AL Wild Card Game Recap: Long Ball Dominates

The home runs kept cranking out from both the Twins and the Yankees after a fantastic American League Wild Card Game that saw the Yankees come out on top with several unique story lines.

Slugfest in the Bronx

Early on, the game was filled with home runs as both teams took their shots early.  Both teams had huge home runs and after the first inning, the score was already 3-3.  According to the Elias Sports Bureau in the daily Elias Says post on ESPN, the last time a similar scoreline had occurred after just one inning was during Game 4 of the 1993 World Series in a game that is still the highest scoring game in World Series history.  Both starters as a result of this slugfest went a *combined* 2 1/3 innings.  In the regular season, starters Ervin Santana and Luis Severino had combined to go 30-14, yet one of them could not manage to go a third of the game when everything was on the line.  The Yankees scored seven of their eight runs in the first four innings.  When the bats had to quiet, though, the Yankees delivered in relief.

Relief Success

Both the Twins and the Yankees had pretty good relief towards the end of the game which ultimately kept the scoring from what it could have been.  David Robertson in particular may have been the difference in the ball game.  He earned his claim to fame as he did not allow a run over 3 1/3 innings and only three hits.  He did it by throwing the most pitches that he has ever thrown in his career with 52.  He also had five strikeouts in the game.  After his performance, the Yankees kept the momentum going and did not allow a single run through two more pitchers to win the game.

The Yankees will now play the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, who won over 100 games for the first time since the 1995 season when they lost the World Series and won the most games in a single season since 1954 when they also lost the World Series that year.

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The NFL’s Unwinnables: Unexpected Losers

Yesterday, we looked at two of the four current 0-4 teams in the National Football League that people might have expected to be in this position which were the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers.  Next week, either the Los Angeles Chargers or the New York Giants will get out of their slumps when these two 0-4 teams face off in a battle of the unexpected losers of the NFL in 2017.  Both teams had much higher expectations than they are currently fulfilling with playoff possibilities in play, but they are now in a much more precarious situation than they thought they were going to have to go through with coaching staffs and players potentially on the hot seat.  Both teams also have individual cases as to why they are winless after the first quarter of the season.  Stats can be credited to Pro Football Reference.

New York Giants

The Giants have the tools that they need to get out of their slump quickly, as do the Chargers, but they are a little more equipped to get out of their slump.  Some of the more advanced offensive statistics show why the Giants are in the hole that they are in.  According to Pro Football Reference, less than a quarter of the Giants drives are ending in a score, 27th in the NFL (23.9%).  This is about 12 precent less than the 16th place team in the league which are the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Their scoring offense in general is poor with a mark of 15.0 points per game, tied for the second worst mark in the NFL.  In particular, the running game for the Giants is miserable as they have the third fewest rushing yards in the NFL at 237 yards on 75 attempts, which is an average of 3.2 yards per carry which is also the third fewest in the league.  Per game, they rack up only 59.3 yards per game which is the second worst mark in the league.  They only run the ball about 31% of the time, so to see a minor part of their game become problematic is a huge issue.  The good news is that they have a decent passing game in which they have the third best completion percentage in the league at just a tick below 70%.

