From The Mailbox…

This has never happened before.  Yesterday, I got two e-mails from readers with questions.  I believe that allows me today to do my first “Mailbox Rant” ever…

Let me introduce the first e-mail correspondent.  He and I met as college freshmen.  He went on to a career as a sportswriter who then left that sort of journalism to become a features writer for various papers and magazines.  Here are the salient portions of his missive from yesterday.

The subject line on the e-mail was “Why I hate stats!”:

Did you … see this stat line for Drew Brees?

C/ATT  YDS     AVG    TD       INT      SACKS            QBR    RTG

29/30    307     10.2      4          0          0-0                  97.0     148.9

First, I have no idea what QBR is; am I not correct that everybody talks about the RTG?

The perfect score is 158.3, right?

Brees, after one of the finest games in history, did not achieve that. What does he have to do, run back kickoffs to get a perfect score?

I demand some action from you …!

Let me take the easy questions first:

  • QBR is a rating system developed by ESPN that grades a QB’s performance on a scale where 100 is the “perfect score”.  I suppose the thinking there is that people can relate to “Perfection” and “100” easily from their days in school.  As natural as it is, most folks still deal with the QB Rating.
  • I do not know who developed the QB Rating System in the first place, but it was around before the QBR system emerged.  Indeed, the perfect rating in that context is 158.3.

Now for the more complicated answer – – and don’t shoot the messenger because I am just reporting this.  Here is how you calculate the QB Rating:

  • There are 4 elements to be measured.  Each is given an evaluation that must fall between zero and 2.375.
  • Element 1 is Completion Percentage.  Be prepared; this may make your head explode.  To calculate Element 1, you take Drew Brees’ completion percentage (96.67) and subtract 30; then multiply that result by .05.
  • Element 1 = (96.67 – 30) x 0.05 = 3.335.  However, each element is “capped” at 2.375…
  • Element 2 is Yards per Attempt.  To calculate Element 2, you take Drew Brees’ yards per attempt (10.23) and subtract 3.0 and then multiply by 0.25.
  • Element 2 = (10.23 – 3.0) x 0.25 =  1.808
  • Element 3 is Touchdown Percentage.  To calculate Element 3, you take Drew Brees’ touchdown percentage (13.33) and multiply that by 0.20.
  • Element 3 = 13.33 x 0.20 = 2.666
  • Element 4 is Interception Percentage.  To calculate Element 4, you take Drew Brees’ INT Percentage (0.00) and multiply that by 0.25 and then subtract that result from 2.375.
  • Element 4 = 2.375 – (0.00 x 0.25) = 2.375 – 0.00 = 2.375.

Calm down; take a sip of your coffee – or some other adult beverage if you so choose; I know that the calculations here are arbitrary and capricious; I know that one could never derive this “formula” from the essential elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  Now, that you have reached a more peaceful state, let’s proceed to the next level of arbitrary and capricious:

  • To get the QB Rating, you take the 4 Elements calculated above and add them together.  Then you divide by 6 and multiply by 100.
  • So, for Drew Brees the QB Rating would be 169.7 – – if you were to allow Element 1 to exceed 2.375.  However, when Element 1 is capped at 2.375, then his QB Rating is 153.7.

He need not have returned kickoffs to improve his rating simply because that is not part of the 4 Elements that enter into the calculation.  Had he thrown another TD in and among those 30 attempts, it would have increased his QB Rating.  Had his yards per pass attempt been higher, it would have increased his QB rating.

That is the basis of QB Rating – – and it is why I think the system is “severely limited”.  Now that you know “the rest of the story” [Hat Tip to Paul Harvey here…] you probably hate stats even more than you did as you sent that e-mail to me.

The other e-mail came from a former colleague who has been reading my rants since before the time that they hit the Internet.  Here is the question:

“You like to bang on Dan Snyder and James Dolan as bad owners.  So, who are their counterparts in baseball and the NHL?”

  1.  It is not a trivial matter to answer this question – – but I will not take you into the realm of mathematics and mysticism as I answer.  Now that the Wilpons have chosen to sell off their majority interest in the Mets, they have taken themselves out of the running – but they would have been formidable contenders prior to that sales agreement. The ownership group in Miami fronted by Derek Jeter has not been around nearly long enough to qualify here.  Marge Schott is dead.  So, I think this “honor” would go to Peter Angelos for his meddling and micromanagement of the Orioles’ team over the past couple of decades.
  2. I will not pretend to know enough about hockey or the NHL to offer a cogent choice here. I will point out, however, that the Toronto Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967 …

Finally, since there is an air of cynicism in today’s rant, let me provide you with H. L. Mencken’s definition of a cynic:

“A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



6 thoughts on “From The Mailbox…”

  1. My QB rating system is a very binary. DQBR = 1 if the QB’s team won the game. DQBR = 0 if the QB’s team lost. Tie games might require some subjectivity.

    1. Doug:

      I like the DQBR. Since it is your creation, you can choose to eliminate any subjectivity – even in tie games – by defining the rating as 0.5 for a tie game. If anyone objects, tell them to pound sand…

  2. Are you going to use your erudite analysis to explain how QBR is calculated? Then we can read this wisdom each night by the bedside.

Comments are closed.