Super Bowl XLIX prediction (sabermetrics)

This is my annual post in which I attempt to predict the Super Bowl result, based on two sets of mathematical data. The original post tells the story.   What I worked on were the boxscores of 18 games and added the notational and sum totals and took an average, breaking it down simply by boxscore quarters.   I aimed to find the pattern of momentum that may be present in the Super Bowl.
We start with Seattle on offense, subtotal:
Q1: 4.11. Q2: 6.88. Q3: 4.94. Q4: 8.55 Total: 24.48
Seattle defense, subtotal
Q1: 3.88. Q2: 5.55 Q3: 2.38 Q4: 4.44  Total: 16.25
Seattle offense, notational :
Q1: 3.36  Q2: 5.95  Q3: 5.23  Q4: 9.73  Total: 24.27
Seattle defense, notational:
Q1: 3.34 Q2: 4.80 Q3: 2.07  Q4: 3.17 Total: 13.38
Offense  median:
Q1: 3.74 Q2: 6.42 Q3: 5.09 Q4: 9.14  Total: 24.39
Defense  median:
Q1: 3.61 Q2: 5.17 Q3: 2.23 Q4: 3.81 Total: 14.82
Offensive trend:  Down in 1st half, up in 2nd half.
Defense trend: Up in all quarters, especially in Q4.
NE offense subtotal
Q1: 5.50 Q2: 10.72 Q3: 7.55 Q4: 7.77  Total: 31.54
NE defense, subtotal:
Q1: 4.40 Q2: 6.33 Q3: 5.11  Q4: 3.61  Total: 19.45
NE offense, notational:
Q1: 5.46 Q2: 9.47 Q3: 9.05 Q4: 6.90 Total: 30.88
NE defense, notational:
Q1: 4.52 Q2: 7.59 Q3: 3.60 Q4: 2.66 Total: 18.37
Offense  median
Q1: 5.48 Q2: 10.09 Q3: 8.30 Q4: 7.33 Total: 31.20
Defense  median
Q1: 4.46 Q2: 6.96 Q3: 4.36 Q4: 3.14 Total: 18.92
Offensive trend: Down in Q2, up in Q3, down in Q4
Defensive trend: Down in Q2, up in 2nd half.
With the 4 medians we’ll refine further by seeing another set of medians based on one side’s offense and combining the opposition’s defense, seeing who gains when one side has the ball:
SEA possession (SEA offense, NE defense):
Q1: 4.10  Q2: 6.69 Q3: 4.73  Q4: 6.14  Total: 21.66
NE possession:
Q1: 4.55 Q2: 7.63 Q3: 5.27 Q4: 5.57 Total: 23.02
With that I can say that New England should win the Super Bowl, 23-22.  But is it that simple of a decision to make?  Back to the trends a second:
SEA Offense: – – + +
NE Defense: 0 – + +
Seattle with the ball seems to be a bit weaker in comparison in the first quarter, otherwise they are simply trading blows during the rest of the

NE Offense: 0 – + +
SEA Defense: + + + +

Seattle has the definitive advantage in the first half and still will trade blows in the 2nd half.

The takeaway is that we’ll have a bombastic 2nd half based on trends.  Seattle on defense seems to have a bigger advantage in an otherwise quiet 2nd quarter. That will be the quarter to watch.
As for points, I still would give NE the win, based on their gain in the 2nd quarter.

Let’s take one more look at those original numbers. What if I assigned a representative number to account for the different types of scores?   Here’s what I dreamt up: 1.5-4.5 = field goal, 3 pts.
4.5-7.5 = touchdown, 6 points

7.5 + = 8 points, accounting for touchdowns, plus extra points, 2 pointers, and safeties.
Cutting to the chase, here’s how the medians look:

SEA offense: 3-6-6-8 = 23
NE defense: 3-6-3-3 = 15

NE offense: 6-8-8-6 = 28
SEA defense: 3-6-3-3 = 15

SEA result: 3-6-6-6 = 21
NE result: 6-6-6-6= 24

NE to win 24-21 consensus has New England winning by 1 to 1.5, up from pick-’em, along with an over/under ranging from 47 to 49.  I’d New England giving the points, and the under. In both cases, these are rather narrow decisions.

