Category Archives: Stats Are Cool

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Zach Britton Is A Magician

The recent Fangraphs post “Zach Britton’s 2016: An All-Time Great Season?” is as eye-opening as it sounds. The O’s closer hasn’t allowed an earned run since April. It’s August.

If he sustains his current ERA for the rest of the season, then this would be the best year ever for a reliever (min. 60 innings pitched) from a run-prevention standpoint. Not bad!

And not that further proof is needed, but I’m just curious: With Britton on pace for 50 saves, how does he stack up vs. other closers with massive saves?

Well, there have only been 15 50-save seasons in MLB history. Here’s how Britton compares (ranked by ERA):

Zach Britton, 2016 — 50 saves, 0.55 ERA
Eric Gagne, 2003 — 55 saves, 1.20 ERA
Craig Kimbrel, 2013 — 50 saves, 1.21 ERA
Trevor Hoffman, 1998 — 53 saves, 1.48 ERA
Bobby Thigpen, 1990 — 57 saves, 1.83 ERA
Dennis Eckersley, 1992 — 51 saves, 1.91 ERA
Mariano Rivera, 2004 — 53 saves, 1.94 ERA
Eric Gagne, 2002 — 52 saves, 1.97 ERA
Mark Melancon, 2015 — 51 saves, 2.23 ERA
Francisco Rodiguez, 2008 — 62 saves, 2.24 ERA
Mariano Rivera, 2001 — 50 saves, 2.34 ERA
Jim Johnson, 2012 — 51 saves, 2.49 ERA
Jim Johnson, 2013 — 50 saves, 2.94 ERA
Rod Beck, 1998 — 51 saves, 3.02 ERA
Randy Myers, 1993 — 53 saves, 3.11 ERA
John Smoltz, 2002 — 55 saves, 3.25 ERA

That’s not even close. And I know saves don’t really matter as a true measure of effectiveness, but it’s incredible.

Lowering the bar a bit brings in Fernando Rodney’s 2012 campaign and Dennis Eckersley’s 1990. They each amassed 48 saves with ERAs of 0.60 and 0.61, respectively.

Those were good seasons! They’re in the neighborhood of Britton’s 2016, and an earned run or two could knock him off course.

That’s okay, though. Saves aside, let’s close with another stat: Since becoming O’s closer in 2014, Britton’s ERA is 1.46 over 191 innings. Low by any measure.

Have You Ever Looked At Jay Schroeder’s Pro Football Reference Page?

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.23.56 PMKirk Cousins’ amazing 2015 regular season, capped off by a fantastic Week 17 performance, brought something obvious into focus: Washington hasn’t enjoyed excellent quarterbacking during the modern, pass-heavy era.

Cousins broke a franchise record with 4,166 passing yards, you see. That’s only good for 10th in the NFL this season, but it’s more than any Washington passer ever, breaking Jay Schroeder’s 29-year-old mark of 4,109 in 1986.

I hadn’t thought about Schroeder in some time, but when I did think of him a few things came to mind:

*He had really blond hair and a very strong arm.
*He spent a good long time in the Blue Jays farm system.
*He bridged the gap between Theismann and Williams-Rypien.
*He was a decent quarterback, but not quite good enough.
*He was traded to Oakland for Jim Lachey, who was awesome.

While that’s all true and interesting enough, I didn’t realize just how fascinating Schroeder’s career was. Behold its curious magnificence, via his Pro Football Reference page:

1. Washington went 24-7 in games started by Schroeder, and 2-1 in playoff games. QB wins are bullshit, but that’s incredible, and it’s a credit to those Joe Gibbs-led Skins teams (and certainly to Gibbs himself).

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2. Schroeder threw 22 picks the year he set the record. That sounds like a ton, and it is, but it was also in line with his body of work and very much a sign of the time. Those 22 INTs tied Hall of Famers Phil Simms and Dan Fouts that year for fourth, and HOFers Warren Moon and Dan Marino threw 26 and 23, respectively.

3. His completion percentage that season was only 51.0%. And that’s actually slightly above his career average of 50.8%.

4. Schroeder was No. 1 in ’86 in yards per completion with 14.9. He actual led the NFL in this stat three times, and his career high was 17.0 with Oakland in ’89. (As a point of comparison, Cousins only averaged 11.0 this year, though he did complete 69.8% of his passes, so their yards per attempt were similar.)

5. His QB rating across three seasons with the Skins was only 73.0. That’s not great, even then. He did post a 90.8 with the Raiders in ’90, though.

6. He posted winning records with the Raiders and Cardinals, too. Schroeder went 32-25 across five seasons with Los Angeles and 5-3 in his one season with Arizona. He even led the Raiders to an AFC Championship game, meaning he was one win away from the Super Bowl with two different teams, going 12-4 both seasons. Not bad for a pretty mediocre, somewhat forgettable QB. (Or was he?)

