Category Archives: Stats Are Cool

Your Washington Nationals Could Be The Worst Hitting Team of the 21st Century

nick-johnson-hurts-3.jpgWashington obviously couldn’t hit water if they jumped ship right now. But are they just plain rotten or actually making history? According to Chico Harlan, some San Francisco scribes think it’s the latter:

I’d estimate about a half-dozen visiting ballwriters (some vets) told me this weekend that the Nats had the worst lineup they’d ever seen. Yup, ever.

Well, the Nats are 30th (A.K.A. dead last) in runs scored at 3.63 per game, on pace for 588 on the season. In this decade, only two other teams have scored less: the ’03 Dodgers (574) and ’02 Tigers (575).

So, yeah, that’s bad, but not rewrite-the-record books bad. Consider Chico’s statement, however, and that he’s talking about the current Nats lineup, sans its two best hitters: Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman. Without those two the past 16 games (and Johnson’s actually missed the past 27), the Nats are only scoring 2.75 per. Ouch. Plus, Zimm is out 4-6 weeks, and perhaps for the rest of the season.

All it’s going to take for this punchless team to be the least offensive of the decade is to average 3.47 runs or less from here on out. Sounds doable.

So, how’s The Plan coming along, Stan?

I Like B’more Til June, How About You?

First, peep the “Orioles Magic 2008” video (courtesy of Big League Stew) that’s been playing at Camden Yards following victories and stars Kevin Millar, Adam Jones, Jeremy Guthrie, George Sherrill, what appears to be Dennis Sarfate, some other dude Adam Loewen and a whole lotta awesome.

Moving on, a softball teammate of mine and Red Sox fan was lamenting Boston’s loss to Baltimore yesterday and how bad the Red Sox have been lately, which is laughable considering they’re the defending champs and off to a 24-19 start. Meanwhile, it’s series like this one with Boston that are the playoff equivalent for O’s fans. And a two-game sweep, sad as it may be, is cause for excessive celebration.

That’s the way it is for Baltimorons every spring. The team — usually a cobbled-together mix of promising youngsters (Nick Markakis, Jones, etc.), mid-priced veterans (Millar, Aubrey Huff, etc.) and shoe-string starters (Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, etc.) — competes with the Yankees and Red Sox for a couple of months before complete implosion come summertime.

And this isn’t just me talking out of my ass, it’s math. Baltimore is 21-19, and all is right in Birdland, but check out the records for this team through 40 games (and then through May) over the past five seasons*: Continue reading I Like B’more Til June, How About You?

Portis Is Like One of the Best RBs Ever

The way Washington strung four wins together to close the season and make the playoffs reminds everyone of how they strung five wins together two years ago to make the playoffs. Yet, as Jason La Canfora wrote last week, the 2007 Redskins are different — and better — than the ’05 version.

There’s a new QB and offensive coordinator along with new Hogs Dirtbags, wideouts and defensive starters. The primary constant in the parallel, aside from the steady hand of Joe Gibbs, is the stellar play of Clinton Portis.

clinton-is-the-motherflippin.jpg

In ’05, he ran for 105 yards or more in each of the five season-ending wins while scoring six touchdowns. In ’07, he rushed and received for 122 yards or more in each of the four wins while scoring four touchdowns and throwing for another. For the full season of ’05, he rushed for a Redskins team record 1,516 yards and 11 touchdowns. In ’07, he posted 1,262 and 11.

In fact, this was his fifth time topping 1,200 yards on the ground, and he’s recorded 7,715 yards and 63 touchdowns rushing in his first six seasons, giving him an average of 1,286 and 11 per year and 92 and 0.8 per game. Those are all-time great numbers.

That sounds weird because no one considers Portis to be an elite back, but it’s true. Even when discounting intangibles such as leadership and blocking, the first act of Clinton Portis’ career puts him squarely amongst the best ever. The question now is whether his will be a slow fade (a la Walter Payton or Curtis Martin) or a quick burn (a la Earl Campbell or Eddie George).

Hit the jump for empirical evidence* … Continue reading Portis Is Like One of the Best RBs Ever

Purple Jesus Pursues an Exalted Record

purple-jesus-record-time.jpgIt’s obvious that Adrian Peterson is having one of the best rookie seasons ever. Not so obvious is that, by at least one measure, he’s having the finest season any NFL running back has ever had. It’s his rushing average that I’m on about, and it’s unprecedented.

