May, 2015 Athlete of the Month

Thursday, May 28, 2015

April is here.

Floyd Mayweather.  Runners-up: Lionel Messi, Steph Curry, LeBron James

5 down.  7 left.  Who will be 2015 Athlete of the Year?

January - Marshawn Lynch
February - Malcolm Butler
March - Breanna Stewart
April - Steph Curry
May - Floyd Mayweather

Every Bay Area Championship Team Ranked.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

According to 538, your 2014-15 Golden St Warriors are on track to be the 4th greatest basketball team of all time.

That ain't bad.

As a lifelong San Francisco Bay Area sports fan, a Warrior title would, well, check my last remaining box.  I've been incredibly lucky; had I been born in Cincinnati instead, I'd have missed the Big Red Machine, have only an Oscar Robertson poster to remember basketball, and still be talking about Tim Krumrie's broken leg.

If my clubs never win again in my lifetime, I had a good deal.

A good enough deal that a ranking is in order.

Look - if the Warriors close out (as I predicted we would, in the strongest possible terms, prior to the start of the playoffs) there is a terrific argument that this is the greatest all time Bay Area championship team.

Who has the top end of that argument now?

Lets go to the videotape.

         18. 2001 San Jose Earthquakes

   The threshold question is who counts/doesn't count.  College=doesn't count.  The eliminates Bill Russell's USF titles.  Why does the MLS count?  It's close - the MLS isn't the best soccer in the world, an MLS champion can't claim to be a World Champion - but it is the best soccer in the US (unlike a college champion) and that's enough to make this list

       This was the best Earthquake team to that date but they finished with only the 5th best record in a 12 team league. 19 year old Landon Donovan beat LA in OT to win the championship. 

     172003 San Jose Earthquakes

     Clearly better than the '01 group, this squad won its division and had multiple post season comebacks to add to the lore of this squad.  In addition to college teams, the Warriors D-League team in Santa Cruz, or the San Francisco Seals from the old PCL, not included in this list for similar reasons.  That's the dividing line - Quakes in/Seals out.  

  16. 2014 San Francisco Giants 

          I had virtually no connection to those Earthquake wins; I was a Quakes fan as a kid in their NASL days, but really spend no time at all following MLS outside of knowing who the champion is.  But the three Giants clubs, as you're aware if you read this space, are all important to me today.  This is the worst of the three; the 2014 club had 87 pythagorean wins, that marks it as the 105th best regular season World Series team ever.  They get a little boost from beating a 97 pythagorean win Nationals team in the playoffs, but the World Series win over an 84 pythagorean Royals team marks this club as being a huge beneficiary of modern day playoff expansion.  


        15.  1988 San Francisco 49ers

        If you're ranking the great individual moments in Bay Area sports history, Montana to Taylor to win Super Bowl 23 is on Mt. Rushmore.  The team however falls here, 15th in Bay Area history.  They had an SRS (strength of schedule+pythagorean record) of 4.8, that's 42nd out of the 49 Super Bowl winners. Similar to the 2014 Giants, they had an excellent playoff win (over the Vikings) but beat another middling team (Cincinnati) to win the title.  If you think of Bumgarner coming out of the pen in Game 7 as the equivalent of Montana leading the Niners to the game winning touchdown, the clubs become even more comparable.  

      14. 1974-75 Golden St Warriors 
       The only Golden St. Warriors NBA Champion as of the time of this writing was not a great champion, having 2.86 SRS (see the '88 Niners) placing it 56th   on a list of NBA Champs.  Where they get a boost ahead of the '88 Niners and the '14 Giants is the quality of the opponent in the finals (a strong Bullets team) and in the single season performance of Rick Barry, who with almost 16 Win Shares (regular season+postseason) maybe had a better year than 1988 Jerry Rice and certainly better than any of the Giants performances in 2014.

      13. 1968-69 Oakland Oaks
       So - why does the ABA team make it?  The distance between ABA and NBA wasn't as great, say as the distance between NFL and USFL, it's more like NFL and AFL.  In this particular circumstance, I'd argue the Oaks were a better club than the Celtics team that won the NBA title the same season.  With a 7.6 SRS, this is the best ABA champion ever, they finished first in offense and defense during the regular season, swept a playoff series and then won the finals 4 games to 1. A middling ABA Champion probably ranks just above those Earthquake teams, and even a great one can't rank any higher than this, but I think this is a reasonable slot.  


      12. 2012 San Francisco Giants 

      The 2012 Giants had 88 pythagorean wins, essentially the same as the club two years later, the Series win over the Tigers is more impressive than the '14 team would earn (the Tigers were better than KC and the Giants swept them) - and this team had two historically improbable postseason comebacks (over the Reds and Cards).  Posey's 2012 is better than any other San Francisco Giant from a World Series season, in fact, it's probably better than any baseball season on this list.