McLaughlin/Ekati 2015 win update

Continuing the plan for 2015, I am covering each of the wins by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.  Since the last post, he’s succeded with a nice percentage to begin 2015. Here are those stories:

ELNAAWI is a 5YO son of Street Sense and Pilfer, who runs routes against older continuously. Wintered at Gulfstream with good success against optional claimers, he moved to the NY area tracks, finding a home at  Monmouth. He got his 3rd lifetime win in his first visit to Monmouth, 8.5 furlongs vs 30k optional claimers. The anted was upped as he would be entered in better races ever since. He’d produce fast results but just 2 podium finishes, a 3rd in the 100k Yankee Affair, and a win 2 races back in an 80k OC race at Keeneland, switching from turf back to dirt. He garnered 3 works before that race, the first of which was quite fast. Despite winning out as the favorite he would  be a 4-1 choice in the Queens County on Aqueduct’s inner dirt track, going an extra half furlong and moving up in class. He also garnered the rail, where he won his last race.. Despite 2 great works plus a layoff of nearly 2 months, he didn’t factor at all, finishing 6th of 9.    So we come to January. in December he breezed 4 furlongs in 48-1, 6th best of 52. This was in preparation for the Native Dancer at Laurel Park, as he would cut back half a furlong. Maybe it was a matter of finding the right field. He had posted Brisnet numbers of 90+ since June. Before this race, he was the 6-1 co-4th choice via the morning line. Maybe enough people figured that his relatively weak late pace last time would hinder him again today.  Something in his favor was the muddy conditions. Lifetime he posted a win and  a 3rd in 2 such races.

What else? The cut back in distance prior to a win as he did in October was a good sign. Possibly having a win last January suggested a winning seasonal factor. He was also shipping from Aqueduct, a move that earned him his 2 prior wins.
He would win the Native Dancer by 7.25 lengths with a great stretch run, going against his early/pressing style. He was 6th and wide until 3/4, then surged to command afterward. He went off at 5-1 odds, and returned $12.20 for win. Elnaawi is owned by Shadwell Stable and was bred in Kentucky by Siena Farms.
Another 5YO Street Sense horse won for Kiaran this week:
WEDDING TOAST  had 6 lifetime races, all at the NY track, debuting at a sprint, routes since, mainly vs older. She had one start last year, running 2nd in a 100k event. In 2013 she had a 4 race win streak, including the Grade 3 Comely. Outside of her debut, she was always favorite or nearly so. Brisnet scores have alternated from 98 to 99 in his last 4.
In preparing for the 7 furlong Miami Shores Handicap, a 60k races for fillies/mares 4YO+ at Gulfstream, she was on layoff since April, and put in 8 works, all at Palm Meadows, mostly 4 and 5 furlong efforts. She was made the morning-line favorite at 2/1.   The race itself was whittled down to 7 horses from 12.  She entered this race as the major speed threat.  She dueled with lone speed Best Behavior for half the race, maintained speed through the stretch, and won by 1.25. She was better than even money at post time, and paid $4.20 for win.
She is owned by Godolphin Racing, bred in Kentucky by Darley.
Here’s the latest McLaughin wins:
STRIKE TONE made her debut appearance against seasoned 4YO fillies, all going 8.5 furlongs on Gulfstream Park’s turf course on 1/14.  He worked out 12 times plus in preparation, the last 8 at Palm Meadows. He also would be one of 2 geldings in the race.  Average winning distance from his sire and dam impressed most (Street Cry, 7.9, and Pleasant Chimes, 7.7) Jockey Julien Leparoux had 4 wins and a 3rd in the last 7 days, this on top of Kiaran’s 3-14 record thus far in 2015.  She was entered as 4th choice of 8 at 9/2 morning line, then was bet down to 3rd choice at post time after 2 scratches.  On a ‘good’ track surface, she ran near the back early, then made up a lot of ground from the 6 furlong point to the early point in the stretch, successfully fending off Steel Sky to win by a head.
Strike Tone paid $7.40 to win. She is owned by Goldolphin Racing, bred by the estate of Edward Evans in Virginia.
TAGLEEB is a 4YO colt who had 5 lifetime races, all except maiden debut in turf routes, last 3 in less than ideal conditions. Was 6th of 7 in debut at 83k, then switched jockeys to A Garcia, first time at route and turf this past summer in Saratoga, was 4th of 11. He showed one good workout of 3 in prep for that. In September at Belmont after one strong work, he dropped to 75k maiden, switching back to Joel Rosario, and was entered as post time favorite, finishing 2nd of 10 in a 5-wide effort. Also he posted a strong 87 Brisnet there.
In October he was shipped to Keeneland, and finally broke maiden with Leparoux aboard, again as the post-time fave. He was branded as a deep closer upon this first win.  Following a 2 month layoff and 3 great works out of 5, he posted a 100 Brisnet at Gulfstream, finishing 2nd. in a 37k allowance race.  So there were patterns here, including handling an off track as well as turf in general, seeing how well he responded in training.
On 1/17 he was 5/1, 3rd in the morning-line, bet down to 2nd at post time.  Since he was coming off a sharp gain in pace from his prior race, there was reason to second-guess that, especially since he’d be dependent on pace with his deep closing style. Certainly, coming out of 100 Brisnet in last race (1:35:4 at a mile) he couldn’t be discounted easily.  Tagleeb had a great run, making his move at the 3/4 point in this 8.5 furlong race, tho was uneven at the turns, winning by 1.75 lengths.
Tagleeb is owned and bred by Shadwell in Kentucky.