On defense, once again it is the running side of the game that is costing the Giants statistically.  They have given up the fifth most rushing yards in the league at 571.  On average, they are giving up about 4.6 yards per carry which is the seventh most in the league.  Per game, they give up about 142.8 yards which is the fifth worst mark in the league.  Just from that, the rushing defense is clearly near the bottom of the league and needs some work badly.  Their passing defense is in the middle of the road compared with the rest of the National Football League.  In a lot of major categories, the Giants are ranked anywhere from 14th to 18th within the league, but there are a few measure that lean towards the bottom of the league.  They have given up seven passing touchdowns which is tied for the sixth most in the league.  Another more advanced statistic that leans towards the bottom of the league is that they give up touchdowns on 5.4% of passing attempts which is the sixth highest mark in the NFL.  According to the stats, the New York Giants have a lot of work to do on both their offense and their defense and much more so on their running game on both sides of the ball.  If they want to improve anytime soon, this should be the very first thing they try to rectify according to the stats.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have a much different problem.  They have the pieces like the Giants to potentially make a run down the stretch in the late season.  Their problem is that they simply have not learned how to win a game.  They have had three different games decided by three or less points and somehow the Chargers have come up on the losing end of all of them.  These just happen to be the three games that the Chargers have given up the most yards defensively.  The one game where the Chargers gave up the fewest defensive yards also just happened to be the game where they had three turnovers on offense.  Just from that perspective, the Chargers clearly have a week-to-week issue to where they rectify one thing and another problem occurs.  The Chargers have one of the better passing games in the league with 1,076 passing yards and six touchdowns.  They have also thrown four interceptions. When I say they, I mean Phillip Rivers because he really is the only legitimate quarterback that the Chargers have and have had for a long time.  In nearly all of the passing offense stats, the Chargers led by mainstay Phillip Rivers end up in the top half of the league.  Unfortunately, the running offense does not get the same statistical praise.  The Chargers have the fifth fewest rushing yards in the NFL (270).  Their rushing yards per game is a little better than the Giants at 67.5, but that is still only good enough for the fourth worst in the league.  Overall, the Chargers only have a three point advantage on the Giants on points per game with 18 and that is not a good number if a team is going to have success in the National Football League.  A team must have a good defense and the Chargers are far from that.

The Chargers do not have a good defense in the slightest definition of that for NFL standards statistically.  When on defense, 46.3% of drives end in an offensive score, the third worst mark.  An average of 2.27 points per game is given up per drive which is tied with their city rival Rams, but unlike the Chargers, they have good offensive statistics.  In particular, their defense against the run is one of the worst in the NFL. On average, they give up about 163.5 yards on the run per game which is only two yards better than the Jacksonville Jaguars.  They give up 4.8 yards per carry, the fifth worst in the league.  Clearly, they have some work to do on their rushing defense as well and actually scoring more points than their opponents for a change instead of finding a new problem every single week.

Both teams and unique problems but one thing is clear.  Both teams have the pieces to succeed, but their running games on offense and defense are a glaring issue.  If these two teams are going to reverse their fortune, fixing these things are a must, even if they are both passing-heavy offenses.  That is another issue.  Both teams must also increase their offensive production by a lot if they want any chance of success.  However, both the Giants and the Chargers are looking dead in the face at a miserable season and firings within the coaching staff whether they are at the end of 2017 or even during the season this year.

 

The NFL’s Unwinnables: Expected Dumpster Fires

A quarter of the way through the 2017 National Football League season has brought about some major surprises.  First off, the fact that there is only one team before Monday Night Football is undefeated at this point is surprising.  Then, there are the unwinnable sides at this point, some of which are not surprising.  Some, though, should have already won games and the fact that they have not is a little shocking and quite frankly stunning to their fanbases.  This is the first in a two day series that will look at two of the four teams both days s to why they have yet to win a game in 2017.  First up, the expected teams that people came into the season with a bad feeling about them.  Stats can be credited to Pro Football Reference

Expected Unwinnables

Cleveland Browns: The situation in Cleveland does not get much better so far this season and they are once again 0-4 and in a dire position.  They can once again thank a lack of defensive and offensive production for the mess that they have gotten themselves into.  Cleveland’s defense has the fourth most points allowed in the league with 107 averaging 26.8 points allowed per game.  They have given up nine passing touchdowns (3rd most in NFL)  and four rushing touchdowns (T-4th most in NFL).  They are especially bad through the air on defense as they have allowed 73.4% completion which is better than only the Miami Dolphins who are only 1-2 and who knows if that can be worse because of Hurricane Irma moving their week one encounter with the Buccaneers to week eleven.  They give up about 8.3 yards per passing attempt, which is fourth worse in the league.  Overall, things of defense do not look good.  Then there is their offense who is also not good.  Cleveland on average per play gains about 4.6 yards which tied for the third worst mark in the league. They have actually outgained the Colts and the Ravens in games on the road this season, but have failed to capitalize in those encounters.  The Browns score on average 15.8 points per game, good for 28th in the NFL.  Compare that to the 26.8 points they allow per game and you have a -11 point differential for the Cleveland Browns a quarter of the way into the season.  Even worse, the Browns only score on just over twenty percent of their drives, second worst in the NFL.  The stats simply add up for the Browns on why they are unwinnable so far this season.  Their offense plus their defense equals failure in 2017 and that is being shown through the first quarter of the season.