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The Nats May Have Something In Joe Ross

In case you’re wondering why Doug Fister is moving to the pen upon Stephen Strasburg’s return, this may have something to do with it:

That’s ridiculous and wholly unexpected and totally unsustainable. Ross, who came to Washington this offseason along with “Shortstop of the Future” Trea Turner in the Steven Souza deal, has a career minor league ERA of 3.64 and K-BB ratio of 2.82.

So how’s he doing so phenomenally well at the Major League level? His career progression may have something to do with it. Via B-R:

*In 29 A ball starts: 4.21 ERA, 2.08 K-BB ratio
*In 19 high A starts: 3.98 ERA, 3.11 K-BB ratio
*In 13 AA appearances (12 starts): 3.03 ERA, 5.62 K-BB ratio
*in five AAA starts (all this year): 2.19 ERA, 2.14 K-BB ratio

Basically, he just keeps getting better, and now he’s got a 2.80 ERA in seven starts with the Nats, with more starts to come.

In a related story, Fister, who was one of the NL’s top 10 starters last year, is entering free agency.

Some Awesome Ovechkin Goal-Scoring Stats

Ovi got to 50 on the season the other night and 472 on his career, tying Peter Bondra for No. 1 in Caps history. A few cool stats/bits of trivia to celebrate the occasion, starting with:

Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur, and Mario Lemieux are the only other players to hit 50 goals six times. And they all played in eras with significantly more goal-scoring.

Putting 50 goals into further perspective for the modern era:

And from a few years ago, Via Daily Sports:


Stick it, Crosby.

ESPN’s ‘Great Analytics Ranking’ Shits All Over The Redskins

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The Worldwide Leader unveiled a rather cool feature yesterday, The Great Analytics Rankings, sorting all 122 NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL teams by “the strength of each franchise’s analytics staff, its buy-in from execs and coaches, its investment in biometric data and how much its approach is predicated on analytics.” I don’t know what biometric data is, but this is interesting nonetheless, at least as it pertains to our favorite teams.

We’ll start with the good. The Nats and O’s are both labeled as “believers,” meaning they rank somewhere in the top half among MLB teams. For the O’s, it’s thanks to “GM Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter and pitching coordinator Rick Peterson, all of whom are respected for their analytical thinking,” though “they need a more coherent, holistic approach and a stronger investment to compete with division rivals Tampa Bay, Boston and New York.”

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Why RGIII-Russell Wilson Comparisons Are Stupid

Here with a guest post is the man SiPhi, who’s becoming a regular.


After watching yet another Redskins loss on Sunday, coupled with another Seahawks win, I started hearing and seeing Russell Wilson-RGIII comparisons. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, as it has been a constant since both mobile QBs entered the league in 2012.

Their rookie years were arguably the best and second-best years ever by a rookie QB, as they became the first rookie QBs to hit triple digits in the passer rating category (surpassing Big Ben’s previous rookie record of 98.1). The future looked bright for both, culminating in their first-round playoff matchup at FedEx Field. We all know what happened in that fateful game, but no one knew how the narrative would shift over the next two years.

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The Wizards Are Really Good At Shooting Threes And Should Probably Shoot More Of Them

Here with your weekly look at the Wiz is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.


Trevor Ariza led the Wizards in three-point attempts and makes last season by knocking down 180 of 442. Second in both categories was Martell Webster (146 of 372), followed by Bradley Beal (138 of 343) and John Wall (108 of 308).

Wall’s jumper improved dramatically last year, so Wizards fans were hopeful about his shooting heading into this season. But Ariza went to the Rockets, Beal broke his wrist in early October and Webster had his third back surgery in late June.
No other player got close to making 100 threes in a Wizards uniform last year. Al Harrington was the closest with just 34, and he most recently played in China.

For these reasons, Washington wasn’t expected to be a real threat from downtown this year, especially early on with all the injuries. Yet more than a quarter of the way through the season, the Wizards lead the entire NBA in three-point percentage with a blistering 39.7 percent. The entire NBA.

Continue reading The Wizards Are Really Good At Shooting Threes And Should Probably Shoot More Of Them

Fancy Stats Show That RGIII May Be Good Again

Here’s a guest post from Eric Fingerhut, published with love for the Washington Post, Neil Greenberg and statistical analysis.

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“Stats show that Redskins’ Robert Griffin III will never be as good as his rookie season,” screamed the headline on the Washington Post’s Fancy Stats blog Monday afternoon. The third sentence of the blog post was less emphatic but still pretty definitive: “We likely have seen the best RGIII will ever be.”

There are a number of reasons I could think of why RGIII may end up never flashing the form we saw in 2012: lingering effects of his knee injury, a failure to adjust to being a pocket passer, defenses simply figuring him out. But stats that show that RGIII will never be the same, even two, three or five years from now? I’d be interested in seeing those. But the author of the post, Neil Greenberg, actually shows no such thing.

