Roundup 11/12/11

The true definition of a pass-first offense. This dovetails nicely to Carson's previous article on that very topic.

I guess we weren't the first to apply Kahneman and Tversky's cognitive psychology theories to pro sports. Some guy named Kahneman did it first. (I should note a young economist named Justin Tapp first pointed me toward prospect theory as an explanation for many coaching errors. Thanks, Justin.)

The AFC North has 3 teams with 6 wins midway through the season. How uncommon is that?

How to beat NE's passing attack.

Comparing GB to other 8-0 teams.

Measuring economic benefits of sports. Remember, financial != economic.

Is there enough parity in the MLB? And comparative parity in the NFL and MLB. My take: of course there's not enough parity in baseball. It's a joke. A lot of the debate comes from a misunderstanding and/or the misuse of statistics. The "r-squared" of payroll to wins in MLB is 0.17. And since 0.17 is a small number, as the claim goes, payroll therefore has a small effect on winning. Hogwash. An r-squared of .17 means that for every standard deviation increase in payroll, teams should expect a 0.41 SD increase in wins. That's small?

Hines Ward is an important part of PIT's running game.

Which teams have spent the most time with a lead this season?

At the Community site, a deeper look in adjusting for strength of schedule.

Are the Jets the best team in football?

How does Rodgers' 2011 compare to Brady's 2007 so far?

Dear NFL: Do you like people talking about your sport? Do you like making money? Do you like fans feeling involved and learning about the sport? Do you like fans hanging around your website all day? No. Really? Seriously? Ok...

Do pro teams in low-tax states have an advantage?

Was David Tyree's helmet-catch "luck"?

Philip Rivers is teaching us all about sample error.

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17 Responses to “Roundup 11/12/11”

  1. Boston Chris says:

    I don't care about baseball too much....but can you convert those Standard Deviations? How much more $ do you have to spend to get how many more wins? And obviously there must be a point of diminishing returns, since no team is ever going to be able to buy 162? wins. I mean, I'm guessing but based on the percentages in baseball, I think something around .800 would be the best possible win percentage if you took the top 25 players in the game for a team.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brian, not to be combative, but it seems to me that your interpretation of the r^2 value given in the fangraphs article on parity in the MLB is incorrect. I'm not an expert in statistical analysis (just began learning about it recently), but in the discussion below the post, several people commented who clearly know more than myself about statistical analysis, and their arguments against your stance appear sensible, to my mind. I'll be asking my stats professor about this, as I'm curious to get a conclusive answer and he's also a baseball fan, but a cursory review of assignments I've been given on interpretation of correlations suggests that r^2 is, in fact, % of total variation explained, not % of total variance, as you claim. Leading from this, Bradley was correct in stating that 17% of variation in win % over the last 12 seasons is explained by payroll. I only point this out in the interest of ensuring your readership receives the factually correct information, as they may not catch the discussion below the fangraphs post.

    On a different note, I want to say that since discovering your website near the beginning of the 2011 NFL season, it's quickly become my favorite location to visit online, and I thoroughly enjoy every article that is posted and/or linked to here. Keep up the great work!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Did someone seriously delete my comment? Respect for ANS declining...

  4. Vince says:

    In the first link, I'm not sure why Chase added SD's instead of just running a regression. A simple linear regression says that each additional point of average scoring margin is associated with 0.5% fewer passes; adjusting for that makes Detroit the most pass-happy team and puts Green Bay in 7th. Here's the ranking by adjusted pass percentage (which equals pass percentage + (average scoring margin)/2):

    Detroit Lions 66.0
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 65.9
    Baltimore Ravens 65.8
    Carolina Panthers 65.7
    New Orleans Saints 65.7
    New England Patriots 65.3
    Green Bay Packers 65.1
    Seattle Seahawks 64.3
    Washington Redskins 64.1
    Philadelphia Eagles 63.6
    Chicago Bears 63.5
    Pittsburgh Steelers 63.2
    Tennessee Titans 62.9
    Cleveland Browns 61.3
    Arizona Cardinals 61.2
    Indianapolis Colts 61.1
    Dallas Cowboys 61.0
    St Louis Rams 60.9
    San Diego Chargers 60.5
    Miami Dolphins 59.8
    New York Giants 59.7
    Atlanta Falcons 59.6
    Buffalo Bills 59.2
    New York Jets 57.6
    Cincinnati Bengals 57.1
    Denver Broncos 56.5
    Minnesota Vikings 53.8
    Oakland Raiders 53.6
    San Francisco 49ers 53.3
    Houston Texans 53.2
    Kansas City Chiefs 52.0
    Jacksonville Jaguars 50.7

  5. Alex says:

    From the salary/wins article, you would have to spend about $30 million to win an extra three games.

    These discussions always come down to what people think is 'large'. I've seen a number of people claim that a regression with an R squared of .04 was a big effect. I prefer larger numbers myself, but there isn't a right or wrong answer.

  6. Jonathan says:

    From, it looks closer to $5 million per win. There are probably some diminishing returns for the Yankees, since they shouldn't assign a value to a player and stick to it. They should try to overpay for the best players they can get, since it's a much smaller portion of their available payroll. Furthermore, they are the only team that can out-bid everyone. So they either offer giant contracts or forfeit their $$$ advantage.

