Note the drop-off as players enter their 30s. Only 10.3 percent of majors have been won after age 29 and a mere 3.3 percent after age 31. In tennis, the “wrong side of 30” is a harsh place to be.If we consider only retired players (keeping active players skews the distribution younger), the mean champion age is 25.16.3The aging profiles for both Nadal and Federer have closely paralleled the typical one. We can see this by combining their grand slam titles and looking at the distribution by age. Using their exact ages upon winning, this works out to an average age of 24.57 for a title win, a little below the retired champion average of 25.16, with room to increase if either win subsequent titles. This places Nadal nearly three years past his prime. And Federer is ancient at 32!The only players older than Federer to win a major were Andrés Gimeno, who won the 1972 French Open at 34, and the ageless Ken Rosewall, who won majors at 33 (’68 French), 35 (’70 U.S.), 36 (’71 Australian) and 37 (’72 Australian). Agassi won the 2003 Aussie just shy of Federer’s age (32 years, 9 months). With only six of 184 titles won by players 32 or older since 1968, it’s clear that Federer’s window is closing fast.So, who finishes with more hardware? Let’s first determine how good each player is relative to prior champions at their respective ages. We’ll determine a player’s age-adjusted performance ratio as the number of championships won through his age divided by the majors won by the average champion. For example, through age 27, Nadal has won 13 majors, while the average champion that age had won 2.43.4All figures here are rounded to two places of significance, but the full numbers were used in the calculations. The result is the same. Dividing Nadal’s wins by this average, we get a performance ratio of 5.35. To determine the expected additional titles we’d expect Nadal to win, we can take the product of this multiplier and the average champ’s wins after age 28 — 0.65 — for a total of 3.48, yielding Nadal a projected total of 16.48 titles, just a tad bit short of Roger’s current 17.We can use the same methodology to calculate Federer’s total projected career majors. With two of the season’s four majors remaining before his 33rd birthday, we’ll declare him as effectively 32.5 years old. We’ll take his 17 titles divided by the 2.96 won by the average champ through age 32.5 to get a performance ratio of 5.74. As the average player can expect 0.13 majors won after 32.5, Federer’s projected career titles is 17 + (5.74 * 0.13) = 17.75.To determine the likelihood Nadal passes Fed, we’ll need to determine the range of championships he’s likely to win. We can use the binomial theorem5The binomial theorem is a powerful tool used for calculating the probability of k events occurring over N trials, given the probability, p, of success in a single trial. It allows us to take, for example, Nadal’s future probability of winning k = 3 additional tournaments over N = 40 trials (10 years at championship level times 4 tourneys per year), given that he has an average probability of winning p = 8.55 percent of tournaments entered. This yields a probability, P, of 22.61 percent.Further reading on binomial distributions can be found here. A binomial calculator can be found at Stattrek. to help us.During the Open era, winners have ranged from age 17 to 37. Hence, based on the age curve, Nadal has 10 years left at championship contention level. With four tourneys per year, he’s got 40 remaining opportunities to win. As we saw earlier, the average retired champ won 0.65 titles from 28 on, reflecting a win probability per tourney of 1.63 percent.Multiplying by Rafa’s performance ratio, 5.34, we can speculate that his odds of winning are about 8.7 percent per tourney. If we want to calculate his odds of attaining, for example, three additional majors, we can plug these numbers into the binomial model to get the odds. In this case, Nadal has a 22.61 percent chance of finishing with precisely 17 titles.The table below summarizes the potential outcomes based on this model. The outside cells represent the probabilities of each player finishing his career with a particular number of championships. Nadal’s probabilities are listed in the rows on the right, while Federer’s are represented horizontally along the top. The cells in the center represent the joint probabilities of