 11. 1980 Oakland Raiders

       I'm a San Francisco fan (Giants/Niners) as opposed to an Oakland Fan (Raiders/A's; the Warriors bridge the gap) but I always liked the Oakland clubs and rooted hard for this Raider team.  They had a 4.2 SRS, placing it as the 44th (of 49) Super Bowl Champ ever.  Why are they above the '88 Niners?  It's the Super Bowl blowout win over a really good Eagles team; similar to the Warriors beating the Bullets.  

  10. 1981 San Francisco 49ers
      If the Warriors win the 2015 NBA Title that knocks the Niners first Super Bowl team out of the top ten.  That's to the good as there's a real break between the current 9th and 10th top teams on the list, this Niner team is really right with the '80 Raider team as opposed to who is ranked just above.  The '81 Niners have a 6.2 SRS ranking them as the 40th best Super Bowl winner ever. Dwight's catch in the NFC Title game is the signature moment in the history of Bay Area sports.  Everything else is a fight for second.  

     91973 Oakland A’s 

      It's before my time, but I would have liked those Swingin' A's - this is the middle team from its 3 year World Series run; 96 pythagorean wins, that leaves them 70th for all World Series winners.  They beat a barely above .500 pythagorean Met team to win the Series. Reggie was really good in this entire stretch.


     8. 2010 San Francisco Giants
      There might be a little home cooking here in ranking the 94 pythagorean Giants (83rd overall) a slot ahead of the A's; my justification is the postseason gauntlet of Braves (93 wins), Phils (95 wins) Rangers (91) wins while having the entire titleless history of the San Francisco Giants on their backs earns the advantage.  Reggie and Billy North, from the '73 team, were the best players on either squad.  I'm good with this ordering, but it's a slight lean to my guys. 


    7. 1989 Oakland A's
     My least favorite team on this list, as they beat my guys to death in the Series.  97 pythagorean wins, this club is 61st overall for World Series winners, the Giants team they beat had 92 wins.  Clearly better than any of the Giants winners, right?  I mean - come on, Giants fans.  You don't want any part of the '89 A's ever. 

     6.  1974 Oakland A's
     Another 97 pythagorean win team, the difference between this group and the '89 team is this team beat a 106 pythagorean win Dodger team in the Series.  Additionally, Catfish had the best season of anyone on either of these two A's teams.  

     5. 1976 Oakland Raiders
     8.5 SRS makes this the 29th best Super Bowl winner, a clear step up from the Super Bowl Champs from below them in the list.  What boosts the Raiders over the two A's teams just beneath is the not only beat a good Vikings team (badly) in the Super Bowl - they beat the best Steeler team of the era in the playoffs, with a 15.3 SRS, that Steeler team is one of the all time best never to win a title.  if the 2015 Warriors win, this Raider team gets bounced out of the top 5.

  4. 1972 Oakland A's

       The best baseball team in Bay Area history; the A's has 101 pythagorean wins and beat a 98 win Cincinnati club in the Series. They're the 40th best WS winner of all time, and pythag overly benefits pre desegregation clubs.  If we were, say, just looking at post WWII clubs, it's the 18th best World Series winner.  It's not an all time great team, but it's the best of that A's dynasty and the best on this list.  


  3. 1994 San Francisco 49ers
      By SRS, the second best NFL team on the list is the '94 Niners, 11.4. That ranks them 13th for SB Champs.  A blowout SB win over a not particularly good Chargers team is what it is, but there's also a playoff win over Dallas (10 SRS).  Steve Young was underappreciated.  Look, he's absolutely one of the ten best quarterbacks ever (in no particular order, these are the 10 best quarterbacks ever: Manning and Brady, Unitas and Graham, Joe, Marino, Elway and Favre - and Young and Fran Tarkenton.  That's it, that's the list) but replaced a better one.  It was a rough deal.

 2. 1989 San Francisco 49ers 
        Just below the '94 team in SRS (10.4) and while the SB opponent was significantly better than San Diego (Denver, 9.3) it wasn't an all time great Bronco club.  What places the '89 team above the '94 team is the unbelievable postseason performance; 41-13 over Minnesota, 30-3 over the Rams, 55-10 over Denver.  Just a throttling down the stretch.  This club, with Joe and Ronnie and Roger is still that 80s Niner team; if you watched them all, you'd pick this one over the '94 club of Steve and Deion and Watters.  


  1. 1984 San Francisco 49ers
      The first 18 win team in NFL history (and unlike the Bears the following year, this one should have gone unbeaten). 12.7 SRS places them 9th among SB winners, and they badly beat a 10.6 Miami team in the SB.  You lose Jerry Rice if you pick the '84 team over the '89 team, but you gain Bill Walsh and younger versions of Montana and Lott.  I think the '89 team was better at the end; no one beats that club in January of 1990 - but over the course of the full season, I'll ride with the '84 team over anyone in NFL history.  

