August 26, 2014

Justin Masterson’s offer might be fair, but that doesn’t make it good: The Diff

Angels Indians BaseballIt’s a popular opinion to dislike the Dolan family for their ownership of the Cleveland Indians. Ever since purchasing the team in 2000, they’ve been characterized as cheapskates unable to consistently afford to compete in the non-salary cap landscape of Major League Baseball.

Last night’s news that Justin Masterson negotiations have ended for the spring certainly didn’t help that narrative. Per the reports, the team’s ace had been eager to sign a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland after narrowly avoiding arbitration for a final time. Now, it appears he’ll at least test the open markets this winter.

Despite the popular opinions, there actually might be some logic to what the Indians might (or might not) be doing with this maneuver. There might be sound reason for hesitation with Masterson’s reported three-year $52 million offer. Let’s explore some reasons why.

[Read more...]

The Diff: Looking at extension examples for the Indians and Jason Kipnis

The Diff is your weekly WaitingForNextYear look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles over the last 12 months, click this link.

The Diff

This week has generally been an exciting one for Cleveland Indians fans. Beloved (yet probably overrated) outfielder Michael Brantley was signed to a long-term contract. The deal covered the Branley’s remaining arbitration seasons and guaranteed at least one free agency year. Many are thrilled about the team’s commitment to a fan favorite. With that deal out of the way, it’s now time to discuss the next young Indians position player extension candidate: 2013 American League All-Star Jason Kipnis. This deal might not be so easy to negotiate. [Read more...]

The Diff: Revisiting ShotScore and how the Cavs are terrible

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the downfall for the Cavs in four terrible home losses. This week, I’m focusing on shooting data again.

The Diff

Within the next 15 days, this Cleveland Cavaliers roster should undergo yet another significant shift. The past few weeks of speculation have made it perfectly clear that not everyone – front office and/or personnel-wise – will survive this season from hell. While there are storylines for days about what that means for the organization’s future, I wanted to focus – perhaps for one of the final actually meaningful times – on what we’re seeing out on the court from these Cavaliers of late. Today, I’ll be looking at the Cavs’ efficiency from a number of different areas, again highlighting the ShotScore statistic. [Read more...]

The Diff: How the Cavs lost momentum during home losses

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about C.J. Miles’ oddly impressive plus-minus data. This week, I’m logging terrible recent runs against the Cavaliers.

The Diff

This Cleveland Cavaliers season has not gone according to plan. That’s the understatement of the year. Heading into this five-game home stand, the team appeared to be turning a corner. With Luol Deng in tow, they were 4-2, including a very solid five-game road swing. But with just one win – against the NBA’s worst team – over the past nine days, the Cavs season has perhaps hit its crescendo. And these losses weren’t just any boring defeat; no, they went down in the most Cleveland way possible. [Read more...]

The Diff: C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers difference-maker

The Diff is your (usually) weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sport statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Two weeks ago, I recapped all of the Cleveland Indians pitching moves this offseason. Today, I’m writing about an unheralded Cleveland Cavaliers hero.

The Diff

C.J. Miles is an inconsistent NBA player, generally regarded as a near-average shooting guard. He’s been around the block and has a decent amount of career minutes for only being 26 years old. This season, he played fairly miserably for a solid six-week stretch. The season is exactly halfway over so that’s a pretty large chunk of the total games played. But yet, somehow, he’s numerically been the Cavs’ biggest difference-maker on the court. This post will attempt to show how exactly that’s happened. [Read more...]

The Diff: Reviewing Indians pitching moves this offseason

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. On Friday, I wrote about the Cavs’ terrible offense (except for when they play the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, apparently). Today, I’m writing about the many offseason transactions involving pitchers for the the Cleveland Indians.

The Diff

Entering this offseason, it appeared the Indians were in a lot of trouble with their pitching. In 2012, they were terrible, abysmal and among the worst in baseball. In 2013, everything seemingly went well. Players were healthy and reclamation projects turned into stars. Yet, the Tribe only ranked slightly better than average among AL teams with a 3.82 ERA. But then, they were set to lose players to free agency responsible for 38% of their starts and 45% of their relief appearances. Everyone knew the Indians would be busy and would need to spend money. But would they make a splash to replace the lost production? Thus far, they haven’t. [Read more...]

The Diff: The Cavs and their terrible, horrible offense

The Diff is your (usually) weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Welcome to 2014. Two weeks ago, I wrote about Omer Asik trade rumors and the Cavaliers. Today, I’m writing about the Cavs’ no good, very bad offense.

