Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why Statistics Get a Bad Name, and D******* Hall Has a Good One

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of WaPo's Redskins Insider as the best news source on the Skins, and am excited about the idea of having a 'statistician' post on the blog about once a week, but an idea is just that. The stat guy's name is Brian Burke (not that Brian Burke) and although he has his own site and I generally appreciate the blog is moving in a good direction by using stats, Burke's post from today is asinine.

He picks the Skins defensive players 'helping the team the most.' He uses a stat called "+WPA", which is basically a measure of how much a playmaker a guy is. To Burke's credit, he notes on his site that, "...there are the "gamblers," players who shoot gaps when they should be reading the play or cornerbacks who jump pass routes when they should stay in position. Certainly, +WPA would be biased in favor of these types of players." Fine, except his post today literally says, "Time to look at the MVPs on defense."

So he has Vonnie Holiday as the MVP of the DL (his mere presence on the team is a whole 'nother post), LFB as the MVP of the linebackers, Dirty 30 as the top safety in the entire NFL.....okay, nothing crazy there.....and then this tidbit:

"And that brings us to DeAngelo Hall, whose first eight games of the season defy words. With 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 2 tackles for losses, and 6 interceptions -- not to mention a fumble recovery returned for touchdown -- Hall has totaled 2.00 +WPA. Needless to say, he leads the league. The closest other cornerback is Charles Woodson of the Packers with 1.31 +WPA. Woodson is closer to the 22nd-ranked cornerback than he is to Hall. That's how amazing Hall's 2010 has been so far."

I feel like I just got punched in the brain. Hall has never been nearly as good as his reputation, and metrics should be used for the good of pointing out such a misconception. Yes, the guy is a playmaker, and it is very likely he has been the top 'playmaking' CB in the NFL - he even won that Chicago game for us with 4 INTs. But to say his season has been amazing is just absurd. In fact, he has been really bad, and grossly outplayed by Carlos Rogers. Hall does not shadow each team's #1, and is not across from an elite CB, yet there is a reason teams continually throw at him.......he's not good. I have heard over radio, but am having trouble finding online, that Football Outsiders game charters have Hall as possibly theee worst CB in the NFL so far this year. I found confirmation that he has been the most thrown at player in the league so far, and I also heard that he has the lowest success rate in stopping throws against him

 The Usual Work of D******* Hall

To recap, teams are targeting Hall often and with great success.

You know why Nnamdi Asomugha never gets 6 INTs through 8 games? Because he is so good (and partly the Raiders stupid for only playing him on one side of the field) that he was only thrown at 28 times last season. 28 times! To match Hall's raw numbers, and using 14 targets in 8 games, Asomugha would have had to intercept almost 1/2 of the passes thrown his way, and breakup the rest. Hall's season does not defy words, he just stinks at his job while being a tremendous ballhawk, and thus equates out to be a 'boom or bust' player. Not only are these types of players less valuable than those who are consistent (Rogers), but Hall is having waaay too many 'busts' this year despite the high number of highlights

But Hall can't be that bad you say? Burke makes the point in his +WPA explanation that, "...if their gambles were really hurting a team, I doubt they'd be given much slack and playing time by their coaches." Burke needs to become better acquainted with the Redskins franchise under Dan Snyder; we don't just give them playing time, we give them fat contracts.

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