27 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Decision Tree Takes the Lead


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Last night's tilt between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3) and the Wichita State Shockers (7) played the role of decider at the top of the Rating Systems Challenge standings. The leading bracket heading into the contest, Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas line, banked on Wichita State. The other three leaders, ESPN Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore, all had Notre Dame. Though the Shockers kept it close, the Irish prevailed in the end, giving the ESPN Decision Tree bracket the lead (tied in total points with Sagarin and Sonny Moore, Decision Tree has more possible points remaining).


25 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Systems Divided over Shockers, Fighting Irish


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Heading into the Sweet Sixteen we have a four-way tie atop the 2015 Rating Systems Challenge leaderboard. Pinnacle's Thursday-morning Vegas line, ESPN Insider's Decision Tree, Jeff Sagarin and Sonny Moore lead the pack (Decision Tree has more possible points remaining and Pinnacle's line has nailed more correct picks).

Whether these systems maintain their lead going forward largely depends on picking the right upsets. Thanks to Kansas' surprise collapse in the second round, either winner of Thursday night's Notre Dame (3) vs. Wichita State (7) match-up will count as an upset with the chance to disrupt brackets.


23 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Vegas, ESPN Decision Tree Pace Field


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

We're through two rounds of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and we have four systems leading the pack. The ESPN Decision Tree (an ESPN Insider tool for picking brackets) Jeff Sagarin's ratings, Sonny Moore's ratings and Pinnacle's Thursday morning Vegas lines top the standings with 480 total points.* Perhaps, however, the bigger story is just how well most of the systems have performed thus far.

*The Vegas bracket remains the official top bracket in the Rating Systems Challenge, since that system has picked more winners through forty-eight games. ESPN Decision Tree occupies the second spot due to its relative surplus of possible points remaining.

22 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Wolfpack Deals Wild Blow to Twelve Brackets


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

Short post today: here's how the various systems are performing after the first day of the second round. Vegas is beating everyone, but fully ten brackets are outperforming chalk and reside in the upper echelon of the ESPN Tournament Challenge.


Villanova's (1) loss to NC State (8) will hamper several systems going forward. Twelve brackets had Nova in the Final Four, six had the Wildcats representing their half of the bracket in the championship game.


Programming note: I'm on vacation this weekend with limited internet. If you'd like to follow along between posts, check out the Rational Pastime Tournament Challenge Group.

20 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: Panthers, Blazers Bust Brackets


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

It wasn't long before the first round of NCAA Tournament play put the Madness in March. The Georgia State Panthers (14) and the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (14) upset three-seeds Baylor and Iowa State, respectively, early in the afternoon. As for the Rating Systems Challenge, however, these upsets had little effect: not one of the twenty-two systems picked either upset. Most systems did have Iowa State reaching the Sweet Sixteen, however. The only system that didn't put Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen was the oft-chancy Nolan Power Index, which has already dug itself into its perennial hole.


19 March 2015

Rating Systems Challenge: 2015 Systems Overview


This post is part of a series tracking the successes and failures of various NCAA Men's Basketball ranking systems and bracket models throughout the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Check out the full series.

March Madness is back and that means so is the Rational Pastime Rating Systems Challenge. This year I'm pitting twenty-two separate rating systems head to head in an ESPN Tournament Challenge pool. In this, the fifth year of the Challenge, we'll see which systems picked the right upsets, and which emerge victorious from the field. Will any successfully outperform a pure chalk bracket? Over the past four years, only Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight model has successfully done so.

05 January 2015

BBA Binary Ballot Unanimously Endorses Big Unit, Recommends Six Others for Cooperstown


Seven players from the 2015 Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame Ballot were recommended for enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame by the members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance on Friday.

Given the backlog of quality players on the ballot, this year the BBA adopted the binary ballot method suggested by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Goold. Each player on the ballot received a 'yes' or 'no' vote from the BBA voters. After the conclusion of voting, the Alliance recommended all players receiving 75% of the vote.

I personally voted for thirteen nominees, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, Larry Walker, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio. My criteria were primarily Baseball Reference's Wins Above Replacement, peak Baseball Reference WAR in each player's seven best seasons, and Jay Jaffe's JAWS evaluator.

While I also considered my own personal opinions, I used them only to include players I would not otherwise have voted for, not to exclude players that seemed statistically qualified. I made no consideration of any player's confirmed or purported history with performance enhancing drugs.

With this format, pitcher Randy Johnson received 100% of the vote while pitcher Pedro Martinez was close behind at 95%. Others that topped the 75% mark were catcher/second baseman/outfielder Craig Biggio (90%), pitcher John Smoltz (89%), catcher Mike Piazza (85%), first baseman Jeff Bagwell (77%) and outfielder Tim Raines (77%).

Those that just fell short of the mark were designated hitter Edgar Martinez (71%) and pitcher Curt Schilling (68%).

The rest of the voting was as follows:

Mike Mussina 67%
Barry Bonds 65%
Roger Clemens 63%
Alan Trammell 53%
Jeff Kent 44%
Gary Sheffield 38%
Larry Walker 37%
Fred McGriff 33%
Mark McGwire 33%
Don Mattingly 31%
Lee Smith 31%
Sammy Sosa 23%
Carlos Delgado 19%
Nomar Garciaparra 13%
Cliff Floyd 4%
Brian Giles 4%
Rich Aurilia 3%
Darin Erstad 3%
Troy Percival 3%
Aaron Boone 1%
Jason Schmidt 1%
Jermaine Dye 0%
Tom Gordon 0%
Eddie Guardado 0%

Using this binary method, only 13% turned in a ballot with fewer than ten names selected. Forty percent turned in a ballot with 15 or more names selected, with a high of 20.

The official website of the BBA is located at baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com. The BBA can be found on Twitter by the handle @baseballblogs and by the hashmark #bbba. For more information, contact Niko Goutakolis at baseballbloggersalliance@gmail.com.