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Sunday, August 22, 2010

The perversion of statistics

Out here in West Coast land, it isn't unusual to be 5-9 hours away from a pro team. When you do live close it can be the Portland Trailblazers and star power can be, um, well, um.

So getting Leon Washinton to the Seahawks is kind of a big deal. If you recall Leon suffered a terrible leg injury last year. His comeback has been remarkable. One of the stastics that was cited is the DVOA. As soon as I saw that, I rolled my eyes. The DVOA is a crock of shit. There, I said it. I looked through the maddening, yes maddening chart of DVOA bullshit and just chuckled. Go to the site and first see if you can make heads or tails of it, and then look to see where the superbowl winners/losers are in the list and generally where other teams were.

My point is that Occam's Razor, the simplest answer is best. Im just telling you to prepare yourself for more Kurt Warner talk and Randy Johnson goodness.

In baseball we have, for pitchers, Wins, Losses, ERA, K's, Walks, and saves with secondary stats of IP, GS. Those are the stats that matter. Now some of you think that W/L is over rated. I agree with one caveat. Take Strasburg. I am not denying that he has great stuff, I'll say it, Hall of Fame stuff. But he doesn't have Hall of Fame durability and it is shown in his W/L record. The man can't make it out of the 6th inning in most cases. So when comparing a guy like Johnson that made it to 300 wins, you can measure his durability. Also when comparing ERA, you can see that Stras has good stuff, so that is why all of the stats above are important to be considered together and that is why W/L is important.

So you take stats like Dave Stieb. His W/L record wasn't that good, but you can see by his ERA that he was a much better pitcher than his W/L. Again this makes my point for me. With a few basic stats you can see that he was a fantastic pitcher. No need for complex statistical analysis. So yes, W/L record is over rated on its own for Stieb, but with ERA the picture becomes clear. The Jays gave him no run support. For another example you need look no further than the unit when in 2004 he was 16-14 with a 2.60 ERA. I see a lot of comments about WHIP, Walks and hits per inning pitched. I see this as being a largely irrelevant stat as the ERA will reflect if you walk a bunch of people. Plus your W/L stat will suffer due to too many pitches.

On to football. Defense. Three things you need to know about Defense. RYPG, PYPG and points. Simple as that. Offense, RYPG, PYPG and points. Those 3 stats will get you everywhere you need to go. No defense has ever been number 2 in defense and the offense been number 2 and the team sucks. Come on man. Now on to my Kurt Warner. Everyone knows that Warner is a Playoff player, although he played well during the regular season. Against the Packers 29-33 for 379 yards and 5 TD's 0 INT's. What the hell else do you need to know? If you ever get a chance to see a replay of the game, I would suggest you do so. Warner didn't throw an incompletion in the last 10 minutes of the game. His defense was shit obviously. Do I really need some sort of complex stats to tell me anything else. Maybe 3rd down conversion, but that will be shown in PPG. If you can't convert on 3rd down, you aren't going to score a lot of points.

With defense, if a team is number 15 in YPG and PPG, chances are they are a decent team that you should be weary of. How will they do against you? I don't know that's why you PLAY THE DAMN GAME. So while Aaron Schatz is in his basement cranking out useless stats, I'll be on my couch enjoying the game. BTW, does anyone really need to look at DVOA or DYAR to figure out who the good teams or players are going to be this year? Screw you Football Outsiders.

I saved this for the end. I know stats too, yup seems like I think I know it all, but I was a math guy before I did the law thing. Not just a little math either. Yeah, screw me I'm an arrogant bastard.

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