Month: September 2019


  • Deflategate Doesnt Explain The Patriots Romping All Over The Colts

    Seven seasons after Spygate, when the New England Patriots got caught in a bit of rule-bending, the team finds itself embroiled in yet another controversy: Deflate-gate.According to ESPN’s sources, 11 of the 12 game balls allotted to New England for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts were underinflated by a couple pounds per square inch, failing to meet NFL regulations. This is potentially significant because a flatter football is easier to throw and catch, particularly in the rainy conditions of Sunday’s game.On its face, this would seem to be a story impenetrable to data analysis. We don’t yet know who or what was responsible for the deflation. It’s also impossible to quantify how much of a boost the Patriots’ passing game received from the flat balls, and although officials detected the underinflated balls at halftime, it’s not clear in which segments of the game the Patriots used the offending balls (for what it’s worth, New England’s highest-scoring quarter came immediately after halftime).But analytics can at least begin to assess how much of the Patriots’ 38-point victory can be attributed to their passing game.According to Pro-Football-Reference’s expected points metric, which tracks how many net points are added by each play after accounting for down, distance and field position, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ passing offense added 14.1 points to the team’s margin. By contrast, Andrew Luck and the Colts contributed -10.5 expected points through the air, so the difference between the two teams’ passing production was worth about 24.6 points of scoring margin to the Patriots — still about two touchdowns shy of the Colts’ entire scoreboard deficit.Now, expected points don’t take into account the leverage of the game situation in which they were produced, so here’s what the game looks like if we break down Pro-Football-Reference’s Win Probability Added (WPA) numbers by play type and quarter:In terms of game-level WPA, the biggest differences between New England and Indianapolis were in the running game and on special teams, not passing. Also, the Colts’ passing attack piled up more WPA than the Pats did in the game’s first half, when the fullest effect of the deflated balls would presumably have been felt.Again, we don’t know exactly how much of a boost Brady and company received due to the deflated footballs, but it’s tough to make the statistical case that a moderately reduced Patriots passing game would be enough to close the gap between New England and Indianapolis in other areas of the game. Any deflation effect would have to be much larger to cause that kind of difference.All of this is probably beside the point, though. Statistically, the Patriots’ videotaping during the Spygate era probably didn’t make much difference either, but the scandal lent an air of illegitimacy to the NFL’s last dynasty. Depending on what the league’s investigation uncovers here, New England could find another unfortunate footnote attached to one of the most impressive 14-year runs in football history. read more