The Diff

The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow won last night to improve to 11-21. Within this disappointing season, there have already been a number of issues on and off the court. The most troubling aspect of this year’s terrible start might just have to be the team’s abysmal offense. Overall, the Cavs now sport the NBA’s 27th-best offensive efficiency rating at 97.0 points per 100 possessions. That might surprise you a bit based on the presence of All-Star Kyrie Irving. But 2013-14 has proved to be a collective offensive mess of epic proportions. [Read more...]

The Diff: Should Cavs be involved in an Omer Asik trade?

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about Cleveland basketball’s dominant frontcourt trio. This week, it’s time to talk NBA trade rumors.

The Diff

The Houston Rockets’ self-imposed deadline for trading center Omer Asik is closing in fast. They now have just about 36 hours to make their ideal trade within the NBA’s trading calendar. And, for some unholy and unknown reason, the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to be in the mix of all the Asik rumors. Logically, as many have speculated, the Cavs could be intricately involved solely because they want to be the third team in any such deal. Let’s dive into all the gory details to see what could happen and what should happen. [Read more...]

The Diff: Cavs big men trio among NBA’s best of late

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about “ace” Justin Masterson’s future with the Cleveland Indians. This week, it’s back to basketball to talk Cavaliers big men.

The Diff

The Cleveland Cavaliers have suddenly won four of their last five games. During these contests, the triumvirate of Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson has averaged a combined 37.6 points and 32.0 rebounds on 54.9% true shooting. The resurgence of these three has been a huge reason for the recent streak. Now that they’re all (currently) healthy, they might be one of the best frontcourts in the very weak Eastern Conference and perhaps in the entire NBA. Let’s dive into their recent success and look at their possible future together in leading the Cavs. [Read more...]

The Diff: What’s up with Justin Masterson’s Indians future?

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about Dion Waiters’ present and future. This week, I’m talking about Justin Masterson’s upcoming contract situation.

The Diff

The ace of the Cleveland Indians is under team control for only one more season. Justin Masterson, the 29-year-old acquired from Boston four years ago, could be the biggest key for the team’s long-term salary issues. In this ever important offseason with the team expected to add another starter to the fold, their attention also is likely on Masterson’s future. Is he worthy of a long-term extension already? What is the expected dollar amount? Let’s dive into the numbers. [Read more...]

The Diff: Making sense of Dion Waiters’ present and future

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I shared some stats after the Browns’ depressing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. This week, I’m talking at length about Dion Waiters.

The Diff

Dion Waiters is the most polarizing player on the Cleveland Cavaliers. He supersedes the tweener rookie with a 2.3 PER, the former All-Star coping with his battered present state, the current All-Star perhaps struggling to lead the charge and all the other enigmatic players on this disappointing 4-10 squad. In just 17 short months since the 2012 draft, the soon-to-be 22-year-old Waiters continues to be a target of negative commentary. David Thorpe of ESPN and Scouts Inc. is the latest to do so. [Read more...]

The Diff: Stats on the Browns’ depressing loss to Cincinnati

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the fascinating new SportVU data and early Cavaliers shooting charts. This week, it’s over to football to talk in “Fun With Numbers”-style about the Cleveland Browns’ horrific loss to Cincinnati.

The Diff

67.0% – The difference in winning percentage for the Browns between the end of the first quarter and halftime on Sunday in Cincinnati. When BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ three-yard loss of a run ended the first quarter, Cleveland held a 68.5% win probability, per the amazing research website Pro-Football-Reference.com. The road team’s high point was 80% following an Andy Dalton incompletion two minutes prior. But, by halftime, after a terrible, horrible 15-minute turn of events, Browns had just a 1.5% win probability. One play alone – the second blocked punt of Spencer Lanning – affected the odds by 17.2% while giving the Bengals their first lead of the game. [Read more...]

The Diff: SportVU and early Cavaliers shooting data

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I looked at the Cleveland Indians offseason with their 2014 salary situation. This week, I’m talking about advanced shooting stats in the NBA.

The Diff

The NBA is on the verge of something humongous. And it has to do with big, gigantic data. MLB had its signature data moment with the 2003 publication of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball.” Now an over-used economic reference, “Moneyball” was actually about past events and what the Oakland A’s were already doing with proprietary data. In the NBA, the ground-breaking data just was released en masse in its most complete form. And there’s no telling what the consequences of SportVU could be. [Read more...]

The Diff: Indians offseason, 2014 salary and contention windows

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. This is my 41st edition of The Diff. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I injected some stats into a Cavs rotation projection. This week, I’m writing about 2014 Indians salary issues.