    People mix up "competitive balance" and "parity all the time. Giving the #1 draft pick to the worst team is great for parity, but equally horrid for competitive balance (because, to quote many a fourth grader, "It's NOT FAIR.") The Boston Marathon is practically the epitome of competitive balance--everyone has the same rules, no teammates to speak of, everybody cover the distance in as little time as possible. There is very little luck involved--whoever gets the most out of his or her body, wins. But there is not much parity--the same few people win all of the time.

    Conversely, there is parity in baseball. That has more to do with the random nature of baseball than any sense of fairness. Parity in baseball look like this: "The same 3 teams will have the most talent, but we're going to set up a playoff system where being the best team means almost zilch, so everybody can win the World Series!"

    On a sidenote, I just saw Boise St. play for a 40 yard FG when they had 15 seconds to advance the ball from the 20. They were down by one. They missed the field goal by a mile. The kicker is going to get blamed, but settling for a long FG at the NCAA level is inexcusable, even if you have a future NFL player booting the ball. They even had a timeout remaining. Instead, they tried to put the ball in the center of the field (and lost 2 yards in the process).

  7. Jonathan says:

    You should add this to you links someday:

    Or maybe I'm just crazy.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So after all the obvious thing is proven once more: Teams that pass the most, win more games. Using Brian´s numbers, the most pass heavy teams (ranked 1-8) win 68% of games (a combined 45-21 record)

    ranked 9-16: 33-31 (52% wins)
    ranked 17-24: 33-33 (50% wins)
    ranked 25-32: 20-46 (30% wins)

    Since the days of Luckman´s Bears the winning formula of pro football is: come out throwing, built a lead and run down the clock in the 2nd half.... And some of those Bears-Fans still complain about Martz´attacking style. Once he´s gone they´ll realize how good he was form them. I smell kind of 0-16 seasons after his depature.

    Karl, Germany

  9. Anonymous says:

    Only two reasons for not showing the "All 22".
    1.) fear of decreasing ticket sales and/or
    2.) cover up of all the fixing that is obviously going on in NFL-Games, either being done by the NFL itself (to have high TV-Ratings that come w/more close games), by Vegas itself (to maximize betting profits) or the ordinary fix by "black market" bookies/mobsters.
    Either way, it would be naive to think that the NFL´s biggest problem is the injuries or the Drug/PED use.
    Actually the vulnerability for the games integrity is coming from the big money of all sides involved.
    The problem is nobody wants to talk about it: The NFL tries to keep everthing under the carpet, and the observing fan will be called "conspiracy theorist" if he points to the dark side of the NFL.... Well, i can live with it, as long as at least one persons eyes are opened. For starters:

    Karl, Germany

  10. Andy says:

    Baseball gets a "parity bonus" because the games are more random than in other sports. This means that once you make it to the playoffs the difference between the best and worst team diminish significantly. So if you are looking at only the final winner then baseball has much more parity than other sports (the NBA has the least).

  11. Brian Burke says:

    Note to anonymous up above--I NEVER delete comments. Blogger has a spam filter, though. I'll go through it and check if there are some false positives today.

  12. Brian Burke says:

    To Anon above: r-squared is % of variance, period. If your professor thinks otherwise, drop his course immediately.

  13. Jim Glass says:

    I NEVER delete comments.

    For the record, in the past I've had a largish number of comments disappear, often after seeing them initially posted. At one point I thought I was on some sort of "blocked" list and they were being purged. (I never thought I was *that* obnoxious.) But then a few of them mysteriously reappeared a while later, a couple times as double posts. So I figured they hadn't been deleted after all, it was a software thing.

    This was mostly last year, no problem recently. FWIW.

  14. Jim Glass says:

    The virtues of "parity", and degree to which it should exist in pro sports leagues, are very debatable.

    Here's an interesting article about the ironic differnces in the economic organization of pro sports in the supposedly free market USA and market socialist Europe.

    "while the supposedly rugged individualists of the American plains root for football teams that share wealth and resources" .... and strive for parity (albeit some doing so more than others) ... "the stereotyped socialists of Western Europe root for soccer teams that compete in a ruthlessly free-market system ... It is a dramatically uneven playing field, but it does produce one thing: incredibly compelling soccer." And the European model makes a heck of a lot of money too.

    Personally, I believe the "dynasties" of the past like the Lombardi Packers, Steel Curtain teams and Walsh 49ers, added significantly to the long-term health and financial wealth of the NFL, even if they did hog championships from others. They made the popular history of the league, locked in new fans on a national scale, and their top players are still hero-worshipped by fans today. And when those top teams collided, there were some really *great* games.

    There are no more teams like that now, drawing national audience, to be so remembered by the future. There are no teams any more that are even good on both sides of the ball. The Bengals this year are 6-2 just by being *not too bad* at any point, without being good anywhere. I'm not sure the league becoming this is so beneficial for its long-run health.

    Well, the league makes ever-more money, so maybe it is. But I still miss being able to watch a good game-of-the-week between two teams that are both good on both sides of the ball.

  15. Jim Glass says:

    FWIW: "NFL Even MORE Competitively Balanced than We Thought" -- The Sports Economist

  16. dofollow says:

    Thanks for your post!dofollow

  17. is it just me says:

    Good post!
    is it down
    down for everyone
    down for everyone or just me

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