Friday, October 30, 2015

Toronto Blue Jays: Anthopoulos fans + Toronto media vs. Shapiro

Official Godiva toy boy and forever fiance Archibald is despondent about his beloved Toronto Blue Jays firing General Manager (GM) Alex Anthopoulos (AA) by offering him a new contract without giving him the upper hand over new President Mark Shapiro on player moves. In a Godfather ju-jitsu move, the Jays made AA an offer he could refuse.

Get a grip, Archibald. Genius AA compiled a record of 489 wins and 483 losses over the 6 years that he was in charge of the Jays from 2010 through 2015. The Jays made the play-offs once and won 1 series only to lose in the semi-finals.

Over the same period while Shapiro was running the show in Cleveland the Indians' record was worse at 475-496 with one play-off appearance as wild card match loser. 

But, let's take a closer look. Over that period, Shapiro in small-market Cleveland spent $72.5 million/year on average on player salaries vs. $95.6 million/year that AA spent on Blue Jay players. 

In other words, AA spent $23 million more each year than Shapiro to get an additional 2.3 wins/year on average in the regular season and almost one more win/year in the play-offs. (Of course, you could argue that the real difference between the Jays and Indians was greater than 2.3 wins/year because the Jays play in the tougher American League East. But, I doubt that a schedule adjustment would be that significant. It would still look like AA spending $23 million/year for not many more wins.) 

Let's see what Shapiro and his team can do with the Blue Jay budget that team owners Rogers Communications will give him. Of course, with the Canadian dollar now back to normal levels, the Blue Jay budget may get tight and Shapiro will have to be at his analytical best to squeeze wins out of the ageing roster that he has inherited from AA. Shapiro's in a no-win situation for the 2016 season. If the Jays do well, the fans will credit AA. And, if the Jays do poorly, the fans will blame Shapiro.

AA will get another GM job. I will track the AA vs. Shapiro contest by looking at both total wins and losses as well as total spending over the rest of their careers. I am willing to wager that Shapiro's future career will be better than AA's.

David Price 

Blue Jay diehards and AA loyalists believe that AA would have signed David Price. Just for fun, let's keep track of Price's Red Sox career over his 2016-22 contract vs. what Shapiro does each year with the $30 million/year that he redeployed rather than pay Price's price. 

Shapiro signed JA Happ at $10 million in 2016 to effectively replace Price in the starting rotation. He ended up paying an extra $2 million by trading Liam Hendriks to get Jesse Chavez and another $2 million for Franklin Morales as well as $4.5 million when he traded for Nelson Liriano at mid-season plus $0.6 million to Jason Grilli and $0.5 million picking up Joe Biaginni plus $2 million by trading Ben Revere for what turned out to be a combined year from Drew Storen and Joaquin Benoit plus $1 million for Gavin Floyd. In other words, Shapiro spent $24 million on Happ and a grab bag of spare arms hoping to strike gold.

Contrary to popular belief and a misplaced focus on his 3.99 earned run average (ERA), David Price remained one of the top pitchers in baseball in 2016 with 6.42 wins against replacement (WAR; source = baseballprospectus.com) 

Happ was lucky to go 20-4, but certainly outperformed expectations with a 2.14 WAR. Biaginni chipped in with 0.82, Grilli contributed 0.64, Liriano 0.9 in 1/3 of a season, Benoit/Storen 0.7 and  Chavez added 0.3 WAR. Unfortunately, Morales went -0.04 and Chavez was -1.1 below Hendriks. All told, Shapiro's loot bag of pitchers accounted for 4.4 WAR.

As I expected Price's 2016 WAR exceeded Shapiro's Happ + spare parts WARs. However, in 2022, the last year of Price's Red Sox contract, I certainly expect Shapiro to be spending that $30 million better than the Red Sox. And, the tipping point year when Price is worth less than how Shapiro spends $30 million on pitching should come well before 2022. 

Luck

Interesting article from the Nate Silver operation in which the author suggests that Ryan Goins over the first 1/3 of 2016 was a victim of bad luck who will bounce back to his 2015 level and that Russell Martin will bounce part of the way back while Michael Saunders will come back a bit to earth from hitting way above his career-based expectation.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/whos-hitting-the-ball-harder-this-year-and-whos-just-getting-lucky/

In the meantime, misManager John Gibbons has benched Goins to ride the hot bat of Darwin Barney who has been hitting well above his career norms -- usually a sign of random good luck although the Jays do have a good track record of improving hitters who come to Toronto mid-career.
Postscript: Barney did indeed fall back to his career norm and finished 2016 with a 0.2 WAR. Goins remained ineffective on the few occasions when he had a chance to play and recorded a team-worst -0.9 WAR. 

