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Posted by Doug on June 27, 2006

It's a shame I have standards, because "Splits Happen" would be a perfect title for it.

This post is just a quick reminder that random variation is capable of making splits appear for no reason at all. Therefore, when you see that a player or team shows a striking split, you don't have to find an explanation for it. There may not be one. Let me prove it.

Steve Smith 2005 vs. teams whose name ends with a consonant


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
1 New Orleans 19.8
2 New England 3.4
4 Green Bay 1.2
6 Detroit 18.3
9 Tampa Bay 16.6
10 New York 3.4
14 Tampa Bay 10.3
15 New Orleans 22.5
16 Dallas 1.8
=================================
AVERAGE 10.8

Steve Smith 2005 vs. vowel-ending teams


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
3 Miami 34.8
5 Arizona 23.9
8 Minnesota 26.1
11 Chicago 16.9
12 Buffalo 5.5
13 Atlanta 12.5
17 Atlanta 19.8
=================================
AVERAGE 19.9

Smith was about 10 points per game better against the vowel-ending squads. You could argue that the vowel-enders just happened to be bad defenses last year, but they really weren't. And anyway, there were plenty of receivers who did better last season against the consonant teams.

Here's another one.

Cadillac Williams 2005 vs. teams whose names have 9 or fewer letters


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
1 Minnesota 20.8
2 Buffalo 18.8
3 Green Bay 15.8
4 Detroit 1.9
9 Carolina 5.4
11 Atlanta 18.9
12 Chicago 9.1
14 Carolina 23.6
16 Atlanta 22.0
=================================
AVERAGE 15.1

Cadillac Williams 2005 vs. long-name teams


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
8 San Francisco 2.5
10 Washington 2.0
13 New Orleans 10.3
15 New England 2.7
17 New Orleans 8.1
=================================
AVERAGE 5.1

I'm sure you've got the point by now, but this is kind of fun. One more.

LaDainian Tomlinson 2005 vs. teams A--M


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
1 Dallas 13.2
2 Denver 17.2
8 Kansas City 14.0
11 Buffalo 14.9
14 Miami 7.5
15 Indianapolis 8.5
16 Kansas City 6.5
17 Denver 15.6
=================================
AVERAGE 15.3

LaDainian Tomlinson 2005 vs. teams N--Z


WK Opponent Fant Pts
=================================
3 New York 45.3
4 New England 28.8
5 Pittsburgh 19.0
6 Oakland 34.1
7 Philadelphia 3.3
9 New York 39.3
12 Washington 39.3
13 Oakland 11.0
=================================
AVERAGE 27.5

LaMont Jordan was almost 10 points per game better at home than on the road last year. Peyton Manning was a lot better on the road. Rudi Johnson dominated in the second half of the year while Willis McGahee was much stronger early in the year. Hines Ward was essentially owned by his division foes in 2004, but he had huge numbers against them in 2005.

Do these facts mean anything? Maybe. But the point is: maybe not. I am not trying to convince you to ignore splits altogether --- in some situations they may be meaningful. I am just reminding you that you needn't force-fit some theory to explain the splits you see. There may simply be no explanation.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2006 at 4:27 am and is filed under Statgeekery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.