Minnesota sports, analytics and the Star Tribune’s new beat
Maybe LeBron James was in terrible mood late Monday night in Minneapolis when, after his Cavs lost to the Timberwolves by 28 points, he told reporters, I dont care about no damn plus-minus.
We think LeBron was merely LeFrustrated because everyone, it seems, now cares about plus-minus. And Corsi. And WAR and kenpoms numbers and win shares and something called Tackle Factor.
And whether you think those advanced statistics are hocus pocus or the real deal, heres the thing: they can lead to interesting explanations, or at least interesting discussions, about your favorite teams and players. Handled with care, they can be the seeds of fascinating sports stories.
Starting today, thats a new part of our mission. We want to explain trends and outcomes and ups and downs with the numbers that are spit out by every movement in every game.
What are analytics saying about an athlete, a team, a trend?
How are athletes, leagues, teams using analytics to change their approach or performance?
Our beat reporters have told these analytics-based stories for years, in between 1,001 other assignments. Adding a new reporting position to focus on analytics now, as they become a larger part of the broader sports conversation, is an exciting new step for us. Youll see that we are dedicated to covering this movement and finding compelling stories along the way. And youll see the first evidence next week.
And before introducing the reporter weve hired for this big assignment, one more thing: If just seeing the words Corsi or WAR or win shares made you cringe, dont give up on this just yet. Our goal is to tell interesting stories without blinding you with numbers and stats. We want to stand in the middle of the intersection of stats and humans and tell the stories we see from there.
Chris Hine is the reporter who is already engaged on this challenge. Chris comes to us from the Chicago Tribune, where he had been the Blackhawks beat writer. Some of Chris most popular stories at the Tribune involved analytics and, more importantly, what they told him about the players he covered there.
Now comes a new challenge. Numbers and trends, stats and humans and emotions how does it all fit together? Lets find out together.
Welcome to the North Score.