NBA 2015-6 Recap ATS

I play in ex-Godiva toy boy Reginald's non-profit National Basketball Association (NBA) pool picking winners against the point spread (ATS). Heavy underdogs finished 62-50-1 or over 55% ATS for the regular season. 

Ride the heavy underdogs is my only advice to current Godiva toy boy and official Godiva fiance Archibald, who gets on so well with Reginald that he plays in all Reginald's pools. My advice follows academic studies showing that "heavy" NBA underdogs with more than 12 points have a statistically significant winning record over a long run of years. 

While this is true of regular season matches, I am less certain that the same result can be found in play-off matches. In Reginald's play-off ATS pool, I lost taking GS -5.5 over cleveland in game 7 and finished the play-offs 48-38: 44-34 "light" overdogs and 4-4 "heavy" underdogs.

Archibald was wrong sticking to his prediction after King James fired puppet Coach Blatt: "As a general manager, Lebron is a great player. Is he still glad that he traded Andrew Wiggins for KLove and then compounded the error by resigning KLove? Minnesota will win the NBA title before Cleveland does." I should say that Arch watches sports with his eyes and never consults analytics showing that KLove is the 3rd or 4th best power forward in the NBA. For me, a healthy Chris Bosh would be 3rd and KLove 4th behind Draymond Green 1st and Millsap 2nd. (Draymond was not looking like the best in the 1st 4 matches against OKC. Also, he's a dirty player. I was glad to see him suspended for game 5 of the finals.) Archibald maintains that his prediction was sound and that he could not have predicted that NBA MVP Stephen Curry and his mates would play so poorly and only score 13 points in the 4th quarter of game 7 and no points in the final 4 minutes. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NFL Deflategate: Patriot Fumble Watch

(Updated December 2017)

The New England Cheatriots fumbled 14 times in 16 regular season matches in 2015 followed by 27 total fumbles in the 2016 regular season and 13 fumbles in 12 games so far in 2017. 54 fumbles in 44 regular season matches over 2+ years = 1.2/match or just above their 1/match fumble average over the previous 8 regular seasons from 2007 through 2014. 

However, the Cheatriots fumbled 12 times or 3/match in their first 4 Brady-less matches of 2016 while he was serving his suspension for lying about instructing the Cheatriot equipment managers to deflate his footballs from 2007-8 to 2014-15. In 40 Brady regular season games in 2015, 2016 and 2017, only 42 fumbles. Will there never be any end to the Brady Cheatriot's low-fumble magic? 

I predicted that we would see the Brady Cheatriots averaging around the NFL average of 1.5 fumbles/match. But, so far Friend-of-Trump Tom he is maintaining his uncanny knack of leading a low-fumble offense.

Before the 2007 season, the National Football League (NFL) changed the rules to allow quarterbacks to prepare their own footballs for use when their teams had the ball. Over 8 regular seasons from 2007 through 2014, the New England Cheatriots averaged 15.125 fumbles/year or just under 1/game. Over the 8 prior regular seasons from 1999 through 2006, the Patriots averaged 24.75 fumbles/year or just over 1.5/game. 1999-2006 was not an unusual period of high fumbling for the Patriots. Over 14 years from 1993 through 2006, the Patriots averaged 25 fumbles/year.

There is no statistically significant evidence confirming that the Cheatriots were fumbling less from 2007 through 2014 because under-inflated footballs are easier to grip and harder for defensive opponents to knock loose. The Atlanta Falcons experienced a very similar decline in fumbles over 2007-14 vs. 1999-2006. And the Detroit Lions experienced a rise in fumbles/year of almost +6. It is difficult to imagine that even the Lions were deliberately over-inflating their footballs.

Now that there has been so much controversy, the NFL has likely been watching football pressure carefully starting with the 2015 Super Bowl. Just for fun, I have been keeping track of the number of New England Cheatriot fumbles. There is so much year-to-year variation in team fumbles that it is not possible to predict any team's fumbles for a given year. But, I expected Patriot fumbles over the 8 years from 2015 through 2022 to come closer to the NFL average of about 22/year than the 2007-14 Patriot average of 15/year.