Using a statistic called “adjusted yards per attempt” — basically dividing a QB’s passing yards by his attempts while also taking into account touchdowns and interceptions — he first shows that, other than Griffin, just three rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have achieved an AYPA of 20 percent above league average. Only one of those quarterbacks had a season as good as that again, which would give Griffin a 33-percent chance of returning to form, slightly better than never. (That one QB who did get back to that level? Dan Marino, who did it five more times.) Of course, as anyone who knows anything about statistics should know, drawing inferences from a sample size of three is pretty unreliable.

So Greenberg then links to a list of all QBs who ever had a season 20 percent above the league’s AYPA average. Conveniently, there are exactly 100 on the list, 47 of which had at least one more such season during their career (including such illustrious names as Chris Chandler, Elvis Grbac, Erik Kramer and Wade Wilson). Meanwhile, somewhat confusingly, the post also contains a graph which states that 49 percent of QBs who hit the 20 percent over AYPA average never repeat that achievement.

In other words, a post with a headline stating that RGIII will “never” be as good as 2012, and whose text claims that we’ve “likely” seen the best of RGIII, actually shows that RGIII has about a 50-percent chance of being as good as he was in his rookie season. Sure, 50 percent isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a very long way from never. And if someone tells me that something is “likely,” I usually think there’s a much better chance than 50 percent of it happening.

Continue reading Fancy Stats Show That RGIII May Be Good Again

Wilson Ramos Hurt His Hand, Which Doesn’t Hurt That Bad


Nats starting catcher and Opening Day cleanup hitter Wilson Ramos reportedly fractured his left hand today on a foul tip, which is a very Wilson Ramos thing to do. (He’s only played more than 78 games in a season just once.)

We don’t know how serious it is or how long he’ll be out, but here’s a quick crack at what it could mean:

*In 231 career games with the Nats, Ramos’ Baseball Reference WAR is 4.9. It’s 5.3 on Fangraphs.

*Assuming Ramos misses two months or about 40 games, that’s a dropoff of about 0.9 WAR, so long as we also assume his replacement plays at replacement level.

*The replacement is Jose Lobaton, who posted a 1.5/1.4 WAR last season in 100 games with Tampa.

Meaning, while it stinks to lose Ramos at all, this shouldn’t hurt the Nats too bad. Maybe a game or less in the standings. And oh yeah, they won in 10 today.

Also, I know very little about WAR specifically and fancy stats in general. We may be doomed.

John Wall Is Shooting The Wizards To The Playoffs

Please welcome guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on John Wall and your Washington Wizards.

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The Wizards are having their best season in years. They stand at 33-31, sixth place in the East and 3.5 games away from third. The five seasons before this Washington went 19-63, 26-56, 23-59, 20-46 (lockout-shortened season) and 29-53.

The collective misery of the Eastern conference, arrival of Marcin Gortat, improved health of Bradley Beal and improved play of Trevor Ariza are obvious contributors to the success. One topic that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, though, is John Wall’s jumper.

His shooting has never been something to brag about; his career shooting percentage sits at a modest 42.5 percent, and his three-point percentage hovers around 29.5 percent. Wall is making 33.9 percent of threes this season, though, and he’s shooting 3.7 per game (two more than his previous career high). Take a look at the shot charts:

John Wall’s 2012-13 Shot Chart

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John Wall’s 2013-14 Shot Chart

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His three-point shooting has become a legitimate weapon, to the point that defenses have to respect his jumper. This spreads the floor and opens up Ariza and Beal in ways that simply didn’t exist last season, which leads to more quality shots all around. The Wizards, as a team, are shooting 38.6 percent from three this season, up from 36.5 percent last season.

But it’s not just open threes the Wizards are getting. Washington is shooting 45.6 percent overall from the floor, tied for 11th in the league. That’s a huge increase from 43.5 percent of last season, when they were tied for 27th.

Shockingly enough, making more shots leads to more points. Washington is scoring a respectable 100.5 points per game this season, which is astounding considering they tied for last a year ago with 93.2 points per contest.

Again, this is not entirely attributed to Wall improving his shot. But a point guard needs to have an outside shot to become elite. Derrick Rose, injuries aside, makes for a great case study. In his rookie season, Rose averaged 0.9 three-point attempts per game and made just 22.2 percent. He improved mildly in his second season, and by his third season he had turned his three-point shot into a weapon. That year Rose shot 4.8 threes per game, knocking them down at a rate of 33.2 percent.

So while Wall has always been able to get his points — he’s never dropped below 16 per game — he now gets them from all over the floor. Defenses have a new element to defend, and his teammates benefit from it. The Wizards win.