  • Should Your Team Buy Or Sell At The MLB Trade Deadline

    TEAMDOYLEEIGHTFIVETWOTWOFIVEEIGHT Cubs2.01593894.6 wins89.2% Reds0.00386065.40.0 Blue Jays0.9513.57.12.42.16.412.5 Twins0.00376175.80.0 Indians1.57564187.274.4 Giants1.54584086.077.8 Blue Jays0.95554486.036.0 Yankees0.15504879.49.7 Decisions, decisions… White Sox0.30485081.515.8 Marlins0.8215.98.32.81.95.711.1 Royals0.08484975.87.7 For teams like these, doing something — in either direction — is better than doing nothing. Standing pat means reaping neither the long-term benefit of selling nor the immediate dividends of buying. But knowing you have to make a move is the easy part; figuring out the best move, given both your own roster and the composition of the trade market, is a far more difficult task facing each team’s general manager this week.It’s no coincidence that many of these cases involve teams whose division-series odds are mismatched with the talent on their rosters. For instance, the Marlins are one of baseball’s biggest surprise playoff contenders, and although they merely rate as an average team by our Elo rankings — typically the profile of the deadline seller — they’ve mostly been linked to rumors as a buyer this month. By contrast, the Astros, Cardinals, Mets and Blue Jays rank among MLB’s most talented teams, but they’re all in wild-card dogfights right now. None is likely to sell, but Doyle thinks they could be wasting an opportunity to build for the future by chasing a title this season.At the very least, a method like Doyle can provide a framework for conceptualizing a team’s place on the buyer/seller spectrum. And it tells us that, with the playoffs quickly approaching, the top teams in baseball should spend the week trying to load up on talent for a World Series run. The MLB playoffs may be a crapshoot, but the trade deadline is a place where contenders can shift the odds a bit more in their favor — for a price. Mariners0.30504883.612.4 Orioles0.95574079.464.4 Athletics0.02455478.11.1 Pirates0.48514785.217.1 Rangers0.99574279.168.9 Rays0.00386080.00.0 Source: FanGraphs.com Astros1.18544487.841.0 TEAMDOYLEWINSLOSSESTALENT/162 GAMESDIVISION SERIES ODDS Angels0.01435577.30.4 Marlins0.82534585.133.1 Who should be buying and selling at the trade deadline? Diamondbacks0.00415777.80.1 It’s trade deadline week in Major League Baseball, and that means endless deliberation over which teams should buy talent to mount a postseason charge, and which should sell their stars with an eye to the future.To help with that calculus last year, my colleague Nate Silver and I developed what we called the “Doyle Number.” At the trade deadline, a team’s Doyle Number is simply the rate at which it should be willing to trade talent in the future for talent in the current season in order to maximize the franchise’s total World Series wins. (It’s named for the Detroit Tigers’ 1987 trade that sent pitching prospect — and future Hall of Famer — John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for veteran Doyle Alexander, one of the most infamous examples in trading history of giving up long-term value for a short-term gain.)A Doyle Number above 1.00 means the team is a buyer — it should be willing to give up more wins of talent in the future than it’s getting in the present, because a shot at the World Series this season is too good to pass up. (The Cubs, for example, have an MLB-leading Doyle of 2.01, meaning they should be willing to give up double the future wins for each win of talent they acquire in 2016.) Conversely, a Doyle Number under 1.00 means the team should probably be selling; current-season talent becomes less and less important the further a team is from the playoff picture. A Doyle of zero, reserved for hopeless playoff causes, essentially means there’s no amount of current-season talent that would make giving up a future win worth it. (You can read about how we calculate Doyle Numbers in more detail here.)It’s important to note that our model simplifies the way deadline trades work. For instance, on the short-term side of the talent trade-off, Doyle is looking at the current season only — think of “rental players” in a walk year, rather than those who might stick with the club long-term. Deadline deals usually center around free-agents-to-be, which is why players like Jonathan Lucroy and Josh Reddick will probably be on the move this week — but they don’t always, so it’s something to keep in mind if your team makes a move that runs counter to its Doyle Number.Here are the Doyle Numbers for all of this year’s teams, as of Monday morning:1All numbers were calculated before the Yankees traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs Monday. Nationals2.00584194.876.0 For those curious, the average Doyle Number across MLB is currently 0.62, well below the buy/sell cutoff of 1.00. That’s because our method is focused on winning the championship, which relatively few teams are in the hunt to do; it’s also a particularly top-heavy year in baseball. The implication is that most teams should stand pat, but there are some interesting exceptions — more on them later.Also, it may seem counterintuitive for already great teams such as the Cubs and Nationals to rank so highly in Doyle, since the common archetype of a trade-deadline buyer is a team teetering on the edge of a playoff berth, desperately in need of an extra boost to join the postseason party. But as Nate and I found last year, that’s a bit of a misconception. If all we cared about was making the playoffs,2Which, for the purposes of this method, we’re considering to be a Division Series berth — i.e., the definition of a playoff appearance before the advent of the single-elimination Wild Card games in 2012. then the model would indeed emphasize teams on the brink of contention. But since we’re focused on the rings, it’s more important for a top team to load up on firepower in preparation for a near-certain playoff bid than for a middling team to sneak into the postseason. Baseball’s playoffs are incredibly random, but adding more and more talent can help overcome that — long past the point at which it reaches diminishing returns in helping lock down a playoff spot.Of course, that doesn’t mean we should focus exclusively on the World Series front-runners this week. In fact, some of Doyle’s most interesting deadline inflection points belong to teams on the edge of the playoffs.A team’s basic Doyle Number is just a starting point — the rate at which a club should be willing to accept or trade away talent can also change depending on how much talent is on the table. For teams caught between buying and selling at the deadline, this can create a U-shaped curve in their expected-championships function: they could ask for more future wins in exchange for giving away talent now, or they could just as easily be willing to give up more future talent in exchange for victories in the present.The following seven clubs have a pronounced U-shape to their expected championship curve, depending on whether they buy or sell in the next week-plus:3I based the increments (2, 5 or 8 WAR acquired or traded away) on the guidelines provided by Baseball-Reference.com: 8 wins roughly equates to an MVP-caliber player, 5 wins to an All-Star and 2 wins to a typical starter. Red Sox1.49554190.149.4 Braves0.00336664.60.0 Dodgers1.74564493.549.3 Division Series odds are measured using FanGraphs’ “coin-flip” method.Source: FanGraphs.com Cardinals0.8714.77.82.62.05.911.4 Brewers0.00415572.40.2 Phillies0.00455565.60.9 Astros1.1810.55.61.92.67.814.8 Mets0.89524587.528.5 Orioles0.9513.77.12.42.26.612.9 Rangers0.9913.06.82.32.26.813.3 Mets0.8914.47.62.52.06.011.7 Rockies0.04475175.53.8 Tigers0.35514881.218.8 Padres0.00435670.60.3 Cardinals0.87524688.923.7 FUTURE PAYMENT (IN WINS) FOR WINS SOLDFUTURE COST (IN WINS) FOR WINS BOUGHT read more

  • NFL Will Fine Teams If Players Kneel During Anthem

    David Tepper, left, speaks as NFL commissioner Roger Goodall looks on during a news conference where he was introduced as the new owner of the Carolina Panthers at the NFL owners spring meeting Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)ATLANTA (AP) — NFL owners approved a new policy Thursday aimed at addressing the firestorm over national anthem protests, permitting players to stay in the locker room during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” but requiring them to stand if they come to the field.Commissioner Roger Goodell said the change was approved unanimously by the owners at their spring meeting in Atlanta, but it was met with immediate skepticism by the players’ union.“We want people to be respectful of the national anthem. We want people to stand,” Goodell said. “That’s all personnel, and to make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That’s something that we think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive on making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.”In a sign that players were not part of the discussions, any violations of the policy would result in fines against the team — not the players.The NFL Players Association said it will challenge any part of the new policy that violates the collective bargaining agreement.The owners spent several hours addressing the contentious issue — which has reached all the way to the White House.Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016, a quiet but powerful protest against police brutality and racial inequities in the justice system.Other players took up the cause, and the gesture carried on during the 2017 season even after Kaepernick left the 49ers and failed to land a job with another team.President Trump turned the anthem protests into a campaign issue , saying the NFL should fire any player who takes a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The NFL hasn’t gone that far, but Kaepernick has yet to land another job and one of his former teammates and fellow protesters, safety Eric Reid, is also out of work.Both have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.While the owners touted the change as a compromise and noted it was approved unanimously, the players’ union made it clear it was not part of the discussions.“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’” the NFLPA said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.”The statement added, “The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara (co-owner of the New York Giants) about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.” read more

