Nerds on Sports Where nerds are talking about sports!

November 26, 2007

No Time Like Overtime

Filed under: NCAA — Tags: , , , , , — Perich @ 11:57 pm

Serpico introduced a point that I’d like to elaborate on: the difference between college football and NFL overtime.

The rules for NFL overtime are simple: the ref holds another coin toss for possession. Fifteen minutes of “sudden death” football are played; the first team to score wins. If no one scores after fifteen minutes, it ends in a genuine tie.

The rules for NCAA football overtime are not as simple, but they’re not complex. One team starts with the ball on the 25-yard line. If they can score on their possession, without giving up on downs or turning the ball over, then the opposing team gets a chance to do the same. If the opposing team scores as well, then they advance to another overtime period. However, if one team scores and the other doesn’t – or doesn’t score as much – that’s it; game over.

We saw an NFL OT game this weekend: Bears over Broncos. Chicago won the coin toss and then went on to sink a long bomb to Desmond Clark and get in field goal range. This shouldn’t surprise the Nerds in the audience: the team that wins the toss wins the OT period, and thus the game, fifty-two percent of the time.

However, we saw two NCAA OT games this weekend, and they were nailbiters both: Arkansas upsetting #1 LSU in triple overtime and Tennessee upsetting Oregon Kentucky in quadruple overtime. The diehard fans that stuck around to watch them to the end – and could you call yourself a serious fan and leave early? – saw some thrilling athletics, let me tell you.

Many pundits insist the NFL’s OT system is “broken.” There have been a number of suggested fixes – some outlandish and exciting (auction off the “kickoff” line on which the OT starts), some relatively straightforward (just adopt the college rules). Here at Nerds on Sports, though, we’re interested in the more fundamental questions.

For instance: why does the NFL have the OT system it does?
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November 24, 2007

My Value is Better Than Your Value

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , , , , — Willis @ 1:47 pm

Turkey Playing FootballI hope everyone enjoyed their Thursday football. I’ve been in a tryptophan induced coma for the last 48 hours and I still haven’t finished all the leftovers. I guess I’ll head back into the coma tonight.

Earlier this week Perich posted his article about the value of Major League baseball players. Well, that got me thinking about some things I’ve read (and you can read too: Baseball Between the Numbers, Player Value: Last Piece of the Puzzle, Dollar Value of a Player: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and the Hardball Times MVPs), and that there has to be a better different way to figure out a players value. Plus, Perich said “If you have a more objective standard of value, let me hear it.” Maybe my way isn’t “more objective,” but I hope it’s a different enough view of the numbers to see some differences. It’s still not a vote, and that’s what counts. I know I want to take into account a players salary, a players performance, and the teams overall performance. The teams performance is where I vary from Perich.

Baseball Math TextbookI believe that if you perform well on a good team, you have more of a value. Why? Because a team that makes the playoffs makes more money. And like any other business the goal of the business is to make money. The hard part is to quantify this difference.

I started my calculations the same way, by downloading all the 2007 salaries from USA Today. Then I downloaded the 2007 stats for Total Bases and VORP for 2007. According to VORP Alex Rodriguz is the clear AL winner with a 96.6. Or almost 10 wins more than a replacement 3b, or 9 more wins then if the Yankees had Ty Wigginton. In the NL, Hanley Ramirez had a great year with a VORP of 89.5. Compare that to the actual MVP, Jimmy Rollins, who had 66.1. Lower than other NL powerhouses: David Wright, Matt Holliday, and Albert Pujols among others. (more…)

November 20, 2007

What A Value

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , , , , — Perich @ 10:35 am

When a term like Most Valuable Player gets thrown around, it brings out the economist in me. What does “value” mean? When most people hear “value,” they think: a lot for a little. Stretching your dollar. A great reward for a little price.

Then I remember that the MVP is voted on, not decided by math, and I frown a lot. Thanks for making the term “value” subjective and meaningless, you clods. Whoo-hoo, another popularity contest.

So, always the contrarians, Nerds on Sports would like to present their own Nerds on Sports MVP.

How We Decide

Since the MVP is typically a reward for offensive play – fielders get the Gold Glove – we focused on offensive statistics. Our usual standards, like OBP and SLG, aren’t any good here. They’re not weighted by number of games played.

So our formula for MVP is pretty simple:

2007 Salary divided by Total Bases

This gives us Dollars per Base – how much it cost your team to get you to advance one base. The lower your Dollars per Base, the more valuable you are to your team.

(If you have a more objective standard of value, let me hear it)

2007 NL MVP

Go on, kick the tiresIt was a close race here, but Hanley Ramirez, shortstop for the Florida Marlins, is the most valuable player in the National League. He put up competitive numbers – 0.386 OBP, 0.562 slugging – at bargain basement prices. At a final price of $1119.78 per base, Ramirez was not only the Most Valuable Player in the NL, but in the entire league.

2007 AL MVP

Forty-nine Curtis Grandersons!  Just stack them in a closet!Despite all the love this site (and this columnist) has shown A-Rod in the past, Alex Rodriguez is not the most valuable player in the American League. He’s not even in the top 20. Steinbrenner’s paying $60,395.01 for every base A-Rod reaches. For that kind of money, you could get forty-nine Curtis Grandersons (outfielder, Detroit Tigers). Sure, Granderson might have posted slightly less impressive numbers – 0.913 OPS vs the Rod’s 1.067 – but can you pass him up at a beggarly $410,000? I submit that you can’t.

2007 World Series MVP

This is tricky – not dog-in-the-bathtub tricky, but rock-a-rhyme tricky – for several reasons:
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April 24, 2007

And Other Unpopular Suggestions

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , , , — Perich @ 9:47 am

Short one today, but I want some feedback: why doesn’t Boston build a new ballpark for the Red Sox?

First, some economics: let’s say an average Red Sox seat retails for $501. In practice, most of those tickets are scooped up by scalpers, who resell them for $100 and up. If I’m Theo Epstein, then every penny between the original $50 price and the final $100 price is a penny that I could have captured. This steams my britches.

Should I raise ticket prices across the board? Not necessarily. Baseball tickets are a luxury good, so they tend to have a higher demand elasticity. This means that people are more sensitive to changes in price than with other goods. Cigarettes and gasoline have very inelastic demand, by way of contrast: you can raise the price by 10 or 25 or 50 cents and people won’t buy less of it2. But no one needs loge seats. And a ticket that might have looked perfect at $40 might suddenly seem too expensive at $50. Yes, it’s only another $10, but people are weird.

Further, the Red Sox have been raising ticket prices pretty regularly for years and the problem remains. Scalpers buy up as many tickets as possible, resell them for half again as much, and pocket the difference. It seems pretty clear that the issue with the Red Sox is fundamental: demand outstrips supply.

Fenway Park is the oldest baseball stadium still in operation. It seats 38,805 and is pretty rickety. While other stadiums have fewer available seats (PNC Park in Pittsburgh, for instance), there’s no franchise in baseball with greater demand and fewer seats. Given their tremendous history – to say nothing of their 2004 championship – the Sox can bet on drawing capacity crowds every time.

I would wager that the Red Sox can draw in more fans a season than the struggling Orioles3 (48,800 in Camden Yards) and at least as many as their rivals, the Yankees (56,500 in Yankee Stadium). By this logic, Fenway Park is at least 10,000 seats too small.

So what should happen? Should the Red Sox build a new baseball stadium, raise prices to a level where scalpers won’t be able to make a profitable resale, and start counting their future revenue?

Well, maybe not.
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