    There you go.  If the Warriors win - where do they fall?  No further than fourth, clearly.  The fight starts there and a slot anywhere in the top 3 isn't inherently a recency bias.  I've been rooting for these clubs every day of my conscious life - it's been worth it.  





Tendown May 24, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tendown 175 is here. This is 176.

1. Justin Smith retired.

2. My favorite Mad Men column each week - Mark Lisanti's.

he’s been the (more or less) everyday third baseman in San Francisco this year — and the results have been ugly. McGehee’s batting just .202/.255/.293, the seventh-worst line for any NL player with 100 plate appearances. And even those raw numbers don’t tell the full story. McGehee once again ranks as the worst baserunner in the majors. The bigger problem, though, is McGehee’s double-play mania: He’s already rapped into 12, again leading MLB and sucking the life out of what seems like should be a pretty good offense.

9. According to 538 - the Warriors are on track to be the 4th best team of all time.


And one more...


That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time. 

Your pal,


2015 MLB All Star Rosters: At the Quarter Pole

Thursday, May 21, 2015

We're 40 games into the 2015 MLB season.  Here are the updated predictions.

AL East.
1. Boston 84
2. NYY 84
3. Tampa 83
4. Baltimore 80
5. Toronto 78

AL Central
1. KC 86
2. Det 85-WC
3. CWS 80
4. Cle 79
5. Minn 77

AL West
1. Hou 86
2. LAA 84-WC
3. Sea 83
4. Oak 77
5. Tex 75

NL East
1. Wash 94
2. NYM 83
3. Mia 74
3. Atl 73
5. Phil 69

NL Central
1. St Louis 93
2. Chi 86-WC
3. Pitt 80
4. Cin 76
5. Mil 76

NL West
1. LAD 93
2. SFG 83 - WC
3. SD 81
4. Ari 75
5. Col 71

Here's my current selection for All Star Game Rosters.  

Each league has 34 players.  There have to be at least 5 starters/3 relievers for each league.  Each league had 13 active pitchers last year, so I'll make that my target; I still wouldn't ever have an all star roster with more than 3 relievers.  We'd need 40 players a side before I'd do that. Both leagues use a DH.  Every team needs to be represented.  I'm not going to pick a player from each team in this first build, but when I come back at the 60 game mark I'll set up the rosters with that requirement. The number is my WAR number (B-Ref+Davenport).

C Vogt Oak 2.15, Martin Tor 2, Perez KC 1.85
1B Cabrera Det 2.2  Hosmer KC 1.65 Teixeira NYY 1.5
2B Kinsler Det 2.25, Altuve Hou 2, Kipnis Cle 1.5,
SS Simien Oak 1.4, Miller Sea 1.15, 
3B Moustakas KC 2.3, Donaldson Tor 2.1, Machado 1.8 Bal
LF Brantley Cle 1.6
CF Trout LAA 2.55, Cain KC 2.35, Jones Balt 1.75
RF Cruz Sea 2.55, Reddick Oak 1.5, 
DH Bautista Tor 1.15
SP Keuchel Hou 2.7
      Gray Oak 2.6
      Hernandez Sea 2.2
      Odorizzi TB 1.65
      Martinez Tex 1.55
      Pineda NYY 1.4
      Archer TB 1.4
      Gibson Min 1.4
      Lewis Tex 1.4
      Bauer Cle 1.35
RP Betances NYY 1.7
      Miller NYY 1.5
      Davis KC 1.4

C Posey SFG 2.15, Norris Was 1.4, Ramos SD 1.25
1B Gonzalez LAD 2.5, Rizzo Chi 2.15, Freeman Atl 1.2
2B Gordon 2.8 Mia, Phillips Cin 1.3, 
SS Crawford 2.4 SFG, Peralta StL 1.6, Simmons Atl 1.4
3B Frazier 2 Cin, Carpenter StL 1.4, Arenado Col 1.35
LF Upton SD 1.8, Peralta Ari 1.4 , Holliday 1.35 StL
CF Fowler Chi 1.3, Pederson LA 1.25, 
RF Harper Was 3.7, 
DH Goldschmidt Ari 2.3 
SP Harang Phi 2.6 
     Scherzer Was 2.55
     Greinke LA 2.35 
     Miller Atl 2.35
     Burnett Pitt 2.2
     Harvey NYM 2.05
     Wacha StL 1.9
     Lincecum SFG 1.75
     Cole Pit 1.65
     Hamels Phi 1.55
RP Chapman Cin 1.5
       Storen Wash 1.45
       Rosenthal StL 1.35

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