Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions

This will (hopefully) be the least-analytical thing I post here for quite a while. I could, of course, build a projection system and make my picks that way, except for the fact that I’ve sworn never to build a baseball projection system, for the following reasons:

1. Assembling a projection system would take a significant amount of time and effort. And since there are already systems out there that are significantly more sophisticated than anything I would build, that time and effort would be a prodigious waste, even moreso than the rest of my unpaid work already is.

2. I would enjoy the sport less as a result. Whenever I make predictions, I find myself rooting for them to come true instead of hoping for entertaining or surprising things to happen. The primary rule of baseball projection is “this guy will keep doing roughly what he has done before.” But one of the best parts of baseball is the fact that players don't always follow that rule. When the next Jose Bautista or Chris Davis hits 50 homers or something, I don’t want to be the guy who insists on predicting that this year’s breakout star is bound to regress to the mean; I'd rather hang on and enjoy the experience while it lasts.

So my picks are generally made with as little study as I can manage, which in turn allows me to slide by with minimal emotional investment in them. It also ensures that they will turn out to be thoroughly incorrect – but then, everyone else’s usually are as well.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stopping the madness: A better way to score NCAA tournament brackets

Bracket season is upon us once again, which means that millions of normally hardworking Americans will spend the next week carefully examining an ordered list of 64 basketball teams and trying to select the winners of the 63 games those teams will play. (Fine, it’s really 68 and 67, but let’s not pretend that most people care overmuch about the opening-round games, especially because most bracket pools ignore them.) Those picks will, for the most part, be entered into online contests which will compare the predicted brackets to the results of the games as they are played, and select the best one as the winner. This should come as news to exactly nobody.

But for all the care put into the individual brackets by the participants, the people running the contests generally put shockingly little thought into the actual method used to evaluate them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Upsetopsy: Garcia-Lopez over Nadal

It was September of 2010, and Rafael Nadal was on top of the tennis world. Earlier in the month, he had won the US Open, thereby completing the career Grand Slam, extending his streak of consecutive Slams won to three, and further securing the top spot in the world rankings. The next event Nadal played was a small tournament in Bangkok; he had a first-round bye and then won his next two matches with ease (dropping 5 total service games in each one).

His semifinal opponent was fellow Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He entered the tournament with an ATP ranking of 53 and a respectable 21-19 record on the year, having lost in the first or second round of all four Slams and with a solitary final in Eastbourne to his name. The three wins that put him in the semis were all hard-fought, with scores of 6-4, 7-6; 7-5, 6-7, 7-5; and 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. And while all three came against top-75 opposition, none of them approached the level of the world’s best player, one who had bested Garcia-Lopez with ease in their two previous encounters.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rafa vs. Rafa

Rafael Nadal won three Grand Slams in 2010. Novak Djokovic won three Grand Slams in 2011. That most basic method of tennis accounting would hold those two years to be equal, but it’s not difficult to see why Melog 75 rates Djokovic's season higher; the Serb simply performed better in the other events.

It is significantly more surprising, however, that Melog also holds Nadal’s own 2011 season, in which he won three tournaments and one Slam, to be better than his 2010, in which he captured seven total titles including the aforementioned three majors. 2011 is generally considered to have been a step back for Nadal, with Djokovic seizing his place at the top of the heap.

So what is Melog thinking? There is a short answer for this, and a long one. Let’s use the long one.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2010 Tennis Rankings: The top 10

With the last post having been the listing of the second ten from the 2010 tennis season, one might assume that the next one would be the top 10... and one would be right.