  • Should The Devils OneMan Machine Be The NHL MVP

    Source: Hockey-Reference.com 41988PITM. Lemieux168D. Quinn79+89 No. 1 scorerNo. 2 scorer 281980EDMW. Gretzky137B. MacDonald94+43 171991QUEJ. Sakic109M. Sundin59+50 21983EDMW. Gretzky196M. Messier106+90 111996MDAP. Kariya108S. Rucchin44+64 211981CGYK. Nilsson131G. Chouinard83+48 61984EDMW. Gretzky205P. Coffey126+79 101991LAKW. Gretzky163L. Robitaille91+72 71986EDMW. Gretzky215P. Coffey138+77 121989DETS. Yzerman155G. Gallant93+62 Taylor Hall’s place among the NHL’s top one-man offensesBiggest difference between a team’s No. 1 and No. 2 scorers, 1951-2018 292008WSHA. Ovechkin112N. Backstrom69+43 191993PITM. Lemieux160K. Stevens111+49 91985EDMW. Gretzky208J. Kurri135+73 131986PITM. Lemieux141M. Bullard83+58 With days left in the NHL regular season, the race for the Hart Trophy — the league’s MVP award — is as wide-open as it’s been in years. The defending winner, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, once again leads the league in scoring … but his team will miss the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov ranks second, but he cooled off after a red-hot start (and he has to share credit/votes with teammate Steven Stamkos anyway). The leading goal-scorer, three-time MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals, doesn’t even crack the top 10 in total points. And while Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is the betting favorite for MVP, he’s hardly a lock at only fifth in points and 10th in goals.Right into the middle of this fracas has skated New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall, who has been scorching hot in the second half of the season and is seemingly willing New Jersey back into relevance. Hall, who earlier this year had a franchise-record 26-game point streak, now has seven goals and 15 points in his last seven games, including this short-handed game-winner Sunday against the Canadiens:The Hall-for-MVP case mainly rests in just how vital he’s been to the Devils’ offense this season. Hall has either scored or assisted on 39 percent of New Jersey’s goals, almost single-handedly dragging the team to its current 12th-place ranking in scoring. The Devils’ second-leading scorer, 19-year-old NHL rookie Nico Hischier, has notched 51 points on the season — 42 fewer than Hall’s team-leading tally.1For good measure, Hall has had a hand in nearly half of Hischier’s points this season. Not only is that easily the biggest gap in the NHL this year (No. 2 is the 35-point gulf between McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), it’s the biggest the league has seen in a decade and the 30th-biggest difference between a team’s leading scorer and runner-up in a season since 1950-51: 161979MTLG. Lafleur129S. Shutt77+52 142001FLAP. Bure92V. Kozlov37+55 151993TORD. Gilmour127N. Borschevsky74+53 181982WSHD. Maruk136R. Walter87+49 81987EDMW. Gretzky183J. Kurri108+75 202006WSHA. Ovechkin106D. Zubrus57+49 11982EDMW. Gretzky212G. Anderson105+107 241994LAKW. Gretzky130L. Robitaille86+44 231993NYIP. Turgeon132S. Thomas87+45 SeasonTeamPlayerPointsPlayerPointsGap 251999PITJ. Jagr127M. Straka83+44 262006NYRJ. Jagr123M. Nylander79+44 272006PITS. Crosby102S. Gonchar58+44 To find a bigger gap than Hall’s lead over Hischier, you’d have to go back to 2007-08, when Ovechkin topped fellow Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom by 43 points. It’s no coincidence that most of the biggest differences on that list came in the high-flying offensive era of the 1980s and early ’90s, or in the first few seasons after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Today’s game isn’t really set up for a player to shoulder as much of his team’s offensive burden as Hall does for the Devils — but New Jersey has made it work anyway. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the Hall-centric Devils have a 97 percent chance of making the playoffs.And there’s no question the Devils would be in major trouble without their star scorer. In addition to Hall’s lack of offensive support, New Jersey ranks 17th in save percentage with Keith Kinkaid and Cory Schneider between the pipes and is only in the middle of the pack in terms of denying opponent shots. Hall’s evolution from a 53-point scorer last season (his first with New Jersey) to an MVP candidate2Granted, Hall also showed flashes of this potential in Edmonton, tallying 27 goals and 80 points during the 2013-14 season. Perhaps the Oilers shouldn’t have shipped him away in one of the worst NHL trades in recent memory… has been directly responsible for lifting the Devils from last in the Eastern Conference to a likely playoff berth, the team’s first since 2012.Now, Hall isn’t the only player running on that specific narrative. MacKinnon in particular has also built his Hart candidacy around elevating a formerly terrible team into postseason contention. Nor is Hall likely the best player in the league — that honor probably belongs to McDavid, if not an old standby like Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. But in terms of pure value to a team, it’s difficult to find a player whose production is more indispensable than Hall’s has been to the Devils this season. 221990DETS. Yzerman127G. Gallant80+47 302018NJDT. Hall93N. Hischier51+42 51989PITM. Lemieux199R. Brown115+84 31981EDMW. Gretzky164J. Kurri75+89 read more

