- The Season's Over -

Blake Griffin Not Being Easy on Mike Beasley

May 12, 2011

By: Andrew Thell

The McDonald’s All-American festivities are always worth a watch. Every year they’re loaded with young kids who will be in the NBA and showcase a select few destined for superstardom in the Association. This clip alone sports cameos from OJ Mayo, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, and Michael Beasley, but the star of the show is Mr. Blake Griffin. Blake starts out with a couple of tame dunks, still physically impressive but not high degree of difficulty maneuvers, before busting out his trademark combination of theatrics and brute force. That between-the-legs pass to himself off the backboard would play in a dunk contest at any level. But it’s the next one where he catches in mid-air, turns, and throws down that shows the kind of rare athleticism that’ll make you cringe in your computer chair.

Hat tip to Chitwood and Hobbs on the video find.

2 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on May. 12, 2011 at 4:14pm in NBA

A Word on BABIP, FIP and Bad Luck and Six Fantasy Baseball Players to Buy Low On

May 11, 2011

Chewbacca on the mound

Chewbacca’s BABIP is driving him nuts

By Andrew Thell

As the statistical arsenal of the fantasy baseball player grows more complex by the year more and more owners are turning to metrics like BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and FIP or xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, or expected ERA given only the profile of the pitcher’s interaction with the batter and not the actual result). These statistics can help us determine the true performance and expected value of pitchers and batters by assessing the level of good or bad luck they have experienced to this point. Articles detailing who’s been lucky or unlucky based on these stats are commonplace, but we need to take them with a grain of salt. I’m going to make some recommendations based on these numbers, but I first want to address a few necessary caveats that far too many writers are ignoring in their analysis. These stats are extremely useful, but they only paint a part of the larger picture.

In employing these metrics we need to be careful in how we project regression to the mean. Because a given player has been extremely unlucky to this point does not mean that he is “due” for a stretch of good luck, it simply means that we should not expect the bad luck to continue. We should expect them merely to perform at their expected level going forward. Although it often happens incidentally, bad luck is not necessarily followed by good luck, or vice versa. If you flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads 9 times, that doesn’t mean we can expect it to come up tails 9 of the next 10 flips – we go into each flip with a 50/50 expectation of either equally probably outcome.

The all-important issue of sample size must also be taken into account. With this level of complex statistical analysis we need extremely large sample sizes to draw any meaningful conclusions, and one month of data simply isn’t enough. Sometimes a year or more of data isn’t enough, as players have full seasons of bad luck (or, quite often, seasons with nagging injuries that show up on the purely linear spreadsheet as “bad luck”).

On top of that, we also need to keep in mind that there are players and playing styles that will consistently stray from “normal” expectations in BABIP or the relationship between FIP and ERA. We know that in general, when a Major League Baseball player puts a ball into play it will drop for a hit about 30% of the time, or the league average BABIP will be approximately .300 (Thanks, Voros McCracken). Players with exceptional speed, line-drive rates or (in very rare cases) bat control can consistently post higher than average BABIP while slower players or players with unusually high infield fly ball (pop up) rates will consistently underperform league averages in BABIP. Likewise, pitchers who struggle from out of the stretch, are given to mental breakdown or suffer from unusual proneness to home runs can consistently post ERAs well above the ERA we would expect given their FIP. These are just a few examples of what can spoil a simplistic BABIP or FIP analysis that seems to indicate good or bad luck on the surface.

The point is, these metrics can only tell us some of what has happened and give us a basis for making an educated guess about the future. And even in that endeavor, they’re only a part of the complete picture. No player is owed anything going forward based on previous luck, and some players consistently make their own luck. With all of that in mind, here are a few of my favorite sell high and buy low trade targets right now based on BABIP and FIP:

Six players you should be targeting in your fantasy baseball league, after the jump …

Read the rest of this article »

1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell on May. 11, 2011 at 4:50pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News

Grading the 2008 NFL Draft: NFC East

May 5, 2011

DeSean Jackson

DeSean Jackson Photo Credit: Icon SMI

By Brian Spencer

In lieu of meaningless grades for this year’s draft, our look back on and team-by-team grades for the 2008 NFL Draft rolls on with the NFC East.

See Also:
- NFC North Grades

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: Both of the ‘Boys’ first-round picks have panned out, to varying degrees: RB Felix Jones missed the bulk of his rookie season due to injury, and may never turn out to be the elite home-run hitter many think he has the talent for, but he emerged as the team’s starting back in ’10 and racked up 1,250 all-purpose yards; on the downside, he found the endzone just twice and has scored only 8 TDs in three seasons. He outlasted (and outplayed) Marion Barber, but will be pushed for carries by third-round pick DeMarco Murray… and Tashard Choice, the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick in this draft. He has his critics, but CB Mike Jenkins is a better-than-average cover corner and was named as an alternate to the 2010 Pro Bowl. Some think that if not for Jason Witten, TE Martellus Bennett (61st overall) would be putting up big numbers (I’m not so sure, but he’s a solid backup). CB Orlando Scandrick (143rd) has played in all 48 games of his first three seasons (133 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 TD). Grade: A