I have to admit my deep disappointment that there was not yet any circumstantial evidence from the fumble record for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons to indicate that Donald Trump supporter Tom Brady was cheating with his prepared footballs from 2007 through 2014.

The 2016 regular season results were more promising until Brady returned from his suspension for cheating and lying. Hard to believe that Brady is the key to the unusually low team fumble total from 2007 through 2015, his 12 matches in 2016 as well as 2017 so far, but there is at least circumstantial evidence pointing that way.

At this point, I am not planning to track Cheatriot playoff fumbles 2008-2015 vs. 2016-2022. I don't have the time to go back to look up Cheatriot playoff fumbles 2008 to 2015. But, 1 fumble in 2 playoff matches in January 2016 was consistent with no evidence so far that deflated balls from 2007-8 to 2015 playoffs were partly responsible for New England's unprecedented run of success, particularly regular season success, from 2007 to their 2015 Super Bowl triumph.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

NFL 2015-16 ATS Recap

In official Godiva toy boy and fiance Archibald's non-profit, season-long, just-for-fun pool picking winners against the spread (ATS), I was gratified to win my Super Bowl L pick with underdog Denver +4 over Carolina

The all-underdogs approach remains the long-run champion having defeated all-overdogs 19 of the past 24 regular seasons since 1992 averaging almost 52% over that span.

Accordingly, all-underdogs is my default pick with the occasional "value" overdog sprinkled in. I did go with all-overdogs in the 1/4 final 8 playoff round because home teams have won almost 75% of matches straight-up in this round thanks to their superior talent levels and the extra week of rest. Over 1,000 matches in these circumstances, I doubt that there would be enough point reversals to bring underdogs up to 50% ATS. 

I was 131-118-7 ATS for the regular season -- 40-39-1 home underdogs, 83-69-5 road underdogs and 8-10-1 home overdogs -- good for a tie for 26th out of 99 in Arch's pool and a tie for 10th out of 68 in another pool where I swim with sharks. The non-Arch pool uses generous point spreads and that explains the difference in my results.

Earlier this year I was proving what my long gone London toy boy used to say about me: "When Lady G is good, she's very good. But, when she's bad, she's very very very bad." Indeed I was very bad earlier this year and again in week 13 at 5-11 offset by racking up 12-2 in week 10 and 11-5 in week 17. All in all, I am satisfied with my performance over the full year. 

But, I was 5-6 ATS in the playoffs -- 2-3 with home overdogs, 2-2 with home underdogs, 0-1 road underdogs and 1-0 in the Bowl. (Archibald's mate Jarhead points out that home underdogs are riding a 20-12 ATS streak in the playoffs.)

This is the 6th consecutive playoff year that I have finished below 50% ATS. But, I was confident going with the Super Bowl underdog. According to Professor Steven Leavitt of Freakonomics fame, the Super Bowl underdog is the best ATS pick of the year. So far, Super underdogs are 25-23-2 ATS. Over 1000 Super Bowls we might expect to see underdogs closer to 55% than 50%.

The NFC is up XXVI to XXIV over the AFC after L Super Bowls. 

I can't tell you how much it pleasured me to pick successfully against NEW ENGLAND in the conference championship round and be firmly against Coach Bill Belicheat and Donald Trump supporter Tom Brady. 

Trump's views about football are as dangerous and wrong-headed as his politics.
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/donald-trump---football-has-become-soft--like-our-country-000938592.html

Monday, June 22, 2015

CFL 2015 ATS Recap

To humour my Canadian toy boy and fiance-in-perpetuity Archibald, I participate in his non-profit Canadian Football League (CFL) pool against the spread (ATS). I finished 42-43-1 ATS: 12-19 home overdogs, 8-4 home underdogs, 16-15 road underdogs and 6-5-1 road overdogs.

In the Grey Cup, I was correct picking OTTAWA +6.5 over rEDMONTON. I am 6-1 ATS over the past 7 Grey Cups. 

Edmonton is now 14-11 in Grey Cups -- 2nd only to Toronto at 23-13 (including precursors to present franchises, defunct teams from the distant past and university teams no longer eligible).

