Concepts some posters could benefit from learning

Discussion in ' - Patriots Fan Forum' started by makewayhomer, Nov 15, 2007.

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  1. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    anybody who has studied Sabremetrics in baseball has learned a lot about how to analyze and predict future events. Theo Epstein has used these concepts to win 2 World Series and build an organization that can win year after year. The Cleveland Indians built the 2nd best team in baseball with a tiny payroll, and the whole team will be back next year - all built on sabremetrics. What lessons can we learn from baseball and use to analyze and predict football? Lots.

    1) Variance happens and matters

    Have you ever walked by a roulette table and noticed that the ball has landed on red 10 times in a row, and figured that the ball was "due" to land on black? Well, you're wrong. Sometimes weird streaks like that just happen, and there is no explanation needed other than to acknowledge that variance exists and manifests itself all the time in sports.

    the most basic example? the idea of "clutch", which is generally highly overrated by most people. is David Ortiz a clutch hitter? most people in Boston would laugh at the question - of course he is, maybe the best clutch hitter of all time!! if this is you, then please please please read this article

    the conclusion, by Baseball Prospectus author Nate Silver, is that he is indeed clutch, but the ability is far far overstated.

    in football, what does this mean? Well, read the Adam Vinatieri Mr. Clutch thread. my basic opinion is that AV makes the frozen ball kick vs the Titans or the blizzard kick vs the Raiders AT MOST 50% of the time. The odds of him hitting both? 25%. of course, he ended up making both. this doesn't make him clutch, it makes him a beneficiary of positive variance - instead of the likely 75% outcome (him missing 1) he got the 25% outcome. like a roulette wheel landing on red twice in a row.

    now, I realize this is a foreign concept to most of you, so I'll give another example. This week AV missed a 29 yarder to win the game. Does this mean he has lost his magical clutchiness? Or that is he now a choker b/c he's on the Colts? No, neither - it just means that variance turned against him. even at his age, AV makes that kick 95% of the time. but THIS time he missed. too bad for him, funny for us. but please just recognize that AV benefited from variance in 2001 and 2003 - it wasn't b/c he was magically clutch.

    given a large enough sample size, things tend to even out, which is what baseball analysis has taught us, and what AV is beginning to show.

    2) The best team doesn't always win

    Related to the above. the Patriots winning the SB 3 years in a row meant we were the beneficiaries of variance. even if you think the Patriots had a 70% chance to win each game, that means we win all 3 games 34% of the time. but we won all 3.

    of course, there was no way we were 70% to beat the Rams. We were 14 point underdogs; we win that game MAYBE 15% of the time. but on that day we won. Ty Law had a ridiculous game, Mike Martz inexplicity stopped giving the ball to Marshall Faulk - these are things that don't always happen, but that day they did. sometimes the calls go against you (ie vs the Colts 2 weeks ago) sometimes key players get hurt at the worst times (the AFCCG last year), sometimes the ball bounces your way (almost the entire 2001 season), and sometimes the strangest, most unlikely timing means the game is not lost and you have a chance to win the game (Tuck Rule). teams don't plan these things, but they happen, and they are all reasons why on any given day the better team can lose. If the Pats lose to the Bills on Sunday b/c 100 things go wrong, everyone here will say that the Pats are the better team...but if you take a poll here, the majority of people will also say we were a better team than the Rams in 2001. learn to embrace variance guys, it happens and there is nothing you can do about it except build the best team possible and play the best you can.

    3) our memories are awfully selective

    again, related to the clutch discussion. most people here have no memory of the huge, clutch kicks AV has missed. the 2 kicks in the SB vs Carolina, the miss vs Denver in the playoffs, previous game winning misses. this is b/c they don't want to cloud their memory of the perfect clutch kicker.

    another example: most people remember Tom Brady winning MVP of the SB in 2001. what most people don't remember is his actual performance in that game: 16 of 27 passes for 145 yards with a touchdown. Don't give me BS about "the gameplan calling for that". the gameplan certainly didn't call for Brady to complete only 59% of his passes, a below average mark. the gameplan didn't call for him to make 5.3 Yards/Attempt and only 92 yards with 2 minutes to go, and abysmal result. yes, he was awesome on the last drive, but before that he had completed 58% of his passes and had 4.8 yards/attempt - terrible. was the final drive great? Sure, but we were largely in that situation only b/c the offense and Brady had been so ineffective for the entire game leading up to that.

    the lesson is that stats can give us a much more objective view of things. traditional stats tend to be bad, as they don't adjust for all kinds of things like strength of schedule, luck, and the effect one unit has on the other. Football Outsiders is the "Baseball Prospectus" of football, and every serious football fan should be reading this site. their team and unit stats DVOA and DPAR are far, far better than Points Scored, Yards Allowed, etc.