the varied individual outcomes. Cells in yellow represent the status quo — that Federer remains ahead — while the gray cells represent a tie, and the blue cells indicate Nadal passing Federer.The odds of Nadal finishing at precisely 16 titles and Federer at 17 are a little under 15 percent. That’s also the most probable of the individual scenarios. Overall, there’s about a 61 percent chance that Federer ends his career ahead of Nadal, and about a 17 percent chance they end in a tie.It looks like somewhat of a long shot for Nadal to pass Federer (close to a 22 percent chance), but if he were to have a strong summer and win two of the three majors remaining in 2014, he’d greatly improve his chances. Then again, failing to win even the French would be a serious blow — especially if Federer could pull off another win this year.This French Open, along with the remaining majors this year, will tell us a lot about who eventually ends up atop the leaderboard. The conversation as to who’s the greatest of all time doesn’t end there, of course. It probably starts there, though, and whoever of these two ends up on top is likely to hold that title for many years to come. Over the next few days, Rafael Nadal will attempt to win his ninth French Open and become only the third male player to achieve 14 major championships, tying Pete Sampras and moving within three of Roger Federer’s record of 17. He’d be the first to win a particular major nine times, and, at barely 28 years old, he’d be just shy of Federer’s pace in reaching the milestone (Federer won his 14th major at 27 years, 10 months).Federer, now 32, may or may not have another major in him. Tennis is a young man’s game — much more so than many other sports. In golf, for example, many players don’t win their first major until their 30s; since 2009, the PGA has seen 13 of 21 majors won by players 30 and older (and three were over 40). In football, quarterbacks have played well deep into their 30s — Peyton Manning (38) and Tom Brady (37) are still among the best in their sport.In tennis, however, many legends were done winning Grand Slam events by their mid-20s — Boris Becker’s last of six was at age 28. Mats Wilander won his seventh and final major at 24. John McEnroe (7) and Björn Borg (11) were done at 25. Even Jimmy Connors (8), famed for his longevity — he made his famous run to the semis at the U.S. Open in 1991 at age 39 — won his final major, the 1983 U.S. Open, at 31.The aging curve for men’s tennis does appear to have shifted in the past few years, with more 30-somethings on tour remaining in contention.1I gathered age data on the top 10 players by year and track their average age, going back as far as possible, to 1973. The ATP’s website provided me with birthdate data, and Tennis28.com tracks year-end rankings. There are currently two top 10 players in their 30s — Federer and David Ferrer, both 32. Their presence has helped skew the average age of a top 10 player to its highest point since the early 1970s. Although Federer’s presence in the top 10 is a reflection of his great career, Ferrer’s ranking is a bit of an anomaly. But he still hasn’t won a major, and if he dips from the top 10, the group’s average age will quickly move closer to the normal range.Connors hung around in the top 10 until he was 36, but he was done winning majors at 31. It may be possible to play at a top-10 level into one’s 30s, but the majors — with best-of-five set matches versus the best-of-three format on the typical tourney — more rigorously test not just the skill of the player, but also his endurance. Empirically speaking, players in their 20s still tend to win these events — since 2000, a player over 30 has won a major only four times: Andre Agassi twice (30 and 32), Sampras (31) and Federer (30).So with Rafa turning 28 on Tuesday, is he a sure thing to equal or surpass Federer’s 17 titles? How likely is Fed to win any more?By analyzing the full data set of champions by age during the Open era, starting at the French Open of 1968, we can show the ascent, plateau and drop-off in performance as players mature and decline. Building upon this, we can make some predictions about how Nadal and Federer will perform over the remainder of their careers.The chart below shows the distribution of major championships grouped by player age.2This data set reflects 184 events won by 47 different players.
