Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Dear Terrence Moore:

If When Andruw Jones leaves the Braves, Torii Hunter cannot replace him.

Torii Hunter is nearly two years older.

Andruw Jones has about twice as many career home runs.
Andruw Jones has 400 more RBI.
Andruw Jones has about 500 more hits.
Andruw Jones has 100 more doubles.
Andruw Jones has 25% more triples.
Andruw Jones has a better career OBP (.344 to .324)
Andruw Jones has a better career slugging percentage.
There is a stat called "Equivalent Average", which allows players to be compared without regard to differences in leagues, ballparks, etc. Andruw Jones has a better EqA than Torii Hunter whether adjusted for season or all-time. By significant margins.
There is another stat called "WARP3", which is a way to compare players based upon a formula incorporating a number of offensive statistics and accounting for positional importance, league strength, ballpark, pitching difficulty, and many other considerations. The net result is the number of "wins" a particular player would contribute above a replacement (read: barely a major leaguer) player at that position.
Andruw Jones has a career WARP3 exactly double Torii Hunter's career WARP3.

Simply looking at hitting, Andruw Jones is approximately TWICE as valuable to his team than Torii Hunter.

What about Defense?

Defensive statistics are a little murkier to wade through - errors, putouts and assists do not tell the whole story.
There is a stat called FRAR, which attempts to clean up the muck, and effectively is the number of runs saved having this particular player out there instead of a replacement player. There are two levels of this stat - FRAR1 and FRAR2.
Andruw Jones has saved approximately twice as many runs as Torii Hunter has in their respective careers.

So by objective statistics, basically Andruw Jones is twice as good a player at the plate as Torii Hunter. And Andruw Jones is twice as good a player in the field as Torii Hunter. And Andruw's almost 2 years younger.

Baseball-Reference uses statistics to compare players throughout history.
At his current age, Andruw Jones's closest comparison is Hall-of-Famer Frank Robinson.
At his current age, Torii Hunter's closest comparison is Jermaine Dye.

Of course, no comparison of players is complete without looking at salaries. Andruw makes a little less than $3 Million more than Hunter. Next year, both become free agents.

Torii Hunter should not be an option for the Braves unless Andruw Jones is asking for more than twice as much money than Hunter.

Also, Terrence, David Justice had better numbers throughout his career than Torii Hunter. Not quite as good as the rose-colored glasses view of Justice that Terrence Moore has, but still better than Torii Hunter.

And let the record show that I didn't bring race into the analysis here (someone else is welcome to do that).

Andruw Jones Stats
Torii Hunter Stats


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ranking Coaches X: Screw it, here's the full thing

OK, Intro was here. Longevity Post here. The original Sporting News list here.

I decided to better myself and try to load the spreadsheet I prepared for this onto Google Docs so I could just link to it here and do the full analysis in a single post, so here goes.

The full, sortable spreadsheet is here.

Analysis below the fold!


Covered this before.

National Titles

On its own, this category in a way speaks to longevity, since the coaches that have won titles tend to also be around the longest (or perhaps they stick around longer because they've won a title). Also, national titles necessarily include a factor called luck. Tommy Tuberville does not have a national title, though he has an undefeated season. Urban Meyer and Nick Saban have national titles, but not undefeated seasons. One ball bounces a different way, one call goes a different way, and a number of coaches that have titles might not, or coaches that don't have titles might have them.

Only 12 coaches have won a national title. That's a small group. 7 of the 12 have at least 12 years experience. Only 4 coaches have more than one title, and the average tenure of those 4 coaches is 24 years. The vast majority of coaches at BCS programs do not have a national title. The reason: it's hard to win a title, and luck plays a large factor. Some other quirks:

  • Dennis Erickson, whose high ranking from Dienhart made me scoff in the introduction, is one of the 4 current coaches with more than one title. That's probably reason enough to put him in a top tier. So I didn't give Erickson enough credit. Damn you EDSBS and your awesome volcano/golf cart picture!

  • Beginner's Luck? Bob Stoops won his title in his second year. Lloyd Carr in his third. Will they get another one? Their chances are probably as good as anyone else.

