Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moneyball for Baseball May Have Potential for Basketball as Well

Here is a guest post by Angie Picardo

Many people today have heard of the concept of sabermetrics due to Moneyball, a Hollywood film and a book about how it was applied to professional baseball to help teams select better players. More specifically, the manager of the Oakland As in 2002 began using sabermetrics to statistically analyze aspects of various players, either to draft them into professional baseball or trade for existing pro players. Everyone knows the best and better players typically cost the most, but professional teams have limited budgets so they struggle to get them.
The powerhouse teams that historically have performed the best - meaning they have the most world and playoff championships – and often have the largest budgets available to pay the highest-rated players. The Oakland As were not one of those powerhouses, so Billy Beane sought a new method of evaluating players to help him find the ones that could help his team but were also affordable. Moneyball helped define new aspects of a player's value and then assigned numbers to those values in order to make more complex and hopefully more accurate predictions about their potential contributions on the field. Since Billy Beane's success in turning the As around from an average team into a playoff division winner, Moneyball no longer could be considered a secret weapon in the ongoing race to find and draft the top players for the least amount of money.

Now, however, there is another kind of statistical analysis available that might also prove beneficial to baseball, except this time it comes from professional basketball. Muthuball was named after its creator, Muthu Alagappan, a student at Stanford University. Alagappan himself was not good at basketball, but he was intrigued with how aspects of reality could be classified, such as diseases and basketball player functions in games, rather than their traditional roles. Of course, he was also interested in quantitative analysis.

He found that based on player statistics he could define at least 13 different player roles, rather than the five that have been used for many years. For example, Tyson Chandler's traditional position is Center, but Muthuball calls him a paint protector, and Chandler has been selected as the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. Traditionally, a center is the tallest player who is expected to get rebounds and score in the paint. However, individuals are not simple roles, and individuals can contribute to their teams in more ways than the traditional role definition allowed.

One of Alagappan's points is that his analysis could help teams document the problem of having too many players with the same skill sets, so the complexity in their ability to generate offense and respond to their opponents defensively is compromised. For example, if a team had three big men like Tyson Chandler, they would excel at protecting the paint from easy baskets such as dunks and lay-ups, but they would have little offensive output on high percentage shots, so there would be a disadvantage to having them on the same team. It would be much better to surround Tyson with two players such as a long-distance shooting forward that can defend the wing and a rebounding forward who passes well, but doesn't take many shots while also defending against penetration.

Muthuball is not only an analytical approach; it is also utilizes a software program that can be used to map relationships between players based on their performance statistics. Then they can be compared side-by-side to see which ones are the best buys for teams when they have draft picks or are making trades.

So does Muthuball have any benefit when applied to baseball? It isn't clear yet, because it is a new method so there isn't enough data, but it appears to be promising. The software actually could be used for any a number of analyses within a variety of contexts.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a website dedicated to helping baseball fans find the best credit cards

Thursday, October 4, 2012

AL Wild-Card Round Preview

   At 8:37 pm (EST, approximately) on Friday, the Texas Rangers will host the Baltimore Orioles in one of the most surprising match-ups possible in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. One game-- a Game 163, if you will. One chance to survive and play the Yankees. One winner, but with two vastly different stories from two vastly different teams. How did they get there? Who will win? After the jump, I will examine each team and boldly predict a winner.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Craig Kimbrel's On His Way To The Record Books

Unless you've been living under a rock this past season you know that Atlanta Braves reliever, Craig Kimbrel, is having a fantastic year. He's striking out batters at an astronomical rate, and has been literally unhittable. Many sabermetric fans and traditionalists seem to agree that this is the best season by a reliever, but I want to see just how good he's been. After the jump we'll take a look.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ike Davis' Strange Season

Going into spring training, Ike Davis was hoping to show that he was healthy, and show that his 2010 rookie season was not a fluke. Unfortunately at the beginning of spring training Davis contracted Valley Fever, and ever since then he has had an extremely strange season. He's showing even more power than he did in 2010, but that's about it. In fact his season is so strange that it's only happened ten times since 1920, and one player has done it twice.<

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mark of Consistency and High Society

Growing up as a Sox fan I’ve had the pleasure of watching the career of Mark Buehrle first & foremost throughout my life. It was a pure joy and entertainment to say the least, there’s something special about rooting for a guy that continually finds ways to defy the odds of the “experts”. When Buehrle took the mound you knew he would give the Sox a good chance to win a game and as an added bonus more times than not would give the bullpen some rest. Buehrle was more than a typical innings-eater; he was a great pitcher (still is!), much of which gets overshadowed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Playoff Push

   If you have been keeping up with your team all season, now is probably the time you are reaping the rewards. With only a few weeks to go, many of us are experiencing the "YES! LOCKED UP THE DIVISION TITLE, JERKS!" feeling. If you are one of those select people, continue to read as I discuss players you should be looking at as the playoffs start. If you are stupid, lazy, or a Communist (I am assuming the correlation of Communism and the fall of the Soviet Union applies to fantasy baseball) and your team is out, then go ahead and skip this post and go play some fantasy football. "Community" reference, ftw!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Reachable Stars

    The goal of this week is to discuss several players that are having solid seasons but surprisingly not owned in as many leagues as one would think. This obviously does not mean these players will be available in your specific league, but it does show that a lot of owners are undervaluing these players. Even if they aren't on the waiver wire, consider trading cheap and getting the better end of the deal. The percent owned will be using Yahoo! Leagues stats. After the jump, a collection of solid, yet less-than-reasonably appreciated players.