Carmelo Anthony has been awarded the honor of having his image in wax at famed Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in New York. On his visit to see the piece, the New York Knicks’ star forward posed as himself and “came to life,” stunning passersby.The wax likeness bears an uncanny resemblance to Anthony – from its tattoos, headband and sleeves and facial features.Anthony decided to put on his Knicks uniform and pose, stiff as a board before shocking visitors by addressing them.“Hey! Hey!’ he yelled at a man who came in trying to block wax Anthony’s shot. He scared t a young couple just as they get close to him.“I do some acting but that was probably one of the toughest acting jobs to do,” Anthony said, “cause it is right on the spot.”Anthony’s acting roes nclude spots on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, and Sesame Street with teammate Amar’e StoudemireMelo joins New York sports stars Derek Jeter, David Wright and Eli Manning in the museum’s “Sports Zone” which also includes Michael Jordan and Serena Williams among others.Watch the video:http://youtu.be/cEyxt3jeejs
After thinking about it, LSU’s exiled Tyrann Mathieu has indicated he would consider staying at the school if he has a chance to be reinstated to the team next season.When coach Les Miles made his bombshell announcement that Mathieu, called the Honey Badger, was kicked off the team, it was unclear if it was a permanent banishment. But a source told ESPN that it was not permanent and that it’s possible for Mathieu to be reinstated at LSU in the future.One of the most dynamic players in college football, Mathieu was said to be considering transferring to McNeese State, Prairie View A&M and Jackson State. The rising junior would be able to play at those schools this year.He is hoping to stay at LSU in part because of the “support system” at the school, the network reported. Mathieu has two years of eligibility remaining and three years in which to use that eligibilty.Mathieu was dismissed from the team Friday following failed substance-abuse tests, but he was not dismissed by the university. The possibility of reinstatement would have to be approved at many levels, including university administration as well as Miles, and it is being discussed.Mathieu has visited McNeese State, and that remains an option, according to a source close to Mathieu. And although other FCS schools, including Jackson State and Prairie View A&M, have expressed interest, they are not options at this time.Mathieu has been described as “heartbroken” and “grieving” since his dismissal from the team.Mathieu has told people close to him that he is interested in working on his maturity and character and also in seeking out any way to continue his education at LSU.The possibility of declaring for the NFL draft after this season also exists. But Mathieu has told people close to him that draft status it is not a priority at this time. If he were to stay at LSU, paying his own way for at least one season is a possibility.
The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is up and tweeting, and his target is the NFL. Trump says “ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected.”He also says that booing at the Dallas game Monday night when the team dropped to its knees was the “loudest I have ever heard.”Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night by kneeling on the field before rising as a group before the playing of the national anthem.Trump noted in this tweets that the team stood for the anthem: “Big progress being made- we all love our country.”
Game 4 of the World Chess Championship in London began with a fitting surprise: the “English Opening.”Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the three-time defending world champion and world No. 1, began the game by pushing the white pawn in front of his left bishop to the c4 square — a relatively rare move at the game’s highest levels. Fabiano Caruana, the U.S. challenger and world No. 2 trying to become the first American world champion since Bobby Fischer in 1972, pushed a black pawn to e5. And with that, the English had come. Few bells would be rung for the rest of the game.Game 4 ended in a draw, just as the three previous games had. It was an uninspired 34-move, 2.5-hour episode. The match for the game’s highest prize remains level, at 2 points apiece in a race to 6.5.1Wins are worth 1, draws 0.5 and losses 0. The boring result failed to overshadow the real drama of the day: the Zapruder film of this world championship.But first, the chess.“Carlsen is trying to avoid that really annoying Petroff,” Robert Hess, a grandmaster, said during a broadcast on Twitch. The Petroff Defence is one of Caruana’s favorite chess tools when he has the black pieces, but he can deploy it only when white cooperates by opening with a pawn to e4. Carlsen’s opening move, therefore, was preventive — or “prophylactic,” as chess players like to say. (Bards of the game, one and all.)The pattern of pieces that developed on the board is called, rather delightfully, a “Reverse Dragon.” The Sicilian Defence has a variation called the Dragon — named after the resemblance of the pawns to the constellation Draco — except in this case its colors were reversed. But the position breathed no fire on Tuesday.After 10 moves, the game was an exact match of a game that Caruana played against Wesley So, another top American grandmaster, earlier this year — the only such game that had ever featured this position, according to ChessBase. Given how recent and high-profile it was, this was a game that Caruana and Carlsen almost certainly both remembered well.
