Monthly Archives: May, 2013

The NBA’s best team of the last 15 years?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan 1997

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A certain basketball player from Chicago, Michael Jordan, retired from the NBA (and as a member of the Chicago Bulls) in 1999 (he later played two seasons in Washington). Up until that date, Jordan and the Bulls had quite a run in the NBA: from 1984-85 to 1997-98, Jordan and the Bulls won six NBA titles, made the playoffs every year and won 50 or more games on nine occasions. During that 14-year period, the Bulls were the best team in the NBA.

Since Jordan’s departure from the Bulls after the 1997-98 season, a couple of teams have made a significant statement that they have been the best team in the NBA in the past 15 years. The Los Angeles Lakers have made a pretty good case as the best team since 1998 with five NBA titles. Close behind are the San Antonio Spurs who have won four titles. The Miami Heat with two titles and Detroit, Boston and Dallas with one title each are the other teams who have won NBA championships since Jordan and the Bulls last won in 1998.

So, let’s look at regular-season wins and losses over the past 15 seasons. First, here’s a quick quiz for you: Can you name the six NBA franchises that have the best regular-season winning percentages in the past 15 seasons?

Don’t read on just yet… see if you can name the six before you read on.

Okay, here are the six, in reverse order:

6. Miami Heat, 668-514, .565 winning percentage (two titles)

5. Utah Jazz, 669-513, .566 winning percentage (no titles)

4. Phoenix Suns, 670-512, .567 winning percentage (no titles)

3. Dallas Mavericks, 756-426, .640 winning percentage (one title)

2. Los Angeles Lakers, 761-421, .644 winning percentage (five titles)

1. San Antonio Spurs, 832-350, .704 winning percentage (four titles)

You can make a good case for the Lakers as the best team over the past 15 years with those five titles. But in looking at regular season winning percentage, the Spurs in the last 15 seasons have 71 more wins than their closest competitor; and they have four titles to go with the best winning percentage over that same timeframe. It’s hard not to call the San Antonio Spurs the best franchises in the NBA over the past 15 years.

What’s your call?

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The last time each NBA team won a playoff series

New York Knicks logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Now that the 2013 NBA playoffs have begun the second round of games, we can take a look at an interesting stat re: playoff series wins.

Of the eight teams still left in the NBA playoffs, four of them also won playoff series last season (Miami, Indiana, San Antonio and Oklahoma City). Of those other four still in this year’s playoffs, the New York Knicks had previously had the longest wait for winning a playoff series; the Knicks had not won a playoff series since 2000 until they defeated the Boston Celtics last week to reach the second round. Sixth-seed Golden State beat third-seed Denver last week to give them their first playoff series win since 2007. Memphis and Chicago, both second-round participants this year, last won playoff series in 2011.

With their playoff win over Boston, the Knicks are no longer tied for the NBA franchise with the longest drought for a playoff series win; the Portland Trailblazers now hold that distinction. Portland last won a playoff series in 2000. Close behind are the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors, who both have not won a playoff series since 2001.

Following are the last years each NBA last won a playoff series.

Last year winning a playoff series, team(s)
2000: Portland
2001: Milwaukee, Toronto
2004: Minnesota, Sacramento
2005: Charlotte (have never won a playoff series in franchise history), Washington
2007: Brooklyn
2008: Detroit, New Orleans
2009: Denver, Houston
2010: Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix, Utah
2011: Atlanta, Dallas,
2012: Boston, L.A. Clippers, L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia
2013: Chicago, Golden State, Indiana, Memphis, Miami, New York, Oklahoma City, San Antonio

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Brewers teammates Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura sitting in N.L. batting Top 5

Carlos Gomez

(Photo credit: Steve Paluch)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

There isn’t much good to say about the Milwaukee Brewers recent four games against the St. Louis Cardinals, so let’s look at something positive: the batting prowess of Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura.

Gomez is leading the National League in batting with a .368 batting average. (Trivia question: Can you name the last Milwaukee Brewers player to win a batting crown? Answer at the end of the column.) Teammate Segura is sitting in fourth place in the batting race with a .333 average. If you would have said that two Brewers would be in the Top 5 of the N .L. batting race in early May, chances are Gomez and Segura probably would not have the been the two players you would have suspected.

The season is a long ways from being complete, but let’s dream a little. If Gomez and Segura should end the season in the Top 5 of the batting race, they would be the first Brewers teammates in the Top 5 since 1991 when Willie Randolph (.327, third place) and Paul Molitor (.325, fifth place) finished in the Top 5. Other Brewers teammates to finish in the league batting Top 5 at the end of a season: 1984 (Robin Yount .331, second place; Cecil Cooper .313, fifth place) and 1973 (George Scott (.306, second place) and Davey May (.303, fifth place).