  • The Browns Suckiness Defies Math And Reason

    32New Orleans136032Cleveland-307.6 30Arizona Cardinals1,676Kurt Warner3,069 32Cleveland Browns-2,805Derek Anderson353 Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Cleveland is leading the league in instabilitySince 2000, the NFL teams with the most (and least) total CHAOS* points 29Green Bay132355 3Cincinnati18063Seattle+210.9 1New England Patriots21,050Tom Brady19,743 2Miami16711179 29Indianapolis147229Oakland-205.2 The Cleveland Browns will soon embark on their 20th season since the city got a second chance at an NFL franchise. And in one very specific, very depressing way, the team is right back where it started. When we fire up our NFL Elo ratings for the new season in a couple of weeks — Elo being FiveThirtyEight’s preferred method of tracking a team’s performance over time — the Browns will begin the year with a rating of 1302. (Average is about 1500.) Roll the clock back to Sept. 12, 1999, and Cleveland’s Elo going into the rebooted franchise’s very first game1A note for all the sticklers out there: Yes, the NFL technically considers the “New Browns” to be a continuation of the franchise that left Cleveland to become the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. We don’t, at least not for the purposes of Elo. Since they directly carried over the Old Browns’ roster, the 1996 Ravens were given the initial Elo implied from Cleveland’s performance in 1995, and the 1999 Browns started out with the Elo of an expansion club. was 1300, the same as any expansion franchise. In other words, two decades later, the Browns are essentially starting from scratch — again. ⋮ Most Valuable PicksBest Drafting Teams ⋮ 4San Francisco18064Carolina+166.2 ⋮ 30N.Y. Giants123249 28N.Y. Giants148328Tampa Bay-170.9 YABQ compares a quarterback’s passing and rushing performance (in terms of adjusted net yards) to that of a hypothetical backup-level NFL QB.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com At QB, the Browns are the bizarro PatriotsMost, and least, total yards above backup quarterback (YABQ) for NFL teams since 1999 ⋮ 2Indianapolis Colts19,266Peyton Manning16,559 1Cleveland18841Green Bay+296.3 26Miami Dolphins2,569Jay Fiedler998 31New England011340 25Jacksonville Jaguars3,551David Garrard2,117 5Pittsburgh Steelers12,954Ben Roethlisberger10,945 6Los Angeles Chargers11,999Philip Rivers10,634 * Cumulative High-Activity Organizational Strife points are a weighted sum of a team’s total year-over-year changes at owner (2 points), general manager (3), coach (7) and quarterback (10). Those weights are based on the effect of each type of change on a team’s performance, after controlling for a team’s baseline level of play.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com Altogether since 1999, the Browns have sunk the league’s highest percentage of pick capital in the most volatile positions in the draft — receivers, quarterbacks and running backs — and the seventh-lowest percentage of capital in the most reliable positions — offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. It’s indicative of the team’s get-rich-quick mindset: Cleveland keeps buying scratch-off lottery tickets, trying to end the franchise’s problems overnight, but instead it just keeps coming up empty. Super Bowl winners aren’t built in a day — but if you operate as though they are, there’s a good chance that your team won’t get to the Super Bowl anytime soon.As all the losses and the failed picks have piled up, Cleveland has also gone through countless leadership changes up and down the organization. Since the Browns were reborn, no team has made more season-to-season switches at general manager or quarterback, and only one (the Raiders) has changed coaches more often.11We aren’t including in-season switches in our count if the new quarterback or coach weren’t the primary person in that role the following season. Our research shows that these moves come with a heavy price: Even after controlling for a team’s Simple Rating System (SRS) score the previous season,12Since bad teams tend to shake things up far more frequently than good ones. teams that change primary quarterback tend to decline by 1.31 points per game of SRS the following season, while that number is 0.91 SRS points for teams changing coaches, 0.36 SRS points for teams changing GMs and 0.26 SRS points for teams with new ownership.We can roll those relative values up into an overall turmoil tally I’m calling the CHAOS (Cumulative High-Activity Organizational Strife) Score. Between any pair of seasons, you get 2 points for changing owners, 3 for changing GMs, 7 for changing coaches and 10 for changing your primary QB. And since 2000,13The 1999 Browns aren’t included here because brand-new expansion teams aren’t eligible for a CHAOS score — it’s taken for granted that they have all-new personnel, so the metric wouldn’t mean much for them. the Browns are the undisputed kings of CHAOS: 9Dallas Cowboys9,478Tony Romo8,138 Top Passer If only the past 20 years of misfortune could be erased that easily. After the team lost its final game of the 2017 season to give the 2008 Detroit Lions some company in the 0-16 club, Cleveland fans held an ironic parade to “celebrate” the team’s anti-accomplishment. But it is perversely impressive to craft a pro football team so dreadful. No other team in the entire history of the NFL has ever suffered through a stretch of 31 losses in 32 tries like the Browns just did. (The next-worst 32-game period belonged again to those Lions, who won two contests total during the 2008 and 2009 seasons; even the infamous expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 4-28 in their first 32 outings.) On paper, the chance of a totally replacement-level team winning just once in two seasons against a typical schedule is about 0.1 percent.Cleveland’s futility, then, borders on impossibility. It’s almost like you have to be trying to be terrible in order to reach the depths the Browns have encountered these past few seasons. And even if you were trying, you probably couldn’t pull it off. So how could such a hopeless situation emerge organically? And as we sit on the cusp of Year 20, is there any hope for the franchise to reverse its own brief, unpleasant history, restoring the tradition of the original version that won four NFL titles right before the Super Bowl era began?For one thing, this team was not well-positioned to succeed in its second NFL go-round. When the original Browns packed up and left for Baltimore in 1996, they took with them the core of a team that had been built by future coaching GOAT Bill Belichick2Whose Browns tenure was admittedly rocky but who also brought to Cleveland elements of the system that would later help turn the New England Patriots into a dynasty. and would be improved upon greatly by standout Ravens general manager (and former Browns tight end) Ozzie Newsome. That team — the old Browns/new Ravens — won the Super Bowl within a half-decade of leaving Cleveland. The team that took its place was an expansion squad built from other teams’ leftovers. Although some new clubs (such as the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers) have had early success, it usually takes five to 10 years before an expansion team can reach respectability.And as longtime Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Terry Pluto notes in “False Start,” his book about the New Browns,3The book was written in 2004 but feels as applicable today as it did then — which speaks volumes about the Browns’ lack of progress during the intervening years. those teams had a significant advantage over Cleveland from day one. According to Pluto, the amount of time between owner Al Lerner being granted the new franchise and the team’s inaugural game (369 days) was the shortest for any expansion club since the New Orleans Saints in 1967 — and the third-shortest of any new team since 1960. By