New York Giants: Three starters on last year’s defense were taken here: S Kenny Phillips (31st), CB Terrell Thomas (63rd), and LB Jonathan Goff (165th). Of that bunch, Thomas is the one who’s distinguished himself from his classmates, and has developed into the team’s best corner. As a starter for all 32 games the past two seasons, he’s totaled 186 tackles, 2 sacks, 10 picks, and 1 TD, and arguably should have made the Pro Bowl last year. Though still not the sure-handed receiver the Giants wish he was, WR Mario Manningham (95th) pairs nicely with Hakeem Nicks as a strong 1-2 combo for Eli Manning. Last season was his best one, with 60 catches for 944 yards and 9 TDs; his 15.7 YPC was good for a top-15 rank in the league. Grade: A

Philadelphia Eagles: In a rare draft that saw no wide receivers taken in the first round, WR DeSean Jackson was the seventh player off the board at his position and has easily established himself as the best of the bunch. With a combined 2,223 yards receiving and 15 TDs over his past two seasons–along with 3 more scores as a punt returner–Jackson has earned consecutive Pro Bowl honors and is a perfect fit for Mike Vick. His 22.5 YPC led the NFL last season. Fourth-round pick Mike McGlynn (109th) was drafted as a tackle but last year became the team’s starting center. Of the Iggles’ remaining eight picks, only DT Trevor Laws (47th) and OT King Dunlap (230th) are still on the roster; both are backups and will fight to keep their jobs this fall. Grade: B+

Washington Redskins: The ‘Skins adopted the ‘ol “throw shit up against the wall and see what sticks” strategy in amassing 11 picks (though none in the first round). Not much of it stuck: WRs Devin Thomas (34th) and Malcolm Kelly (51st) have either contributed little (Kelly) or nothing (Thomas), while DBs Kareem Moore (180th) and Chris Horton (249th) will both be on the roster bubble come training camp–along with Kelly. TE Fred Davis (48th) has had some big games, proven to be a fine backup to Chris Cooley, and is the only reason his draft class doesn’t get a F. Grade: D-

Put your money where your mouth is this NFL season on Luxbet Mobile.

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 5, 2011 at 3:02am in NFL

Grading the 2008 NFL Draft: NFC North

May 3, 2011

Matt Forte Chicago Bears

Matt Forte Photo Credit: Icon SMI

By Brian Spencer

With the 2011 NFL Draft in the mirror and team-by-team grades cat-littering the internets, now’s a good time for this friendly reminder: those draft grades are meaningless. Nobody knows for sure how well any of these drafts turned out because all we have is speculation and projection of prospects. History tells us that most of these gentlemen won’t amount to much, whether they were taken in the 1st or 7th round, so while as fans it’s fun to evaluate the picks on paper, the reality is that we need a few years before making any real judgements.

In that spirit, we’re revisiting the 2008 NFL Draft and handing out grades based on what’s transpired on the field these past three seasons. First up, the NFC North.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: It’s all about the offensive players for the Bears. First-round pick Chris Williams (14th overall) hasn’t yet found a permanent home on the team’s offensive line after less-than-stellar results as a tackle on either side and as left guard; he’s running out of chances. RB Matt Forte (44th) has combined for nearly 5,000 yards rushing and receiving and scored 25 touchdowns during his first three seasons. We’re all still waiting for WR Earl Bennett (70th) to be more than mediocre, and are starting to wonder if it’ll ever happen: in what many predicted would be a breakout season last year, Bennett caught just 46 passes for 561 yards and 3 TDs. DT Marcus Harrison and CB Zackary Bowman both provide solid depth on defense. Grade: B

Detroit Lions: OT Gosder Cherilus, taken 17th overall, has been inconsistent as the team’s starting right tackle. He’s coming off his best season, but he’s also coming off microfracture surgery, which is not a good thing for 325-pound men. LB Jordon Dizon (45th) has been a major bust: if the team wasn’t so short on quality linebackers, he may not have made the roster out of last year’s training camp. RB Kevin Smith (64th) was drafted to be “the guy”, but after a promising rookie season he fizzled in 2009-10 and only played in six games last year due to injury; he won’t be back and is looking for a job. DE Cliff Avril (92nd) is developing into an elite sackmaster–he finished with 9 last year and has 19.5 in his first three seasons. FB Jerome Felton (146th) is a bulldozer with a mean streak who claimed the starting job last season. Grade: B

Green Bay Packers: Armed with no first-round picks but three in the second, the Pack swung and missed on two of ‘em: QB Brian Brohm (56th) is no longer with the team and basically on his way out of the league, while CB Patrick Lee (60th) looks like a career dime back at best. This draft did produce three starters for their Super Bowl-winning team, though TE JerMichael Finley (91st) watched from the sidelines on IR after playing in just 5 games. This kid has Pro Bowl potential, however, if he can stay healthy next year. WR Jordy Nelson is a tough kid and could be poised for big things in 2011-12 with Donald Driver just about done (and possibly retiring), and following a strong postseason that was capped with with 9 catches for 140 yards and 1 TD in the Super Bowl. G Josh Sitton (135th) is starting at right guard; QB Matt Flynn (209th) is backing up for Aaron Rodgers. Grade: A-

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings had just five picks: a 2nd, two in the 5th, and two in the 6th. While their top three picks haven’t panned out–S Tyrell Johnson (43rd) is a special teamer, QB John David Booty is on his way to the UFL or CFL, and DT Letroy Guion is roster-bubble depth–they landed a quality starting center in John Sullivan (187th). That counts for something. Grade: C

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on May. 3, 2011 at 6:31am in NFL


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