Monthly Archives: February, 2015

Despite release, A.J. Hawk cements his Packers’ legacy


The Green Bay Packers this week released nine-year veteran A.J. Hawk. It wasn’t much of a surprise as Hawk’s playing time and performance had decreased over the past season and his departure was somewhat expected.

Over his career, however, Hawk was able to establish himself as a solid linebacker. In fact, based on numbers alone, Hawk will go down as one of the Packers most dependable defensive players in the team’s history.

Did you know…

* Hawk last season became only the 27th player in Packers history to play in 140 or more games with the team.

* Hawk is one of only six players the Packers drafted in the first round who eventually played 140 or more games with the team in his career.

* Hawk is one of 19 Green Bay Packers players who has played in 13 or more playoff games with the Pack.

Let’s take a look at that stat where Hawk was one of 27 players to play in 140 or more career games with the Pack. Of the 27, 20 were drafted by the Packers, five were free agents, and two were drafted by other teams. Here’s a breakdown of those players.

Players drafted by the Packers who played 140 or more career games with the team
Donald Driver, 205 games (7th round)
Bart Starr, 196 games (17th round)
Ray Nitschke, 190 games (3rd round)
William Henderson, 188 games (3rd round)
Forrest Gregg, 187 games (2nd round)
Leroy Butler, 181 games (2nd round)
Chad Clifton, 165 games (2nd round)
Robert Brown, 164 games (4th round)
Ron Hallstrom, 162 games (1st round)
Larry McCarren, 162 games (12th round)
Dave Hanner, 160 games (5th round)
Mark Lee, 157 games (2nd round)
Ken Ruettgers, 156 games (1st round)
Boyd Dowler, 150 games (3rd round)
Max McGee, 148 games (5th round)
Ezra Johnson, 148 games (1st round)
John Anderson, 146 games (1st round)
Bob Skoronski, 146 games (5th round)
A.J. Hawk, 142 games (1st round)
Fred Carr, 140 games (1st round)

Players drafted by another NFL team who played 140 or more career games with the Packers
Brett Favre, 253 games (drafted in the 2nd round by the Atlanta Falcons)
Frank Winters, 156 games (drafted in the 10th round by the Cleveland Browns)

Undrafted players who played 140 or more career games with the Packers
Rob Davis, 167 games
Ed West, 167 games
Willie Wood, 166 games
Mark Murphy, 147 games
Ryan Longwell, 144 games

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


The decline of first-round running backs in the NFL draft


Will Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon be the first running back selected in the NFL Draft? And... will he be taken in the first round?

Will Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon be the first running back selected in the NFL Draft? And… will he be taken in the first round?

The 2015 NFL draft is about two months away, but with the recent Scouting Combine drawing to a close there is a lot of talk about where certain college players will end up in the draft. In fact, mock drafts for this year’s selections have been popping up since last May, and now players are moving up or down the selection list.

One position that has been interesting to watch are the running backs coming out of college for this year’s draft. In several of the mock drafts published we have seen anywhere from zero running backs projected to be taken in the first round to maybe two, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley. We all know that the NFL has become a quarterback-receiver dominate league, but the decline of running backs as first-round selections has been steady and continues in that path.

Let’s take a look at the number of key offensive skill players taken in the first round of the NFL draft since 1970 (the NFL and AFL merger year). I’ve broken the numbers into five-year segments. (RB=Running Backs; QB=Quarterbacks; Rec=Receivers; TE=Tight Ends)

Years     RBs      QBs     Rec       TEs
1970-74:  26………..8………15………..9
1975-79:  18………..8……….9………..7
1980-84: 24……….11……..13………..4
1985-89: 26………..7………18………..2
1990-94: 18……….10……..12………..4
1995-99: 16……….10……..18………..5
2010-14:  7………..14……..17………..3

Of the four positions listed above, you can see some very distinct patterns. The five-year numbers of running backs taken in the first round has clearly decreased, from a five-year high of 26 in 1970-74 to only seven taken in the last five years. Receivers and quarterbacks have definitely seen a rise in first-round choices.

Here’s another look at these numbers, this time taking the first 20 years (1970-89) and comparing them to the last 25 years (1990-2014) with regards to the average number of players chosen from each position in the first round.

Positions           1970-89   1990-2014
Running Backs          4.7              2.9
Quarterbacks             1.7               2.4
Receivers                    2.8              3.6
Tight Ends                  1.1               1.1

While quarterbacks and receivers numbers increased and tight ends stayed about the same, the average number of running backs taken in the first round dropped from an average of 4.7 in 1970-89 to 2.9 in 1990-2014.

No doubt this trend will continue as the league remains focused on high-powered offenses fueled by QBs and receivers. Whether teams have diminished the importance of a quality running back or have deemed that a running back is not worthy of a first-round pick, keep an eye on this year’s draft for this trend.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp


MLB’s worst teams in the last 20 years: What happened the following season?

Back in 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks had an MLB-low 51 wins. Statistically speaking, it was the worst season in franchise history and came just three years after the team won the World Series in 2001.

Fast forward to 2014. Last year the D’Backs won only 64 games and for the second time in their franchise history they had the worst record in the majors in the team’s 17-year history.

The year following their 2004 disaster, Arizona was able to win 77 games, an increase of 26 wins over the previous season. This year’s squad is certainly hoping for a 26-win increase in 2015; in fact, a 26-win increase over last season would put them at 90 wins and a likely post-season berth.

So what can the D’Backs expect with regards to wins in the 2015 season? Let’s take a look at the teams with the worst records in the majors over the past 20 seasons (since 1995). Of the 23 teams that had the fewest wins (or tied for the fewest wins) in a season since ’95, 18 increased their win total the following year, one had the same numbers of wins, and four had fewer wins than the previous season. Of the 18 that increased their win totals, they did so by an average of 16.3 wins. That would put the Diamondbacks at 80 wins for the 2015 season. Only three teams since 1995 have gone from having the fewest number of wins in a season to winning 80 or more games the next year.

Here’s a look at the seven teams since 1995 that had the fewest wins (or tied for) in the league one season and then increased their win total by 20 or more the following season.

Team, increase (years)

Tampa Bay, +31 (66 wins in 2007, 97 wins in 2008)
Detroit, +29 (43 wins in 2003, 72 wins in 2004)
Detroit, +26 (53 wins in 1996, 79 wins in 1997)
Arizona, +26 (51 wins in 2004, 77 wins in 2005)
Chicago Cubs, +23 (65 wins in 2000, 88 wins in 2001)
Minnesota, +22 (56 wins in 1995, 78 wins in 1996)
Philadelphia, +21 (65 wins in 2000, 86 wins in 2001)

The four teams that saw their win totals go down after leading the league with the fewest wins one season: Detroit (55 wins in 2002, 43 wins in 2003); Tampa Bay (62 wins in 2001, 55 wins in 2002); Houston (55 wins in 2012, 51 wins in 2013); Houston (56 wins in 2011; 55 wins in 2012).

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Active career points leaders in the NBA

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Here’s a quick trivia question to begin this post. Don’t read on until you have tried to answer the question.

Can you name the six active players who are their current team’s career scoring leader?

The flurry of trade activity was unlike what we’ve seen in the NBA in recent years. Starting point guards found new homes, players returned to the teams where they began their careers, teams stockpiled draft picks.

With these trades, a few players who had been the active leader in career points moved on to new teams. In Philadelphia, Michael Carter-Williams was the 76ers active leader in career points scored, but he was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks. In Phoenix, Goran Dragic was the Suns active leader in career points scored, ranking 20th on the Suns list, but he was traded to Miami.

There are currently six players on NBA rosters who are their team’s career leader in points (more on that in a moment). In addition, on 15 of the 30 NBA teams, their active career leader in points scored currently ranks in the Top 10 of the franchise’s career points scored. Here’s a look at each of the 30 NBA franchises and which current player on their roster ranks highest in career points scored and where he ranks on the list.

Player, franchise, rank on the team’s career points list

LeBron James (Cleveland-#1)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas-#1)
Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers-#1)
Dwyane Wade (Miami-#1)
Tim Duncan (San Antonio-#1)
Kevin Garnett (Minnesota-#1)

Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City-#2)
Lamarcus Aldridge (Portland-#2)

Anthony Davis (New Orleans-#3)
DeMar DeRozan (Toronto-#3)

Mike Conley (Memphis-#4)

Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers-#5)

Kirk Hinrich (Chicago-#8)

Brook Lopez (Brooklyn-#9)

Kemba Walker (Charlotte-#10)

Stephen Curry (Golden State-#12)
Roy Hibbert (Indiana=#12)

Ty Lawson (Denver-#15)

Al Horford (Atlanta-#17)
Carmelo Anthony (N.Y. Knicks-#17)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando-#17)

James Harden (Houston-#18)
Gordon Hayward (Utah-#18)
John Wall (Washington-#18)

Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee-#22)
DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento-#22)

Greg Monroe (Detroit-#30)

Markieff Morris (Phoenix-#40)

Brandon Bass (Boston-#45)

Tony Wroten (Philadelphia-#87)

So, did you get the six correct? It was a little bit of a trick question… until the recent trade deadline, there were only five players on NBA rosters who were their team’s all-time leading scorer. That changed when Kevin Garnett was traded back to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he was/is their leading career scorer. If you got all six correct, including Garnett, you win the prize.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Six Stats you might not know about… Ron Roenicke’s tenure as Milwaukee Brewers manager


As the Milwaukee Brewers 18th manager in their 46-year history, Ron Roenicke in 2015 begins his fifth season as skipper of the Brew Crew. Here’s a look at some of Roenicke’s numbers through his first four seasons.

1. Roenicke is one of five Brewers manager to win over 300 games with the club. Leading the way is Phil Garner who won 563. He is followed by Ned Yost (457), Tom Trebelhorn (422), George Bamberger (377) and Roenicke (335).

2. Roenicke is one of five Brewers managers (minimum of 100 games managed) to have a career winning percentage over .500 with the team. Roenicke is fourth on the list at .517. Harvey Kuenn’s .576 tops the list followed by Buck Rodgers at .549, Bamberger (.518), Roenicke (.517) and Trebelhorn (.515).

3. Roenicke last season became the sixth manager in Brewers history to manage the team for 600 or more games. Those with 600-plus games as Brewers manager: Garner (1180), Yost (959), Trebelhorn (819), Bamberger (728), Roenicke (648) and Del Crandall (609).

4. Roenicke is one of only four Brewers managers to pilot the team for four consecutive complete seasons. Garner managed the Brewers for seven consecutive complete seasons, while Trebelhorn and Yost had five such seasons. Garner was fired in his eighth season; Yost was let go at the end of his sixth season.

5. Roenicke is one of the four Brewers managers to lead the team into the post-season. His 11 post-season games in 2011 ranks second on the team behind Harvey Kuenn’s 12 post-season games in 1982. The others: Buck Rodgers (five post-season games in 1981) and Dale Sveum (four playoff games in 2008).

6. Roenicke last season tied Trebelhorn for the most winning seasons as Brewers manager (complete seasons) with three. Bamberger had two complete seasons above .500, while Garner, Kuenn, Rodgers and Yost each had one full season at the helm above .500.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp