Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ranking the NBA's Best Backcourts

Noted idiot Dion Waiters got into some Twitter fight or something with John Wall this week over who was the best pair of starting guards in the NBA, the Wizards' Wall and Bradley Beal or the Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Now Waiters might have rested his case with a Youtube clip of him scoring 24 points on contested 2s, but we at The Whole 42 Minutes like to dig a little deeper (Andy a little deeper?).



What follows is the comprehensive ranking of NBA guard units, including backups.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Good Derek Jeter Actually Was































Derek Jeter's farewell tour is mercifully over, and the Yankee captain of the past decade is finally hanging up the spikes. We've all seen the fanfare around Jeter's exit, and also the vomit-inducing hagiography, and the backlash to that hagiography. Jeter is a player who had a great career, but his legacy is buried under piles and piles of bullshit from both sides. I'm here to right the wrongs, and give Jeter exactly the objective farewell that he has earned (at least, as much as I am able to as a Red Sox fan).

I'd like to focus on something that has plagued Jeter's legacy in the last few weeks: cherry picking stats. It's easy to argue against those who call Jeter the greatest Yankee, or in some cases, the greatest player of all time. That's just crazy talk. But people on both sides of the Jeter conversation -- the knob slobbers and the haters -- have been cherry picking stats to make Jeter seem the way they want him to seem. That's obviously unfair, and for any player with a 20-year career, you could find stats that make him sound like the best or worst. Two examples of this cherry picking are Keith Olbermann's rant against Jeter's legacy and Jayson Stark's very stupid article detailing Derek by the numbers.

Clayton Kershaw For 2014 MVP

Clayton Kershaw is fighting a battle on two fronts for the NL MVP award. Since pitchers have the CY Young award, voters have been reluctant to vote for pitchers - not only does Kershaw have to best the rest of the NL, he has to best historical trends. I think he will and deserves to do win the award this season.

First, Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet. His numbers this year put him in a class above everyone else, and it’s been a great year for pitchers. Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale in the AL and Johnny Cueto and Adam Wainwright in the NL all put up fantastic seasons, and yet Kershaw will win the CY Young unanimously and would in either league. He has the best WHIP, ERA and FIP, of course, but the underlying numbers are there too. Kershaw put up the best strikeout rate in baseball and 7th best walk rate so he did everything he could to avoid balls in play and unnecessary baserunners. He also induced weak contact: 15th best ground ball rate and third best infield fly rate (the best types of contact for a pitcher as they have the greatest correlation to outs). No other pitcher can match this arsenal of strikeouts, control and run-suppressing contact.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Revisiting FanGraphs WAR

Back in June, I posted something about the problems that I saw with team WAR about a third of the way through the baseball season. In that post, I said I'd revisit the WAR issue, seeing as how there was a relatively small sample size. Now that the season is really almost over, let's revisit that.

At the time of the last post, the line of best fit of the WAR-adjusted wins and real wins had a slop of about 0.4, quite far from the "ideal" 1. This is what that graph looks like now:


As we can see, the line of best fit has a slop of over 0.85, which is essentially as close to perfect as one can expect. This makes me feel better. However, there are some major differences between the team WAR calculations in June and those today.

This time, the highest FanGraphs team WAR belongs to the Nationals at 2.0, and the lowest is the Cubs at 0.6. The essential definition, or perhaps goal, of WAR is to measure a player's value above a hypothetical "replacement" player. That replacement-level is defined as the level of players that, if an entire team consisted of such players, its winning percentage would be .294. So if we are to take that definition to heart and apply it to team WAR as it stands now on FanGraphs, no team would have more than 50 wins at this point by WAR. Obviously, team WAR is not measuring this, but I'm not sure what it's measuring. It's been adjusted somehow, but I'm not sure how. I've adjusted the WAR win totals to more closely reflect real wins so that they could be compared more easily apples-to-apples.

So as we can see, there are very few serious outliers at this point in the season, and the line of best fit more or less accurately reflects a pretty good approximation of wins as seen through the lens of WAR. But that team WAR certainly is not just a stat that adds up all the individual players' WAR throughout the season, so I'm not sure what it is exactly. Player WAR is still not clarified by this examination.

