East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Top ODI batsmen by Runs Added

(Those of you who don't care about cricket, which I think is everyone who reads this blog, please ignore.)

At the Cricinfo Stat Blog, there's been much recent discussion of how to rank the top ODI batsmen of all-time. Most of the methods proposed seem arbitrary. One useful post was by Ric Finlay, who gave his top 30 batsmen according to some weird "Bat Quality" index, but more intriguingly also gave runs scored by these batsmen, adjusted "according to batting conditions and the quality of the opposition bowling".

The generally accepted way to compare baseball batters across eras is to look at runs or wins above replacement (please, don't mention Win Shares). So I tried to convert the ODI adjusted runs to "Runs Added" for these 30 batsmen. "Runs Added" is meant to represent the additional runs scored by the player's team when batting due to the presence of that player, compared to a borderline "replacement level" player.

For matches from 1996 onwards, I (arbitrarily) set the replacement player as having an average of 30 and a strike rate of 70; the strike rate was lower for matches prior to 1996. We can think of a top player as adding runs in two ways: by scoring more quickly than a 70 SR, and by averaging over 30 (thereby preserving wickets for the final push). I (arbitrarily) set an extra wicket in hand as worth 10 runs, which I think is close to right for most of an innings.

I then adjusted for schedule, since many more ODIs per team are played nowadays compared to, say, the Eighties. So I weighted the stats of each player so that each would play 30 innings a year (fewer if the player was not always selected for whatever reason).

Finally I made a (really arbitrary) adjustment for the higher SD in performance before 1984: in the early years, there was a much larger gap in ability between the best and worst ODI players, so it would be too generous to give the same credit for Runs Added back then as now. This adjustment should be made (see Dan Rosenheck's arguments for doing so for baseball somewhere on the Baseball Hall of Merit site).

I got:
(Batsman - Projected Runs - Runs Added)
Richards - 17260 - 6780
Tendulkar - 16835 - 4293
Jayasuriya - 14886 - 3042
de Silva - 13556 - 2846
Lara - 13730 - 2801
Gilchrist - 9799 - 2621
Zaheer Abbas - 9547 - 2537
Javed Miandad - 15259 - 2483
D. Jones - 9031 - 2315
M. Waugh - 11169 - 1874
Mohammed Azharuddin - 11949 - 1837
Haynes - 15452 - 1625
Symonds - 6009 - 1611
Bevan - 9102 - 1606
Saeed Anwar - 9024 - 1572
Greenidge - 11621 - 1449
Cronje - 7438 - 1399
Klusener - 4716 - 1305
Inzamam ul-Haq - 12280 - 1271
Pietersen - 3567 - 993
Dhoni - 3567 - 960
Ponting - 12036 - 900
Hayden - 6642 - 900
Hussey - 3153 - 786
Kirsten - 7369 - 717
Mohammad Yousuf - 9458 - 706
Kallis - 10896 - 655
Ganguly - 10822 - 422
Dravid - 9699 - 323
Chanderpaul - 9903 - 246

That's a clear winner. Viv has 68% more Runs Added than Sachin, 123% more than Sanath. (As a comparison, in my dodgy Test match Runs Added calculations, Bradman has 136% and 143% more than Garry Sobers and George Headley, ranked second and third respectively.)

My major, major assumption is that each batsman's ability is constant throughout his career. This is, of course, false, but the ideas I have to fix this would be very hard work.

Does the system undervalue latter-day grinders like Chanderpaul and Dravid? Probably, but for teams that don't get bowled out a lot, it's hard to argue they're anywhere near as valuable as speed demons like Jayasuriya and Gilchrist. Forget replacement level, if your grinder falls down dead before the innings starts, it's only 7.6% of your resources, according to Messrs Duckworth and Lewis.

Does the system undervalue finishers like Bevan and Hussey? I guess it depends on what you're trying to measure. No doubt Bevan and Hussey were/are talented players, but were/are they really that valuable to Australia? With 4 down and 10 overs to go, a wicket is only worth 2.3% of your original resources. Why play for the not out? Hitting another 30 runs and seeing the innings through to the end is probably less valuable than slogging another 20 off 10 balls and trusting the tail to bat out the remaining overs.

