“FOUR STATS” you may not know about… the Final Four


Here’s a look at a few stats you may not know about the upcoming NCAA men’s Final Four.

1. Five of the seven teams with 10 or more appearances in the Final Four are still in this year’s tournament. North Carolina and UCLA top the list with the most Final Four appearances with 18. Kentucky is next with 16 and Duke follows with 15. All four of those teams made this year’s Sweet 16. The other three teams on the list: Kansas with 14 Final Fours and Louisville and Ohio State with 10. Of those three, only Louisville is still alive in this year’s event.

2. Two teams that have made 18 or more NCAA tournament appearances but have never appeared in the Final Four are still alive and could possibly break those streak. Xavier has played in 25 (now 26) NCAA tourneys but has never made the Final Four, while Gonzaga has played in 18 (now 19) and has never made it to the Final Four.

3. Prior to this year, Kentucky has played in 35 Elite 8 games, winning 16 and losing 19. Their 19 losses in the Regional Final title game is most on the list. They are followed by Kansas State with nine, Villanova with eight, North Carolina with seven and Ohio State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Connecticut and Arizona with six losses each. Texas, Oregon State, Illinois, Temple and Michigan have each lost five Regional Final title games. Of these teams listed, only three, Kentucky, North Carolina and Arizona are still alive in this year’s tournament.

4. Missouri tops the list with the most losses in the Regional Final title game with no appearances in the Final Four. Pittsburgh, Arizona State, Boston College and Davidson have each lost three Regional Final title games and have never made it to the Final Four.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Yankees’ Derek Jeter joins MLB’s unique ’20-year club’


When New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter retired after last season, he became the 18th major league player to play 20 or more years in the majors all with the same team. Here’s a look at this noteworthy list:

23 years: Carl Yastrzemski (Boston), Brooks Robinson (Baltimore)

22 years: Al Kaline (Detroit), Stan Musial (St. Louis), Mel Ott (New York Giants)

21 years: Cal Ripken, Jr. (Baltimore), George Brett (Kansas City), Willie Stargell (Pittsburgh), Ted Lyons (Chicago White Sox), Walter Johnson (Washington)

20 years: Derek Jeter (New York Yankees), Craig Biggio (Houston), Tony Gwynn (San Diego), Alan Trammell (Detroit), Robin Yount (Milwaukee), Luke Appling (Chicago White Sox), Mel Harder (Cleveland), Red Faber (Chicago White Sox)

One of Jeter’s long-time teammates, Mariano Rivera, retire din 2013 after 19 seasons in the majors, all with the Yankees. He became the ninth player in MLB history to play 19 seasons in the league, all with the same team. Here are those nine players: Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees), Chipper Jones (Atlanta), Barry Larkin (Cincinnati), Lou Whitaker (Detroit), Dave Concepcion (Cincinnati), Jim Palmer (Baltimore), Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs), Ted Williams (Boston ) and Charlie Gehringer (Detroit).

Going back to the stat of players who played 20 or more seasons in the league, there have been 152 players who have reached that milestone. Above we noted the 18 players who are on this list that played for only one team during their career. There are also 17 players who played 20+ years in the league with only two teams. They are:

25 years: Eddie Collins
24 years: Ty Cobb, Carlton Fisk
23 years: Hank Aaron
22 years: Barry Bonds, Phil Cavaretta, Jimmy Dykes, Tom Glavine, Harmon Killebrew, Willie Mays
21 years: Fred Clarke, Eppa Rixley, Honus Wagner
20 years: Max Carey, Dwight Evans, Gabby Hartnett, Sam Rice

Note: Of the 152 players with 20 or more MLB seasons, five played for 10 or more teams. Leading the way is right-handed pitcher Mike Morgan. He played 22 seasons in the bigs with 12 different teams. He compiled a 141-186 record in those seasons. His longest stay was parts of five seasons with the Cubs.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

‘Takeo’ Honors: 2014 top performances by NFL players not in the playoffs


J.J. Watt: 2014 "Takeo" Honors Player of the Year

J.J. Watt: 2014 “Takeo” Honors Player of the Year

Each year, 12 of the NFL’s 32 teams get a chance to play in the playoffs. Familiar names like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Russell Wilson punctuated the rosters of the 12 playoff teams in 2014. But for the other 20 teams and their players, the off-season began once that 16th game was finished. Unfortunately, what gets lost when the playoffs start is the performances of some of those players whose teams didn’t make the post-season.

To honor those players on the 20 teams that did not make the 2014 NFL playoffs, I’ve created an honor to recognize the top performances from their seasons. In honor of Takeo Spikes, the San Diego Chargers linebacker who played 219 NFL regular season games in his career without ever playing in an NFL playoff game, I present the annual “Takeo” Honors. These honors are presented to the players from non-playoff teams who topped the list in 19 different statistical categories.

(Numbers for each of the statistical category leaders are based on only those players whose teams did not make the playoffs.)