As for Tale Of Ekati progeny, you may already know about the success of Ekati’s Phaeton in the Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream on 1/3, giving TOK his first stakes winner.  Per, 2-turn races are in her future, and is being considered for the Forward Gal Stakes on 1/24 back at GP.  She is one of 31 nominations for the Grade 2 event.

SENNA is one of the latest TOK winners.  This 3YO colt broke maiden in his 4th try, running a mile for a 79 Brisnet on the Golden Gate dirt. He was snapped up by Dan Markle, and was then entered in a mile 40k allowance race 20 days later. This late runner won off the switch from Del Mar’s all weather to Golden Gate’s dirt.  First race under Markle, he had some traffic trouble and couldn’t run up front.    So we come to 1/16, going beyond a mile for the first time, and returning to the all-weather surface of Golden Gate. He came in with the best Brisnet winning score on the track of the 7-horse field, tho was a cheap 5th-choice in the wagering out of 6 at post time.  No lone speed in the field either but Senna was the one horse who seemed to have the edge among the closing types.  He would run competitively, yet wide, on all turns.  When he did settle, he was plenty fast, and won by a narrow neck over Many Routes, who nearly wired the field.  Senna paid $12.60 to win.

Bowl season stats post-mortem, and championship outlook

I did marginally well overall with the bowl predictions this year.  Here’s how the different categories themselves played out:
Better coach in bowls (either better W/L or more experience): 16-15
Better school in bowls (ditto): 20-14 (.588)
Better school’s conference by SOS: 13-9 (.590)
Better QB by yards/attempt: 15-13
Closer home field: 17-13 (.566)
Common opponent record: (nod goes to schools with better point differential between home games, or if road game was decidedly better result) 9-11
My direct picks went 18-15 (.545). I did not make picks in 5 of the games.
The teams that I felt would win in blowout fashion went 5-4.
As for the Vegas line, that comes from, using the consensus line. Ignoring the pick-‘em game at New Orleans, the favorite covered the spread 17 of the 37 games, a surely losing proposition.
As for my championship pick:  Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is a sterling 7-2 in bowls, while his counterpart Mark Helfrich is 1-0.  Both schools have a similar record in bowls historically.  Oregon plays in a decidedly tougher conference, the Pac-12.  Oregon has Marcus Mariota, averaging 10.1 per pass attempt.  Cardale Jones for the Buckeyes of Ohio State is 9.0.   Both school did well against a common opponent:
On 9/6/14, Oregon faced then #7-seed Michigan State at home. They won the game by 19. On 11/8, Ohio State went to Michigan State, and defeated the Spartans by 12.   I call this stat rather even.
Oregon is a 6.5 point favorite as of 1/5/15 on   I strongly suspect this game to be rather close, and therefore I urge you to grab those points for Ohio State and hang on.  It will be a real good show.

Here’s the full results of my predictions

Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum 2015 ballot predictions/charts