comparison, the Houston Texans (who joined the NFL just three seasons after the Browns were reborn) had a full 1,068 days to fill out their front-office and coaching staffs, and the Jaguars and Panthers each had in excess of 640 days.By Pluto’s estimation, the NFL spent two-and-a-half times as long (911 days) stalling to drive up the bidding on the Browns’ new ownership as the team had to actually build infrastructure and scout players for its new roster once an owner was finally in place. Is it any wonder, then, that the overmatched Browns went 5-27 over their first two seasons of existence?That, of course, doesn’t excuse the 17 seasons that followed. Even given the disadvantaged start, the Browns simply haven’t progressed like other expansion teams of the modern era.4Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. As noted above, in terms of Elo, Cleveland is the first modern expansion team to tumble back to square one after its first two decades in the league.A central paradox rests at the core of the Browns’ struggles. Since returning to existence in 1999, Cleveland has enjoyed the most valuable collection of draft picks in the NFL, according to the Approximate Value5Pro-Football-Reference.com’s method of approximating a player’s value in any given season. It’s far from perfect, but it’s one of the only methods available for comparing performance across positions and ascertaining where on the roster teams are getting their production from. we’d expect players selected in those slots to generate early in their careers.6Specifically, their first five NFL seasons. Yet the Browns have also been — by far — the worst drafting team in the league, in terms of the AV its picks have actually produced relative to those expectations. 31Chicago Bears-949Jay Cutler1,504 5Tennessee17475Atlanta+164.4 5San Francisco2479155 24Tampa Bay Buccaneers3,664Jameis Winston1,414 Times team changed… 28Baltimore Ravens2,059Joe Flacco2,490 10Atlanta Falcons9,100Matt Ryan8,251 3New Orleans Saints17,900Drew Brees15,628 23Carolina Panthers3,827Cam Newton2,831 Cleveland’s curse: Draft highly, pick poorlySince 1999, NFL teams with the most valuable draft picks (in terms of expected future Approximate Value by slot) and the best record of draftees exceeding the expected value of those picks 4Green Bay Packers16,894Aaron Rodgers10,992 3Buffalo16710169 RKTeamExpected AVRKTeamAV vs. Expected 29New York Jets1,886Chad Pennington2,588 RkTeamOwnerGMCoachQB⚡CHAOS Points⚡ 30Houston143430L.A. Rams-241.6 It’s a vicious cycle: If you pick highly and the draftees actually work out, then your future picks become less valuable because (duh!) you’re picking lower in the draft. By continually missing on high picks, though, the Browns keep spinning their tires in a constant loop of promising drafts gone to waste.Previous research suggests that much of draft success — after controlling for the typical value of a pick, as we did above — is just luck. But after getting negative pick-adjusted value 15 times in 19 drafts — and only one positive draft since 20077That was in 2011, when the Browns didn’t have an especially high pick and simply snagged a few useful players down the board, such as pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard and defensive back Buster Skrine. That’s the best draft they’ve had in more than a decade. — “bad luck” is no longer a satisfactory answer. Since its reboot, Cleveland has gone through three owners,8The second, Randy Lerner, was the son of original owner Al Lerner. nine general managers and nine head coaches. Somehow, all of them have contributed to the Browns’ poor decision-making in one way or another.Their unifying crime might be a penchant for all-or-nothing, quick-fix gambles. For instance, the Browns are infamous for their quixotic pursuit of the NFL draft’s biggest prize — the Franchise Quarterback™ — and they’ve burned through 29 different primary passers9Defined as a QB who led the team in passing attempts for at least one game. (including seven taken with first-round picks)10By either the Browns or another team. since 1999 trying to find one. (Numbers that don’t even include their No. 1 pick from this past spring, former Oklahoma signal-caller Baker Mayfield.) At the same time, they’ve also gotten easily the worst production from their QBs (in terms of yards above backup QB) of any team in the league: 27Buffalo Bills2,457Tyrod Taylor1,130 It’s this kind of constant upheaval that probably helps explain Cleveland’s deficiencies in so many of the proverbial “little things” that add up to improve a team’s talent base. They botch easy trades for credible QBs and cut solid defensive backs just before opening day. They waste the prime of a Hall of Fame left tackle and watch him retire from football at age 33. They draft a first-round receiver (after trading down from potentially taking a franchise QB), only to pawn him off for a seventh-round pick within 28 months. The basic operations of running a football team can’t be taken for granted in Cleveland.And just like the franchise’s abhorrent draft record, there are plenty of other factors plaguing the Browns that we’d normally chalk up to bad luck, but in Cleveland’s case we probably have to blame on something bigger. The team went 0-6 in one-score games last season, for instance, and had one of the worst turnover margins in NFL history. They had the third-worst red zone Total Quarterback Rating (2.7) of any team since ESPN began tracking the stat in 2006. As statheads, we know these things tend to regress to the mean over time. But for the Browns, who never stick with any strategy — whether concocted by old-school scouting types or newfangled math nerds14The latter of whom (including chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta) have since been banished from the draft process. Because the team’s pre-analytics approach was working so well before the number crunchers came along. — long enough to give it a chance, it’s fair to wonder whether this endless string of calamities was always more likely to happen in Cleveland, thanks to the scattershot way the team operates in the big picture.As always, there are new reasons that the Browns might begin to break their cycle of despair in 2018. Between underrated ex-Bills starter Tyrod Taylor and the analytics darling Mayfield — plus incoming receiver Jarvis Landry and more games (maybe) from former All-Pro Josh Gordon — Cleveland’s passing game should be substantially improved this season. (It’s not like it could get much worse.) The rest of the roster is littered with new faces as well, presumably the sort of “real players” new GM John Dorsey lamented the team’s lack of at the end of last season. And among the holdovers, second-year defensive end Myles Garrett has the potential to break out as a star. One would even think at least some of the luck-based failures detailed above will reverse themselves eventually.But for now, the Browns are a case study in how bad things can get when a franchise starts on the wrong path and keeps trying shortcuts to get back to the right one. The NFL is a league designed for parity, so it seems like any ordinary bad team would have stumbled across a winning formula by now, even if just by chance. But by the same token, some team eventually had to be as bad as the Browns are now. Although Cleveland may not be cursed, it does play host to the perfect storm of hasty expansion plans, terrible drafting, constant on-field miscues, perpetually bad roster risks, no clear long-term vision and a historic level of instability.Against such forces, did the Browns ever really have a choice but to start from scratch again sooner or later? 28New Orleans124366 1Cleveland28716237 31Washington138931Detroit-246.9 4Oakland12109168 8Philadelphia Eagles10,171Donovan McNabb6,713 7Denver Broncos11,795Peyton Manning4,659 32Pittsburgh111232 2L.A. Rams18602Indianapolis+258.2 RKTeamTotal YABQNameYABQ read more