  • On Dienhart's list, the lowest ranked coach with a national title is Phil Fulmer at 31. 19 coaches without a title are ranked ahead of him.
Conference Titles

I think this is actually a better gauge of coaching talent than national titles. How a coach compares against his closest rivals and most direct competitors (who know him best) is a strong method. Now, for a few of these coaches, this category is useless. Charlie Weis won't ever win a conference title at Notre Dame. Joe Paterno has just 2, but Penn State was independent for a long period. Another flaw, as said in the introduction, is that not every conference title is of equal value. An undefeated season in a tough conference is far stronger than a shared title among 3 5-3 teams in a weak conference.

  • Pete Carroll has won at least a share of the conference title in every year but his first at USC.

  • Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer, Rich Rodriguez, and Butch Davis have won a conference title 50% of the time.

  • Spurrier and Carr have won titles better than 1/3rd of the time.

  • Erickson and Richt have won titles every third year.

  • Bobby Bowden has won a conference title about every third year, but 16 of his 37 years were spent as an independent. So really, he's going at a rate better than 50%. Only Carroll can beat that.

  • I find it fascinating that Mack Brown hadn't won a conference title until his 18th season. The longest another current coach has gone without a title is Al Groh, 12 years.

  • Tyrone Willingham is the lowest rated coach on Dienhart's list that has won a conference title. If you consider longevity and conference titles, it sure looks like Dienhart is unfairly downgrading Willingham.
Winning Percentage

I think this is another good, but not perfect method of objectively comparing coaches. Different programs have different inherent advantages and disadvantages. Programs play schedules of varying difficulty. But if anything matters in football, it's wins and losses. One drawback with sorting this category is that short-term success or failure screws with it. Bret Bielema tops the list with one great season. Dan Hawkins is near the bottom with one awful season.

  • Dienhart must definitely think Bielema's first year was beginner's luck. Bielema tops the sorted list of winning percentage, but he's way down at 39 on Dienhart's list, the biggest drop between the two categories.

  • Charlie Weis doesn't fare any better. By winning %, Weis should be 8th, but Dienhart has him down at 42nd.

  • Phil Fulmer also gets downgraded by Dienhart when considering winning percentage. Fulmer is 7th among BCS coaches in winning %, but Dienhart has him at 31. Considering Fulmer's national title and multiple conference titles, it sure looks like Dienhart is underrating Fulmer.

  • Jim Grobe got the biggest lift by Dienhart. Grobe is 39th among coaches in winning %, but Dienhart has him at 4th. Raising Grobe is definitely reasonable considering the disadvantages of coaching at Wake Forest, but 4th is still pretty high for a guy who has barely won half his games.

  • Bobby Johnson at Vandy is another coach that got the benefit of the doubt from Dienhart based upon difficulty of winning at his program. Only 3 coaches with at least a game under their belt have a worse winning percentage than Johnson (and one of them is Dan Hawkins, who has just a single bad year), but Dienhart has him in the top 30. Just so we're clear, Fulmer, who has a national title, 2 SEC titles and 7th in winning percentage, is worse in Dienhart's view than Bobby Johnson, with 0 national titles, 0 SEC titles, and 56th out of 59 in winning percentage.

  • Tyrone Willingham's winning percentage is, like every other category, better than where Dienhart rates him.

  • Coaches rated worse by Dienhart than their winning percentage would have them rated (by at least 10 spots): Bret Bielema, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, Phil Fulmer, Charlie Weis, Ralph Friedgen, Les Miles, Tommy Bowden, Karl Dorrell, Ron Prince, Bill Doba, Ty Willingham. That's 3 of the 4 African American coaches (who have coached a year - Randy Shannon gets an incomplete). Also, 4 SEC coaches in the top 22 for winning % are downgraded at least 10 spots.