San Francisco 49ers: Out west, the 49ers had a chance to reverse their unwinnable trend against the Cardinals last Sunday, but to no avail as they lost in overtime.  They only have a -1 turnover margin which is not bad but could be a lot better.  Offensively, they are a lot like the Browns in that they are in trouble.  They are only a tick better in the yards per play category with 4.7 and having gained only seven more total yards of offense than Cleveland.  The 49ers do do things better in some categories though as they have scored on 34% of their drives this season, good for 20th in the NFL.  On defense, they have their own unique struggles.  They have given up thirty first downs against the running game and the only teams worse are the Giants and the Chargers, both of which will be in this feature later because they are also 0-4 this season.  They have given up 23.5 points per game, a little better than Cleveland, but still only 24th in the league.  By any measure, they are Cleveland West and while they have more upsides than the Browns, they still have some catching up to do and that catching up may take them far too long to accomplish than what is needed from them to be in any sort of postseason contention this season.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at two teams that are unwinnable that actually play each other next week which would be the Los Angeles Chargers and the New York Giants.  They were not expected to be in this position and we will look into why exactly they were hyped up and why the hype just simply did not pan out.  Below is a presentation that summarizes the above and also includes a table comparing the two worst teams in the NFL at the quarter pole of the season.

Clemson Looks Strong as Tennessee Looks Horrid

Another college football Saturday is in the books and while some looked strong, others looked dreadful as teams look to jockey into position for College Football Playoff consideration and conference championship contention.  Here is a statistical look at the biggest games across the country from this past college football weekend.

USC vs Washington State

USC potentially cost themselves a playoff spot on Friday night in another example of how great #Pac12AfterDark can be by losing a thriller to Washington State 30-27.  Washington State controlled the time of possession battle with more than 35 minutes of possession.  It might not be that much of an advantage, but in a close game every little bit matters.  QB Luke Falk starred for most of the game on offense as he threw two touchdown passes on 340 passing yards.  His two touchdown passes ties him with Marcus Mariota for 2nd in Pac-12 history with 105 career passing TDs.  He also broke the career conference completion record with 1,211.  For the team, this was Washington State’s first win at home against USC since 2002 when Washington State went to the Rose Bowl only to lose to Oklahoma.  Meanwhile, USC did not have that great of a time out in Pullman.  QB Sam Darnold only had 162 passing yards in a day where the Trojans tried to be a little more balanced.  This plan did not work out so well for them as Washington State out gained USC 462-327 in total yards.  As mentioned earlier with Falk’s stats, USC’s passing defense failed them and one now has to wonder whether or not they cost themselves a playoff spot on Friday.  This certainly does not look good and Washington now has to come up clutch for the sake of the Pac-12 otherwise they may be the Power 5 conference left out of the College Football Playoff.

Clemson vs Virginia Tech

The defending national champs did not look phased at all in Blacksburg in a solid 31-17 victory.  The biggest mark where Virginia Tech beat themselves up was in the turnover department as the Hokie offense committed three turnovers on the day.  Other than that, things were pretty close statistically as the Hokies barely won the total yards battle and had three more first downs than Clemson.  No individual player stood out for Clemson, but as a team they were able to get the job done especially on defense.  They should feel really comfortable heading into next week.

Mississippi State vs Auburn

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State are by far and away the biggest losers of the week for two reasons.  One of them was this game, their second road blowout in as many weeks.  Even though the Bulldogs won the time of possession battle, they could not do anything long range with that possession.  Their lack of offensive production cost them as Auburn simply did more on that side of the ball with over 500 total yards on the day.  Mississippi also only had 33% third down efficiency (7-21) which is not the best of marks, but only converting seven of twenty-one chances on third down is not a good mark which can in part explain some of the lower numbers.  Auburn had a great day both passing and rushing .  RB Kerryon Johnson ran for over 100 yards and had three touchdowns to go along with it.  They also added two more passing touchdowns to make this day a statement win.  I mentioned that there were two reasons why Mississippi State were the biggest losers of the week….