  • Lavender Prahalis combo leads Bucks to blistering start

    Following the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament Championship last weekend, Ohio State’s women’s basketball team is looking ahead to another full slate of games in the upcoming week. The Buckeyes play at home tonight against UNC Greensboro before playing in the Buckeye Classic this weekend at St. John Arena. As part of a two-game tournament, OSU will play IUPUI followed by either California or Southern. The Buckeyes have dominated their opponents early in the season, winning by an average of nearly 24 points a game. UNC Greensboro, IUPUI, California and Southern have combined for a rather pedestrian 9-7 record so far this year.If any of them expect to compete with the Buckeyes, they will have to figure out a way to slow down OSU’s offense — a daunting task considering the Buckeyes have been scoring at will early in the season.Through five games, they average 91 points a game, up from 69 per contest last season, and their 367 total points in the WNIT were the most in tournament history.Junior center Jantel Lavender, who was named WNIT co-MVP with teammate Samantha Prahalis, said that it is her team’s depth that is responsible for the scoring outburst.“[Our team] has a ton of weapons,” Lavender said. “The freshmen bring a lot of different things to the table both defensively and offensively. I love playing with a team that is so deep.”It was depth that was on display in Sunday’s tournament finale against Oklahoma State. Including Lavender’s team-high 26 points, four of the Buckeye starters scored in double figures. Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke expects the Buckeyes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament come season’s end. “They can hit you from many ways,” Budke said. “That is a very good team and they could definitely be in the Final Four.”If Budke is right, OSU would make just its second Final Four appearance in the program’s 43-year history.The Buckeyes take on UNC Greensboro tonight at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center. read more