  • Coaches rated better by Dienhart than their winning percentage would have them rated (by at least 10 spots, not counting guys without experience), with my guess on why he's raised them in parentheses: Dan Hawkins (small sample), Bobby Johnson (weak program), Mark Mangino (???), Greg Schiano (weak program), Jim Grobe (weak program), Mike Riley (???), Kirk Ferentz (??? 34th in winning %, 11th with Dienhart), Tom O'Brien (???), Frank Beamer (longevity?), Nick Saban (Title?), Rich Rodriguez (???)
Winning Percentage As Against School's Historic Winning Percentage

This system attempts to isolate the difficulties and advantages some programs have. Basically, I looked at a coach's winning percentage and subtracted his school's historic winning percentage. If a coach served at multiple schools, I accounted for that. For example, USC has a historic winning percentage of .702. That means that it's a very successful program, and there are natural advantages to coaching there. If Pete Carroll's winning percentage is .844, he's +.142 over the historic percentage. So the program is good, but Carroll's abilities in isolation shows that he's made the program even better. Likewise, with a program that historically hasn't been that good, a coach might not top the winning percentage category, but he'd still look pretty good in this one.

I think this is the most accurate objective method of comparing coaches. The only flaw is small sample size - Bielema at the top, Hawkins at the bottom for example.

  • Dennis Erickson is the big winner in this category. He's third overall, only behind two guys with small sample sizes (Bielema and Meyer).

  • Bielema, Friedgen, Richt, Miles and Tedford are in the top 10 of this category, but Dienhart doesn't include any of them in the top 20.

  • Biggest downgrade by Dienhart from where a coach would be rated by this objective category: Ron Prince (from 13th down to 57th), but that's a small sample size. Bielema was downgraded the second most (1st down to 39th), but again, a small sample size. For a guy who has coached more than a single year, the most downgraded is Les Miles (from 9th to 41st).

  • Biggest upgrade by Dienhart from where a coach would be rated by this objective category: Bill Callahan (from 50th up to 21st).

  • Coaches downgraded by Dienhart by more than 10 spots: Bielema, Meyer, Friedgen, Richt, Miles, Tedford, Prince, Fulmer, Joe Tiller, Mark Dantonio, Tommy Bowden, Bill Doba, Charlie Weis, Dorrell, Mike Gundy, Randy Edsall, Pat Fitzgerald.

  • Coaches upgraded by Dienhart by more than 10 spots (my guess at a reason, and here I don't consider a bad program as a good reason since it's already accounted for): Hawkins (small sample), Bobby Johnson (???), Bill Callahan (???), Mark Mangino (???), Greg Schiano (???), Jim Leavitt (Shouldn't be listed here - he's the only coach at the program, so his comparison to history is neutral), Houston Nutt (???), Lloyd Carr (title), Kirk Ferentz (???), Tom O'Brien (???), Tommy Tuberville (???, near-title?), Frank Beamer (longevity), Nick Saban (title), Mack Brown (title), Rich Rodriguez (???), Jim Tressel (title)

Some Overall Thoughts

Looking at the various objective criteria, I think Dienhart overrates and underrates a few coaches, based upon their accomplishments.

OVERRATED: Mark Mangino, Bill Callahan, Bobby Johnson, Rich Rodriguez, Kirk Ferentz, Tom O'Brien.

UNDERRATED: Phil Fulmer, Ralph Friedgen, Mark Richt, Charlie Weis, Jeff Tedford, Les Miles, Tommy Bowden, Bret Bielema, Tyrone Willingham, Karl Dorrell, Bill Doba.

A few more specific nits to pick considering all the categories discussed:

  • At the top, Rich Rodriguez is not defensible at #3. Bob Stoops bests him in every single objective category. Spurrier too. And Erickson. And Bobby Bowden. Even Lloyd Carr tops him in every category but one.

  • Kirk Ferentz at #11 and Tom O'Brien at #13 aren't defensible either. Coaches who best or equal them both in every category but are ranked below: Bellotti, Paterno, Butch Davis, Richt, Fulmer.

  • Houston Nutt at #20 isn't defensible. Guys behind him that best or equal him in every category: Tedford, Richt, Leach, Friedgen, Fulmer, Tiller, Bielema, Miles. Nutt's objective rankings put him right in line with Tommy Bowden, whom Dienhart ranks 47th (though, arguably he shouldn't be that low).
So there you have it. I can't remember which site discussing this had the comment "Dienhart's fine through #1, but then he falls apart." That's almost right.