On Tuesday morning, I called the World Cup semifinal between Germany and Brazil a very evenly matched contest.Yeah, about that …In an astonishing 18-minute span during the first half, the Germans opened up a 5-0 lead against a Brazil squad that seemed to have given up without its superstar striker, Neymar, who’d been knocked out of the previous match with a back injury. Germany would pile on two more goals before Brazil’s Oscar netted a meaningless marker in the 90th minute to set the final score at 7-1.How big is a six-goal margin of victory in the World Cup? Going into this year’s tournament, only 17 matches in Cup history had seen one side win by six or more goals — most recently when Portugal trounced North Korea 7-0 in the 2010 group stage. And just twice had it happened as late as a semifinal, depending on how you treat Brazil overpowering Sweden 7-1 in 1950 and Argentina’s 6-0 clobbering of Peru in 1978. (Both of those matches technically came in the stage directly preceding the final, but also in a format that used additional round-robin groups to filter teams into the final rather than the knockout-style bracket used today.)The bewildering scoreline in Tuesday’s match had me wondering what an equivalent margin would be in other sports. One approach to the answer is to use the standard deviations of scoring margins in each sport. Lucky for us, in his book “Mathletics,” Wayne Winston, a professor of operations and decision technologies at Indiana University, has done the heavy lifting for us with regard to pro football. Following up on the work of statistician Hal Stern, Winston found that the margin of victory for an NFL team can be approximated by a normal random variable with a mean of the Vegas line (or the margin predicted by a computer power rating) and a standard deviation of 13.86 points.Winston also wrote:For NBA basketball, NCAA basketball and college football, respectively, Jeff Sagarin has found that the historical standard deviation of game results about a prediction from a rating system is given by 12, 10, and 16 points, respectively.Applying Stern’s, Winston’s and Sagarin’s methodology to historical World Cup matches from 1930 to 2010, I found that the distribution of the scoring margin in a high-level international soccer match (relative to the pre-match prediction using Elo ratings and a home-field effect) is approximately normal with a mean of zero and a standard deviation of 1.83 goals. If Brazil and Germany were considered evenly matched going into Tuesday’s game (giving Brazil only credit for playing at home), we’d predict Brazil’s margin of victory to be about 0.5 goals, so Germany’s six-goal margin was 3.6 standard deviations above expected.Going by Winston’s numbers, a 3.6 standard deviation performance in the NFL would be the equivalent of beating an opponent by nearly 50 more points than expected. If you’re curious, you can find a list of the biggest postseason blowouts in NFL history on Pro-Football-Reference.com; if we (naively) assume all of those games were considered evenly matched aside from a three-point bonus for the home team, the closest analog to Germany’s win over Brazil might be the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 62-7 demolition of the Miami Dolphins in 2000 in Dan Marino’s final game.Put in soccer terms, the Jaguars’ margin would have been 6.8 more goals than expected. But that’s nothing compared to the the 1940 NFL championship game between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins, which ended with the Bears winning 73-0 (on the road, no less). By soccer standards, that would be like winning by 10 more goals than expected, a mark Germany would have needed to pour on about three more goals to match.In college football, Germany’s rout was the equivalent of winning by 57 more points than expected. That’s about the same as Tulsa’s 63-7 victory over Bowling Green in the 2008 GMAC Bowl (a game that carried just a little less importance than Germany-Brazil). In terms of bowls that had national championship implications, you’d have to go back to 1996 and the Fiesta Bowl between then-undefeated No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Florida. Favored by three going into the game, Nebraska won by 38, 62-24. But in soccer terms, that’d be a mere win by four more goals than expected — a far cry from the Germans’ performance.Shifting gears to basketball, the Germans’ victory would be like an NBA team winning by 43 more points than expected. Basketball-Reference.com has a list of most lopsided playoff contests in NBA history; assuming evenly matched opponents with a 3.25-point home-court advantage, Germany’s win would be most like the Los Angeles Lakers’ 118-78 win over the San Francisco Warriors in the 1969 postseason. (If you’re looking for an equivalent game in the conference finals or later — probably a more apt comparison for Germany-Brazil — the most comparable rout would be the Lakers’ 153-109 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the 1985 Western Conference finals.) And the most dominant conference-finals-or-later win in NBA history, the Lakers’ 126-70 thrashing of the Golden State Warriors on the road in Game 3 of the 1973 Western Conference finals, would be like winning by nine more goals than expected in soccer.College basketball’s biggest NCAA Tournament wins have usually come in the early rounds of the tournament, which comes as no surprise. (For instance, poor 16-seed Prairie View got pasted by No. 1 seed Kansas, 110-52, in the 1998 opener.) Isolating Final Four games, we find a pair of 34-point blowouts that took place in the national semifinal. According to Sagarin’s research, Germany’s win would be like a college basketball team lambasting an evenly matched opponent by 35.9 points.In terms of impressive victories, Germany’s romp ranks among the most notable blowouts across sports more familiar to fans in the United States. A 7-1 win might not seem all that uncommon to baseball fans, so it might help to think of it as the equivalent of a 47-point NFL road playoff victory, or a 40-point win on the road in an NBA playoff game. It wasn’t something you see every day, especially considering it came on the cusp of the World Cup final.