Let’s expand the parameters a little; here’s a look at the Brewers teammates who finished in the Top 10 of the league batting race in a season.

Season, teammates

2009: Ryan Braun (.320, seventh place) and Felipe Lopez (.310, ninth place)
1991: Willie Randolph (.327, third place) and Paul Molitor (.325, fifth place)
1989: Robin Yount (.318, fourth place) and Molitor (.315, sixth place)
1988: Molitor (.312, fifth place) and Yount (.306, tenth place)
1987: Molitor (.353, second place) and Yount (.312, tenth place)
1983: Ted Simmons (.308, ninth place) and Yount (.308, tenth place)
1982: Yount (.331, second place), Cecil Cooper (.313, fifth place) and Molitor (.302, tenth place)
1979: Molitor (.322, sixth place) and Sixto Lezcano (.321, seventh place)
1973: George Scott (.306, second place) and Davey May (.303, fifth place)

Trivia answer: The Brewers have never had a batting champion. They have, however, had five players who finished runner-up in the batting race: George Scott (1973), Cecil Cooper (1980), Robin Yount (1982), Paul Molitor (1987) and Ryan Braun (2011).

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Does Boston’s 18-win April guarantee a 2013 post-season appearance?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Boston Red Sox Cap Logo

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Boston Red Sox had the most victories in the majors at the end of April with 18. They became the 12th team since 2000 to have 18 or more victories as of April 30.

So based on the other 11 teams that won 18-plus games through April 30, what might this mean for the Red Sox and their hopes for a post-season appearance at the end of this season?

Before we answer that question, here’s a look at the 12 teams that had 18-plus win through April 30 since 2000.

Team, Season, wins
Boston, 2013, 18
Cleveland, 2011, 18
Philadelphia, 2011, 18
Arizona, 2008, 20
Los Angeles Angels, 2008, 18
New York Yankees, 2003, 21
San Francisco, 2003, 19
Boston, 2003, 18
Seattle, 2002, 18
Seattle, 2001, 20
Minnesota, 2001, 18
Atlanta, 2000, 18

So how well did these teams (other than the 2013 Red Sox) perform by the end of those seasons:

* Ten of the 11 finished the season above .500.

* Seven of the 11 made the playoffs.

* Eight of the 11 won 90-plus games that season.

* Five of the 11 won 110-plus games that season.

* Three of the 11 played in their league championship series (Boston and New York Yankees in 2003 and Seattle in 2001)

* Only one (the 2003 Yankees) played in the World Series that season.

* The 11 teams ended that season with an average record of 96-66.

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Could John Axford break the MLB record for most losses by a reliever?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog written with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

John Axford pitching at Miller Park in 2011. {...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s time again to rag on John Axford. The much-maligned Brewers reliever had gone through a stretch where he was pitching well as a set-up man. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s melt-down and subsequent loss to the Pirates after the Brewers had a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning has put Axford back in the spotlight for his part in the loss (a loss credited to his stat line).
Axford has three losses in the Brewers first 26 games. If we stretch that out over the 162-game MLB schedule, that would mean Axford is currently on a pace to lose between 18 and 19 games. The possibility of that happening is highly unlikely. But let’s stay with that premise for a minute.
If Axford were to lose 18 games in relief, he would break the ML record. Back in 1969, reliever Gene Garber of the Atlanta Braves had 25 saves; he also that season lost 16 games in relief. Here’s a look at the pitchers who have lost the most games as a relief pitcher in a season.
Pitcher, year, losses in relief Gene Garber, 1979, 18
Mike Marshall, 1979, 14
Mike Marshall, 1975, 14
Darold Knowles, 1970, 14
John Hiller, 1974, 14
Wilbur Wood, 1970, 13
Skip Lockwood, 1978, 13
Rollie Fingers, 1978, 13
Last season two pitchers lost 10 games each in relief. Chicago White Sox reliever Matt Thornton had 10 losses as did Oakland pitcher Fernando Rodriguez. Through games of April 30 this year, there were four pitchers with three losses in relief, putting them on a pace similar to Axford. The four: J.J. Hoover Cincinnati), Phil Coke (Detroit), Steve Cishek (Miami) and Phillippe Aumont (Philadelphia).
Axford in 2011 had eight losses out of the Brewers bullpen. That, however, was not a team record. In 1971, reliever Ken Sanders, “The Bulldog,” lost 12 games as a reliever for Milwaukee. In 1974, reliever Tom Murphy lost 10 games out of the Brewers bullpen, ranking his second on that list.
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