What price glory, or fame? Or, as some sabermetricians may put it, what score, fame?
This is the question I come to as I analyze this year’s Baseball Hall Of Fame & Museum class.   To begin with, I aim to clarify my stance about the BHOF&M itself. It is, first and foremost, a museum.  The greats of the game, scars, warts and all, are already in there. Writers vote on who gets a plaque in a special wing.  A public ceremony celebrates the accomplishments and turns the volume way down upon the negatives.  It is a favored hot-button topic in the sports media.  Already we are somewhat aware of the malcontents that have a plaque in the museum already. We also know about the cheaters and those who irreprehensibly tarnished the game.  But the museum doesn’t take away the plaques. Instead, it finds more ways to keep out those from getting an all-but-deserving prize. The public may frown upon the game but they will still fill the stadia and watch the dingers. The occasion of the vote as well as the ceremony is one I look to with equal parts anticipation and dread.
Why the dread? Because the museum is relatively slow to make great changes that will give absolutely great players a worthy shot of attaining baseball immortality. Yes, the power at be did lower the number of years to be on the ballot. I’m not certain this will curtail the number of people that are ‘legitimate’.  It’s a move that will further discount anyone having to be on the ballot the first time around. Those players have to fight a well publicized bias by sportswriters who do not believe a player is ‘automatic’, or otherwise do not subscribe to the 100% perfect ballot presence of a player.   Beyond this, there are enough sportswriters who refuse to complete their  list of 10, or even at all.  I say, remove the privilege from eligible writers who cannot adhere to picking 10 players.

What I’m presenting are the comparative numbers for all candidates in this year’s ballot, covering 10 categories.  These categories are well-documented by description at   Some of them are Bill James creations, others are simply leaderboard measurements, still others are comparative measures.  I compared the ballot dwellers to each other and not to HOF members.  I added the top 10 of those who had the most top 10 rankings to each other in the 10 categories.

Of those waiting their turn for next year, it looks like Piazza is closest.
See my main HOF selections here.

While building this post, I wanted to redo my selections by focusing on stats that I felt reflected one’s fame and ability.  I mean, the museum is based on fame, right?

The task I gave myself was to be similar in scope; get the best 10 from the list of 34.  But here I made one major difference: I separated proportionately the types of players. One set for batters, one for starters, one for closers, and one for starters that converted to relief pitcher work at some point.    Here are the categories:
Games Played, for me, represents longevity, representing some amount of fame when getting the chance to play consistently enough to matter to a team.  For the pitchers, I used Games Appeared or Games Started, depending on the role.
WPA/LI has become a big favorite, a twin stat that measures the leverage index of a player (pressure per plate appearance or batter faced), along with win probability added. This combo is the best statistical definition of clutch I’ve seen yet.
As the BBWAA also votes on MVP and CYA candidates, the MVP and CYA Shares stat gets included.
I chose to favor players who played with fewer franchises, as this leads to more fame rather than someone who has played for 8
I also chose 2 representative core stats: K/BF, to determine ‘stuff’ by pitcher….and HR/PA to see who was a pure threat by hitter, both stats leading to some amount of fame.
Also important to me re fame is the postseason experience. I kept it simple and examined who appeared in most games among these.
Finally my Fear Factor and Pitcher Fear Factor stats were applied, a stat I touch upon elsewhere in this website, to see who masters the batter/pitcher conflict, and who delivers most.
I gave room for choosing the top 25% of players depending on the role. For batters, that meant 6 of the 23; starters, top 2; 1 top single reliever, and 1 top converted reliever.
The findings were very interesting.  For the batters, I had to break a tie between Piazza, Bagwell, Mattingly and Sosa.  As much as I love Donnie Baseball, the lack of thorough postseason experience and game experience in general along with WPA/LI sets him back among these.  It was rather close between Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez but I stuck with The Big Unit here. Troy Percival had decent numbers but was no match for Lee Smith among relievers.  And as for the 2 converted relievers, Smoltz has it all over Gordon.  From this chart, those on the doorstep and waiting for a softer class, Pedro is likely the next one in.
Those who are OUT of the picture on both charts:
and all first-timers not named Johnson, P Martinez, Sheffield or Smoltz.

See the secondary chart here

Seems like Biggio might be the most deserving candidate not in. He certainly has the longevity, and playing for just 1 franchise makes a difference. But he lacks in leading in a number of stats, even in top 10s. And the new-fangled WAR and JAWS related stats make him appear weaker than what he seemed to be.  I wonder if he is being hurt by the strong class this year and these recent sabermetric wrinkles.  Nevertheless, I have to think he’ll get in someday. If he does get the call on Tuesday, it won’t be the worst decision.  There are so many others, though, that have somewhat better credentials.

My monthly handicapping contest picks for The Racing Biz, 1/3/15

Just completed work on 10 races at Laurel Park and Parx Racing, including 4 stakes races at Laurel. I had direct access to past performances in 8 of the races. I took a quick look at jockey/trainer stats to determine the selections for the other 2.
For this contest, only the top horse counts, and only for win/place, for a mythical $2 wager.