It’s getting harder every day, the search for unused superlatives to heap upon the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. On Tuesday night, the Huskies captured their fourth consecutive NCAA championship with an 82-51 rout of Syracuse. The victory made star forward Breanna Stewart four-for-four on titles during her four years in Storrs and capped off a run the likes of which hasn’t been seen in the college game since John Wooden’s UCLA squad won seven straight men’s championships in the late 1960s and early ’70s.UConn is all about rings — coach Geno Auriemma now has a record 11 of them, after all — but a championship can only really signify supremacy over the competition within a given season. When a team dominates as thoroughly as these Huskies have (they won their NCAA Tournament games by an average of 39.8 points per game), history becomes the only opponent. And even against that standard, UConn keeps raising the bar.Gathering stats on women’s sports — even a popular one like basketball — is a notoriously (and shamefully) frustrating endeavor, but we can try to quantify a team’s dominance using historical data from Kenneth Massey and Sonny Moore, a couple of the power-rating makers featured in our women’s tournament prediction model. (Massey’s data goes back to 1997-98, while Moore’s picks up in 2004-05; the other two rating systems from the model do not provide historical archives.) 22015Connecticut381+51.2+52.5+51.8 52002Connecticut390+49.8—+49.8 112013Baylor342+43.0+41.5+42.3 92012Baylor400+48.6+43.6+46.1 YEARTEAMWINSLOSSESMASSEYMOOREAVERAGE The greatest NCAA women’s teams since 1997-98 Source: Kenneth Massey, Sonny Moore Admittedly, power ratings aren’t everything. For one thing, in the absence of player-level era adjustments like FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver’s Baseball Time Machine, they aren’t capable of accounting for changes in absolute quality of competition over time. But, if anything, the women’s game is evolving rapidly enough that UConn probably faced more talented opponents in Stewart’s senior season than it did when she was a freshman. And in the face of those changes, the Huskies adjusted even more quickly, upping the ante for how good a college team could be.It’s anyone’s guess how much of this impossibly steep ascent UConn can maintain after the likes of Stewart and Morgan Tuck depart for the WNBA next season. But for now, let’s take a moment to appreciate what the Huskies accomplished these past few years: a run of dominance so impressive that even future incarnations of UConn will have trouble topping it. 192001Connecticut323+38.7—+38.7 32014Connecticut400+56.3+46.3+51.3 212011Texas A&M335+38.4+38.9+38.7 82000Connecticut361+47.4—+47.4 142012Connecticut335+40.5+42.1+41.3 72009Connecticut390+49.9+45.3+47.6 172013Notre Dame352+40.2+38.3+39.2 And to the extent we’re able to measure things,1In this case, I set Massey’s and Moore’s ratings on the same scale and averaged them for years in which both numbers are available; for seasons before that, I just used Massey’s rating. the 2015-16 Huskies were the best team of the modern era of women’s college basketball … supplanting the 2014-15 Huskies … who supplanted the 2013-14 Huskies. Each of Stewart’s final three years saw new ground broken in the area of women’s basketball greatness. 102014Notre Dame371+44.0+42.6+43.3 162008Connecticut362+40.5+39.6+40.1 62013Connecticut354+47.4+49.0+48.2 12016Connecticut380+54.7+52.9+53.8 132011Connecticut362+41.5+41.3+41.4 182006Duke324+40.1+38.2+39.1 152012Notre Dame354+41.2+40.6+40.9 222010Stanford362+39.6+37.5+38.5 Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed 202011Stanford333+38.7+38.7+38.7 By Neil Paine POWER RATING The Hot Takedown crew dissects UConn’s fourth straight championship. 242007Tennessee343+40.7+36.1+38.4 251999Tennessee313+37.9—+37.9 232008Tennessee362+39.9+37.1+38.5 121998Tennessee390+41.4—+41.4 42010Connecticut390+52.2+49.0+50.6
2018Recovering0.70.7 20184.108.40.206 July 20182018-19 OFFSEASONDOESN’T HAVE SURGERY Returning to the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup following a monthlong injury layoff, Shohei Ohtani finally reminded everyone last Sunday night why he ranks among baseball’s most electrifying players. Pinch-hitting against the crosstown rival Dodgers in the seventh inning, Ohtani blasted a 2-2 fastball from JT Chargois 443 feet to center field, giving the Angels what eventually proved to be a decisive lead in the game. Batting WARSurgery in … Pitching WARSurgery in … 20191.5*0.4*1.1 2018RecoveringRecoveringRecovering SeasonJuly 20182018-19 OFFSEASONDOESN’T HAVE SURGERY SeasonJuly 20182018-19 OFFSEASONDOESN’T HAVE SURGERY Total WARSurgery in … 2019RecoveringRecovering2.0 20220.127.116.11 Ohtani’s ability to crush those towering homers while also slinging nasty splitters