LSU vs Troy

LSU losing at home to Troy now makes Mississippi State’s one really good win look a lot weaker.  Troy simply handled the ball better than the Tigers did throughout the game.  The Tigers would have won this game comfortably had it not been for the four turnovers that they committed, clear and simple.  Props to the Troy defense for stepping their game up when they needed to on the big stage of Tiger Stadium.

Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech

The Cowboys needed a win on the road to keep pace with their in-state counterparts Oklahoma and they got that in the waning minutes of the game.  Statistically, they were the much better team as they out gained Texas Tech by over 200 yards.  QB Mason Rudolph was a standout performer for Oklahoma State as he threw for 376 yards with three touchdowns.  They are also now 12-1 over their last 13 games decided by less than ten points.  This time, they were simply the better team on the night.  For Texas Tech, they did do some things right especially in the fourth quarter when they tied the game up with a little less than ten minutes to go in the game.  They have what it takes but now they just have to take it over the course of the coming weeks.

Georgia vs Tennessee

Out in Knoxville, nothing went right for Tennessee.  They had four turnovers, only had seven first downs, and only 142 yards of total offense.  This was not about Georgia being good as it was about Tennessee being bad I ‘m afraid.  When a team gets shut out for the first time in a quarter century like Tennessee did, there is simply something wrong. Coach Butch Jones better find a way out of this fast or he will be fired midseason.  This is not a maybe or a potentially getting fired, we are talking about a ruthless firing that an entire fanbase will desperately want to see happen.  Not good news out there.  As for Georgia, they played this game perfectly with nearly 400 total yards of offense and twenty first downs.  Their running game was the star of the game as they had nearly 300 rushing yards on 55 rushing attempts.  They knew what to do and they did it with style in Knoxville.

 

Crystal Palace: A Hot Mess

I have revamped my blog entirely for the foreseeable future to have a focused look at analytics within sports as with my busy fall in tennis over, I can now see this as a permanent option without having to worry about getting home late at night or being just downright tired all of the time.   With that being said, I hope to be better on putting out articles all of the time especially with this somewhat new format with a revamped website and sort of a clean slate.

In the English Premier League this season, there has been the great teams at the top in Manchester and contenders such as Chelsea in London.  However, one team in particular has stood out as being downright horrid.  Crystal Palace have not gone seven games this season without a goal in the Premier League, worst of any team in Premier League history.  However, there is a little more hope to this side than what most would think.

Shots are Not Going In

For Crystal Palace, the lack of goals should not be blamed for a lack of effort.  In the shots category, Crystal Palace are currently tenth in the Premier League with 82.  Despite it though, nothing seems to be finding the back of the net or even on target.  Out of those 82 shots, only 16 of those have been on target within the goal parameters, the second worst in the league only to Swansea City’s 11 shots on goal.  Crunch the numbers and Crystal Palace has a measly 19.51% of shots going on target. That is ridiculous, even when Swansea City with their 46 total shots still has a 23.91% rate of hitting the target.  When compared with the teams relatively close in total shots, it is not even close in terms of shots on target.  Crystal Palace just needs to work on getting shots on target and maybe something will spark.

Horrid Defense

Crystal Palace’s defense in absolutely dreadful compared to the rest of the Premier League.  They have given up 17 goals this season so far, the worst in the league. The others near the top here are West Ham United and Everton who early on are just above the three relegation spots to the EFL Championship. They have also committed some horrible fouls having had 15 yellow cards which is the second worst mark in the Premier League.  Not to mention that they obviously have a -17 goal differential which is also the worst in the league.  Statistically, this is the worst defense in the league, and it is not even close.

Overview

A lot of work has to be done for Crystal Palace to make up any ground whatsoever in the Premier League, but there is a silver lining.  They won their first two round in the EFL Cup and they have to be able to take their play from the EFL Cup and translate it onto the Premier League pitch.  If not, they might find themselves in a nasty position playing catch-up on the rest of the league if they do not want to have to go to the EFL in 2018-19.  Yes, this is the perfect team to start talking about relegation this early in the season.