Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jon Heyman doing work



Friend of the site Jon Heyman has spent his Saturday doing some hardcore investigative journalism. Because, you know, those darn Latinos in baseball...you just can't believe a thing they say, especially when it comes to their DOBs.

In all seriousness, Heyman's distrust of Pujols is utterly bizarre, and this seemingly monomaniacal pursuit of "the truth" about Pujols--especially now that Pujols has signed his $255 million megadeal--represents nothing more than a lame attempt to drag Pujols's good name through the mud. Combined with the other evidence we have of Heyman's "racial issues" (linked above), it also suggests that he harbors at least the seeds of the sort of paranoid xenophobia that comprised the ideological underpinnings of the "Obama Birther Movement."

I have no way of knowing this for sure, of course, but my gut tells me that Jon Heyman would have preferred baseball before 1947.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cam Newton, the QB Position, and the Racialization of Expectations


Black Quarterback Judas
KC Joyner has an article up at ESPN.com (it's Insider only, so you'll have to pay or find someone who has paid if you want to see it) that compares the passing stats of rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton and Andy Dalton. Using an array of unconventional passing metrics, Joyner makes a convincing, objective case that Dalton has been a better passer than Newton this season. Joyner shows that on all passing routes 11 yards or deeper, Dalton has bested Newton in yards per attempt. He also shows that Dalton has made fewer bad decisions with the ball that have led to turnovers or near turnovers.

Again, the conclusion a reasonable reader can draw from the data Joyner has provided is that Dalton has been a better passer than Newton this year. It's not a particularly controversial conclusion given what we knew about each of these rookies coming out of college. Here's what Newton's NFL.com draft card noted under "weaknesses":
Not proficient at going through his progressions or making NFL reads. Doesn't anticipate receivers getting open, must see them in a window. Inconsistent accuracy due to poor footwork and falling away to avoid a big hit. Despite athleticism, needs to improve his drop mechanics and the finer points of pocket mobility.
And likewise, here's what Dalton's NFL.com draft card noted under "strengths":
Dalton is a well prepared player that scans the whole field and makes solid decisions. Has a quick release, a strong arm and is an accurate passer, especially on the run.
Knowing this, it's hardly surprising that Dalton would have better early results as a pure passer.

Except the conclusion that Joyner reaches is quite different than the one supported by his evidence and thus, is significantly more controversial. The article is called "Andy Dalton is NFL's top rookie," and Joyner fancies himself to be cutting against "the hype" in making this claim:
[Newton] is on pace to throw for more yards than any other rookie quarterback in NFL history and has a good shot at breaking the season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Those numbers are certainly prolific, but if one desires quality over quantity, Newton should not be considered the front-runner for this award.

That honor would go to Andy Dalton, as a detailed tape review and metric analysis indicate Dalton's numbers are better than Newton's in a variety of ways.
He then goes on to make his case that Dalton has been a better passer than Newton.