I am 53.15% over 7 years picking CFL winners ATS from 2009 through 2015. Not enough matches to be statistically significantly better than 50% dart-throwing, but I am still proud of being above 50% over 7 years. However, before I start calling myself the CFL ATS Nostradamus, I have to admit that I have now finished below 50% in 2 of the last 3 years and overall I am behind a simple all-underdogs strategy at 53.5% over the past 7 years. All-underdogs finished 48-37-1 ATS in 2015.

Arch points out that western teams were 70-39 straight-up against eastern teams from 2012 through 2014 and 58-51 ATS including Grey Cups and other playoff matches. This year in 2015, the west was 19-22 straight-up and 16-24-1 ATS. Perhaps the CFL worm has turned away from the past pattern of western dominance. However, the west has won the last 3 Grey Cups and 8 of the past 11. Over four years from 2012 to 2015 the west was 89-61 straight-up, but 74-75-1 ATS. Next year I will not be tilting toward western teams ATS. 

Arch maintained his annual prediction that the 4th place western team would have a better record than the 3rd place eastern team and go on to represent the east in the Grey Cup. As is often the case except for his taste in women, Arch was wrong. At the halfway mark, Arch also predicted that Ottawa would finish last and Hammertown 1st in the east with rEdmonton 1st in the west. Wrong again, Arch, about Ottawa last who finished 1st instead. Hammertown struggled with their QB injured or Arch might have been as right about 1st in the east as he was about the west. At any rate, as a sports prognosticator, Arch is a good toy boy.

If anyone out there has a history of Grey Cup point spreads, it would be interesting to see whether the underdogs are significantly ahead ATS which would be consistent with Professor Leavitt's intuition that the best bet in sports is the underdog in the National Football League (NFL) Super Bowl in the United States.

Friday, April 24, 2015

British Election: I'm Voting Labour

And I am one of the few small-c conservative women born and bred in Britain. 

Why would I take the trouble to take advantage of a trip from my new home Canada to my old home in Britain to vote in my old constituency Coventry South when Labour MP Jim Cunningham is almost certain to win again and does not need my vote in any case?

Answer: To register my opposition as a citizen of the United Kingdom (UK) to Conservative Prime Minister (PM) David Cameron's plan, if he is re-elected, to call a referendum on UK membership in the European Union (EU)

All in all, I believe the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has been a good government since replacing Labour in power in 2010. Based on their record, the Conservatives deserve to be re-elected and the Lib Dems do not deserve the hiding that the polls show that they are in for on 7th May. 

In order to prevent the large anti-Europe faction of Conservative MPs from defecting to the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Cameron has promised to hold a referendum, renegotiate UK membership in the EU and then campaign for the UK to stay in the EU on these new terms. There is a high probability that the end result of the Cameron scheme will be Britons voting to leave the EU.

No matter how bad Labour leader Ed Miliband might be as PM, he could not possibly do the lasting damage to the UK  that Cameron is threatening with his EU referendum plan. Thus, I am holding my conservative nose and voting Labour.

I have received some pushback from ex-UK boyfriends about my position. Gerard from Orpington and my A level study group asks why I don't back the Lib Dems. Answer: Under the UK's antiquated first-past-the-post (FPP) system, a vote for the Lib Dems would be wasted in Coventry South and most other constituencies where the Lib Dems don't stand a punter's chance. 

I was one of the select few who voted to switch to the Alternative Vote (AV) system in the 2011 referendum. If AV were in place, I would rank the parties as follows on my AV ballot: 1. Lib Dems; 2. Labour; 3. Greens; 4. Tories; 5. UKIP.

My old uni (St. Andrews) boyfriend Seamus, last living Tory in Scotland, warns me that Labour can only govern if propped up by the Scottish National Party (SNP) who will run circles around PM Miliband on their way to winning the next referendum on Scottish independence. I agree with Seamus that Scottish independence would be a tragedy for all UK citizens. But, Cameron's referendum on the UK's exit from the EU seems to me to be a faster path to Scottish independence than any mistake that PM Miliband might make. 

(Postcript 24 June 2016: What a sad day to see the former Great Britain turn its back on Europe, immigration and integration in the world economy. If Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon can command a majority in the Scottish Parliament, I expect her to call a referendum on Scottish independence before 2016 is over.) 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Major League Baseball (MLB) 2015 Inter-league Recap

The American League (AL) representative has now won 19 of the past 32 World Series. The National League (NL) has won 4 of the past 6 in a run of luck for the inferior NL.  