The problem, as suggested in the introduction, is that Dienhart's subjective ratings mean something. When he overrates a certain coach, that coach develops an undeserved reputation, which could affect the way his program is perceived.

EDITED for Grammar and a few small analysis mistakes.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Ranking Coaches I: Longevity

Intro here. Sporting News' Rankings Here.

I readily admit that length of service at a BCS college, on its own, isn't the best measure of how good a coach is. It clearly represents accomplishment, but doesn't necessarily state an advantage in coaching ability when compared to other coaches. The extended entry has the full list and some commentary.

The list is how many years these coaches have served as the head of BCS programs. Coaches who no longer serve as the head coaches of BCS teams aren't listed (no Mike Price, no Larry Coker). Also, years serving as coach at a non-BCS-automatic-qualifying aren't included (for example, Dennis Franchione's years at TCU don't count). One exception, though: if a coach has served as coach at the same spot, and that team has joined a BCS conference, all years count (for example, Jim Leavitt at USF).

Longest Tenure (Years at BCS conference programs)

1. Joe Paterno (41)
2. Bobby Bowden (37)
3. Rich Brooks (22)
4. Frank Beamer (20)
5. Mack Brown (19)
6. Steve Spurrier (17)
7. Phillip Fulmer (14.5)
8T. Mike Bellotti (12)
8T. Lloyd Carr (12)
8T. Dennis Erickson (12)
8T. Al Groh (12)
8T. Tommy Tuberville (12)
8T. Tyrone Willingham (12)
14T. Jim Leavitt (10)
14T. Tom O'Brien (10)
14T. Nick Saban (10)
14T. Joe Tiller (10)
18. Houston Nutt (9)
19T. Tommy Bowden (8)
19T. Randy Edsall (8)
19T. Kirk Ferentz (8)
19T. Bob Stoops (8)
23. Mike Leach (7)
24T. Pete Carroll (6)
24T. Butch Davis (6)
24T. Dennis Franchione (6)
24T. Ralph Friedgen (6)
24T. Jim Grobe (6)
24T. Les Miles (6)
24T. Guy Morriss (6)
24T. Gary Pinkel (6)
24T. Mark Richt (6)
24T. Mike Riley (6)
24T. Rich Rodriguez (6)
24T. Greg Schiano (6)
24T. Jim Tressel (6)
37T. Chan Gailey (5)
37T. Bobby Johnson (5)
37T. Mark Mangino (5)
37T. Jeff Tedford (5)
37T. Ron Zook (5)
42T. Bill Doba (4)
42T. Karl Dorrell (4)
42T. Ted Roof (4)
45T. Bill Callahan (3)
45T. Sylvester Croom (3)
45T. Mark Dantonio (3)
45T. Mike Stoops (3)
49T. Mike Gundy (2)
49T. Terry Hoeppner (2)
49T. Urban Meyer (2)
49T. Ed Orgeron (2)
49T. Greg Robinson (2)
49T. Dave Wannstedt (2)
49T. Charlie Weis (2)
56T. Bret Bielema (1)
56T. Pat Fitzgerald (1)
56T. Dan Hawkins (1)
56T. Ron Prince (1)
60T. Tim Brewster (0)
60T. Gene Chizik (0)
60T. Jim Harbaugh (0)
60T. Jeff Jagodzinski (0)
60T. Brian Kelly (0)
60T. Steve Kragthorpe (0)
60T. Randy Shannon (0)


This list is a good (though not perfect) gauge of accomplishment as a coach. The guys at the top are, for the most part, legendary coaches. But if the inevitable goal is to find objective criteria to compare coaches, simply looking at how long he's been around doesn't go far enough. If I were choosing a coach today, I'd prefer a guy who isn't going to retire in the next few years, even if a younger guy has only a fraction of a chance at becoming a legend. Plus, with the energy and commitment required to make a major college program work, fresher legs are also preferable. Here are a few quirks in the data:

  • Anyone else surprised that Rich Brooks is third on this list? And you'll be even more surprised when the rest of the data gets posted. His number of titles, winning percentage, and comparative winning percentage stand out for the longest-term people - and not for good reasons.