Here’s who I selected
Laurel Park
Race 2: Sniper (10-1 morning line)
Race 3: Peaceadaaction (5/2)
Race 4: Stardust Lill (9/2)
Race 5: Lady Sabelia (1/1)
Race 6: Cutty Shark (4/1)
Race 7: Miss Mischief (3/1)
Race 8: Cerro (5/1)
Race 9: Ore Pass (6/1)

Race 7: Blue Cherokee (3/1)
Race 8: Joint Decision (5/2)
I’ll explain Sniper with the little time I have before post time: One of 2 horses to win off a gain in class in his career. Several good works since last race, all at Laurel, including a bullet. Already has a win upon shipping. Only horse stretching out in this field, and it’s been 8 weeks since.

Follow me at @idealisticstats for more coverage on these picks plus the previously cited Ekati’s Phaeton.

Periodic update on Kiaran McLaughin & Tale Of Ekati progeny winners

One resolution I want to keep is keeping you informed on entries/results of Kiaran McLaughin and Tale of Ekati. (see my earlier post about these choices) Every horseplayer has their favorite horses and sire lines, and choice personnel alongsides.  With that, I am to track every recent winner by McLaughlin to find trends that may predict future success.  With TOK, I’m just a big fan, and am eager to see his first crop of now-3YOs to win a stakes event.

Kiaran’s first winner in 2014 is this:

PALESTRINA in 11 lifetime races had 3 2nds, 2 3rds, one of each in her last 3. The 4YO daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and UK-bred Maiden Tower has run versus fillies in routes her entire visible career, the majority away from classic dirt, and the last 5 against older. Was introduced to Lasix 5 races in, and responded with 3 2nd place finishes in 4 races. After a beaten favorite finish in June 2014 at Monmouth, she was transferred from dirt to turf. She entered the 6th race at Laurel on 1/1 as the morning line favorite. Her last race was in September at Delta Downs vs 30k maiden runners. Today’s race was 8.5 furlongs, up from 1 mile 70, first time vs 4YO and older. She was also the lone horse given any weight allowance, carrying 119 instead of 124. She had gone the longest stretch of time before stretching out than this field. Also, she  put in 4 works for this race, 2 very fast, one a bullet.   Palestrina was steadied twice in this race, had a tough break, led out at the half-mile, ran comfortably at 6 furlongs, slowly gaining amidst a stubborn challenge from eventual 2nd place finisher Judy Legend.    Palestrina is owned by Godolphin, bred by Darley in KY, ridden by Michael Ritvo.
Kiaran has horses in action at Aqueduct (MSW), Gulfstream (Mucho Macho Man S), and Laurel (Native Dancer S) on Saturday. Sunday: 2 at Aqueduct (MSW, Ruthless S.), and one at Gulfstream (MSW). Wednesday 1/7: 1 at Aqueduct (allowance optional claimer), and two at Gulfstream (MSW, Miami Shores H).

TALE OF EKATI progeny coverage begins here as I tell you about each horse running in recent and upcoming races:
PEACHES N’ BRANDY is TOK’s first 3YO winner, right on 1/1.  Making her 2nd lifetime start, 2nd try at 30k vs other fillies she was established as 2nd choice via morning-line. She posted a 68 Brisnet in her debut, close to the action throughout the 6 furlong run on Del Mar’s all-weather surface. In fact she was posted 2nd through 4th in that race fielding 12 in all.  She was up for a 30k tag for the first time and put in relatively fast work on 12/22.  This closer ran pretty much wire to wire for the 6 furlongs on Santa Anita’s dirt track, dueling early, then pulling away for a near 4 length finish.
Next TOK horse to run is the pride and joy of the crop, Ekati’s Phaeton, entered in the Grade 3 100k Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream, race 4, 6 furlongs. It will be the latest attempt to get TOK a debut stakes winner.  Ekati’s Phaeton makes her 5th career race, all at GP, first Graded effort, and drops from 122 to 114 lbs.  Posted 2 fast works since her last race, a 2nd in the House Party Stakes on 11/29. She is one of 4 sprinters in the field, a style that is greatly favored so far during the meet, not to mention an outside post which is doing marginally better than others. 3rd in the morning-line listings at 9/2.

Back later for my picks for The Racing Biz free handicapping contest: 8 races at Laurel, including 4 stakes races, and 2 at Parx.