The Sports Report

A Statistical Take on Sports and Politics

My Ramblings About Life

Indians Hitters on the 25-Man Roster (and more): The Indians have added a pair of solid Major League talents this off-season, which will only lead to more chaos as the front office looks to trim down the final roster to 25-men for the start of the season in April. Here is a breakdown of the most capable hitters within the entire system that will start the year, or will contend to start the year playing for the Tribe:

Catcher Victor Martinez (turned 30 in December)
Catcher Kelly Shoppach (turns 29 in April)
Designated Hitter Travis Hafner (turns 32 in June)
First Baseman Ryan Garko (turned 28 earlier this month)
Second Baseman Asdrubal Cabrera (turned 23 in November)
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta (turns 27 in May)
Third Baseman Mark DeRosa (turns 34 in February)
Utility Infielder Jamey Carroll (turns 35 in February)
Left Fielder Ben Francisco (turned 27 in October)
Left Fielder David Dellucci (turned 35 in October)
Center Fielder Grady Sizemore (turns 27 this coming August)
Right Fielder Shin Soo-Choo (turns 27 this coming July)

Do not expect these hitters below to have a spot on the team this April, but these are the top prospects and performers in the rest of the organization:

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January 27, 2009 Posted by | The Boots | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Cavaliers Note

There have been many rumors over the last week or so about the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly acquiring an extra forward for Wally Szczerbiak and his expiring contract. One name that has come up in the internet discussions is Los Angeles Clippers F/C Marcus Camby, the winner of the 2006-2007 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. Camby, who is 35 years old, has a much smaller salary cap burden than other names mentioned such as Antawn Jamison or Brad Miller, as he is making $8 million this year, and then $7.65 million in the final year of his contract next season. In an effort to see what the impact of this addition would mean to the Cavaliers, I took a little visit to the Web site http://www.82games.com.

On this website, I saw as not much of a surprise, that LeBron James has gradually been playing substantially more minutes at the PF position over the last three seasons. This is not a surprise, because when you think about the personnel changes in the last three seasons, the Cavaliers have needed LeBron and his massive size in the post more often while the front office has surrounded him with under sized sharp shooters. This season, LeBron is playing 22% of his 75% of the Cavaliers minutes on the court at the 4 according to this Web site, but what I was very surprised to see out of this limited sample size, is that he is actually producing more efficiently at that position.

Here is a quick summary of his net efficiency marks per 48 minutes at the two different positions over the last three seasons:

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January 15, 2009 Posted by | The Boots | , , , | Leave a comment

The NBA Nearing Mid-Season Version of The Boots

Boot Up: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers are #1 – The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the defending NBA champions from Boston on Friday night at the Quicken Loans Arena by the convincing final score of 98-83. The game was never really that close, as the Celtics never had the lead, and the Cavaliers were up by 11 at the end of the first quarter. LeBron James had arguably the most impressive all-around performance of his career, posting 38 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, and three blocks, shooting 9-9 from the free throw line, all while holding Paul Pierce to only 11 points on 4-15 shooting from the field. In fact, however, those numbers from Pierce are somewhat deceiving as Pierce scored 4 points in a matter of 2:37 to start the fourth quarter against Wally Szczerbiak while LeBron James sat on the bench. LeBron was as good as he has ever been last night, and he could do seemingly anything he wanted on both sides of the ball. The loss also was the seventh in nine games for the struggling Celtics, who fell to 29-9 and behind both the Cavaliers and the rising Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference standings.

Away from last night’s phenomenal performance, I am here to investigate why exactly the Cavaliers have taken such a jump this season from last year’s mediocre regular season. Of course, the Cavaliers had a lot of chemistry, injury and all-around issues last year when they stumbled to a 45-37 finish and the #4 seed in the East. This past off-season, everyone remained healthy and the Cavaliers added Maurice Williams in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks, along with rookie forward J.J. Hickson out of North Carolina State. Still, I was not too optimistic on the Cavaliers in 2008-2009 (exhibit A and exhibit B), and neither were the supposed experts over at ESPN. Currently however, the Cavaliers are 29-6, and on pace for somewhere around 63-68 wins by the end of the season (John Hollinger of ESPN predicts 64). Why are the Cavaliers on pace for such a historic season? The answer may surprise you, as it is not just the addition of guard Mo Williams.

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January 10, 2009 Posted by | The Boots | , , , , | 3 Comments

Atlantic-10 Conference Preview

Note: Charlotte lost to Duquesne and Fordham lost to St. Bonaventure in the first night of Atlantic-10 conference play on Wednesday, January 7. Please forgive me for getting this analysis in a day late, but all of my statistics are as of games on Tuesday, January 6. This means that games such as the Dayton .vs. Miami-OH non-conference match-up are included, but not those from Wednesday night.