2015 marks the 12th consecutive AL triumph over the NL in 2015 inter-league contests. The AL is the superior league by far and has been for more than a decade.

Including their All-star match and the World  Series triumphs, AL teams finished 172-134 in 2015 or 56% wins against NL teams or right in line with the AL's record of dominance over the past dozen years.

The only positive sign for the NL is that the AL's 53.5% average (including All-Star and World Series matches) from 2010 on is below the 55.9% average from 2004 through 2009 and below the annual average winning record of 54.7% for the entire 2004-2015 period of AL dominance.

The AL has also won 15 of the last 18 all-star games to reach a decision and 21 of the last 27.

Kansas City won the World Series despite KC misManager Ned Yost being a know-nothing, anti-analytics, play-hunches fool.  

http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/mlb/toronto-blue-jays-manager-john-gibbons-is-no-ned-yost-but-he-does-follow-hunches-that-defy-the-numbers

Yost's decisions to bat Escobar 1st in the order despite his 29% on-base average during the regular season and to play Alex Rios with a 29% on-base average, instead of Jarrod Dyson at 31% on-base and more power, reduced KC's run-scoring potential.

Admittedly, in the 6 games against Toronto, Escobar won the Most Valuable Player award with a 48% on-base average and 65% slugging. And, Rios wasn't far behind at 37% on-base and 52.6% slugging. Perhaps Yost is the wisest fool in baseball just as James I was dubbed the wisest fool in Christendom. 

In the World Series (WS), I predicted that the laws of probability told us that Escobar's on-base % would be closer to his 30% regular season career average than his 35% play-off career average and Rios' would be closer to his 29% regular season performance. Escobar led off with a 23% on-base in the WS and Rios had a 13% on-base. KC won because they have a lot of good players and Met misManager Terry Collins made many bad decisions.

The other interesting aspect of the World Series match-up was that the Mets are one of the most AL-type teams in the NL. The Mets are Oakland East with Sandy Alderson in charge and two of Billy Beane's assistants assisting Alderson. With the Mets and Chicago Cubs bringing AL-style analytics to the NL, the years of NL inferiority may be numbered. 

Toronto Blue Jays

I had a conflict of interest when Toronto faced a NL squad -- 12-8 for 2015. Official Godiva toy boy and fiancé Archibald and I had a friendly wager. If the AL's winning % against the NL for the entire 2015 season betters the Blue Jays' record, dearest Archibald has to treat me like the Queen of Sheba for a day. Conversely, if the Blue Jays better the AL's mastery over the NL, I have to dress up and act like the Queen of Sheba paying court to King Solomon for a day. I have been rehearsing with my favourite recording of Handel's Entrance of the Queen of Sheba.

Arch and his beloved Blue Jays finished 1st in the AL East at 93-69 or 57.4%My prognostication of continued Lady G mastery over Archibald based on AL domination over the NL exceeding the Blue Jays' win percentage is in jeopardy with only play-offs left for Jays and World Series as the culmination of inter-league play. 

Blue Jays led MLB averaging 5.5 runs/match scored in the regular season and 13th best allowing 4.14 runs/match for a MLB-best run differential of +1.36/game. They are in the playoffs for the 1st time since 1993. The only reason that they were only a 57% team was their 15-28 regular season record in one-run matches, which was almost entirely due to bad luck. Also, bad luck that the Jays were eliminated in game 6 of the semi-final series against KC in another one-run loss -- so, 15-29 combined regular season + play-offs in one-run matches.

I am amazed at what they did with minor-leaguers Pillar, Colabello, Thole, Pennington and Goins in the line-up regularly. Colabello hit like an all-star this year rather than the career journeyman that he has been up to now. Pillar and Goins both impersonated major-leaguer hitters with Goins leading the AL in on-base % in August. This was amazing for a player who was one of the worst hitters in the MLB last year. Goins at age 27 came close to matching his minor-league hitting numbers this year in MLB, which is very unusual. Devon Travis was doing the same (at age 24 and a bit less surprising) before he went down with injury. I kept waiting in vain for the true minor-league talent levels to emerge as the season wore on. Justin Smoak at a relatively advanced age for making a breakthrough also hit this year well-above his prior MLB levels. I owe all these guys an apology for doubting them all year. It's the way-above-expectations production from their back-end hitters that made the Jays 1st in runs scored. As we cricket fans say: "The tail wagged." And, the tail of the Toronto's batter order continued to wag for part of the play-offs. Pillar was well above his regular season in the play-offs with a 1/3 on-base average while slugging almost 50%.