    check it out:
  2. Joker

    Joker Supporter Supporter

    uh...the Patriots didn't win the Super Bowl three years in a row
  3. wizwor

    wizwor Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    #95 Jersey

    Nice post and I tend to agree. I certainly support the concept of using metrics to staff your team. BUT, sports is not the weather. When human beings compete, there is more than physics at work. These intangibles are what makes a player clutch. It would be easy for a team to call it a year down three games to the Yankees in the ALCS. It took something special for Schilling to get out to the mound with his bloody sock. And it isn't variance that raises TB's performance when the game is on the line with time running out.
  4. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    they won their 3 straight SB appearances
  5. Joker

    Joker Supporter Supporter

    you didn't say said

    Related to the above. the Patriots winning the SB 3 years in a row meant we were the beneficiaries of variance.

    they didn't win the Super Bowl three years in a row....I can't see how anyone can construe that any other way.
  6. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    whatever, it doesn't matter, I should have been more clear, but it doesn't change the larger point at all
  7. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Pro Bowl Player

    One factor that is not mentioned, applicable to football, is injuries from a pure statistical standpoint. With regard to the Colts and the Patriots, a reversion to the mean is inevitable. Since the Patriots suffered a tremendous amount of injuries during the course of the 2003-2005 seasons (as well as the 2006 AFC Championship Game), the 2007 Patriots are due for a relatively injury free season. Meanwhile, the Colts have led a charmed life during the same time frame and are due for a slew of injuries this season.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
  8. JoePats

    JoePats In the Starting Line-Up

    Who would you rather have up in 1 at-bat...David Ortiz or Alex Rodriguez?

    Numbers don't define clutch. Clutch is an eye test.
  9. RussFrancis

    RussFrancis Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    So, I guess we should take our foot off the pedal on all the 'undefeated' talk? Not for a second. That'd be like adding garlic to my chocolate bar because its good for my cholesterol. not happenin'. if they lose, they lose. life'll go on. But Im not about to start applying logic to my fantaticism at this point.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
  10. Joker

    Joker Supporter Supporter

    my memory is NOT selective...everything you inferred to the contrary I disagree with personally.I remember the pressure kicks AV has missed...the Denver game is STILL fresh in my memory banks. What I take issue with is the tone of your little "treatise" here...I get the distinct impression you are looking down your bony nose at everyone else and spouting off about what we should be reading and where we should be going to get statistical facts. Well, thanks for the link...and it's OK you MADE THE MISTAKE of saying the Patriots won three Super Bowls in a row and then tried to cover yourself with that lame comeback.
  11. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    Ortiz. clutch exists, but not nearly to the extent you think. if it doesn't exist in numbers, then it doesnt exist at all.
  12. ayjackson

    ayjackson Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    we can't see the numbers, the variables are too great - clutch will never be incorporated effectively in a stat (number)
  13. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    an interesting bit on this from Football Outsiders

    "he Colts have dodged injury for so many years — except for Bob Sanders — but this was bound to happen eventually. No Harrison, no Clark, no Ugoh, random dudes picked out of the stands playing linebacker… We’re about to see what it would be like if Peyton Manning played quarterback for the 2006 Washington Redskins. As a Pats fan, I feel the rivalry is less fun when major players get injured like this. From the Indianapolis chapter of PFP:

    Still, the off-season departures exacerbate this team’s problem with defensive depth. Jackson and Hayden can replace David and Harper, but who replaces Jackson and Hayden? … Freddie Keaiho replaces June, but who replaces Keaiho if one of the linebackers goes down? Given this team’s dependence on the front four to generate a pass rush, what on earth would they do if Dwight Freeney were to get injured for the first time in his NFL career?"
  14. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Pro Bowl Player

    Fourth quarter comebacks for a quarterback?
  15. Pat_Nasty

    Pat_Nasty Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    Brady has only one fourth quarter comeback this season.

    At this rate, he'll have only 2 all year.

    In year's past, he's had *way* more comebacks.

    Damn, Brady must have gotten less clutch.
  16. psychoPat

    psychoPat Role Player Supporter

    If given a choice between lucky and good
    ... give me lucky.
  17. makewayhomer

    makewayhomer Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

    no, the variables are known, and they are measurable. it's difficult, but there are incredibly smart people who have decided to make performance analyses their job. guys like Keith Woolner, who hold advanced degrees from MIT and Stanford in Decision Analyses, and now helps run a professional sports teams

    difficult does not equal impossible
  18. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Pro Bowl Player

    The Colts defense was a house of cards this season with all their free agent defections. Once Dwight Freeney goes down, the Colts defense will collapse.
  19. ATippett56

    ATippett56 Pro Bowl Player

    One helluva comeback for Tom Brady nonetheless.
  20. Pedrorocks458

    Pedrorocks458 Practice Squad Player

    This guy tends to disagree that it's just a matter of variance.

    I think that Viniatieri has something that makes him better able to perform in high pressure situations than others. It doesn't mean he'll hit it every time, but he'll hit it more often than others and not simply because he's an all-around better kicker.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2007
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