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In this week’s episode of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen, Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca discuss the risk and reward of the NFL preseason and whether you should be paying attention. They also talk about unlikely MVP candidate Alex Gordon, whether we can trust defensive metrics, and whether any one statistic can end the debate about who is the best player in baseball. Finally, they speak with ESPN’s Kevin Pelton about the impact of the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, how Love and LeBron James will change their games to play together, and new tools that may give more insight into players’ defensive value.
Here are links to some of the articles and other items mentioned on the show:
- Wes Welker’s concussion on Saturday was the 61st of the NFL preseason.
- Joe Theismann said that Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins has outplayed starter Robert Griffin III.
- The NFL Network’s experts broke down Johnny Manziel’s preseason, but FiveThirtyEight says to stop paying attention.
- Penalties are up 44 percent this preseason, mostly because of the additional emphasis on illegal contact in the defensive backfield.
- A 2012 study showed that there has been little correlation between preseason and regular season records, at least since 1994.
- In 2006, Football Outsiders said that you might have reason to be concerned if your team is getting blown out in the first half of preseason games.
- The argument for Mike Trout over Miguel Cabrera for MVP the last two years has frequently focused on WAR: wins above replacement.
- Yahoo’s Jeff Passan said the idea that Alex Gordon is the best player in baseball is “absurd.”
- There are several different ways to measure WAR. Fangraphs and Baseball Reference are cited most often.
- Defensive metrics, which are part of the WAR calculations, often have large disagreements and fluctuate wildly from year to year.
- On Fangraphs, Dave Cameron acknowledged that WAR has limitations and shouldn’t end arguments about who is the best player in baseball.
- Cameron and Passan had a long Twitter argument about the usefulness of WAR.
- On Baseball Prospectus’ Effectively Wild podcast, Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh discussed the limitations of defensive metrics.
- ESPN’s Kevin Pelton gave the Cleveland Cavaliers an A for acquiring Kevin Love, officially.
- Pelton also looked at how many games the Cavaliers might win with Love and LeBron James, and how good their offense and defense may be.
- When the trade was first announced, FiveThirtyEight predicted 65 wins for the new-look Cavaliers.
- Grantland’s Bill Simmons looked at whether Kevin Love is overrated.
- Love rated highly in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus, which controls for the performance of a player’s teammates.
- Grantland’s Zach Lowe looked at how SportVU is changing basketball evaluation.
- Kirk Goldsberry said that in Cleveland Love will play on the perimeter less and may end up with more rebounds.
Hang Up and Listen’s Butterbeans:
Mike’s Butterbean: Sports sketch comedy on Monday Morning Live.
Stefan’s Butterbean: Fisking FIFA’s profile of Dear Leader Blatter.
Josh’s Butterbean: The most dominant women’s “college” basketball team you’ve never heard of.
On this week’s Slate Plus bonus segment, Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca talked to Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post about her column on Mo’ne Davis and how the male-dominated sports world discusses women’s sports. Slate Plus members get an ad free version of this podcast with bonus segments. Visit slate.com/hangupplus and try it free for two weeks.
Podcast production and edit by Mike Vuolo. Links compiled by Chris Laskowski.
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