The Diff

For many, talking about baseball salaries is a tiring and depressing issue. These fans will point to the unfair system that allows teams like New York, Los Angeles and Boston to spend their way into the playoffs each year while teams like Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland wilt away at the bottom. But this idea ignores a clear truth: Teams like the Rays (four straight 90-win seasons) and Athletics (seven playoffs in 14 years) still have managed to win baseball games consistently. Their small-budget success makes one wonder how the Cleveland Indians could be even more efficient in the future. That continues with this current offseason. [Read more...]

The Diff: Projecting the Cavs’ 2013-2014 rotation

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about how Kyrie Irving might actually be over-rated. This week, I’m writing about typical NBA rotations.

The Diff

The Cavs have had some strange players take the court over the three years of the Byron Scott era. I’ve shared this chart before many times that breaks down the minutes of those three seasons. It’s dreadful. You’ll see players like Samardo Samuels, Ryan Hollins, Manny Harris and Christian Eyenga with over 1,000 minutes! Alonzo Gee is the overall minutes leader! Anthony Parker and Ramon Sessions are in the top seven! That’s the biggest change for the 2013-14 season: The entire bench has been remodeled and fans will see a very, very new Cavs rotation. [Read more...]

The Diff: Did #NBARank actually overrate Kyrie Irving?

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about an estimate of Kirk Goldsberry’s new ShotScore statistic. This week, I’m writing about arbitrary player ranking systems, for some odd reason.

The Diff

#NBARank is a fabulous concept. It’s scientifically proven that people love lists … just ask BuzzFeed. And what else should ESPN.com do in the usually unexciting waning moments of the NBA preseason? Either way, the 215-person forecast panel has done a fairly good job over the last two years. There are always going to be head-scratchers, undoubtedly. Yet now, I’m left wondering this question: Is Kyrie Irving suddenly overrated after being ranked #8 in this year’s edition? [Read more...]

The Diff: Estimating NBA ShotScores through shooting zones

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about three intriguing stat-lines to watch for the 2013-14 Cavaliers. This week, I’m getting into NBA shooting charts.

The Diff

One of my favorite sportswriters is Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry. Like many of my favorites, he’s a non-traditional writer. A geography professor at Michigan State, he emerged onto the NBA scene via the 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. His project, titled CourtVision, applied his signature specialty of spatial analysis to the game of basketball. It went viral – or at least basketball Twitter viral. Since then, Goldsberry has taken off, and the visiting scholar at Harvard also contributes regularly to Grantland and ESPN properties. His latest column from last week, about a new statistic called ShotScore, is what I’ll be writing about today. [Read more...]

The Diff: Three intriguing stat-lines to watch for the Cavaliers

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I answered some WFNY playoff questions for the Cleveland Indians. This week, it’s preseason basketball talk about the Cavaliers.

The Diff

Last night was the return of basketball to the Quicken Loans Arena. It was a fun atmosphere; albeit one prefaced with the damnation of “preseason.” Mike Brown’s defensive style was certainly in showcase, one first half defensive miscue-forced timeout at a time. With the regular season now just three weeks away, previews ablazing, today’s the perfect day to look at three underrated stat-lines to watch with regards to the hard-to-predict 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. [Read more...]

The Diff: Playoff stats research for the Cleveland Indians

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I recapped some stats from the Indians’ turnaround 2013 regular season. Today, I’m taking stats research questions from my WFNY colleagues with the Wild Card game tonight.

The Diff

Kirk: “How about how often the best team wins it all in baseball? Wild card vs. top division winner success.”

That’s a great question, Kirk. This week, I was planning to write about MLB payrolls, but then realized that was too depressing of a topic. If payrolls don’t matter anyway, then have the low-to-medium-sized payroll Indians struggled for much of the last decade? Either way, my answer to this: The MLB playoffs are an absolute crap-shoot, even despite the incredible payroll imbalance. [Read more...]

The Diff: Reviewing stats on the surprising 2013 Indians

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote on the varying playoff odds formulations. This week, I’m revisiting many of my stats comments about the Tribe in 2013.

The Diff

Today is Sept. 25 and the Cleveland Indians have over 80 percent odds of making the American League playoffs. Yes, that’s likely as one of two Wild Card teams, but all that matters is just making it into the postseason. Dating back to the advent of the Wild Card system in 1994, home teams are only 316-271 (.538) in the playoffs. That means it’s still very much an incredible toss-up in the probable one-game playoff that would take place one week from today, regardless of location. [Read more...]