Does the system overvalue old-timers like Zaheer Abbas or even Mohammad Azharuddin? Probably, but how much? Should there be an SD adjustment after 1984? (I mean, there should, but will it make that much of a difference?)

Anyway, all of this should be thrown out once David Barry runs his simulations.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The history of the cartoon universe: Bimbo's Initiation (1931)

Not really Kafkaesque, even if the long shot at 1:15 prefigures Welles's version of The Trial. In The Trial, the world is against Josef K. because that's just how the world is; here, the world is against Bimbo because it's fun to scare the crap out of that poor dog, and to smack his ass over and over again. Or maybe it's the knowing that's the pleasure: the same cognisance of undistributed information that lets secret societies and dramatic ironists giggle at the bewildered. Of course, the other difference between Kafka and Grim Natwick is that the latter eventually lets Bimbo in on the secret, leading to a happier ending (in Bimbo's view) than Kafka could've dreamed of. Best bit is at 3:00, when Bimbo, after failing to extinguish the anthropomorphic flames burning the rope suspending spikes above his head, seems to finally crack and, eyelids twitching, suicidally cut the rope himself.

Other 1931 toons of note:

The Ugly Duckling: Disney's starting to over-emphasise cuteness, but the editing in the rescue sequence is worthy of Griffith.

The Birthday Party: Mickey's turned petit bourgeois -- no more prison breaks or unskilled labouring. He even plays his music on instruments now (instead of torturing animals like he used to), like a rollicking piano duet of "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" with Minnie.

Spooks: Yup, Ub can still draw skeletons.

Kitty from Kansas City: Miss Boop takes a train to the station at Rudy Valley, and guess who turns up to sing about his bird-brained overweight love? Pro forma Fleischers, but historically fascinating.

Lady, Play Your Mandolin: The first of the Merrie Melodies. Very derivative of the Silly Symphonies, and even the drunken ersatz Mickey isn't terribly amusing until he does his Jolson impression, but it's interesting to see where Warners started from.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hit count: Rock and roll? Jesus!

Kid Rock, "All Summer Long": The music isn't as good as in "Sweet Home Alabama" but is better than in "Werewolves of London"; the lyrics, vice versa. As a whole, the song shows there's some residual value in spending most of your life living in a redneck's paradise. (Not meaning London.)

Ne-Yo, "Closer": Stargate goes mostly electric; where are the "Irreplaceable" fans crying Judas? Right, Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" preceded it, but it had the advantage of sampling a classic. With no such luxury, Ne-Yo relies on something Rihanna doesn't have: a personality. I hope his first really good solo song turns out to be one of many.

Pussycat Dolls, "When I Grow Up": They haven't really earned the right to self-parody the lust for fame they represent. But it's enough to hold the song together, and it's good to see Rodney Jerkins giving a damn again. And isn't it better to aspire to have groupies rather than be one? Answer: marginally.

Leona Lewis, "Better in Time": Not as daft as "Bleeding Love", but if there's no substance, daft's not the worst option. She does have an export-quality voice, and if Simon gets out of Sir Clive's way, she might prove useful one day. Not yet, though.

Arashi, "One Love": Japan's Oldest Relevant Boyband -- sorry, SMAP -- hit #1 for the twentieth-yes-twentieth time (I'll get to their twenty-first in coming weeks). This one's Boyzone-negligible, with too much unison singing and not even a Sakurap to enliven it.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Top ten: Dirty words and dirty minds

This month's focus: Jazzbos and their descendants.

1. Nas, "N.I.*.*.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)" and "Hero" (ft. Keri Hilson): Nas's albums, like those of all the usual current and former best rapper alive candidates besides Chuck D, have been frustratingly inconsistent. But this time, finally, one of his concepts has sufficient upside to let you overlook the dumb shit about aliens. "Hero" is the #97 single, with radio-friendly Polow production, a hook from next month's big thing Keri Hilson, and Nas implying they'd never stop Dylan from naming his album Kike, which of course Dylan would never do. "N.I.*.*.E.R" is the centrepiece, with a blistering first verse that begins "We trust no black leaders" (though he'll vote for Obama) and parlays poverty into a statement of African pride and thus a justification of bling. Nas isn't as scholarly as Randall Kennedy, but, on this subject, he's deeper.

