This Week in Skeptical Sports Analysis

I’ve just returned from a weekend wedding getaway in NoCal, and I’m excited to get back to work on the blog. In this weekly feature (which will normally be posted on Sundays), I will post blog-related news, review some of the site activity from the previous week, give quick previews of what’s to come in the following week and what’s in the works, plus respond to any questions or requests.

Blog news:

  • There is now a sweet iPhone/mobile version of the blog, thanks to the WPTouch plug-in. To see it, just open the blog in any iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Palm Pre device.
  • I’ve added my Twitter feed to the right sidebar, using the Twitter Goodies plug-in. It works nicely, although it currently won’t display my re-tweets. If you happen to know how to fix this, please email me.
  • I added a “praise for Skeptical Sports” section to the “about this blog” page. By default, I assume that public statements of praise (e.g., from Twitter, in the comments, or on a public forum) are OK to duplicate there, but if for whatever reason you don’t want your statement to appear anymore, just let me know and I’ll remove it.
  • There’s a thread on 2+2 (a poker/gambling forum with an excellent sports section) about this blog that contains a decent amount of discussion about some of the topics I’ve posted on, especially Dennis Rodman and Carmello Anthony. It also includes some silly speculation about what my “secret identity” on 2+2 might be, but the sports analysis is interesting. Also, if any of those guys are reading, feel free to post in the comments here as well (and I don’t mind cross-posting).

Last week on the blog:

This week on the blog:

  • I will be posting parts 1(c) and 2 of my Rodman series. The first will examine whether Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell were the Gods of Rebounding that Bill Simmons and others always claim they were, and the second will try to pin down exactly how valuable Rodman’s rebounding was to the teams he played for (criticizing PER’s in the process).
  • I will be posting my Tennis Service Aggression Calculator, which will use a tiny bit of calculus to model whether a player should be more aggressive in their service game.
  • I will post something on the NFL, either a model for evaluating pre-season predictions that I’ve been working on, or my long-promised “Show Me a Quarterback that Doesn’t Throw Interceptions and I’ll Show You a Sucky Quarterback” analysis.

In the works:

  • Death, Taxes, and Randy Moss: a discussion of statistical entanglement in the NFL, and the implications for player analysis.
  • A comprehensive criticism of Hollinger statistics: This will probably be my next big series after the one on Rodman. I hate to do basketball back-to-back, but this research is practically done and dying to be published.
  • Is Usain Bolt a natural 400 runner?: An examination of the 10m splits for Bolt’s record-setting runs, and what they say about his top speed advantage and his endurance.

By request:

  • In the comments for Rodman 1(b), Jake asked what the “Ambicourtedness” graph would look like if Rodman were taken out of the sample. This was not difficult, particularly since it looks virtually the same. Here it is:

Top 1000_11343_image003

  • A friend privately asked me what other NBA stars’ Offensive v. Defensive rebound % graphs looked like, suggesting that, while there may be a tradeoff overall, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the particular lack of tradeoff that Rodman shows is rare. This is a very good question, so I looked at similar graphs for virtually every player who had 5 or more seasons in the “Ambicourtedness Top 1000.” There are other players who have positively sloping trend-lines, though none that come close to Rodman’s. I put together a quick graph to compare Rodman to a number of other big name players who were either great rebounders (e.g., Moses Malone), perceived-great rebounders (e.g., Karl Malone, Dwight Howard), or Charles Barkley:

Top 1000_11343_image001

  • If you have requests or questions that you would like me to answer on the blog, let me know. And it doesn’t have to be a follow-up to a post I’ve already made: If you have some completely different topic that you would like to see analyzed, or some article that you would like to see reviewed, let me know and I will try to get to it. I can promise that if I get any topic requests that meet the minimal interestingness threshold (that is, I think “hmm, interesting”), I will address at least one of them every week or so.