The Atlantic-10 is one of the top tier Mid-Major conferences in college basketball. The conference has had exactly two teams in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three years, and in the 24-year history of the 64-team style tournament, the Atlantic-10 has had 60 teams included.

Looking to the 2008-2009 season, the entire conversation must start with Sean Miller’s Xavier University basketball team. Xavier is clearly one of the top teams in college basketball today, as they finished last season ranked #8 in the Coaches Poll, and were as high as #7 in both the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll earlier this season. Dayton has been in the top 30 in the Coaches Poll for each of the last six weeks, and at one point last season were #14 according to the Associated Press. The Atlantic-10 has had a lot of historical success as a conference, and these two teams from Ohio are surely the cream of the crop again this season.

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January 8, 2009 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , , | 2 Comments

Coming Up Soon!!

Sorry about the brief hiatus there, it always gets a little hectic around exams and then the holiday season. I hope to be back on track with a lot of things in the coming weeks here on The Sports Report. Here is a list of things to expect very shortly:

1. The most important thing on my list right now is coming out with an Atlantic-10 season preview. Back around Thanksgiving I created a spreadsheet analyzing the conference strength of schedule based on last year’s numbers. I updated that information for the statistics for all fourteen teams thus far this season, and I came up with some surprising results. This will be a must-read for all Dayton Flyers fans out there!!

2. I hope to come out with a few Boots about the recent acquisitions for the Cleveland Indians. I hate that I have gone so long without commenting on the Tribe, and the recent additions of Carl Pavano, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa should be a significant boost to the current roster. I feel really good about our chances for next season, even though I wouldn’t mind another free agent signing or two.

3. Another look at what is going on in the NBA thus far this season. Every basketball fan out there is looking forward to the Friday, January 9th match-up between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I will be here right afterward, recapping the recent mayhem at the top of the league standings. I also will look at what surprising rookies (*cough* *cough* Rob Kurz) have quite the story behind them, as well as some other interesting observations from my statistics.

4. A final recap of the college football season and a summary of my past economic analysis of the Bowl Championship Series. My entire Sports Report began with my passion for the BCS, and I did a pretty in-depth report on the economic benefits of the current bowl system about two years back. I will look back to my work in the near future, and recap what has gone wrong this season as 13-0 Utah was left out of any chance for a National Championship.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | The Boots | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NBA Version of The Boots

Boot Up: Cleveland Cavaliers – Since it is already mid-December, it clearly means that I have not been dreaming for the last month and a half of the NBA season.  Yes, the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently 20-3 and are a half-game back of the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference , and are a half game ahead of the LA Lakers in the West. The Cavaliers have made the the NBA a clear race between the top three in 2009, and are currently riding a franchise best eleven-game winning streak. This winning streak has already made history in several different ways (blowouts, Z and LeBron) and there are only four more months left in the regular season for the Cavaliers as they look to set all-time franchise records in wins and points (currently fourth in points scored and first in defense and “DIFF” per game according to ESPN).

I read a fantastic article recently by Dave Berri about the reason for the Cavaliers success recently. He pointed out that it is not really the acquisition of Maurice Williams, or the more inspired play of LeBron James that is leading to such blow-out victories. He argues that it is the more efficient rotation and healthy bench, resulting in more minutes for productive players like Anderson Varejao and Delonte West. He notes that using the rotation we have used thus far this season, and the production that is established for all of our personnel, we could have easily expected about 62 wins from this team in 2008-2009. 62 WINS! Who would have guessed earlier this year that this team ever would have been capable of winning this many games??? Not anyone, or at least certainly not anyone from pessimistic ol’ Northeast Ohio.

I had the Cavaliers down for about 48 wins in my mid-summer NBA predictions and they have exceeded all of my wildest expectations through 23 games this season. I can only hope and pray, as someone born and raised in the Northeast Ohio area, that this team does not let us down from here. Right now, the team must make the Eastern Conference finals this season or possibly face dire consequences from LeBron himself in the summer of 2010. From there, the Cavaliers desperately need to compete with the Boston Celtics like they did in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last season. Last year, however, I never truly imagined the Cavs could possibly beat the Celtics in that series, while in a similar matchup this season who knows who will have the edge. I just hope that April comes soon, and that in those first few days of the playoffs I still feel optimistic about the great potential for this team.

