Has the end of the steroid era impacted hitting?

From Sports Illustrated: Batting average of pull-hitting lefties.

BA = batting average

BABIP = Batting average on balls in play – basically BA – home runs

BABIP

 

Which baseball fans show up after Opening Day

Opening day is awesome. There is a buzz in the air. There is a new hope. The baseball season is just beginning, and there’s no reason THIS YEAR isn’t the year.

However, by day 2 of the baseball season, reality sets in. Only 10 teams will make the playoffs. Fans go on with their lives.

I wondered: Which teams have the smallest and largest drop-off in attendance between opening day and “Day 2?”

I looked at the % of attendance for each home team on the 2nd home game vs. the 1st home game: The higher the %, the more fans return to the stands in the 2nd home game.

Day 2 Attendance

Not surprisingly, most teams sell out on opening day. However, Day 2 is more revealing. In 2014, the Angels, Giants, and Red Sox all had the smallest drop-off in attendance in Day 2 vs. Day 1 (virtually no drop-off.) This may be correlated to the recent successes and high potential/expectations for 2014 these teams have.

Interestingly, those teams don’t have the largest stadiums, and were out-drawn on Opening Day. Teams like the Dodgers and Rockies have larger stadiums, however, weren’t able to retain the same crowd on day 2.

The lowest-retaining teams were Cleveland and Chicago White Sox, both teams with harsh, cold conditions on Day 2. Tampa, the #3 worst-performing team, doesn’t have the same excuse, playing in a dome. Tampa Bay had the lowest attendance on Opening Day and the worst “warm weather city” in crowd retention.

Does W/L record on Opening day have an impact on fan retention on Day 2?

You would think baseball fans would not be so short sighted as to bail on their team if they lost the home opener. The data confirms this – teams that lost on opening day actually retained more fans in home game #2 than winning clubs.

 

win loss attendance mlb

Finally, I wondered if a team gets a lift from hosting true opening day, and if attendance wanes if the team starts on the road

I grouped MLB teams into 3 categories:

  1. Those that start the season at home.
  2. Those that start on the road, but have their first home game in the first weekend of the season.
  3. Those that go 2 weeks before opening at home

There doesn’t appear to be correlation of higher attendance in home game 2 and when the game occurs.

first weekend mlb

Pinterest visits level off

pinterest

Great article in the WSJ about Pinterest, visitors, and sales.

  • Customers referred by Pinterest spent 2X per order ($140-$180) than those coming from Facebook, and 3X per order than those coming from Twitter. Source: RichRelevance
  • Unique visitors to Pinterest via desktop machines has leveled-off in the past year. This does not take into account mobile visits. Source: comScore

Very interesting implications: Pinterest could be a very lucrative site to advertise for retailers, as their monetization strategy ramps-up. However, the scale may be much smaller than Facebook and Twitter, and growth may be leveling-off.

NY Giants QBs

2 QBs have started for the New York Giants since 2004. Name them. Answer in the comments.

We at Pacific Northwest-Coast Bias approve of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby’s name: North West

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/kim-kanye-baby-north-west-inspires-jokes-stars-article-1.1378966

Peer-to-Peer Lending and Community Banks

Check out my recent post over at Peer Lending Advisors on Peer-to-Peer Lending and what Lending Club’s partnership with community banks means for P2P Lending and banking in general.

http://www.peerlendingadvisors.com/what-community-banks-signing-on-with-lending-club-means-the-future-of-p2p-lending-and-banking-in-general/

Dwight Howard has missed more free throws this season than Steve Nash has his entire career

I was stunned by USA Today’s stat: Dwight Howard has missed more free throws this season than Steve Nash has in his career. Surely, this can’t be true – the mainstream media must be mistaken. I dug into the data.

Dwight Howard is an abysmal free throw shooter

Dwight Howard is shooting 48.6% this season. Absolutely terrible. He has the distinction of missing 14 in a game this season, and 2 games each missing 12, 11, and 10 free throws.

In fact, he’s a full 9 percentage points worse than the worst free throw shooting teams in the NCAA.

Dwight Howard 1

Nash really has missed fewer in his career than Howard this season

Nash is fantastic. He has hit a full 90.4% of his free throws, and has indeed only missed 322 shots EVER.

Here’s the plot of Nash’s career (blue) vs. Howard this season (orange).

howard nash

 

How critical is Aaron Craft’s play to The Buckeyes’ success?

Aaron Craft is a thrill to watch, unless you’re opposing him; then he’s an absolute terror. He’s also been inconsistent on offense. I wondered, if Aaron Craft has an off-day shooting, how does that impact the Buckeye’s chances?

Craft is consistent on defense

In the Buckeyes’ 34 games (27-7), Craft has averaged 2.1 steals per game (a stat that greatly discounts the turnovers he creates each game). How does this break down in games the Buckeyes won and lost?

Aaron Craft Defense

Craft is remarkably consistent. He always brings his A-game on defense.

Offense is a different story

While Craft is stoic on defense, his offense is much more variable. Craft shoots almost 50% better in wins than in Buckeye losses.

Aaron Craft Offense

 

Of Aaron Craft’s 7 worst shooting games this year, 4 were losses (and 2 were blowouts).