Next season, I'll be keeping an eye on this and digging deeper into these issues. For now, let's throw all these out the window and enjoy the randomness of 1, 5, and 7-game series.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ray Rice and the Monolith

Ray Rice deserved this suspension in February. He got it Monday.

TMZ's release of the Ray Rice footage had one crucial consequence: it turned a hypothetical into a definite. As many have pointed out, what was on the video didn't reveal anything we didn't already know. Janay Palmer entered the elevator conscious and was unceremoniously dragged out of it unconscious. Rice entered the elevator conscious and left it remorselessly shuttling his limp fiancee's body out. She switched from active to passive voice; he did not.


There really aren’t any extenuating circumstances to that story, there can't be. Ray Rice has been paid millions of dollars to take abuse from men nearly twice his size, to use his muscular and explosive body to elude them, even to dish out punishment to those giants and to do it well. Whether his fiancee provoked him or not, Rice’s reaction was unconscionable and sickening. He beat the ever-living shit out of her, and we knew this in February. (I could do without the pandering a man should never hit a woman angle. Maybe just don't assault people in general.) The tape was nothing but visceral confirmation and now Rice is out of a job, probably for a long time.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ranking the Hours of the Day

24. 5 a.m. If you're up this late or this early you're going to be miserable.
23. 6 a.m. Same as 5 a.m. but a little more plausible.
22. 7 a.m. Waking up between 7:00-7:59 is pretty standard, but that's not a fun hour. The highlight is probably brushing your teeth.
21. 11 a.m. Damn man I be getting so hungry before lunch.
20. 8 a.m. You're most likely commuting this hour, not that much fun!
19. 3 p.m. Fuck, I've been here six hours and am so tired and not even close to done.
18. 4 a.m. One of the least utilized hours, most likely you're sleeping but if you're not it sucks.
17. 3 a.m. This is the hour of awful college kids have deep meaningful conversations in the dorm lounges.
16. 12 p.m. It's just starting to get hot, sports haven't started yet, and if you're doing it right you are starving and waiting another whole fucking hour for lunch.
15. 2 a.m. You're either in that solid REM sleep or not quite sure why you've been watching shitty TV for the past 4 hours and mad at how tired you're going to be tomorrow.
14. 10 a.m. Actual working has commenced, you've got hours to go before you lunch, and the good articles haven't come on the internets yet.
13. 9 a.m. An overall decent hour. You're probably enjoying that nice snooze on the weekend and during the week you're getting into work which means time to hit up gchat and not work for at least your first hour.
12. 6 p.m. Huge inconsistency with 6 p.m. Could mean you're working out or starting happy hour or it could mean you're realizing how late you're going to be stuck at work and cancelling your plans.
11. 4 p.m. Afternoon sports are ending which is nice, but in the winter you're saying goodbye to the sun and getting all sad.
10. 2 p.m. You're up, you've got energy, there's still some sun. Not too shabby.
9. 1 a.m. Pretty late, you're probably sleepy, but some cool stuff could be going down to keep you up this late.
8. 11 p.m. The hour of Seinfeld reruns. Not a bad hour. Solidly above average with decent upside potential.
7. 8 p.m. The dinner hour is pretty solid, but you're probably going to have to do dishes too. Minus points for not having good TV yet.
6. 12 a.m. You're finally getting into that good good sleep, hit that REM cycle like whoa.
5. 5 p.m. Hopefully you're getting off work and free. Minus points for it being an hour for commuting.
4. 7 p.m. Sports and jeopardy start this hour. Pretty solid hour imo.
3. 1 p.m. The lunching hour means you don't have to work. Bonus points for it being the starting time for afternoon sports.
2. 9 p.m. Good TV on, night events starting, drinking likely beginning on the weekend.
1. 10 p.m. Still got energy, good shit is on TV, sports games are ending, good stuff all around.

NFL and Roger Goodell: Idiots who are Full of Shit


The video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee in an elevator, something we already knew happened, was released a few days ago. The NFL and the Baltimore Ravens came down hard on Ray Rice. There's a lot of talk out there about how there must have been a cover-up and how the NFL must have seen the tape before. This piece by Deadspin's Drew Magary makes a pretty strong hypothetical case for why the NFL must have seen the tape before a couple of days ago. Drew's last bullet point, however, is causing me the most confusion: we didn't need the tape to know what happened.