Could they really continue producing like the regular season in the play-offs? The Jays had uncanny good luck hitting with runners in scoring position in the regular season. They led MLB with a 35.9% on-base with runners in scoring position (RISP) vs. 34% overall. My premise is that what looks like clutch hitting is just dumb luck. RISP on-base % fell way off in the play-offs. I expect to see the Jays' runs/match fall back to the pack next year. 

Including the playoffs, the Jays were 8-53 or less than 15% in matches when they scored 3 runs or less and 90-22 or better than 80% when they scored more than 3. All teams have a split like that, but my guess is that the split is particularly extreme for the Jays and that more than 1/3 of matches with 3 runs or fewer was unusually high for a team averaging 5.5 runs/match. I predicted that this did not bode well for play-off success when the Jays were more likely to be in close, low-scoring matches against elite pitchers. And, I was correct. The Jays were 0-5 in play-off matches when they scored 3 runs or less.

The trade of declining-with-age, overpaid Reyes for declining 30-year-old Tulowitzki did not help the Jays much this year and I predict will hurt in future years as Tulowitzki continues to decline as a hitter while making $20 million/year through 2019 followed by $14 million in 2020 when he will be 36

That being predicted, I have to note that the Jays started 31-9 with Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki is certainly better defensively than Reyes, but not by enough to account for the 31-9 streak. It's just a coincidence that Tulowitzi arrived just as the rest of the Jays got hotter than Archibald under the influence of a full moon. Tulowitzki batted poorly in the play-offs with a 24% on-base average. With 2 3-run homers and one bases-loaded double, he was the AL play-off RBI leader. But, in my view that was just a small sample fluke. 

LaTroy Hawkins, who also came to the Jays in the Tulowitzki trade, helped in the bullpen during the regular season but seemed spent in the play-offs. The three pitching prospects sent to Colorado will likely be worth more than Tulowitzki in future years. When the trade went down, I predicted that last-place Colorado would make play-offs before the Jays. I continue to believe that both Mets and Miami got the better of their trades with the Blue Jays after the 2012 season. I also predicted that both Mets and Marlins had better prospects of making the playoffs before the Jays as a result. 

I have to eat humble pie and admit being wrong with my prediction of a continued Jay play-off drought. However, I remain the only person in Canada who believes that it will be better for the Jays' long-term future now that General misManager Anthopoulos has been fired. (I know Anthopoulos was not fired technically, but the Jay owners made him an offer to renew his contract that he could refuse.)

Hiring Cleveland General Manager (GM) Mark Shapiro as new Blue Jay President is a good sign. Unlike Anthopoulos, Shapiro is a "value-for-money" operator. I thought that Shapiro would keep Anthopoulos in place for at least another 2 years, and then if the Jays stumbled in 2016 and 2017, Shapiro would bring in his own choice as GM. Gutsy move by Shapiro to get rid of Anthopoulos right away.

I view Anthopoulos as similar to a mutual fund manager who follows an active stock-picking strategy. An active stock-picker can lead the mutual fund annual tables due to good luck in any given year, but over the long haul a "value indexer" like Billy Beane in Oakland will continue to post a better record than whoever is running the Jays until Toronto brings in a quantitative analyst to run the team. Anthopoulos will get another job quickly. Let's keep track of Anthopoulos vs. Shapiro for the rest of their careers on a wins per $ basis. 

I predicted that the Jays would go 8-4 in matches started by David Price vs. 6-6 if they had put Aaron Sanchez back in the rotation. The Jays went 9-2 in regular season matches started by Price and one of the losses was misManager Gibbons' fault. The Price was not right in the play-offs -- 1-3 in games in which he has appeared and he pitched badly in 3 of 4. Small-sample bad luck had a lot to do with that. Price is a great bowler (I can't get away from my cricket upbringing), but will not be worth the huge, long-term contract that he will get from Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox or Cubs.  

Jays finished 1st in the AL East ahead of the Yankees easily as ESPN talk radio host Mike Greenberg and ESPN commentator Rick Sutcliffe predicted right after the Tulowitzki and Price trades. 

