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Re: WNBA turnaround: a mathematical approach

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  • Dean Oliver
    ... Lucky bum. ... baseball and ... easy for ... imagine ... every ... less ... momentum, and ... I have my doubts about this given the general info suggesting
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 17, 2001
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      --- In APBR_analysis@y..., Charles Steinhardt <charles@p...> wrote:

      >
      > Well, the other work I'm doing is (hopefully) quality science too...
      :)

      Lucky bum.


      > 3) Basketball is by its very nature a faster-paced game than
      baseball and
      > thus more prone to momentum-based runs. In baseball, it's always
      easy for
      > the struggling team to take the equivalent of a timeout. Can you
      imagine
      > what basketball would be like if there were a 20" timeout after
      every
      > posession? Whatever else you'd expect, I'd think that game would be
      less
      > prone to long runs. Limited timeouts increase the value of
      momentum, and
      > a home crowd is helpful in that respect.
      >

      I have my doubts about this given the general info suggesting that
      within game streaks don't exist. (I'm not convinced about the
      validity of that research either.)

      > 4) Basketball is a younger sport than baseball, and as a result
      there are
      > many fewer traditional fans of one team that end up in another
      market. In
      > addition, the markets are a little bit better spaced than in
      baseball and
      > include a few more cities that only have one sports team. As a
      result,
      > 95% of the fans at a game will be home fans. I was recently at a
      > Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia at which there were 55000
      people,
      > about 40000 of them Yankees fans. In that atmosphere any home crowd
      > advantage must go away.
      >

      You haven't been to Golden St, have you?

      > 5) Basketball generally sells out, whereas baseball only does in
      select
      > markets. 10000 people at an Expos game isn't going to provide much
      of an
      > advantage, and if anything all those empty seats could be
      demoralizing.
      >

      Uh, Golden St. again.

      > 6) Baseball can tailor its field to one or two hitters, but rarely
      an
      > entire lineup of 8 or 9 people as well as pitchers. That is to say,
      the
      > park can favor pitching or hitting, and can favor right- or
      left-handed
      > hitters, but any pro team has all of those. So this effect should
      be
      > minor, if any, and is mostly in relation to how fielders react to
      > different plays. In addition, with the unbalanced schedule most
      teams
      > that visit play there 8 or 9 games a year, and the rest 3 or 4. So
      there
      > is plenty of time to adjust to a park for a veteran or even by the
      end of
      > a series for a rookie. Incidentally, basketball does have its share
      of
      > home-court advantages if you know where to look: I remember that
      before
      > the Celtics moved out of the Garden, there used to be
      well-placed/hidden
      > dead spots in the parquet for example. But certainly it's not as
      > prevalent - basketball doesn't exactly have ground rules to worry
      about.
      > Then again, there were a bunch of complaints a few years ago about
      playoff
      > rims (I forget where) being bad for jump shooters and favoring the
      home
      > team with a strong inside game. And, in basketball one can tailor
      the
      > team's style of play to almost always take inside shots much better
      than
      > in baseball one can get a group of players to always hit to left
      field,
      > say.
      >
      >

      Well, other than the old Boston Garden, I don't remember hearing of
      any physical reason for an arena to favor one team over another.


      > > First, a 65-17 team vs. a 17-65 team should win about 94% of the
      time,
      > > so good guess.
      > >
      > > Second, in baseball, a 104-58 team vs. a 58-104 team should win
      about
      > > 76% of the time, so about 3/4, not 2/3.
      > >
      >
      > Where are you getting these numbers? Either way, the difference is

      Bill James:

      Win% Team A vs. Team B



      >
      > > Basketball streakiness should be pretty much on par with what
      stats
      > > predict, I'd think. NBA teams don't have too many long homestands
      > > (the 7 game streak John brought up notwithstanding) to bias those
      > > streaks. They don't play too many home-home matchups, so their
      season
      > > ends up a pretty good random sampling through time. If the East
      or
      > > West is particularly weak, that might have an effect.
      > >
      >
      > I might expect otherwise for a few reasons:
      >
      > 1) Prevalence of young players. Meaning that veteran teams should
      do a
      > little better in the first half of the season and young teams in the
      > second half rather than being constant (does somebody have stats on
      this
      > one?)

      Testable. However, the general hypothesis has actually been the other
      way around. Young players supposedly hit a wall and do worse in the
      2nd half. I tend to think you're right, but have had a hard time
      testing it, not having a very up-to-date player directory with
      birthdays.

      >
      > 2) Coaches make adjustments including an overhaul of the
      offense/defense
      > midseason if they struggle. Should cause the team to play
      differently,
      > one way or the other.
      >

      No difference between baseball and basketball on this one.

      > 3) Relative importance of injuries. Baseball is not so sensitive to
      the
      > injury even of a superstar. For example, the Red Sox this year are
      66-53
      > without the best pitcher in the game, an all-star catcher, an
      all-star
      > shortstop, and a bunch of other players that are important to their
      team
      > all for at least a month (and in the case of the SS and C, 3
      months).
      > With no injuries, they should not be better than about 72-47, and
      even
      > that would be a very impressive record for this group of players.
      > However, what would the Magic have done with Grant Hill last year?
      The
      > Sixers without Iverson? While baseball doesn't have a lower injury
      rate
      > than basketball, an injury to one of five starters is more critical,
      and
      > thus more likely to affect the team's performance. Particularly an
      > important starter.
      >
      > I'd be interested to see some statistics on this, particularly if
      somebody
      > actually tried to calculate the effect of different
      injuries/potential
      > injuries.