  • Al Groh has as many years heading BCS programs as Lloyd Carr. Might be surprising, because he had those early years at Wake Forest that are probably meaningless.

  • Guys with 6 years' service might be the future legends. Carroll, Tressel, Richt, Schiano, Rodriguez, Friedgen, Grobe and even Miles and Davis. All of them may end up iconic at their respective programs.

  • Before last season, I remember someone writing about how Houston Nutt had the longest tenure at BCS conference schools who had never won a conference title. Not true! Jim Leavitt has served a year longer without a conference title.
How does longevity seem to play into Dienhart's rankings? Not much, it seems. And that's probably OK. He downgrades Paterno and Bowden from their spot up high. He (rightly) discounts Rich Brooks. He lifts several of the 6 year guys up high. The guy he's lowered the most appears to be Tyrone Willingham (8th highest by longevity, 54th on Dienhart's list). Urban Meyer gets the biggest lift (49th by longevity, 12th on Dienhart's list). Of the guys with no experience, Dienhart seems to consider most of them under the "incomplete grade", listing 5 of the 7 rookies among the bottom 9 on his list. Only Brian Kelly (36th) and Steve Kragthorpe (27th) avoided the depths - and both are the only rookies at BCS schools who had experience at other Division 1-A schools. Dienhart's assumption that Kelly and Kragthorpe will be solid at BCS schools seems (to me) to be a little strong. Considering that he rates both ahead of two coaches with multiple BCS appearances (Weis, Miles), or a guy with experience at a BCS school who has the highest winning percentage of any coach in America (Bielema). Dienhart has high hopes for those two.

Tomorrow night, National and Conference Titles.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Subjective Best Of Lists Are Impeachable

And now, the triumphant return of college football blogging!

A few weeks ago several blogdudes (I'm sure more, but it's been a while...) made note of The Sporting News' Tom Dienhart ranking all of the current BCS coaches. Mr. Dienhart gave no criteria or objectives upon which he based his list. I assume, it must be subjective. And whenever I smell subjectivity in college football, I get mad. Mad like I've a bellyful of cheap gin.

UPDATE: Bill of Eagle in Atlanta thought on these same lines a full month before I did. I didn't see it before, but much credit to him for being significantly ahead of the game!

See, as I've said before, no other sport is influenced by media subjectivity like college football, which necessarily relies upon the opinions of sportswriters and the opinions of people who rely upon sportswriters to base their opinions to crown its champion (or, if you'd prefer more precision, to select which teams play for the title). So when teams or personalities that are often synonymous with teams receive public praise or criticism, it necessarily affects how those teams are presented, and the initial impressions of particular programs directly affect placement in polls. I find this unfortunate, but even if you don't, it's a fact of the game in its current form.

The problem (well, one of the problems) with Dienhart's list is that it is a road map for "the benefit of the doubt" given to some coaches, but not others. If a team coached by a high rated team on his list loses a couple of early games to drop to 1-2, you'll likely see a column somewhere by someone saying "a Coach X coached team is too good to fall apart. Don't be surprised to see them winning the rest of their games..." or something like that. Teams coached by guys that rank high on lists like this are less likely to drop precipitously in the polls after a loss, or merely that they're more likely to be ranked highly (perhaps without reason) in preseason polls, providing the springboard needed to end up in title games or top bowls.

So this benefit of the doubt issue I see... well, some guys deserve the benefit of the doubt. That's certain. Some guys really are great coaches. So the idea of a list of great coaches isn't exactly bad in the abstract. What's bad is that we have no idea what Dienhart uses to come up with his list. Big wins? Recruiting rankings? Team discipline? Wins and losses? Who gives him exclusive interviews and access? We don't know. And that's why this list is bad.