  • Seniors walk away as top OSU class

    On the Tuesday before the Rose Bowl Game, senior strong safety Kurt Coleman told the media that all his goals and dreams were in place to be accomplished for his college football career.“It’s been a great four years and it’s sad that it’s coming to an end,” Coleman said. “But I came into this year saying I wanted to leave as a Big Ten champion and I wanted to leave with a bowl win.”When he said that, Coleman was just one step away from accomplishing everything. He had led his defense to a strong conference finish as Big Ten champions and was ready to face Oregon in the Rose Bowl.When Ohio State sealed the deal with a 26-17 win over the Ducks, Coleman got his wish. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to go out like this,” Coleman said. “To have people around us that really support us and everyone putting it all in for the seniors the way they played their hearts out, it’s a great feeling.”Though the NFL-bound captain credits the win as a team effort, he had a large part in leading the team to victory.“Our seniors, who took over a young team in August, had high expectations and had some tough moments but they never wavered,” coach Jim Tressel said. “They never questioned the direction that they were going to end up.”Heading into the Rose Bowl, the name of the game was strength and conditioning for the OSU defense as the team faced a dynamic and high-powered Oregon offense. OSU’s three captains were all defensive seniors, making that challenge much more important to them.Tressel said before the game that he was very proud of the way his defense had prepared for the Rose Bowl and that they were not going to disappoint.“Chasing Oregon around is going to make [the Ducks] tired too,” he said.And they held up that promise, holding Oregon to only 12 first downs and shutting down quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and his corps of running backs. The Buckeyes held Masoli to just 9 yards rushing on six carries, his lowest total all season. They also forced LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount to subpar games.“Everything has been perfect,” Coleman said. “We came out with a ‘W’ and I am so elated, I still have to soak this in.”The senior class has been on the field for the last three bowl game defeats: a loss to Florida in the National Championship Game at the end of the 2006 season, a loss to Louisiana State in the National Championship Game at the end of the 2007 season and a loss to Texas last year in the Fiesta Bowl. With that in their minds, the seniors were unanimous in not wanting to be known as the class that lost four bowl games, said senior captain Doug Worthington.Coleman echoed Worthington’s sentiment, saying that the past losses fueled the team to its Rose Bowl victory.“After every loss that we’ve had in the bowl games, this win has been great. Last year we were so close to winning and I think for all of us that was our biggest motivation,” Coleman said.With the win on Friday, the 2010 seniors became the class with the most wins in OSU history, with a record of 44-8. After three straight bowl-game losses, coming out with a win and breaking the win record was a sweet taste of victory for the group.“It’s a tremendous honor,” Coleman said. “So many people have come through [OSU] and to come out of here as the winningest class, it’s a tremendous honor to the teammates and the people we’ve had around us.” read more

  • Clippers close opening homestand with loss

    Toledo Mud Hens pitcher Armando Galarraga silenced the bats of the Columbus Clippers in a 6-3 victory Thursday at Huntington Park.In the final game of the season-opening home stand, the Clippers fell to a division-leading 5-3 record.Galarraga came into the game with a 1.80 ERA. He pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Mud Hens on Thursday, allowing five hits and three runs while striking out six hitters. Galarraga started off the season with the Mud Hens after spending the majority of the last two seasons pitching for the Detroit Tigers. He had a promising year for the Tigers in 2008 with a 13-7 record and a 3.73 ERA, but his production slipped in 2009 with a 6-10 record and a 5.64 ERA.The Clippers came into the game with a league-leading .326 batting average, and 53 runs in just seven games.However, the Clippers didn’t have a hit until the fifth inning against Galarraga. “He had command of the outside corner with his fastball, and his slider was pretty good. He made very few mistakes with it over the plate,” Clippers designated hitter Shelley Duncan said.Jeanmar Gomez, last year’s Most Valuable Pitcher in the Eastern League for Class AA Akron, was the starting pitcher for the Clippers. In Gomez’s first start of the season, he pitched five innings in a loss against the Indianapolis Indians allowing three runs on four hits, but didn’t record a loss. Gomez looked strong early, allowing one hit through the first three innings. Gomez had to work his way out of trouble in the fourth inning. Brent Dlugach hit an infield single, and Brennan Boesch reached base on an error by Clippers first baseman Wes Hodges to lead off the inning for the Mud Hens. An RBI single by Ryan Strieby scored the first run of the game for the Mud Hens. A single by Jeff Larish loaded up the bases with no outs. Gomez forced Jeff Frazier into a double play, and then struck out Casper Wells to limit the Mud Hens to one run in the inning. In the top of the fifth inning, Gomez let up four consecutive hits including a home run off the scoreboard in right field by Boesch, giving the Mud Hens a 5-0 lead. The Clippers weren’t ready to give up, as they have come from behind in four of their five victories this year. Jose Constanza started off the sixth inning with a double in the gap between left and center field. Shelley Duncan had an RBI single to score Constanza, and continued his 20-game on-base streak. The Clippers rallied in the seventh inning to score two more runs on a Chris Gimenez home run, cutting the Mud Hens lead to 5-3. Gimenez was the last batter that Galarraga faced. Josh Rainwater pitched the rest of the seventh inning and the eighth inning, allowing two hits but no runs. The Mud Hens scored another run in the ninth off Clippers pitcher Steven Wright to give them a 6-3 lead. Jay Sborz came in to close the game for the Mud Hens. The Clippers made it interesting, putting two runners on base in the ninth inning with the tying run at the plate, but a groundout by Jason Donald sealed the deal for the Mud Hens. “I think that the first couple games when we did come back, it gave us confidence and let the guys know that we can come back, even if we’re down we just keep chipping away,” Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh said. “I had that feeling today even though we weren’t able to win the ball game. All you can ask of the guys is to play hard and play nine full innings, and in the end we’ll see what the outcome is.” Carlos Santana, Clippers catcher and International League Player of the Week, and Trevor Crowe, Clippers outfielder, were given a day of rest and did not play against the Mud Hens. read more

  • Mens Hockey Topseeded Ohio State falls handedly in Big Ten tournament semifinal