      The problem is always how you replace a superstar. If you replace
      them with a bad player, the team gets much worse. The Bulls without
      Jordan actually did pretty well the first year, then suffered the
      next. The Sixers did play a few without Iverson this year, so we can
      check. The Raptors without Vince. I am forming this unjustified
      opinion in my head that teams that play 1-3 games without their
      superstar generally do about the same. Teams that play more than
      about 10 games without their superstar really start to hurt. I need
      to form the hypothesis a little better, but I think I've seen it.

      Dean Oliver
      Journal of Basketball Studies
    • Dean Oliver
      Forgot to finish the formula on Win% calculations... ... is ... Win%A_B = [Win%A*(1-Win%B)]/[Win%A*(1-Win%B)+(1-Win%A)*Win%B]
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 17, 2001
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        Forgot to finish the formula on Win% calculations...

        >
        > > > First, a 65-17 team vs. a 17-65 team should win about 94% of the
        > time,
        > > > so good guess.
        > > >
        > > > Second, in baseball, a 104-58 team vs. a 58-104 team should win
        > about
        > > > 76% of the time, so about 3/4, not 2/3.
        > > >
        > >
        > > Where are you getting these numbers? Either way, the difference
        is
        >
        > Bill James:
        >
        > Win% Team A vs. Team B
        >

        Win%A_B = [Win%A*(1-Win%B)]/[Win%A*(1-Win%B)+(1-Win%A)*Win%B]

        http://www.rawbw.com/~deano/methdesc.html#matchup

        has the detailed info.
      • Dean LaVergne
        ... From: Charles Steinhardt [mailto:charles@princeton.edu] 2) There is no equivalent of the free throw in baseball, and in fact all new stadia are forced to
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 17, 2001
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          -----Original Message-----
          From: Charles Steinhardt [mailto:charles@...]



          2) There is no equivalent of the free throw in baseball, and in fact all
          new stadia are forced to put some sort of blue/black screen in
          straightaway center so that the batter has a good line of sight.  Fans can
          have a very direct impact in basketball that I'd guess is worth as much as
          5 points per game (some in increasing the home FT%, some in decreasing
          that of opponents.  Maybe somebody has statistics on this? 


          [Dean LaVergne] It doesn't seem to hold out.  For the last ten years:
           
          Free Throw Percentage:
           
          Season   Away    Home    Diff
          1992    75.62%  76.12%   0.51%
          1993    75.19%  75.65%   0.46%
          1994    73.60%  73.25%  -0.35%
          1995    73.49%  73.84%   0.34%
          1996    73.91%  74.03%   0.12%
          1997    73.98%  73.67%  -0.31%
          1998    73.54%  73.82%   0.28%
          1999    72.29%  73.32%   1.02%
          2000    74.55%  75.44%   0.89%
          2001    74.48%  74.99%   0.51%
                     
                     
          However, free throws attempted seem a little more significant:
                      
                     
          Season   Away    Home    Diff    % Diff
          1992   28,522  30,553   2,031    7.12%
          1993   29,715  31,659   1,944    6.54%
          1994   28,688  30,131   1,443    5.03%
          1995   29,248  30,690   1,442    4.93%
          1996   30,587  32,178   1,591    5.20%
          1997   29,522  30,272     750    2.54%
          1998   30,704  31,799   1,095    3.57%
          1999   18,399  19,000     601    3.27%
          2000   29,410  30,352     942    3.20%
          2001   28,570  29,308     738    2.58%
                              
          Dean L
           
        • Charles Steinhardt
          Very interesting (and obviously not what I d expect looking from the point of view of a fan). Anybody know why the FT disparity has dropped (and how strongly
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 17, 2001
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            Very interesting (and obviously not what I'd expect looking from the point
            of view of a fan).

            Anybody know why the FT disparity has dropped (and how strongly that
            disparity correlates with winning %)? Have there been new instructions to
            officials?

            On Fri, 17 Aug 2001, Dean LaVergne wrote:

            >
            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: Charles Steinhardt [mailto:charles@...]
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > 2) There is no equivalent of the free throw in baseball, and in fact all
            > new stadia are forced to put some sort of blue/black screen in
            > straightaway center so that the batter has a good line of sight. Fans can
            > have a very direct impact in basketball that I'd guess is worth as much as
            > 5 points per game (some in increasing the home FT%, some in decreasing
            > that of opponents. Maybe somebody has statistics on this?
            >
            >
            > [Dean LaVergne] It doesn't seem to hold out. For the last ten years:
            >
            > Free Throw Percentage:
            >
            > Season Away Home Diff
            > 1992 75.62% 76.12% 0.51%
            > 1993 75.19% 75.65% 0.46%
            > 1994 73.60% 73.25% -0.35%
            > 1995 73.49% 73.84% 0.34%
            > 1996 73.91% 74.03% 0.12%
            > 1997 73.98% 73.67% -0.31%
            > 1998 73.54% 73.82% 0.28%
            > 1999 72.29% 73.32% 1.02%
            > 2000 74.55% 75.44% 0.89%
            > 2001 74.48% 74.99% 0.51%
            >
            >
            > However, free throws attempted seem a little more significant:
            >
            >
            > Season Away Home Diff % Diff
            > 1992 28,522 30,553 2,031 7.12%
            > 1993 29,715 31,659 1,944 6.54%
            > 1994 28,688 30,131 1,443 5.03%
            > 1995 29,248 30,690 1,442 4.93%
            > 1996 30,587 32,178 1,591 5.20%
            > 1997 29,522 30,272 750 2.54%
            > 1998 30,704 31,799 1,095 3.57%
            > 1999 18,399 19,000 601 3.27%
            > 2000 29,410 30,352 942 3.20%
            > 2001 28,570 29,308 738 2.58%
            >
            >
            > Dean L
            >
            >
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