Purple Jesus is getting 6.5 yards per carry through three-quarters of the season, which is 1.3 yards (or 25%) better than anyone else with at least 100 carries. But let’s go back further.

His current average is 0.9 better than the next best single-season mark of any back this decade with at least 184 carries (Peterson’s current tally). In fact, by my count,* only four backs have ever rushed for six yards per carry over the course of a full season: Joe Perry (6.1 in ’54 and ’58), Jim Brown (6.4 in ’63), O.J. Simpson (6.0 in ’73) and Barry Sanders (6.1 in ’97).

So if the Jesus maintains his current average over the final four games, he’ll have posted the greatest yards-per-carry mark in league history. Not bad for a rookie, right Emmitt?

“He’s redefining the way teams defend the running ability.”

Footnote: Jerious Norwood has averaged 6.4 over his first two seasons but only has 168 attempts. Might be high time to give the young man the ball.

* Includes 2000-’07 and top-50 rushers stats. I may be missing someone.

Factual Evidence of Redskins Success

are-wang-chungs.jpgAt some point during Washington’s 23-20 comeback overtime victory against the Jets, Chris text messaged me from a bar in Charlotte saying that, “We are not even close to a playoff team.”

Despite needing every one of Shaun “Shazzam!” Suisham’s five field goals and a two-point conversion to get by a one-win team, I respectfully disagree. I do so because the facts, as they are, suggest otherwise:

1. Beatpaths has the Redskins at No. 7 overall, No. 4 in the NFC. And that’s before the win at New York. I’ve written about this site before, but, basically, their rankings are based on “wins, losses, who beats who, and nothing else.” It doesn’t care that a win came in overtime or a loss was by 45. Just wins and losses, and, by that measure, the Skins are damn near elite. Update: The Skins hold strong at 7.

2. Football Outsiders has the Redskins at No. 13 overall, No. 7 in the NFC. Again, that’s before the win at New York, where Washington outgained the Jets by nearly 100 yards. Their rankings are based on all types of statistical measures — nothing subjective — so they’re sure to move up this week. Update: They actually dropped a spot.

3. The three teams Washington has lost to are awesome. The combined record of New England, Green Bay and the Giants is 22-3. There’s no shame in losing to them, especially with two of the games being on the road and two of them going down to the wire.

So yeah, while the Redskins certainly don’t look like a playoff team, they’re actually playing like one. As a fan, I’ll take 5-3. Double it up, and you’ve got 10-6, a record that would likely result in wide open NFC postseason action.

What’s funny is I could’ve posted these same three items before the Jets game, but I didn’t for fear of jinxing yet another DC team. Such is life when rooting for fragile, yet irrefutable, contenders.

Welcome to 2007, Year of the Tight End

donnie-warren-rules.jpgI was faced with a fantasy football dilemma last week, namely that my two marquee tight ends, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez, were on their bye, leaving me with no one to start. Because each harbors trade value, I scoured league rosters in search of a needy team and spot starter. To my chagrin, everyone was comfortable at the position, with even the thin rosters offering traditional studs like Todd Heap and Alge Crumpler along with serviceable backups like Donald Lee and Randy McMichael.

All of which got me to thinking about how weird it is that there are so many good pass-catching tight ends right now.

Four different guys — Witten, Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Kellen Winslow — are on pace for 1,000 yards this season; something that’s only been done by tight ends twice over the past five years. Gates and three others — Dallas Clark, Ben Watson and Chris Cooley — are on pace for 10 touchdowns; something that’s only been done by tight ends three times over the same period. And Gates, Witten and Gonzalez all have legits shot at 100-catch seasons; something that’s only been accomplished by a tight end once ever.

But it’s not all about the elites. In total, there are 18 tight ends on pace for at least one of the following watermarks by season’s end: 50 receptions, 500 yards and/or 5 touchdowns. That means more than half of the teams in the league feature a receiving threat (or two) at the position.

Somewhere, Donnie Warren (pictured) is freaking out.

(After the jump, check out the “research” conducted for this post.) Continue reading Welcome to 2007, Year of the Tight End