Friday, December 19, 2014

The Mavericks answer the wrong question by trading for Rajon Rondo

Last night, the Celtics agreed to trade nine-year veteran Rajon Rondo and someone named Dwight Powell to the Mavericks in exchange for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a first round pick, and their 2016 second round pick. The first round pick falls to Boston if the Mavericks pick between 4-14 in 2015 and if not, the Celtics receive the Mavericks pick as long as it is not a top 7 pick. The Celtics are fully committed to their rebuild and have a shit ton of draft picks in the upcoming years. This post is going to focus on the Mavericks and why they would want Rajon Rondo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Correct Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

All this Ferguson stuff is making me sick, so let's take our minds off that for a second with some sports. A couple of years ago, when no one was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we were upset. Last year, by failing to vote in "Hall of Very Good" pitcher Jack Morris, the voters made up for their 2012 debacle a little bit. JUST A LITTLE THOUGH. Here at The Whole 42 Minutes, we take the Baseball Hall of Fame very seriously for some reason. So to follow up on that last linked post -- Sean's logical HOF ballot from 2012 -- I'm doing the 2014 edition. The candidates were just released, and here they are.

Side note before we begin: Kenny Lofton, someone whom I publicly believed should be in the Hall of Fame, is no longer even on the ballot because he didn't receive 5% of the voters' votes. That's a shame. I'll always remember you, Kenny.

First-timers who deserve a spot

Randy Johnson: Randy Johnson has a legitimate case for the Mount Rushmore of pitchers. He's either the 4th- or 5th-best pitcher ever on my list. 303 wins, 5 Cy Youngs, 2nd-most strikeouts ever, and a 75 ERA- over a 22-year career. Also a World Series MVP in 2001, for what that's worth (something!). He's the definition of a first-ballot HOFer.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ranking Baseball's Positions

During game 7, Harold Reynolds continued his postseason of saying stupid shit when he casually said that third base was one of the weakest positions in the league. This random remark was immediately proven wrong when me, Jon, and Steve being the nerdy nerds that we are just started texting each other names of good third basemen. So take that Harold, with your stupid name.

Anyways, now that baseball is done, let's rate the top positions in baseball. These ratings will look at the overall crop of players at each position. The point is not to say that catchers are worse than first basemen at hitting; this we know. It's about figuring out if there are clusters of good or bad players at the positions right now.

Here we go:

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.