In 2015, Jays started 23-30, then went on a 14-2 streak followed by 13-19, then 42-14 to clinch 1st or the best extended stretch in team history with 75% wins over more than 1/3 of a season. 6-10 in play-offs and remainder of regular season after clinching 1st in the AL East. As I predicted, it was hard for such a streaky team to win 3 play-off rounds. 


Bill James wrote a famous article showing that Detroit's 35-5 start in 1984 could not likely be a run of good luck by a mediocre team. Over 40 games, the chances of a mediocre team posting a 35-5 record are tiny. The same is true for the Jays 42-14 streak this year. The 2015 Jays -- right up there with the 1984 Tigers and the 2013 LA Dodgers 42-8 streak for the best hot streaks in modern MLB history -- truly were a very good team in 2015. 

I am still sceptical of the Jays' future prospects. If I get time before the start of the 2016 season, I would like to look at 2015 "batting average balls in play" (BABIP) numbers for Goins, Pillar and other Jay hitters and the pitchers as well. Is it possible for an entire team to have an unusually lucky BABIP year on both sides of the ball? Of course, a lower BABIP for Jay opponents this year might reflect better Jay fielding. Another possible reason for the Jays' pitching success this year may be that Manager Gibbons has finally embraced defensive infield shifts. Again, if and when I have time, I would like to compare the Jays' shift rates in 2015 to 2014 and 2013. 

Archibald was so confident that this is the year for the Blue Jays that he has promised to end our long engagement and marry me outside the Skydome the day after the Blue Jays win the World Series. On 2nd thought, perhaps Archibald made this rash pledge because he was not confident in his Blue Jays winning. I'm starting to think that he likes being engaged more than he wants to be married. Luckily for me, I do not have to squeeze myself into the wedding dress that I bought second-hand years ago when dearest Archibald first accepted my proposal. The dress fit like a glove then, but not so flattering now -- I look more like a sausage bursting out of my wrapping -- thanks to the calorie-rich vegan meals that Arch puts in front of me at the end of my busy day. Luckily for yours truly, love is blind and Arch still sees the ravishing figure I sported when we first met. Both the Jays and yours truly have to wait until next year for our big day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NCAA March Madness 2015 ATS Recap

Official Godiva toy boy and fiancé Archibald can't get enough roundball. Every year he organizes a friendly, non-profit office pool for the NCAA men's tourney.

Instead of picking bracket winners, players in his pool pick winners against the spread (ATS) each and every day as the tournament unfolds. The winner of his winner-take-all pool is the contestant who picks the most winners against the spread over 67 matches including the play-in games. All matches are weighted equally.

Including 0-4 in play-in games, I finished 33-34 ATS.

I rely on economists' studies showing that "heavy" underdogs win more than their fair share of college basketball games against the point spread, while "non-heavy" overdogs win slightly more than 50% (although this particular result is not statistically significant).

In the final match, I took overdog favourite ATS Wisconsin over Duke at -1. One of these years, perhaps in my next life when I have time, I would like to look at the NCAA finals ATS over the years to see if there is preliminary evidence confirming Professor Stephen (Freakanomics) Levitt's Super Bowl thesis that underdogs are undervalued in big finals.

Over 8 years since 2008 of swimming naked (of roundball knowledge) in Archibald's pool, I am under water at 249-251-11. Clearly, no evidence that I have a good system for picking March madness winners ATS.

Just by picking all overdog favourites in every NCAA tournament game for the past 8 years, you would be sporting a 254-246-11 record ATS which is not statistically significantly different from even-stephen.

Lady G vs. Baracketer-in-Chief
President Obama picks winners straight-up with no point line for each bracket and round.

The President got UNC right as the 2009 winner. After a tough time in 2010 and 2011 with none of his final 4 picks coming through, he correctly picked 5 of the elite 8 in 2013 and 2014 as well as 6 of 8 in 2012 and 2015. Not too shabby.

When he picks upsets in the early rounds, I can identify games where Lady Godiva and the Baracketer-in-Chief disagree. In Obama's first 7 years in office, I am now 20-27-1 womano-a-mano against the Baracketer who has had the knack for identifying upsets until this year when Lady G had a 4-1 upper hand on the Baracketer.

Speaking of mano-a-womano, kudos to the President for also picking the women's NCAA brackets.