ways of improving their team.

At the same time, while many of the league's best players were set to become free agents, there were few true superstars in the market. On paper, it seemed extremely unlikely that either of the best players on the market this year - Kevin Durant or LeBron James - would leave teams that at least made the Conference Finals and, in LeBron's case, hoisted the trophy as winners of the 2016 NBA Finals. As basketball fans prepared for nuttiness, it seemed just as possible that this year's feeding frenzy would be a little more laid-back than we expected.
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Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com | Comments Off on Three Big Questions After NBA Free Agency

LeBron Passes MJ in Becoming All-Time Postseason Win Shares Leader

31st May 2016

We hope everyone had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. We just wanted to quickly mention something before it gets lost in the shuffle with the NBA Finals starting in two days. In the Cavaliers' Game 6 win over Toronto, LeBron James passed Michael Jordan to become the all-time leader in career postseason Win Shares. LeBron has, however, played more career postseason games and minutes than Jordan, so His Airness remains the all-time postseason leader in Win Shares Per 48 minutes.

Earlier this season, James passed Jordan to become the NBA's All-Time VORP leader (calculated since 1973-74).

Here's how the advanced statistics stack up for James and Jordan in their postseason careers (through the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals):

 

Player PER TS% TRB% AST% TOV% USG% OWS DWS WS WS/48 OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
LeBron James 27.5 .567 12.5 33.4 12.4 31.9 26.7 13.4 40.1 .238 7.3 3.2 10.5 25.6
Michael Jordan* 28.6 .568 9.3 28.2 9.4 35.6 27.3 12.4 39.8 .255 8.3 1.8 10.1 22.8
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2016.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, History, Playoffs | 3 Comments »

2015-16 Warriors Enter NBA Record Book

14th April 2016

The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors have earned a seat at the table in the discussion of the greatest teams in NBA history. They've set a new standard with 73 regular-season wins. Let's examine some of their other accomplishments this season:

  • 6th-best SRS in NBA history: SRS stands for Simple Rating System and is a rating method that takes into account margin of victory and strength of schedule.
  • 6th-best average margin of victory in NBA history: The Warriors outscored their opponents by 10.76 PPG, which was the best by any NBA team since the 1996-97 Bulls outscored their opposition by 10.80 PPG. However, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 10.0 PPG in the 1st three quarters of games alone, which is something none of the teams ahead of them on the list managed.
  • Most road wins in NBA history: The Dubs went 34-7 on the road, surpassing the 33 road wins by the 1995-96 Bulls.
  • 2nd-longest winning streak in NBA history: After winning their final four regular-season games in 2014-15, the Warriors ran off 24 straight wins to start 2015-16, coming up five games short of matching the 1971-72 Lakers' 33-game winning streak.
  • Longest home winning streak in NBA history: The Warriors' 54-game home winning streak was enough to surpass the old record (44) by the mid-90s Bulls.
  • 3rd-longest road winning streak in NBA history: Their 14-game road winning streak was good enough for a tie for the 3rd-longest in NBA history (just two games shy of the record).
  • Best Effective FG% in NBA history: When accounting for the added value of the three-point shot, the Warriors surpassed the 2013-14 Heat as the best field goal shooting team in NBA history.
  • Best True Shooting Percentage since at least 1983-84: The Warriors also bested the 2013-14 Heat for best True Shooting Percentage since 1983-84.
  • Most 3-pointers made per game in NBA history: Last season the Rockets set this record by making 11.4 3-pointers per game. The Warriors made over 13 per game.
  • 2nd-best 3-point FG% in NBA history: Incredibly, the same team that set the record for makes also managed to have the 2nd-best 3-point percentage in NBA history. It should be noted that the only team with a better 3-point field goal percentage, the 1996-97 Hornets, did so during a season in which the 3-point line was closer to the basket (22 feet all around).

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Basketball-Reference.com, Data, History, Play Index | Comments Off on 2015-16 Warriors Enter NBA Record Book

Your 2015-16 Expected +/- Leader: Joe Thornton

11th April 2016

At the beginning of the season, we introduced a new metric called Expected +/-. This statistic shows what we'd expect a player's +/- to be, based on where his team's and his opponent's shots came from while he was on the ice in even-strength situations. The expected value of these shots is based upon league-wide shooting percentages from various locations on the ice. The 2014-15 leader was Patrice Bergeron, at +21.5. With the 2015-16 regular season now completed, we're happy to announce that Joe Thornton is the 2015-16 leader at +21.7.

