Monday, November 21, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-Finals 2016

One of the things I like most about tennis is the way it rewards long-haul performance. So many other sports seem to be all about the playoffs; you can win 116 games in a baseball season (like the 2001 Mariners), or 73 games in a basketball season (like last year's Warriors), and still have people scoff at you if you get upended in a short playoff series (or, like the 18-1 2007 Patriots, one game of football).

Tennis is different. While it has its own version of the playoffs, taking the top 8 players of the year and matching them up with each other in the World Tour Finals, it does not automatically designate the winner of that event to be the champion of the year. Instead, the World Number One is the player who performed best through the grind of the ten-month tennis season.

That designation is often secured very early - in 2015, for instance, Novak Djokovic clinched the top spot by winning the US Open in early September. Through the first half of the 2016 season, it looked like we'd have another blowout, as Djokovic won the first two Slams of the year, and three of the first five Masters. After he wrapped up the French Open title (completing the career Slam, and making him the first player in nearly 50 years to hold all four Slams at once), his lead in the 2016 points race was over 3000.

And after that... well, after that, Andy Murray had the run of his life, winning seven titles from nine events stretching from Queen's Club to Paris. Djokovic won only one title in that span, and entering the World Finals, Murray held the #1 spot by a margin of just over 400 points - a gap that could easily be closed using the points available in the Finals.

The event played out perfectly, as Djokovic and Murray both swept their round robin groups and won their semifinal matches, bringing up a first in tennis history: the last match of the Tour Finals would result in the year-end #1 ranking being awarded to the winner, whichever player that was.

Murray won the match, and the title, and the year-end #1 ranking. And given how the Melog ratings have looked during the last couple of updates, the top of the upcoming table should come as little surprise...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

2016 MLB Postseason: The statistical view


It's been just over a week and it still hasn't fully sunk in. But I'll try to cut through the haze of post-title bliss and be as rational as possible in breaking down what the numbers have to say about the highly memorable 2016 postseason.