By: Edward Egros

world

World Cup Finale

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Just like with statistics themselves, analyzing the results of any model can be manipulated and spun to fit a narrative. On the one hand, our World Cup model was not perfect when it came to picking the result of every match correctly. Again, our ground rules were to correctly predict if the designated "home team" would win, lose or draw in the group stage and win or lose in the knockout stage. Here are our results:

Group Stage: 27/48 (21 results were one of the two other outcomes than predicted)
Round of 16: 5/8
Quarterfinals: 2/4
Semifinals: 1/2

On the other hand, most of the misclassifications were often marked as having poor odds. For instance, for the Semifinal between England and Croatia, our model gave England a 53% chance to win. The odds were small enough to suggest extra time would be a decent possibility, and in fact
that was the outcome. Also, no other models I was actively monitoring forecasted the more unbelievable results, such as Russia knocking off Spain. In general, we are pleased with our results.

On that note, here are our predictions for the final weekend of the World Cup:

Final: France defeats Croatia (78%)

3rd Place: England defeats Belgium (65%)

World Cup Quarterfinals

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Eight teams remain in contention for the World Cup. Our model went 5-3 predicting "Round of 16" matches. While many were predictable, few saw Russia upsetting Spain; the other two we missed (Uruguay beating Portugal and Sweden knocking off Switzerland) were essentially toss-ups. So far, we are quite pleased with our results.

Our next step is to predict Quarterfinal matches, and if you cannot wait for our social media posts or our reveals on Good Day, here they are:

Brazil defeats Belgium (76.4%)
Russia defeats Croatia (50.7%)
England defeats Sweden (58.2%)
France defeats Uruguay (67.8%)

World Cup Predictions

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Once again, I'll begin this post by apologizing for so few updates in the last several weeks. However, I have been diligent with analytical research; and now I can share with you one of these projects, and it pertains to the World Cup.

In collaboration with students from Southern Methodist University, we have devised a model that predicts the outcome of every match. The data used includes outcomes of international matches between national teams dating back to 2003 (this does not include friendlies), the location of where they were played, what tournament that match was a part of, the distance each country had to travel to play that match and the total market value of each team, meaning the sum of each professional contract for each player belonging to that team.

Since the start of the tournament, I have reported these results on Fox 4, while also providing context of how the tournament is unfolding, using analytical tools. You can see these videos both at the bottom of the home page
and on my YouTube page.

Lastly, I have assembled all of the data and other files onto a Github page so you can follow along with what we have been doing.
Click here for that information.

As always, I would appreciate feedback you can offer. You can also share your own models by clicking the link: "Contact Edward".

Entering the Daily Fantasy Zone

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This adventurous soul of a webmaster is embarking on a new quest: Daily Fantasy Golf. Over at least the next few weeks, I will submit two teams of six players to a Daily Fantasy Golf website in the hopes of determining if my models have enough predictive power to finish "in the money" with enough frequency to make a profit. Though I am not spending any money of significance, I am keeping track of where each team finishes and what prizes come about.

If you are not familiar with Daily Fantasy Golf, each user has $50,000 to spend on six golfers competing in that week's tournament. Each golfer has a price and it is up to the user to find the best combination of golfers with the best finishing order at the end of the final round, all while not exceeding that $50,000 limit.

I began with the Genesis Open, and though one of my teams had all six players make the cut, no money was earned. Then I assembled teams for the Honda Classic, focusing primarily on Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. One team of Justin Thomas, Alex Noren and others did finish "in the green". Winners of this event in the past have excelled in those statistics.

This week, the scene is the WGC-Mexico Championship. This tournament proves to be particularly tricky to predict if only because this is just the second time the World Golf Championships have been to Club de Golf Chapultepec. The elevation is high, the air is thin, the length is only 7,330 yards but heavy hitters like Dustin Johnson were successful last year. With a combination of players with high finishes the last few weeks, those excelling with their iron shots (proximity to the hole) and those who are dominant in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, here are my teams:

Justin Thomas
Kevin Chappell
Francesco Molinari
Brendan Steele
Xander Schauffele
Webb Simpson

Tommy Fleetwood
Chez Reavie
Paul Casey
Alex Noren
Patton Kizzire
Charley Hoffman

Go Cubs Go

Pasted GraphicIn just a few days, Wrigley Field's iconic scoreboard will showcase a World Series for the first time in more than seven decades. A franchise with questionable management and horrible luck has finally come within four wins of its first world championship in more than a century.

The Cubs have fielded formidable teams that have made the postseason, but never have they won the NLCS until this year. Often postseason baseball can be so unpredictable that it is difficult to explain why the Cubs could not reach the World Series until now. But there are some trends that predict success in playoff baseball, that does not have as great an impact in regular-season baseball.

While I have written a paper about this and have applied those lessons to the Texas Rangers in a previous post, I would like to look at alternative research. In the book "Baseball Between the Numbers", three qualities are listed that best determine postseason success:

  • Pitcher Strikeout Rate
  • Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA)
  • Closer Expected Wins Over Replacement Pitcher (WXRL)

The Cubs finished 3rd in the majors in strikeout percentage and strikeouts per nine innings (the Dodgers finished first in both categories, the team Chicago beat in the NLCS). Fangraphs uses a metric called
Ultimate Zone Rating to calculate fielding, and listed the Cubs as the best fielding team this season. Lastly, the Cubs finished 19th in reliever Wins Above Replacement, but keep in mind, the team traded for Aroldis Chapman late in the season.

It is also worth nothing, the Indians had high rankings in all three of these categories as well (5th, 4th and 7th, respectively). While the matchup should make for a fantastic World Series, given how the Cubs have properly built this team for a postseason run, it should not come as a surprise if they can end this 108-year streak.