is what makes him unprecedented in the modern game. At the time of the arm injury that shut him down in early June, he ranked among the American League’s best dozen or so hitters and pitchers on the season. However, that injury — a ligament strain to Ohtani’s pitching elbow — has limited him to “just” hitting for the foreseeable future. Since Ohtani throws right-handed but hits lefty, he can swing the bat without putting much strain on his damaged elbow.Ohtani has since slid back into LA’s lineup as its regular designated hitter, batting in seven straight games for the first time all season.1When Ohtani was pitching roughly every seven days, he would be held out of the lineup in those games plus usually two or three others per week. And that appears to be how the Angels are handling Ohtani’s recovery for now, using him only as a hitter and hoping that a combination of rest and platelet-rich plasma therapy can heal his arm and help him avoid the dreaded Tommy John surgery, which could take him out of action as a pitcher for years.The hitting half of Ohtani is still pretty valuable by itself, and there’s some chance he could return to the mound without needing surgery. But Los Angeles may also just be delaying the inevitable, as injections like the ones Ohtani is getting don’t always successfully stave off Tommy John in the end. (Indeed, Ohtani already underwent the same treatment for a less severe UCL sprain last fall, only to have the injury re-emerge.) With the Angels’ playoff chances all but dried up this year, is it worth it to run him out at half strength for the rest of his rookie campaign? Or should they just call it a season and schedule the operation to fully repair his damaged elbow? Ohtani’s unprecedented ability has given Los Angeles an unprecedented front-office dilemma.Having Ohtani back certainly improves the Angels’ short-term outlook, since the team looked lost without him for most of June. On June 6, the day of Ohtani’s last start, Los Angeles was 35-28 with a 39 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to The Baseball Gauge. By the time he returned, they’d fallen to 43-42 with a 7 percent playoff probability. It wasn’t all due to Ohtani’s absence — teammates like Andrelton Simmons and Andrew Heaney also fell off pace after hot starts — but losing a player with his unique production abilities didn’t help. According to an average of the metrics found at Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, Ohtani has been worth 2.0 combined wins above replacement as a hitter and pitcher in 50 games of action this season, which is roughly what we’d expect from one solid starter over the course of an entire season.By now, though, Ohtani’s contributions may be too little, too late to save the Angels’ season. As of Tuesday afternoon, they sat fourth in the AL West, 14 games behind the division-leading Astros and 10 games back in the wild-card race. Most likely, any playing time Ohtani gets from here on out this season will be to get him more reps against MLB pitching (no small consideration) and improve his Rookie of the Year candidacy, not to power an epic playoff push. Because of this, the Angels have come under some criticism on social media for putting off Ohtani’s Tommy John surgery for the sake of batting him during what’s likely a lost season.We can do some rough math to map out the options for Ohtani and the Angels. According to this database of Tommy John surgeries collected by Jon Roegele, the median time for a hitter to return to his previous level of competition after the procedure is 11 months, and the median for pitchers is 15 months. That means that, looking at the regular season only, if Ohtani had surgery now, he could expect to return as a batter in June 2019 and as a two-way player for the start of the 2020 season. If he delays surgery to the offseason, though, he’d miss all but the final month of 2019 as a hitter, though he’d still return as a pitcher in time for the start of the 2020 season.(Obviously, these are just the median outcomes — a quarter of position players recover in under 10 months, while 25 percent of pitchers take more than 20 months to return. But these numbers do help give a sense of the recovery times involved for most players who undergo Tommy John surgery.)If we combine those time frames with a simple age progression on Ohtani’s projected regular-season hitting and pitching WAR,2An admitted simplification of things, since it assumes the injury can only affect his performance by keeping him off the field entirely, not by reducing his effectiveness when he does play. we can come up with an estimate of how much value Ohtani figures to add over the next three seasons, depending on when (or if) he elects to go under the knife: What should Ohtani and the Angels do?Shohei Ohtani’s expected wins above replacement by when or if he has Tommy John surgery, based on median recovery periods for pitchers and hitters 3-year total18.104.22.168 * Partial season.Estimates are based on Tom Tango’s WARcel projection method and use the median recovery periods for Tommy John surgery patients who were hitters (11 months) and pitchers (15 months).Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs, Jon Roegele, TangoTiger.com At a first glance, the difference between the two Tommy John-related strategies is small (just 0.4 WAR), and that’s assuming that Ohtani does eventually need surgery. The ideal scenario, of course, is one where Ohtani the pitcher comes back without needing surgery and the Angels reap the benefits of Ohtani the hitter in the meantime. This outcome would have an expected value of 6.6 total WAR over the next three seasons, dwarfing the expectation if they shelved him right now. It’s a gamble with considerable upside.Research shows that the plasma injections can keep a player out from under the knife between about 40 and 65 percent of the time. For simplicity’s sake, let’s treat that as a 50-50 shot. Baking in that estimated 50 percent chance of Ohtani’s elbow recovering without surgery, we’d expect the non-surgery choice to deliver an overall expected value of 5.2 WAR — that’s just the average of the delayed-surgery and no-surgery scenarios.Of course, the calculations change a bit if we lower the odds of not needing surgery (dropping them to 40 percent would mean weighting the average toward the delayed-surgery numbers, which would bring his expected value down to 5.0 WAR), or if we account for the fact that LA’s wins over the rest of this season come with lower championship leverage than they might in future seasons, due to the Angels’ poor chances of making the playoff at the moment. The last time the Angels had a comparable playoff probability at this stage of a season, their average play was only 35 percent as impactful as the typical opening-day play.But even if we reduce Ohtani’s hitting WAR over the rest of 2018 by that factor and assign a mere 40 percent chance he won’t need surgery, the expected three-year value of LA’s wait-and-see approach comes out to 4.5 WAR, essentially the same as the expected value of his having surgery right now (4.3 WAR). And again, that’s assuming the least-favorable rate of success for the non-surgical approach, which might be underselling its effectiveness.In other words, the Angels are probably making the right call with Ohtani at the moment. It feels strange to only use half of Ohtani’s incredible skill set, particularly with LA’s playoff chances on life support, and it certainly isn’t exactly what the Angels were envisioning when they paid a $20 million posting fee for Ohtani last December. But it’s a good quandary to have — if he was an ordinary pitcher, this wouldn’t even be a debate. By putting off surgery for now, they’ve given Ohtani’s arm a chance to heal without necessarily losing his services for a year (or more) while also giving his bat a chance to develop further (remember, he just turned 24).And if nothing else, it also gives us a chance to see more weird, puppet-based depictions of his home runs:
OSU junior guard Kelsey Mitchell guards the ball in the Buckeyes 89-56 victory over Canisius on Dec. 11 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsThe Ohio State women’s basketball team struggled again through their second-straight Big Ten matchup. The Buckeyes shot 32.3 percent from the field, but were bailed out by 26 bench points to help pick up a 61-56 victory over Purdue.In the first quarter, the Buckeyes surrendered seven turnovers while only picking up six points, a season low for OSU. Coach Kevin McGuff’s team earned just one assist in the first quarter, while allowing Purdue to pick up 20 points.An early full-court press by OSU kept things close, before Purdue was able to find holes in the Buckeyes’ defense and stretch its lead to 14 points.Attacking the hoop in the second, OSU and junior guard Kelsey Mitchell heated up. Of the Buckeyes 34 points at halftime, 12 came from the charity stripe, all scored in the second quarter.Outscoring Purdue 28-16 in the second, the lead was cut to just two. Backed by hot shooting, the Boilermakers headed to the locker room with a 48.3 percent mark from the field and the advantage.Heading into the fourth quarter with the game still in the air, freshman forward Tori McCoy stuffed a Purdue shot and picked up a layup on the other end. Later, McCoy swatted away another, before Purdue was called for a technical foul for arguing the block should have been a foul.Redshirt junior forward Stephanie Mavunga picked up two late field goals to seal the deal for the Buckeyes. OSU is now 15-5 and 5-1 in the Big Ten.The Buckeyes will return to Columbus on Tuesday to face Wisconsin at 7 p.m.