Aaron Craft Offense by Game

 

Clearly, the Buckeyes need Craft to shoot well, in addition to leading the defense.

How does Craft compare to Deshaun Thomas?

Deshaun Thomas is the Buckeyes’ leading scorer. I wondered, how does variations in his performance affect the Buckeyes’ chances of winning?

Thomas is as consistent on offense as Craft is on Defense. There’s no difference in his shooting percentage in wins and losses.

Aaron Craft Deshaun Thomas

So, as you’re watching the Buckeyes in the NCAA tournament over the next few weeks, the key will be to watch Aaron Craft’s offense. If he has a strong offensive game, it bodes well for their chances. And if he’s cold from the floor, look out.

 

Why are bond yields so low?

I was reading an article about the plunge in interest rates on junk bonds and wondered, are bond rates low, and if so, why?

I looked at AAA-rated Corporate Bonds (the highest-quality) and BAA-rated Corporate Bonds (medium-grade) as rated by Moody’s Investors Service, as that data was most readily available, to see if bond rates are down. Definitions:

  • AAA: Bonds rated Aaa are judged to be of the best quality. They carry the smallest degree of investment risk and are generally referred to as “gilt edged.” Interest payments are protected by a large or by an exceptionally stable margin and principal is secure. While the various protective elements are likely to change, such changes as can be visualized are most unlikely to impair the fundamentally strong position of such issues.
  • BAA: Bonds rated Baa are considered as medium-grade obligations (i.e., they are neither highly protected nor poorly secured). Interest payments and principal security appear adequate for the present, but certain protective elements may be lacking or may be characteristically unreliable over any great length of time. Such bonds lack outstanding investment characteristics and in fact have speculative characteristics as well.

Bond rates are low

Indeed, they are at historic lows – it’s cheaper for a corporation to borrow money now than at any point since 1956.

Bond Yields Historic

Interestingly, it’s cheaper for a BAA rated company to borrow money today than it was for a AAA rated company to borrow money back in 2011. Think about that. Companies that are up against the wall today (e.g. Best Buy and Dell who are both BAA rated companies and examining buy-outs) can borrow money cheaper than the top companies in the world could in 2011 (think Exxon and Johnson & Johnson – two of the largest and most stable companies out there).

Bond Yields Historic recent

If you think of countries instead of companies, the distinction is much clearer. AAA countries include Switzerland and Germany. BAA countries include many of the “PIIGS” – Spain, Italy, and Ireland. To think that the equivalent of Italy today can borrow at the same rate as Germany could in 2011 is absurd, but true.

Why are yields so low?

This is not an easy question to answer, and there’s a lot going on.

First, 4 rounds of quantitative easing by the federal reserve is having a big impact on bond prices. The bond market is just like any market – it’s driven by supply and demand. And when the Federal Reserve prints $85 billion each month to buy bonds, suddenly there’s more demand than supply. Bond yields decrease to the market-clearing rate.

There’s more going on though. Because bond rates are down, investors have to take on more risk to get the same return. In the competitive market of asset management, there’s belief that similar to before the housing bust, managers are taking bigger risks by buying lower-rated bonds, juicing their portfolio for the short term, but adding risk.

Additionally, there is still a “flight to security” going on. While a BAA bond is only medium grade, it is a lot better than the prospects of some sovereign debt and equity like in Greece. Suddenly, in a tough market, lower-rated bonds become more appealing.

How low will interest rates go?

I don’t know (hypothetically I calculated 30-year morgage rates could reach 2.75%), but there’s not much room below. I wouldn’t buy any bonds at the moment.

At what race distance could the women’s world record be faster than the men’s?

Women and men were created differently. Men hold faster world records than women for every running distance (as tracked by wikipedia).

I wondered, as the distance gets longer, does the margin decline between men and women?

Methodology: I looked at world records from wikipedia to find the difference between men and women at different distances. I used a logarithmic chart below, which is a little more intuitive given the exponentially increasing distance. Note the regression will not look like a straight line due to the logarithmic horizontal axis (linear scale chart is included at the end of the post).

Men vs women world records by race distance 2

Findings:

  • From the 100 meter dash to a marathon, men appear to progressively get faster than women. This is not what I was expecting. I thought men would be much faster than women at shorter distances due to sheer muscle mass, but as the length got longer, women would be closer.
  • This didn’t start to occur until after the marathon. For the double marathon (second dot from the right), men are only 10% faster. And for the 100K Ultramarathon, women are much more competitive, coming in within 5% of the men’s time.

At what distance could a women’s world record be faster than the men’s?

Methodology: I used the linear regression equation in the chart above to extrapolate what would happen at longer distances. The model was a pretty good fit, having an R-squared of 0.67.

Findings: Women could beat the men’s world record @ 200k. The model suggests the tipping point is 199k. Anything above that, and women should be on an equal playing field.

A 200k is about 124 miles, which, if running 7 minute miles, would be 14 hours of continuous running. I couldn’t find an example of a continuous 200k race on the Internet, but who knows, it could exist. If there is one, I wouldn’t be surprised if a women took home top prize.

Men vs women world records by race distance - linear scale

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