Thursday, February 3
Behind the Numbers Archives

"Crunching Numbers on the Heisman Trail"
With the advent of the BCS, should choosing the nation's best player become a more transparent process?

"The Art & Science of Dinger Distance"
Hey, how do they come up with those home-run distances? To find out, Jonathan Sills spent an afternoon at Wrigley Field.

"Big Mac & Sammy: A Look Back"
Yes, we know that McGwire hit 70 and Sosa 66. But what else might we learn about their prodigious slugging feats?

"Who's been the biggest man at The Big Dance?"
We know who scored points in the NCAA basketball tournament. But who really stepped it up?

"The trouble with plus-minus"
Hockey's plus-minus stat is innovative, but does it tell us what we really want to know?

Is the "3" too easy?
Jonathan Sills wonders if perhaps the 3-point shot hasn't become easier than it was meant to be.

Does strength of schedule really add up?
The new Bowl Championship Series depends on computerized rankings, which incorporate programmed ratings for strength of schedule. Do these measure what they're supposed to?

What does average salary really mean in the NBA?
Sometimes "average" doesn't mean exactly what you think.

Will the best team win the World Series?
Everybody knew the Yankees were baseball's best. But what were their chances of actually winning the World Series, given three rounds of postseason playoffs?

Behind the Beanie Babies effect
Biggest box-office draw for MLB in 1998? Nope, not Mark McGwire.

World Cup 1998: What's the point of a victory?
Analyzing a scoring system which sometimes encourages teams to strive for those oh-so-exciting ties.

Who's the King of the K?
Which pitchers are truly the strikeout kings, and are K's really better than other kinds of outs?

How tough is Q-School?
860 golfers, and only 35 PGA Tour memberships to go around ...

How strong is "World's Strongest Man"?
We've all seen Magnus ver Magnusson and his pumped-up brethren on ESPN, but do their competitions really measure what they're supposed to?

Is there a better way to rate NBA players?
Jonathan Sills deconstructs's own Player Rating system, and comes up with his own.

Can math give hockey scheduling an assist?
The construction of professional sports schedules is a massive project, often still done with nothing more complicated than pencil and paper. Is there a better way?

Is it right to bench a lefty?
Platooning in baseball is nearly as old as the game itself. But does it make sense?

How should we poll?
Everybody loves a good poll, even if they're not the most scientific of methods.