The 96th Rose Bowl will feature a classic clash of styles.Oregon has rushed for at least 175 yards in each game since its season-opening loss to Boise State. Against USC, who delivered one of Ohio State’s two losses, the Ducks piled up 394 yards on the ground.The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are one of just five teams in the nation that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher. Oregon tailback LaMichael James has topped the century mark on nine different occasions this season.Clearly, something has to give.“I haven’t seen [Ohio State] play an offense like ours,” James said Tuesday.Junior linebacker Ross Homan echoed James’ sentiment, saying that Oregon “is going to be the best offense we’ve seen all year.”Oregon employs a quick-hitting offensive attack, with several rushing options, including quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. OSU safety Kurt Coleman said the key lies in keeping the Ducks’ offense in a location where they can’t do much harm: the sidelines.“We’re trying to stop them as soon as possible to get them off the field,” Coleman said.Contrary to Oregon’s relentless offensive scheme, the Buckeyes have pounded the opposition with their steady running game during their current five-game winning streak.“If you look at the offenses, we’ve stuck to what we do best, and that’s our running game,” Coleman said. “It’s not the glitz and glamour of it, but it’s effective for us. Oregon spreads it out and they do a lot of trickery and try to do a lot of misdirection plays, and that works for them. They’re different styles of offense, but they both work in our favors.” Defense’s last standLeading Texas in the waning minutes of last year’s Fiesta Bowl, the Ohio State defense surrendered a game-clinching touchdown drive.As the clock trickled toward zero against USC on Sept. 12, the Buckeye defense couldn’t hold a 15-10 advantage.If the Buckeyes assume a late lead during the Rose Bowl, can the defense be trusted?“The Texas game we probably celebrated a little too early,” Coleman said. “We thought that game was ours.”Granted, the OSU defense did halt Iowa in overtime to put its offense in position to kick the game-winning field goal.But that was only after the defense allowed a 70-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes that sent the game into the extra session.“It’s a stigma that’s been on us for a while,” senior defensive lineman Doug Worthington said. “But you go back to some games, like the Iowa game, where it’s the same situation and we buckled down and made the plays we needed to make.“It’s reassuring that it can happen, but you have to make sure that you do that. We understand that it’s a four-quarter game, and a team like [Oregon] can strike at any time. If it’s a close game, we have to make sure we buckle down at the end and make the plays to stop them.” Knee injury of little concern for PryorQuarterback Terrelle Pryor revealed Monday that he has been playing and practicing with a slight tear in his left knee, though the injury shouldn’t hinder his play Friday, he said.Pryor stated that his knee has been “a little sore,” and was informed that the grounds for the discomfort is likely a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament.The sophomore played through a sore ankle for much of the second half of the season, but there was no prior indication that he was suffering from a knee injury. He sat out the second half of Ohio State’s 45-0 win over New Mexico State on Oct. 31 after hurting the ankle.The Buckeyes focused more of the offense around the running game once Pryor suffered the ankle injury, rushing for at least 225 yards in each of their last five games.Pryor said that the knee isn’t something he worries about and that it shouldn’t slow him down in the Rose Bowl.