Monthly Archives: April 2013

Rooney on the wane?

British journalists have been waiting a dozen years to be able to use the above pun and there have recently been a number of comments on Rooney’s perceived decline

A recent column by Martin Samuel in in the Daily Mail quotes several random stats disputing this but then goes on to argue that
“Yet by all purely intuitive reckonings, something is not right.”

That may well be so, but let us look a bit more closely at the data. Here is a graph showing the creative contribution in terms of goals and assists that Rooney has made by EPL game

The first thing to note is how consistent he has been. Since he turned 20 he has pretty much averaged a point(goal+assist) per game each season and adapted to being either more of a provider – to the likes of Ronaldo or van Persie – or striker e.g 27 goals last year

This season, although his appearances are down, has been no different with 23 points in 23 games. And there is precious little suggestion from the figures that he was much better in the earlier going this year. He has snatched 10 goals in his past 13 appearances (in one of which he was subbed after 8 minutes), including only goals in two 1-0 victories. And this at a time when van Persie has struggled to find the net

So, although the argument fits the narrative that the aggressive character is burnt out after starting so young, I’m not buying it yet.
It seems to me this is to some extent journalists supporting the Man U party line, which is still irritated at being out-smarted by Rooney and his agent on his last contract and are looking to a lower pay-packet if his demands for a new one are true

MLB Pitcher Values

Not the start Blue Jays fans were looking for. With a 6-9 record at the time of publication they already trail Boston (led by reviled ex-BJ manager, John Farrell) by 4.5 games.

The batting has been particularly anemic but the pitching – particularly the starting rotation – has also been a concern

I have whipped up a Shiny App comparing Salary and WAR (Wins above Replacement) for each MLB team over the past couple of years. I will extend the coverage in due course

Here are the BJ results to date.


Josh Johnson ($13.75m) and Mark Buehrle ($11m) have the highest salaries

Are knuckleballers more volatile?

For years, the Blue Jays have been also-rans in the AL East but splashed out this season turning prospects into established stars in the hope of reaching the World Series

Seven games in and the 2-5 start has the perennial doubts resurfacing, particularly as none of the much-vaunted starters has yet to pitch a seventh inning

Knuckleballer and 2012 NL Cy Young winner has had two outings. The first was memorable for a darting knuckleball leading to a BJ record of three passed balls. In the second, less movement led to home runs and a pretty dismal outcome. One suggestion has been that it is particularly early to draw any conclusions as knuckle ballers are by nature more prone to variability in their performance

One way of assessing this is to look at the pitcher’s game score – a swift method of comparing outings based on innings pitched, strikeouts, hits allowed etc.

Here is a graph depicting each of Dickeys career starts. Size of dot refers to innings pitched and colour denotes game outcome


As can be seen, his first start this year was mediocre but the second was the worst since the 2008 season ( He only made one start in 2009)

Dickey appears to be a laid-back guy but is he by nature more volatile in performance? Of course, as he is now the only knuckleballer in the MLB little can be done to generalize but here is a box-plot comparing his 2012 starts with other leading pitchers: the group comprises the top three in last year’s CY Young voting for each league.

Not a lot to see there. Dickey’s variance was the second greatest but with no statistical significance perceived. Weaver managed two horrific outings, the better of which resulted in 8 earned runs with 10 outs

There is a Shiny App under development to view other pitchers, although there are some teething problems with 2013 data