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December 12, 2008 Posted by | The Boots | , , , | 1 Comment

Dayton Basketball Game #9

Dayton Flyers (8-1) 59
Creighton Blue Jays
(6-2) 77
Wednesday, December 10
QWEST Center, Omaha, NE

It was bound to happen eventually, and this one was not pretty at all. The Dayton Flyers’ eight game winning streak came to a crashing halt Wednesday night in Omaha, Nebraska, where the preseason favorites for the Missouri Valley manhandled the Flyers by the score of 77 to 59. It was not as close as the final score indicated, as for the first time since the disappointing opener against Wofford, the Flyers lost the rebounding battle, and never were within 12 points in the second half. It was really bad, and in these incredibly tough road games it is important to keep perspective. Not too many teams beat Akron on the road, and certainly not too many beat Creighton in Omaha, and the Flyers learned that on this two-game road swing.

I am still convinced through these first nine games, that the Flyers have the potential to be the second or third best team in the Atlantic 10. I know that is contrary to what I said before the Chicago Invitational, when I guaranteed that if they pulled off the sweep in Chicago I would consider them solid competition for Xavier, but I think the Dayton Flyers  just aren’t that great this year. Remember, they only have senior in Charles Little, and it remains unlikely for Chris Wright to leave for the pros this season as a sophomore. Next year will be the high watermark of recent Flyers history, as Rob Lowery, Mickey Perry, London Warren, Kurt Huelsman, and Marcus Johnson will all be seniors. That is the one year where I can definitely see us being extremely competitive with Xavier, but until then we will take a back seat in the currently ranked 9th best conference in the nation.

Official Dayton Recap: “FLYERS’ EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED WITH 77-59 LOSS AT CREIGHTON
Official Creighton recap: Basketball Knocks Dayton From Unbeaten Ranks, 77-59″

Official ESPN recap: “Creighton 77, Dayton 59”

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December 11, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #8

Dayton Flyers (8-0) 54
Akron Zips (4-3 versus Division 1 opponents) 50
Saturday, December 4
James A. Rhodes Arena, Akron, OH

It was ugly, almost as ugly as the opener against Wofford, but the Flyers came away maintaining their perfect 8-0 record. A win at Akron has been very tough for anybody in the last five years, as I highlighted in my pre-game notes, and thus despite the score it is a very impressive first true road game of the season. There are so many things I could point about the bad stats on both sides of the court in this one, but most importantly I feel that there is a horrible trend occurring with the starting lineup that I must point out first.

In the last five games, the starting lineup has averaged 52.8 minutes in the first half. Due to foul trouble, typically by London Warren who has averaged only 7.6 minutes per first half in this stretch, the Flyers are hardly ever at full strength in the first 20 minutes of the game. I arrived at this game in Akron about 4 minutes into the first half, and I did not see Warren for the rest of the second half. I was texted friends to see what was going on, but it didn’t take me too long to just realize that he had obviously gotten two quick fouls and was on the bench for the rest of the half. If the Flyers do not improve these marks soon, it will definitely come back to hurt them soon.

Official Dayton recap: “DAYTON’S DEFENSE DELIVERS IN 54-50 WIN AT AKRON
Official Akron recap: “Men’s Basketball Gets Clipped By Flyers, 54-50”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 54, Akron 50”

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December 4, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 2 Comments

Dayton Basketball Game #7

Dayton Flyers (7-0) 87
Troy Trojans (3-5) 70
Tuesday, December 2
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

The Dayton Flyers remain on the cusp of being ranked in the top #25 in the nation as they defeated the Troy Trojans of Alabama by the final score of 87-70. It was a fast paced game throughout, and the Flyers put up their most impressive offensive performance in a first half thus far this season en route to the 17 point victory. One of the most surprising aspects of this game, was not the fact that it was the highest paced game and highest scoring game since last January (a streak of 15 games in terms of points, 18 in terms of possessions), but it was the fact that the Flyers did this without much help from Chris Wright. The sophomore out of Trotwood-Madison High School arguably had the worst game of his career, and his 13 minutes played were the least in the 21 of his career, besides the game against Rhode Island when he suffered an ankle injury last January.

This marked the second consecutive offensive outburst for the young Dayton Flyers this season, and this 87-pointer and the 89 mark against Marquette followed our worst shooting night of the year against Auburn. In the first five games this season, the Flyers averaged 63.27 points per 40 minutes, while shooting 43.6% from two-pointers and 30% from threes at an average pace of 66.23 possessions per 40 minutes. In these last two games against Marquette and Troy, they have averaged 88 points while shooting 60.5% from two-pointers and 37.8% from threes at an average pace of 75.6 possesions. There is a distinctly positive correlation between the recent up-tempo offense and the newfound efficiency of the Dayton offense.

Official Dayton recap: “LITTLE PLAYS LARGE AS FLYERS BEAT TROY, 87-70
Official Troy recap: “Trojans Fall to Flyers, 87-70”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 87, Troy 70”

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December 3, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | 1 Comment

Dayton Basketball Games 5 and 6

Dayton Flyers (5-0) 60
Auburn Tigers
(3-2) 59
Friday, November 28 (Final in OT)

Dayton Flyers (6-0) 89
#15 Marquette Golden Eagles
(5-1) 75
Saturday, November 29

Dayton wins the Chicago Invitational Challenge
Sears Center, Hoffman Estates, IL

I can’t believe it. In two of the most opposite games in history, the Dayton Flyers improve from the worst three point shooting performance in thirteen years, to beating the fifteenth ranked team in the nation. In both games, however, the Dayton Flyers of 2008-2009 beat “BCS” conference opponents and won an early season tournament with other mid-major schools such as Northen Iowa, Chicago State, and Texas Southern.

Official Dayton recap (Auburn): “JOHNSON’S FREE THROWS HELP UD TO A 60-59 OVERTIME WIN OVER AUBURN”
Official Auburn recap: “Auburn Basketball Falls Short In Overtime To Dayton, 60-59”
Official ESPN Recap
: “Clang! Dayton tries, misses 24 3-pointers, still beats Auburn”

Official Dayton recap (Marquette): “FLYERS UPSET NO. 15 MARQUETTE 89-75 TO WIN THE 2008 CHICAGO INVITATIONAL”
Official Marquette recap:
“Marquette Falls to Dayton, 89-75”
Official ESPN Recap:
“Dayton’s depth, quickness too much for No. 15 Marquette” Continue reading

November 30, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #4

Dayton Flyers (4-0) 71
Mercer Bears (2-2 vs. Division 1 opponents) 53
Tuesday, November 25
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

This was supposed to be the first trap game of the year for the young Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team: a tough game against an upstart mid-major just two days after an easy victory over Bethune-Cookman. Mercer came into this game out-rebounding their opponents by a margin of 15.5 on the year, and in victories over SEC opponents Alabama and Auburn last week, they had an offensive rebounding advantage of over 20% (46.0 to 24.4% average). Dayton has been getting better over the last few games, but I don’t think that anybody would say that we could easily beat any SEC team right now. The Flyers had looked good enough to be competitive within the framework of the Atlantic-10 this season, but I was doubtful that they would be one of the best mid-majors in the nation. This game cemented the Flyers role as one of the top mid-majors in the nation.

In another high-flying evening at UD Arena, Chris Wright and company soared off to a 48-26 halftime lead in a game they never trailed. If someone had told me before the game that in the end, Mercer would have 13 more free throw attempts, and would force four more turnovers, I would have seriously doubted our ability to win this game. Yet in the end, the tenacious defense that has been a staple in the early going of 2008-2009 came through when necessary and the Flyers prevailed 71-53.

Official Dayton recap: “HIGH-FLYING DAYTON SOARS TO 71-53 WIN OVER MERCER”
Official
Mercer recap
: “Shooting Woes Prove Costly as Dayton Tops Bears”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 71, Mercer 53” Continue reading

November 27, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment

Dayton Basketball Game #3

Dayton Flyers (3-0) 78
BethuneCookman Wildcats (0-2 vs. Division 1 opponents) 38
Sunday, November 23
UD Arena, Dayton, OH

On Sunday afternoon, Flyers fans witnessed another improving performance by the Dayton men’s basketball team over at UD Arena. After a 3-point win over Wofford started the season, the Flyers have been improving with every minute on the court, and this one was just pure domination. In the school’s biggest victory in seven years, the Flyers defeated a team that could arguably be among the worst in Division 1 by 40 points. Bethune-Cookman returned only four letter men from their 11-21 season last year, and this game showed without a doubt how superior the Flyers are to this team from the MEAC.

In game two against Delaware State, Coach Brian Gregory received tremendous team defensive performances from London Warren, Rob Lowery and Mickey Perry as the team coasted to a 20-point victory. In this one, however, it was a stellar all-around performance that put the Wildcats out early, and everything started with Marcus Johnson. The junior guard/forward out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School scored seven of the first nine Flyers points in the game, and boosted his season efficiency averages during the rest of the game, finishing with a 16 point, 6 rebound, 26 minute performance. The defense, on the other hand, held Bethune-Cookman to 12-50 from the field, forced at least 20 turnovers for the third straight game, and was tremendous in the paint. For the third game in a row as well, the Flyers opponent shot either equal to or worse percentage-wise from two-point field goals than three-point field goals (opponents are shooting 31.3% from twos and 35.1% from threes).

Official Dayton recap: “JOHNSON & JOHNSON LEAD UD TO BIGGEST WIN IN SEVEN YEARS, 78-38
Official Bethune-Cookman Recap: “Dayton Remains Unbeaten With 78-38 Win Over B-CU Sunday in Oho”

Official ESPN recap: “Dayton 78, Bethune-Cookman 38” Continue reading

November 24, 2008 Posted by | College Basketball, Dayton Flyers | , | Leave a comment