2014 NFL “Takeo” Honors

QUARTERBACKS Most passing TDs: Drew Brees, New Orleans, 33; Highest Passer Rating: Drew Brees, New Orleans, 97.0

RUNNING BACKS Most rushing yards: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, 1,319; Most rushing TDs: Matt Asiata, Minnesota, Jamaal Charles, Kansas City and Mark Ingram, New Orleans, nine each

RECEIVERS Most receptions: Julius Jones, Atlanta, 104;  Most receiving TDs: Odell Beckham, NY Giants, Mike Evans, Tampa Bay and Antonio Gates, San Diego, 12 each

POINTS SCORED Most points scored (non-kicker): Jamaal Charles, Kansas City, 84; Most points scored (kicker): Cody Parkey, Philadelphia, 150

KICKERS Most field goals made: Dan Carpenter, Buffalo, 34

DEFENSE Most sacks: Justin Houston, Kansas City, 22; Most tackles: Lavonte David, Tampa bay, 101; Most interceptions: Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland, six; Fumbles recovered: J.J. Watt, Houston, five; Fumbles forced: Ryan Kerrigan, Washington and Robert Quinn, St. Louis, five each

PUNTERS Highest average per punt: Tress Way, Washington, 47.5

KICK RETURNERS Highest yards per kickoff return (min. of 16 returns): Knile Davis, Kansas City, 28.6; Highest yards per punt return (min. of 16 returns): Marcus Thigpen, (three teams that did not make the playoffs, Buffalo, Miami and Tampa Bay) 13.8

MISCELLANEOUS Most yards from scrimmage: Matt Forte, Chicago, 1,846; Most all-purpose yards: Jarvis Landry, Miami, 1,912

2014 NFL “Takeo” Honors Player of the Year: My selection for the 2014 Takeo Honors POY is Houston’s J.J. Watt. He won the league’s Most Valuable Defensive Player and was given much consideration for the NFL MVP in 2014. Watt had five TDs, including three receiving touchdowns, all for the 9-7 Texans, who did not make the playoffs.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Is Aramis Ramirez ‘Hall of Fame’ worthy?


Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez has announced that this season, his 18th in the majors, will be his last. Ramirez, who will turn 37 in late June, has seen action in the majors with the Pirates, Cubs and Brewers.

Ramirez has been a three-time All-Star and finished in the Top 10 for league MVP in three seasons. He led the National League in doubles in 2012 and also topped the league in sacrifice flies twice (2002, 2003).

When a player with a long, distinguished MLB career decides to hang up his spikes, there is usually conversation about whether or not that player has the numbers and credentials to be considered for the Hall of Fame. So… is Aramis Ramirez a legitimate candidate for the Hall of Fame? Let’s take a look at some of his numbers in comparison to others in the Hall and those who played his position, third base.

Through the 2014 MLB season, Ramirez has 2,186 career hits, 369 HRs, 1,342 RBI, a career batting average of .285 and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of .840.

First let’s compare Ramirez stats to those 247 players already in the Hall of Fame.

* Ramirez home run numbers are probably the best in comparison to those in the Hall. His 369 homers would rank tied for 32nd of current Hall of Famers. His RBI total of 1,342 would rank 52nd and his OPS would rank 72nd. His power numbers are what has set Ramirez apart from other MLB players; he is one of only 72 players in MLB history to have 350 HRs and 1,300 RBI in their careers. Of those 72, 34 are currently in the Hall of Fame.

Next, let’s look at how Ramirez compares to the third basemen already in the Hall of Fame.

* There are 11 players currently in the Hall that played 50% or more of their games at third base: Pie Traynor, Mike Schmidt, Ron Santo, Brooks Robinson, Eddie Mathews, Freddie Lindstrom. George Kell, Jimmy Collins, George Brett, Wade Boggs and Home Run Baker. With 369 career homers, Ramirez would rank third on this list behind Mathews and Schmidt. His OPS would rank fifth as would his RBI total. His .285 batting average would be tied for seventh and his hits total would rank 8th.

Finally, let’s compare Ramirez to other third basemen not in the Hall of Fame.

* Again, Ramirez compares favorably when compared to others at his position. His 1,342 RBI is fourth on this list, and with just 43 RBI this season he would shoot up to second on the list behind Chipper Jones. His 2,186 hits currently ranks 9th on the list, but a season with at least 95 hits would put him in the fourth position. His HR total ranks 6th, but if he reaches 400 for his career he would vault into third position.

So what do you think? I think Ramirez has had a very good MLB career. I don’t, however, think it is Hall of Fame worthy. The Hall is for “great” players, not those who were “very good.” Ramirez will be remembered as a consistent, productive player who played 18 years in the majors.

That’s my opinion… based on the numbers!

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

The importance of a conference tourney title for men’s BBall Final Four teams

Will a Big Ten tourney title equal a Final Four appearance this year for the Badgers?

Will a Big Ten tourney title equal a Final Four appearance this year for the Badgers?

Thirty-two of the 68 berths in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament come from those schools that won their conference tourney (or in the case of one conference, the Ivy League, which sends the school that won their regular season title), while the remaining 36 schools in the tournament received at-large berths from the selection committee on Sunday.

Since 2000, there have been 60 different teams that have made it to the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Over that timeframe, 56.7% of those Final Four teams (34 of the 60) played in their conference tournament championship game the week prior to the NCAA tournament. Twenty-five of the 34 won their conference tourney.

Of last year’s Final Four teams, Billy Donovan’s Florida squad was the only team of the four Final Four teams to win their conference tournament. Two of the teams, eventual champs UConn, and Kentucky, both lost in their conference tourney title games, while Wisconsin was eliminated in the Big Ten tourney in the quarterfinals.

Following are how well the Final Four teams since 2000 (the last 15 tournaments) did in their conference tournaments the week prior to the NCAA tournament.

Final Four teams that won their conference tournament: 25

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament title game: 9

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament semifinals: 15

Final Four teams that lost in the conference tournament quarterfinals: 10

Final Four teams that did not play in a conference tournament: 1

Did you know? Of the 15 teams that won the NCAA championship this century (2000-2014), nine won their conference tournament. Of the other six, four of those schools, North Carolina in 2009, North Carolina in 2005, Syracuse in 2003 and Maryland in 2002, all lost in their conference semifinals. Last year, UConn lost in their conference tourney title contest and Kentucky lost in their Southeastern Conference championship game to Vanderbilt in 2013.

Did you know? The last year when none of the Final Four teams won their conference tournament was 2009.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


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