Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 NFL Preview Pt. 2: NFC Overs and Unders

You know the drill: we're picking NFL season win overs and unders with a focus on the NFC. First, the picture:

I'm not nearly as bearish on the NFC as I was on the AFC. But there is one team that I intensely dislike: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. First, let's start with this nugget: the 2012 draft. Greg Schiano arrived last year and selected: a safety, RB, LB, LB, CB, RB, TE. Look, Ma, no linemen! Granted: Doug Martin was a great find (one of my all-time favorite Broncos), but his rushing stats plummeted after his best linemen went down (he went from Adrian Peterson-wanabe to just a great back). But the Bucs had to trade up to get him. Hint: only loaded teams should trade up; everyone else needs as many lottery tickets as possible.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 NFL Preview: AFC Overs and Unders

As is our custom for the start of football season, my colleague BPix and I switched from playoff-picking in the MLB to overs/unders for the NFL. I see playoff picking in the NFL as more of a toss-up due to the outsized impact that injury can have and the general parity across the NFL. You could argue that the Broncos (before the dismantling of Baltimore and NY) could drop a lot of the early games without Von and Champ, ultimately losing the division to the Chiefs (2-14 in 2012). I think the overs/unders set by Vegas give us a little more information, and by picking across the entire league, we reduce some of the random injury/TO luck effects. Also in MLB/NBA, we pick mid-season where we have some data; in the NFL, the season is so comparatively short that it doesn't make as much sense.

The way this works: BPix and I switch off picking teams, division by division until all 32 teams are taken. Each team has a season win total published by Vegas for betting purposes; when we pick, we are deciding whether the team will exceed that total (over) or fail expectations (under). The final picture:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2013 MLB Playoff Preview Part 2 - AL versus NL

In my last post, I pointed out something quite interesting: of the teams in playoff contention (top 9 in each league), the NL teams dominate their AL counterparts from a statistics standpoint (a brief explanation of statistics at the bottom). This was also the case in 2012, where (adjusting for no Strasburg), the top 3 starters for each NL team (by innings) averaged a 3.64 FIP compared to 3.86 in the AL (5.7% advantage), and yet the NL sluggers averaged 107.84 OPS+ compared to 101.76 in the AL (6.0% variance). These are big differences between the leagues, and the Giants' World Series sweep was a partial validation that something is going on between the leagues.

In 2013, the NL advantage persists: team-wide for NL contenders is 3.76 compared to the AL's 3.92 (4.1% difference), but their OPS+ of 108.88 over the AL's 101.89 is a 6.9% increase. How is it that the NL teams can be better at pitching and hitting?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013 MLB Playoff Preview

To be honest: I haven't watched a ton of baseball. I've watched enough to know that Yu Darvish is a freak and that you don't want to mess with Clayton Kershaw (or the Dodgers in general since the break). I've seen pitching fall apart for the Giants and Nationals (sorry, Nats fans), and especially, the Giants' World Series order get real, old real fast. I have seen the mighty Red Sox bats, Miguel Cabrera turn nothing into a home run, and Mariano on his farewell tour.

But I haven't watched a whole lot of complete games as weeknights and weekends have been consumed by a new house. Good thing that with baseball, I strongly believe stats tell a big part of the story. You could say I bought Moneyball hook, line, and sinker.

So when my colleague BPix and I kicked off Season 2 of  our sports picking competition, I wasn't too worried. Sure, he had blown me out in baseball in 2012. But I reviewed some of my 2012 projections and believe with a few tweaks, I may have the advantage this time around. Here is the data I worked with last year: