Monthly Archives: March, 2019

Today’s Sportstat: March 28, 2019

Will having the best record in the NBA help the Greek Freak’s MVP chances?

My esteemed colleague Gery Woelfel recently penned an article where he opined that Houston Rockets guard James Harden would be selected as the 2018-19 NBA MVP at the end of the season. Gery made several solid points in his argument for Harden’s MVP candidacy including his outrageous league-leading points per game average (over 36 points per game) and his improved defensive stats. He admitted that the MVP Award race was basically a two-player race with Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

In discussing his article with him, I told Gery that my only pushback on his opinion was that league MVP voters seem to have a history of voting for a player from the team that ends the season with the most wins/best record. Gery concurred and added that it would be nice if we could find out just how often that has happened in past seasons.

“If only we knew someone who could do the research and run the numbers to see how many MVPs came from teams that had the most wins in a season.”

Well, I just happen to know someone who can get us that info…

Over the past 20 NBA seasons, 12 of those 20 MVPs selected came from a team that had the most (or tied for the most) wins in that season. Ten of the 12 had the best record outright, while two MVPs played for teams that tied for the most wins that season.

Ironically, Harden was a benefactor just last season; he was voted the league MVP for 2017-18 and his Houston Rockets had the most wins last season. Here are the 12 MVPs since the 1998-99 season that played for a team that had the most wins.

2018-James Harden, Houston
2016-Steph Curry, Golden State
2015-Steph Curry, Golden State
2013-LeBron James, Miami
2011-Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010-LeBron James, Cleveland
2009-LeBron James, Cleveland
2007-Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas
2005-Steve Nash, Phoenix
2003-Tim Duncan, San Antonio
2000-Shaquille O’Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
1999-Karl Malone, Utah

Duncan in 2003 and Malone in 1999 played for teams that tied for the most wins in the league that season.

Of the eight MVPs who did not play for the team that won the most games that season, half of them (four players) played for a team that finished with the second most (or tied for the second most wins) in the league that year. Those eight:

2017-Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City (10th most wins in the NBA that season

2014-Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2012-LeBron James, Miami (4th most wins in the NBA that season)

2008-Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers (3rd most wins in the NBA that season)

2006-Steve Nash, Phoenix (4th most wins in the NBA that season)

2004-Kevin Garnett, Minnesota (2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2002-Tim Duncan, San Antonio (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

2001-Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (tied for the 2nd most wins in the NBA that season)

So, who will the voters choose? If the Bucks end the season with the most wins in the league, is that enough to propel Giannis to the MVP?

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstats: March 25, 2019

Brewers Opening Day line-up and Opening Day pitchers

The Brewers 2019 season beings this Thursday March 28 with a home contest against division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. Here are two stats you might find interesting about the Brewers Opening Day line-ups from the past.

Opening Day starters-by position: Did you know that Robin Yount has the most Opening Day starts for the Brewers at two different positions? Yount started at shortstop on Opening Day for the Brewers 10 times and started as the Opening Day center fielder eight times, both tops for the team. Care to take a guess at which players rank second to Yount for most Opening Day starts at shortstop and center field for the Brewers in their history? The answer is at the end of this article.

Here is a look at the players who have made the most Opening Days starts at each position for the Brewers in their 50-year history.

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy and B.J. Surhoff, both with 5

First Baseman: Cecil Cooper, 9

Second Baseman: Jim Gantner, 11

Third baseman: Don Money, 7

Shortstop: Robin Yount, 10

Left Fielder: Ryan Braun, 8

Center Fielder: Robin Yount, 8

Right Fielder: Sixton Lezcano and Jeromy Burnitz, both 5

Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor, 4

Pitcher: Ben Sheets, 6

Opening Day starting pitcher: Brewers manager Craig Counsell about two weeks ago announced that Jhoulys Chacin would be the team’s Opening Day starting pitcher on March 28 versus the Cards. While Chacin, who will be the sixth different Opening Day starter for the Brew Crew in the last six seasons, said he was honored with the assignment, being the Brewers Opening Day starting pitcher has not been a good omen over the past few years for the Brewers.

Consider this:

  • Of the last five pitchers to be the Opening Day starter for the Brewers, none finished the season with 10 or more wins. The 2018 starter, Chase Anderson finished last season 9-8; the 2017 starter, Junior Guerra ended that year 1-4; the 2016 Opening Day starter Wily Peralta ended the ’16 campaign with a 7-11 record; the 2015 starter Kyle Lohse ended that year 5-13; and 2014 starter Yovani Gallardo ended that season 8-11. That’s a collective 22-36 record, a pathetic .379 winning percentage.
  • Of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers, only eight ended that year with a winning record.
  • Of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers, only twice did that pitcher end the year with 15 or more wins (Yovani Gallardo in 2011, 17 wins, and Gallardo again in 2012, 16 wins).
  • The combined season record of the Brewers last 20 Opening Day starting pitchers was 189-197, a .490 winning percentage.

Answer to the question: The Brewers shortstop with the second-most Opening Day starts for the team is J.J. Hardy with five; the Brewers center fielder with the second-most Opening Day starts for the team is Carlos Gomez with five.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 21, 2019

A Final Four ‘MOP’ Award does not always equal NBA stardom

Back in the 1950’s, future Hall of Famers like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West were recipients of the NCAA basketball tournament most valuable player award, now known as the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) honor. In the 80’s, the MOP award went to eventual NBA stars like Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, Akeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.

Being selected the MOP of a NCAA Final Four, however, does not always translate into an outstanding NBA career. In fact, I would be willing to bet that of the last 20 players to be chosen as the MOP of the Final Four, only two, maybe three, will eventually make basketball’s Hall of Fame. Carmelo Anthony was the 2003 MOP and will likely find a way into the Hall of Fame. Anthony Davis, the 2012 MOP, is another solid Hall candidate, as is Kemba Walker, the 2011 MOP from UConn.

But “great” NBA careers have not followed every MOP honoree. While 18 of the last 20 MOP players have played in the NBA, two, have not. The 2013 MOP, Louisville’s Luke Hancock, was undrafted and retired from basketball in 2014 after tearing a calf muscle playing over in Greece. Joel Berry II, the 2017 MOP from North Carolina, was also undrafted. He did, however, find a spot on the Lakers G League team, but was waived on March 2.

Here’s a look at the past 20 MOPs and how many career NBA points they amassed and how many NBA games they have played in (stats are through NBA games of March 19).

MOP player, Year                               NBA games     NBA career points

*Carmelo Anthony-2003 (Syracuse)     1,064                      25,551

Richard Hamilton-1999         (UConn)     921                      15,708

*Kemba Walker-2011 (UConn)                593                      11,651

*Anthony Davis-2012 (Kentucky)             465                      11,047

Shane Battier-2001 (Duke)                       977                        8,408

Emeka Okafor-2004 (UConn)                   616                        7,370

*Corey Brewer-2007 (Florida)                  802                         7,053

*Joakim Noah-2006 (Florida)                  665                         5,853

Mario Chalmers-2008 (Kansas)               646                         5,743

*Wayne Ellington-2009 (North Carolina) 633                        5,112

Juan Dixon-2002 (Maryland)                   436                        3,678

Kyle Singler-2010 (Duke)                         356                        2,326

*Shabazz Napier-2014 (UConn)              287                        1,833

*Tyus Jones-2015 (Duke)                         236                        1,119

Sean May-2005 (North Carolina)             119                           821

Mateen Cleaves-2000 (Mich. St.)              167                          609

*Ryan Arcidiacono-2016 (Villanova)           95                          488

*Donte DiVincenzo-2018 (Villanova)          27                          131

Luke Hancock-2013 (Louisville)                   0                              0

Joel Berry II-2017 (North Carolina)              0                              0

Of the 20 players listed above, exactly half (10) played/or are still playing in the NBA this season. They are listed with an * before their name in the above list.

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 18, 2019

Is the ‘Greek Freak’ getting ready to hoist an MVP Award?

Milwaukee Bucks megastar Giannis Antetokounmpo this season has been at or near the top of the lists bantered about for the NBA MVP Award. With the Bucks having the best record in the league, Giannis has been considered a leading candidate for the honor. He will likely have to fend off James Harden, Paul George, and others, to win the trophy.

Giannis received enough votes in the past two seasons to finish in the MVP Award Top 10 in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns. He finished tied for seventh in 2017 and was sixth in the voting last season. It is likely that he will surpass those finishes, and barring a total collapse, should finish in the Top 3 for the honor.

