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.

(Image courtesy of

Thursday, November 11, 2010

John Wall Wishes he Had What Lester Hudson Has

6 games, 1 almost triple-double, and one kind of almost quadruple-double. I think it's safe to say John Wall is adapting to the NBA pretty well.

For those of you who aren't watching Wall, he is must-see TV. The Gamechanger couldn't be more appropriate. He has had his downs, but he has also been the dominant player in 2 of his 6 games, which not-coincidentally are also the only 2 wins the Wizards have so far.

But tonight was special. Wall was everywhere, just a constant pest on defense while controlling everything on offense. His final line: 19 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds, 6 steals, and 1 turnover. Yes, that is a triple-double, and 4 steals away from a quadruple-double. Trust me, those 4 steals seemed very obtainable the way Wall was playing, but even so, I thought he'd have to be as close as almost anyone has ever come to a quadruple-double.

I did some research and there have been 4 quadruple-doubles in NBA history, and one as recently as 1994. I am surprised there have been that many and even more surprised that 8 guys have come within 1 assist, rebound, or steal of the feat. Larry Bird is one of those 8, and in that performance sat out the 4th quarter!, wow. Hakeem Olajuwon is 1 assist away from having performed the feat twice. Good lord. So maybe John Wall's night wasn't that special.

I did a little more digging and there has only been 1 quadruple-double ever recorded in Men's Div. 1 NCAA basketball. No, not Pistol Pete, Shaq, Oscar Robinson, etc......Lester freaking Hudson. Yes, the same Lester Hudson who occupies the end of the lowly Wizards bench.Of all people...

Lester Preparing for His Role in the NBA

So much for Wall's night being historic other than being the 3rd youngest player to record a triple-double, and 6th fastest player to do it in terms of games played. More importantly though, Wall was electric and clearly looked capable of being the superstar the Wiz need. There will be more triple-doubles and wins to come, and at the rate Wall dishes assists and collects steals, a quadruple-double at some point isn't such a crazy possibility.

(Wall image courtesy of, Hudson image courtesy of

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cleveland Jocks Lebron

I am a huuuge fan of the original Nike one, but here is a redux courtesy of the scorned sports wasteland:

Had some trouble getting the video to fit our fancy formatting, but it never gets old seeing someone else hate LBJ after us Wizards fans were first on the bandwagon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brandon Banks Gets No Love, and Then Gets Hurt

When my favorite Redskin Brandon Banks put on the greatest return performances I have ever seen against the Detroit Lions last week, including a kickoff return TD, it appeared a mere formality that he would be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. And then, there was silence....

I didn't think much of it, but for a mediocre team and an awesome player, a normally crappy award actually could give us fans some excitement. Not a peep though from Redskins Insider or anywhere, so I did about 8 seconds of research and discovered that Green Bay Packers punter Tim Masthay was actually the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week....what!?!

I did about 5 minutes more research on who votes on this award, and haven't found anything. Masthay put 5 of his 8 punts inside the 20, and the Jets had 0 punt return yards against him, but come on, a 41.5 yard net average indicates that he wasn't kicking superhuman distances. Does anyone know who picks these awards? Is it one guy, or is it a committee of idiots? Going through the play-by-play, here are the big plays from the Gamebreaker:

  • 46 yard KO return to Detroit territory
  • 24 yard punt return to Detroit territory
  • 95 yard KO return TD nullified by penalty
  • 35 yard punt return to Detroit territory
  • 96 yard KO return TD
Even excluding the TD that never was, those are 4 huuuge plays and way bigger than 5 punts inside the 20. Plus, the dude's a punter...

Alas, my boy Banks will not get to avenge this wrongdoing next week as word is out that he somehow sustained an injury and had minor knee surgery this week. Great, grand, wonderful. The good news is he may only miss 1 game. The bad news is Redskin games will get even more boring as there goes the Redskin 'offense'.

In other news, the Caps are on a 4 game win streak and now have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

(Image courtesy of DC Sports Bog)