OK. When I looked at the list I saw probably the same odd rankings most people saw. Houston Nutt ahead of Mark Richt? Chan Gailey ahead of Phil Fulmer? Rich Rodriguez in the top 3? Dennis Erickson in the top 10? But then I tried to come up with objective ways of rating these guys. I wanted to make sure my own opinions weren't wrong (what if Dienhart were right, based upon objective criteria?).

So I ranked the 66 BCS-automatic-bid conference coaches in a number of categories that I think provide some objective analysis:

  1. Longevity. The longer a guy has coached at a major college football program, that means he's probably capable. Guys who can't hack it don't stick around long, and there are few coaches who make the leap to the NFL. That said, I think this is one of the weaker objective categories for determining how good a coach is today. Who would you rather start a program with right now, Methuselah Paterno or Urban Meyer?
  2. Number of National Championships. Winning a title matters. This, I'd say is also one of the weaker objective categories for determining how good a coach is. Specifically, there are a host of major college football programs where, no matter how good a coach is, the resources just aren't there for a national title run (and even if they did win all their games, there are a number of programs which just don't have enough juice to get writers and poll voters to change preconceived notions). Also, not all national titles are equal. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer all have a title in a season where they lost a game, while Tommy Tuberville has an undefeated season, but no title.
  3. Number of Conference Titles. Again, winning a title matters. The other teams in your conference are your closest competitors, so winning titles means you are besting your closest rivals. That said, not every conference title is equal. An undefeated run through a terribly tough conference is better than a three way tie for first with all teams at 5-3 in the conference (which has happened before). And, needless to say, the fact that there are teams included that haven't always played in conferences. Charlie Weis may never win a conference title. That doesn't mean he's a worse coach than Ty Willingham, who won one at Stanford. Joe Paterno coached for 25 years as an independent, so he has the same number of titles as Mark Richt.
  4. Winning Percentage. Winning matters. Winning more than losing. Beating the other team every single week. Of course, not every team plays the same schedule. Some schedules are much more difficult than others. And not every team has the exact same resources. Les Miles has a much easier road to a good winning percentage at LSU than Bobby Johnson has at Vanderbilt.
  5. Winning Percentage vs. Program's Historic Winning Percentage. This, I believe, is the most accurate objective measure to compare coaches. Basically, you look at the particular coach's winning percentage at BCS schools, and compare that to the winning percentage that the school (or schools, if the coach has appeared at multiple BCS programs) has had. The number should be a + or -. For example, if Ralph Friedgen has a winning % of .676, and Maryland's all time winning percentage is .533, Friedgen's number for this category is +.143. This attempts to isolate the effect of a coach upon a program without regard to inherent benefits or drawbacks of the program. Of course there are flaws to this - some programs aren't the same today as they are over a 100-year period. For example, Vanderbilt all time has a program winning percentage over .500, but that's because of good numbers back in leather helmet days.
So how do things shake out? Read on in the next few posts to find out... (and it might take a few days to get them all out)


Changes Afoot!

So I kind of was screwing around with some widgets and accidentally moved to a new blogger template. And because of that I've spent most of the day trying to either (a) go back to the old ways, or (b) make this look presentable because I'm unable to go back. I'm stuck with method (b) though I'm not sure I've made it look presentable. Please let me know if this new setup burns the eyes, or if I can improve it someway. Also, let me know if I missed a link on the blogroll. I thought I caught them all, but I had to retype them all, so who knows if I missed something.

Commenting - that's been a problem. I tried to reload Haloscan using their "new blogger tool" about 7 times, and each time I lost all of my posts, even in the archives. I personally prefer the new window popup for comments via haloscan, but I'm not pissing away 650 posts to re-add it. So basically, you're stuck with Blogger comments until I can figure out how to fix that.

One last thing... As many of you may know, I am wont to eschew brevity. I tend to have these long ass posts that take up half the front page. Not anymore! I've added a widget that provides the peekaboo system. So when I write something too long, most of it'll hide behind the "read more" thing. Let's try! When the post gets long, you can just click the "read more" thing below (go ahead, click it!)

And the rest of the post is here.

Feedback is appreciated. And let me know if anyone knows how to fix the comment thing.