Since this metric considers the quality of shots (or at least their point of origin), it has an advantage over blunter instruments, like Corsi, which consider quantity, but not quality. However, unlike Corsi, Expected +/- does not include info on shots that weren't on goal, that were blocked, etc. So we see the stats as good complements for each other.

Check out the players with Expected +/- above 10 for the 2015-16 season here:

Rk Player Age Tm Pos GP E+/- ?
1 Joe Thornton 36 SJS C 82 21.7
2 Patric Hornqvist 29 PIT RW 82 20.3
3 Tomas Hertl 22 SJS C 81 19.2
4 Brian Dumoulin 24 PIT D 79 19.0
5 Joe Pavelski 31 SJS C 82 18.5
6 Justin Braun 28 SJS D 80 17.1
7 Carl Hagelin 27 TOT LW 80 17.1
8 Kris Letang 28 PIT D 71 16.7
9 Marc-Edouard Vlasic 28 SJS D 67 16.5
10 Ryan Getzlaf 30 ANA C 77 16.4
11 Brad Marchand 27 BOS LW 77 16.2
12 Hampus Lindholm 22 ANA D 80 15.2
13 Ryan Ellis 25 NSH D 79 14.7
14 Patrice Bergeron 30 BOS C 80 14.5
15 Drew Doughty 26 LAK D 82 14.5
16 John Klingberg 23 DAL D 76 14.2
17 Kris Versteeg 29 TOT RW 77 14.2
18 Anze Kopitar 28 LAK C 81 14.1
19 Colton Parayko 22 STL D 79 13.8
20 Shea Weber 30 NSH D 78 13.7
21 Jakob Silfverberg 25 ANA RW 82 13.6
22 Joonas Donskoi 23 SJS RW 76 13.5
23 Jake Muzzin 26 LAK D 82 13.5
24 Kris Versteeg 29 CAR RW 63 13.5
25 Tyler Toffoli 23 LAK C 82 13.4
26 Pavel Datsyuk 37 DET C 66 13.2
27 Trevor Daley 32 TOT D 82 13.1
28 Mikael Backlund 26 CGY C 82 13.0
29 Eric Staal 31 CAR C 63 12.9
30 Ryan Suter 31 MIN D 82 12.7
31 Jacob Trouba 21 WPG D 81 12.6
32 Carl Hagelin 27 PIT LW 37 12.4
33 Chris Kunitz 36 PIT LW 80 12.4
34 Alex Ovechkin 30 WSH LW 79 12.4
35 Mike Ribeiro 35 NSH C 81 12.3
36 Milan Lucic 27 LAK LW 81 12.2
37 Josh Manson 24 ANA D 71 12.1
38 Eric Staal 31 TOT C 83 12.1
39 Filip Forsberg 21 NSH LW 82 12.0
40 Jared Spurgeon 26 MIN D 77 11.8
41 Mattias Ekholm 25 NSH D 82 11.6
42 Tyler Seguin 24 DAL C 72 11.4
43 Dustin Byfuglien 30 WPG D 81 11.2
44 Craig Smith 26 NSH RW 82 11.2
45 Trevor Daley 32 PIT D 53 11.1
46 Marian Hossa 37 CHI RW 64 11.1
47 Phil Kessel 28 PIT RW 82 11.0
48 Victor Hedman 25 TBL D 78 10.9
49 Roman Josi 25 NSH D 81 10.9
50 Evgeny Kuznetsov 23 WSH C 82 10.9
51 Sidney Crosby 28 PIT C 80 10.7
52 David Perron 27 TOT LW 71 10.4
53 Joel Ward 35 SJS RW 79 10.4
54 Evgeni Malkin 29 PIT C 57 10.3
55 Marian Gaborik 33 LAK RW 54 10.2
56 Jeff Carter 31 LAK C 77 10.0
57 Jussi Jokinen 32 FLA LW 81 10.0
58 Justin Williams 34 WSH RW 82 10.0
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/11/2016.

Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement, Data, Hockey-Reference.com | 1 Comment »