2. Lloyd ft. Lil Wayne, "Girls Around the World": Weezy has nothing left to do besides cut the usual current and former best rapper alive candidates. Here, he cops Rakim's "Thinkin' of a master plan", and follows that up with his funniest line ever (which, caveat, the video wrecks). Plz do "99 Problems" next. Oh yeah, Lloyd, I like Lloyd.
3. William Parker, "Morning Mantra", "Lights of Lake George" and "Neptune's Mirror": So maybe it's more like my 20th favourite jazz album since 1970, competing with Scrapbook to be my #2 Parker record. Whatever, it's brilliant: I even enjoy Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay's vocals, despite their (Indian) classicalness. "Morning Mantra" is my pick of the bunch for its concision, but maybe except for the 37-second "O'Neal's Bridge", the entire package is intergalactic planetary.
4. Missy Elliott, "Shake Your Pom Pom": Missy and Timbaland have never been afraid of the literal; here, the shaking noises make the song. Another Missy exclusive, another classic, another top ten... Wait, number 95? Hey record-buying public, what's wrong you?

5. Fieldwork, "Ghost Time": Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman and Tyshawn Sorey drive around in a van solving mysteries. This one they solve halfway through the song, giving them enough time for a game of hide-and-seek.
6. Silvia Blanco, "BarĂ¼bana Yagien": Mother and daughter Sonia and Silvia Blanco are the stars among stars on the Ivan Duran-produced Umamali album, on which Garifuna women sing over world pop arrangements. Silvia has the sweetness of youth on her side, while inheriting a hint of her mum's grit.
7. Mystery Jets, "Two Doors Down": At last, some white boys, and boy, are they white!

8. Wire, "One of Us": The grand old wavers decompress sonically, while remaining urgent lyrically, the wordy chorus hook turning iambs into trochees.

9. Fats Waller, "Star Dust": Yeah, I knew that "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" were great, and that he was often hilarious, so the revelation of the If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It box has been that he played a pretty piano. Of course, it helps that you're playing the prettiest melody ever.
10. Tyshawn Sorey, "Permutations for Solo Piano": Chord. Chord. Chord. Chord. Chord. Chord. ARPEGGIO!!!!11 Chord. Chord. Chord. Chord. Und so weiter for 43 minutes.

Fifteen more: Sofia Blanco, "Nibari (My Daughter)"; Collins Oke Elaiho & His Odoligie Nobles Dance Band, "Simini-yaya"; Fieldwork, "Rai" and "Of"; Al Green, "Just for Me"; K'naan, "Wash It Down"; Seun Kuti + Fela's Egypt 80, "Don't Give That Shit to Me" and "Fire Dance"; Lil Wayne, "A Milli"; Charles Mingus, "Take the 'A' Train" (Cornell 1964); Old 97's, "No Baby I"; Sonny Rollins, "Park Palace Parade"; Bobby Valentino, "Anonymous"; Cassandra Wilson, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly"; Young Jeezy ft. Kanye West, "Put On".

Good but not that good: Abbey Lincoln, "Blue Monk"; Menya, "Ripe"; Lil Wayne, "Prostitute Fling"; M.I.A. ft. Bun B & Rich Boy, "Paper Planes (Diplo Street remix)" The Whitest Boy Alive, "Golden Cage".

Top ten albums of the moment:
1. Fats Waller, If You Got to Ask, You Ain't Got It
2. William Parker, Double Sunrise Over Neptune
3. Nas, Untitled
4. Fieldwork, Door
5. K'naan, The Dusty Foot Philosopher
6. Seun Kuti + Fela's Egypt 80
7. Sonny Rollins, Sonny, Please
8. Cassandra Wilson, Loverly
9. MI3, Free Advice
10. Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project

Nope, I don't get them: Trio Beyond.