    Junior goalkeeper Tommy Nappier (37) looks down the ice in the second period of game one during Ohio State’s hockey game vs. Michigan State on March 1. Ohio State won 5-1. Credit: Nick Hudak | For The LanternOhio State knew it was Penn State’s offense that it had to worry about coming in.The Nittany Lions averaged an NCAA-leading 4.59 goals per game, while their 3.65 goals against per game was fourth-worst in the country.But on Sunday, it was both the defense and the offense that gave the Buckeyes troubles, falling to Penn State 5-1, eliminating Ohio State from the Big Ten tournament.The loss is Ohio State’s fifth in its past seven games.“I’m nothing but disappointed right now,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We got a good hockey team in that locker room, we’ve played some really good hockey this year, we certainly weren’t at our best tonight.”The Nittany Lions outshot the Buckeyes 36-32, putting four past sophomore goalie Tommy Nappier, who came in with the No. 2 save percentage in the country.The second period was where the game was ultimately decided.With 2:24 to go in the period, junior forward Tanner Laczynski put the Buckeyes back within one with 2:24 remaining. But the goal was reviewed and overturned due to an offsides call, keeping Penn State up three heading into the third period.“It was a big time goal at the end of the period,” senior forward Mason Jobst said. “We would’ve had a little bit of energy going into the third, but it’s part of the game, and that’s just the way it goes.”The three-goal lead ended up being more than enough for the Nittany Lions to move forward to face Notre Dame in the Big Ten championship game.Already down two from the opening period, Ohio State senior defenseman Sasha Larocque was given a major penalty and game misconduct for a hit to the head of sophomore Adam Pilewicz.On the ensuing Penn State power play, which ranked No. 3 in the NCAA coming in, junior defenseman Kris Myllari found junior forward Brandon Biro on the back post of the Ohio State goal for an easy tap in with 10 seconds remaining on the man advantage, giving the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead.“That was a big blow to lose our captain,” Jobst said. “If we could have just got that last little bit killed off, it would have gave us a little boost of energy when you kill a five-[minute penalty] like that, and that was pretty disappointing.”The third period started with more of the same for Penn State. Junior forward Nate Sucese slipped a puck passed Nappier’s five-hole to extend the lead to 4-0. Senior forward John Wiitala scored with less than five minutes remaining in the final period to cut the lead back to within three, but it was not enough to mount the comeback.Sucese also scored an empty-net goal with 46.8 seconds remaining to make the score 5-1.Nappier finished the game with 31 saves, allowing the tied-most goals against this season, most recently allowing four, again, to Penn State on Jan. 19. Junior goalie Peyton Jones made 31 saves in the game for the Nittany Lions.The scoring was opened up by Penn State junior forward Liam Folkes, who was the hero for the Nittany Lions in their previous series against Wisconsin. After scoring nine points and earning NCAA Second Star of the Week against the Badgers, Folkes scored the opener on a wide-open move in the middle, giving Nappier no chance to make a play.It appeared that Penn State would hold a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission, but with less than a second to go in the period, sophomore forward Alex Limoges narrowly beat Nappier to the left side, with the puck trickling past the sophomore goalie to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead early.“I think we had a good start, and I think once they scored the first goal, I think we had a disappointing end of the first period,” Rohlik said. “That’s a good hockey team there that’s gonna capitalize, and they did.”Ohio State will now wait to see if it will earn an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. read more

  • Mary Berry eat your heart out says Prince William after having a

    first_imgPrince William takes instructions during a dance class at Caius House Youth Centre Prince William cake He copied his teacher, 15-year-old Candice Blake, and raised his arms up so his body formed a T, then slowly tried to make a wave ripple from his fingertips along his arm and to his other hand.The Duke laughed at his own efforts and said about their performance: “It’s very cool, if you need an extra back-room dancer give me a shout.” The Duke of Cambridge concentrates as he takes part in a baking class  Prince William learns a move with Scariofunk dance collective The Duke of Cambridge concentrates as he takes part in a baking class Credit:Justin Tallis/PA Prince William shows off his handiwork to young people at Caius House Youth CentreCredit:JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Caius House’s origins began in 1887 when undergraduates and fellows from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, rented a house in Battersea and started a college “settlement” where they lived and ran a range of clubs for local residents.A former graduate of the college, Edward Wilson – the doctor on Captain Scott’s ill-fated South Pole expedition – worked at the institution when he moved to London in 1896 as a medical student.The club flourished over the decades and has been serving the local community for almost 130 years. It moved into new premises, constructed on its original site, in September 2014.It now welcomes on average of 500 young people between the ages of eight and 21 each week, who use the centre’s facilities. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Speaking about who is the best chef in his home, he added: “Catherine is a very good cook.”I did a lot of cooking when I was younger, but you have to reach a certain level when you can throw stuff in, but I stick rigidly to the recipe.”William spent more than an hour touring Caius House in Wandsworth, which offers a range of training and support opportunities in disciplines ranging from music and dance to sport and fitness.After watching a dance display by a group of teenagers, William was persuaded to try one other move called The Wave. The Duke of Cambridge has tried his hand at cake decorating as he sympathised with “distraught” fans of The Great British Bake Off.Prince William had a go at piping vanilla buttercream onto cupcakes while joining a class at a south London youth club, where he told youngsters he had watched the BBC show featuring Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.After spending a few moments decorating the cake, the future king looked up and said: “Mary Berry, eat your heart out – look at that.” Fans have been left on tenterhooks as Berry and Hollywood have yet to confirm they will be joining the show when it moves.William said to the young bakers around him: “You must be distraught it’s moving, but I’m sure it will be just as good.”After decorating his cake, William turned to Patricia Nunoo, a 17-year-old volunteer at the Caius House youth club in Wandsworth – and said: “Not quite as elegant as yours, but it’s a start.” William spoke about the news that the popular programme is leaving the BBC, but said he is “sure it will be just as good” at its new Channel 4 home.The future of Bake Off has been thrown into turmoil following the shock announcement it will move to Channel 4 and the revelation hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins will not return to the show next year. Prince William takes instructions during a dance class at Caius House Youth Centre Credit:Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Prince William learns a move with Scariofunk dance collectiveCredit:JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Gettylast_img read more