If Giannis was to win this year’s award, he would become only the second Bucks player to win an NBA MVP Award. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won three MVP honors with the Bucks… in 1971, 1972 and 1974.

In the Bucks history, there have been only five players who have finished in the Top 10 of the league’s MVP voting in a season. Jabbar finished in the Top 10 six times, winning three times, finishing second once, third once, and fifth one year. Sidney Moncrief finished in the Top 10 five times, followed by Marques Johnson and Giannis (both twice a Top 10 finalist for the MVP Award) and Terry Cummings who finished in the Top 10 for the award one season.

Here is a look at the 15 times that the Bucks had a player finish in the top 10 of the MVP Award balloting.

1970: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 3rd

1971: Jabbar, 1st

1972: Jabbar, 1st

1973: Jabbar, 2nd

1974: Jabbar, 1st

1975: Jabbar, 5th

1978: Marques Johnson, tied for 10th

1981: Johnson, 6th

1982: Sidney Moncrief, 7th

1983: Moncrief, 4th

1984: Moncrief, 8th

1985: Terry Cummings, 5th… Moncrief, 8th

1986: Moncrief, 7th

2017: Giannis Antetokounmpo, tied for 7th

2018: Antetokounmpo, 6th

A couple of things jump off the page when I looked at the above list:

  • Did not know Sidney Moncrief had that many Top 10 finishes for the MVP Award. That should certainly bode well for him as he is one of the finalists for this year’s Hall of Fame class.
  • The more than 30 years (1986 to 2017) that the Bucks went without having any of their players in the Top 10 for the MVP.
  • That Jabbar, Moncrief and Cummings are the only Bucks players to finish in the Top 5 for the voting. That list will likely add Giannis this season.

Where will Giannis finish in this year’s voting?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

Today’s Sportstat: March 14, 2019

Another 90-win season in 2019 could put Cubs in elite company

 

Would you consider this Cubs team a dynasty? Would you say that the Cubs run over the past few years would make them one of the elite teams in baseball history?

As you ponder those two questions, let me offer a case that a great 2019 will put the Cubs in some very impressive company.

The Cubs in the last four seasons have won 97 games (2015), 103 (in 2016), 92 (2017) and 95 last season. Another 90-win season in 2019 would give the Cubs a run of five consecutive seasons with 90 wins. It would make them only the 20th team in MLB history to win 90 or more games in five (or more) straight seasons.

The New York Yankees hold the record for most consecutive 90-win seasons with 12. They did from 1947-58.

Here’s a look at the 19 teams that have won 90 games in five or more seasons in MLB history.

12-N.Y. Yankees (1947-58)
9-Chicago Cubs (1904-12)
7-N.Y. Yankees (2001-07)
6-Atlanta Braves (1995-2000)
6-Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-56)
6-Cleveland Indians (1950-55)
6-L.A. Dodgers (2013-18)
6-N.Y. Giants (1909-13)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1909-14)
6-Philadelphia A’s (1927-32)
6-St. Louis Cardinals (1941-46)
5-Cincinnati Reds (1972-76)
5-N.Y. Giants (1933-37)
5-N.Y. Mets (1984-88)
5-N.Y. Yankees (1960-64)
5-Oakland A’s (1971-75)
5-Oakland A’s (2000-04)
5-Pittsburgh Pirates (1905-09)
5-San Francisco Giants (2000-04)

With their four straight seasons with 90 or more wins, the Cubs became the 39th team in history to reach that milestone. As you probably noticed, the L.A. Dodgers last season had their sixth straight season with 90 wins making them only the 11th team in history to win 90 or more in six straight campaigns.

It’s interesting to note that of the 19 teams that have won 90 or more in five (or more) seasons, six did not win a World Series during that timeframe. The six: Cleveland (1950-55), the Dodgers (2013-18), the Yankees (2001-07), Oakland (2000-04), the New York Giants (1908-13), and the San Francisco Giants (2000-04). Of these six teams, only one, the 2000-04 Oakland A’s, did not even appear in a World Series during that time when they had the streak of 90-win seasons.

For the record, the Cubs, if they have another 90-win season, will at least have won a World Series during their streak.

The current Cubs team a dynasty? What do you think?

 

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp