It’s an odd feeling waking up, knowing only one of the Super Bowl teams when the entire world knows what happened in the second game. I watched the AFC contest via the condensed version this morning – that was a lot of drama in 43 minutes. I had the Chiefs minus three and was rooting for them, and while a few things went against them – the Edelman fumble overturn, the coin toss in overtime, the neutral zone infraction, the ticky tack roughing the passer, for example – they had plenty of chances to win. At some point, you have to stop a team from converting on 3rd-and-10.
In our last post, we discussed the problem of placing a value or ranking on a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw, someone nominally expected to be a top starter but is projected to have fewer starts than other top starters. How do we incorporate the value from his replacements when drafting him? My conclusion was that we were not effectively doing so already, but there are a few related points from that discussion that I still wanted to follow up with this post.
The divisional round of the NFL playoffs is often the best of the year. That was not the case this past weekend. Only two of the games were remotely competitive, and neither was easy on the eyes, especially the Saints-Eagles game that featured long drives dictated in large part by penalties in one direction or the other. And after all that, the game ended on a dropped-pass turned into a gift interception.
I went 0-3-1 ATS and had to tear up my 18:1 ticket on the Ravens to win the AFC, so I didn’t especially enjoy Wild Card weekend. What’s worse is with the exception of the Cowboys-Seahawks which started at 1:00 am my time, and which I watched via the 40-minute condensed version Sunday morning, I had the indignity of viewing standalone games in real time, something I had mercifully avoided for most of the year. You forget how much the experience consists in sitting through muted commercials and watching officials huddle while the booth uselessly speculates on what we’ll find out minutes later anyway.
No, not these Replacements.
Nor these Replacements (though I love them):
And definitely not these Replacements.
On our SiriusXM show today, Chris Liss and I discussed Clayton Kershaw’s projection, his rank our cheatsheets using our algorithm and the role of replacement value during his projected absences in determining his rank. I’ve spent plenty of bandwidth discussing Kershaw’s decline, most notably last summer in this space. I’m worried about the decline in his strikeout rate, his fastball velocity, his fastball usage and effectiveness. Most of all, I’m worried about his health, and his lack of innings. My original projection for Kershaw 163 innings, 2.82 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 12 wins and 173 strikeouts in that span. Such a projection would place him 64th overall in the current rankings, good for 13th among starting pitchers.
I enjoyed Week 17 with the exception of a few terrible penalty calls and the endless reviews during the Browns’ final drive. I understand you want to get the calls right with so much at stake, but people don’t have all day (or in my case all night) to wait around for the lawyers and accountants to sign off on each play. And while the refs did get the two catch calls correct in my opinion on the final drive, they still botched the fumble return on Lamar Jackson’s too-short push at the goal line by blowing the whistle too soon and also called a phantom hold negating a legitimate long Jackson TD run earlier in the game. Why insist on making everyone wait for perfect precision on one class of plays when so many of the others are both flat wrong and unreviewable?
In this week’s NBA Schedule Considerations article on the site, I highlighted two players that would be good sources of steals this week, Kyle Anderson for the Grizzlies and Mikal Bridges for the Suns. Both players have been pretty proficient in the category to begin with, each averaging 1.4 steals per game, and have four games this week. Moreover, they are starting to get more playing time for their respective teams and doing more with that time. Anderson has 14 steals over his last five games, a pace that would make him the league leader at 2.8 per game. Bridges has been no slouch in his own right, averaging 1.9 steals per game over an eight-game span where he’s been getting 30+ minutes per game.