Stanford’s Evian win is least dominant in two years

 

Angela Stanford’s victory Sunday in the Evian Masters was the least dominant performance by the winner of any women’s major in more than two years.

Not since Brittany Lang defeated Anna Nordqvist in a playoff for the 2016 Women’s U.S. Open has a victor compiled a Z Score lower than the -1.73 by which Stanford won the Evian. Her victory, by one stroke, came on a final round 68, but was not locked up until three players missed putts on the final hole, any of which would have tied her.

For purposes of comparison, Nordqvist won the 2017 Evian with a -2.31 Z Score, more than a half standard deviation more dominant than Stanford.

Stanford shot rounds of 72-64-68-68 for a total of 272. The average for all players completing four rounds was 283.25; the standard deviation of their spread was 6.5 strokes.

The victory, Stanford’s first major win, improved her career Z Score in majors to +31.27. She turned professional in 2000.

The Evian concludes play in the five women’s majors. The best performance in any of them was Georgia Hall’s -2.67 achieved in her victory at the Women’s British Open. Factoring the combined performance  in all majors, the best average showing was -1.07 by Ariya Jutanugarn. She posted Z Scores of -1.71 in the ANA Inspiration, -2.56 in the U.S. Open, +0.25 in the Women’s PGA, -1.31 in the Women’s British Open and -0.04 in the Evian. That edged out So Yeon Ryu, whose major tournament performances this season resulted in an average Z Score of -1.06.

Here are the top 10 most dominant players with their scores in the 2018 Evian Masters

  1. Angela Stanford 272         -1.73

T-2          Austin Ernst                        273         -1.58

T-2          Mo Martin                          273         -1.58

T-2          Sei Young Kim                    273         -1.58

T-2          Amy Olson                          273         -1.58

T-6          Jeongjung6 Lee                                274         -1.42

T-6          Ryann O’Toole                  274         -1.42

T-8          Jessica Korda                     275         -1.27

T-8          Inbee Park                          275         -1.27

  1. 5 tied at 276         -1.12

 

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The PGA: Brooks Koepka, Tiger Woods and stages of immortality

 

 

Brooks Koepka’s victory in the 2018 PGA Championship, his third major title, positions him to be one of the all-time great players in PGA Tour history.

Koepka won with a Z Score of -2.75, meaning his performance was 2.75 standard deviations better than the field average. That equals the 15th best performance in the history of the PGA Championship. His Z Scores in his two U.S. Open championships were -2.24 in 2017 and -2.42 in 2018.

It also improved his peak rating – the average of his 10 best major tournament performances over the past five seasons – to -1.58, which puts him just outside the top 75 in major tournament golf history.  Among men only, it pushes Koepka inside the top 50 all time. He is not yet 30 so he has a substantial chance to improve that standing.

Here’s how much Koepka has the potential to become the dominant force on tour. If he reprises his 2017 and 2018 seasons in 2019 and 2020, Koepka’s peak rating would rise to about -2.15 by the end of that season, ranking him as the sixth best golfer in the history of the sport for peak performance.

Tiger Woods’ second place finish thrilled his fans and produced a -2.29 Z Score. That makes it Woods’ best performance in a major since the 2007 PGA Championship, which he won with a Z Score of -2.84.  Woods finished the 2018 major season with a career Z Score of -64.66, the sixth best all-time and fourth best by a male.

Here are the 25 best PGA Championship performances in history as measured by dominance rating.

Rank      Player                   Season Z Score

1              Davis Love           1997       -3.54

2              Jack Nicklaus      1980       -3.34

3              Wayne Grady    1990       -3.11

4              Rory McIlroy      2012       -3.02

5              Nick Price            1994       -3.01

6              Bobby Nichols   1964       -2.99

7              Ben Hogan          1946       -2.98

8              Doug Ford           1955       -2.92

9              Jeff Sluman        1988       -2.84

T-10       David Toms         2001       -2.83

T-10       Henry Picard      1939       -2.83

T-10       Tiger Woods       2007       -2.83

T-13       Leo Diegel           1929       -2.77

T-13       John Daly             1991       -2.77

T-15       Brooks Koepka  2018       -2.75

T-15       Jim Ferrier           1947       -2.75

17           Jason Day            2015       -2.70

18           Al Geiberger      1966       -2.68

T-19       Y.E. Yang              2009       -2.66

T-19       Jimmy Walker    2016       -2.66

21           Lee Trevino        1984       -2.61

22           Jack Nicklaus      1975       -2.57

T-23       John Mahaffey 1978       -2.56

T-23       Bob Tway            1986       -2.56

25           Dow Finsterwald1958     -2.54

Georgia Hall’s Women’s British Open win is the best 2018 Major showing to date

 

Georgia Hall’s victory Sunday in the Women’s British Open represented not only her first major victory, but one of the dominant performances in tournament history.

Hall won with a Z Score of -2.67, the fifth most dominant performance since the tournament received major status in 2001. Not since Jiyai Shin won in 2012 with a -3.62 Z Score has any woman posted a more dominant British Open victory.

It was also the most dominant major tournament showing by any player – male or female – this season, and the most dominant by a woman since in Gee Chun won the 2016 Evian Masters with a -2.97 Z Score.

The field average for all players completing four rounds at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s was 286.71; Hall’s four-round total of 271 was nearly 16 strokes below that field average.

Here are the 10 most exceptional Women’s British Open performances since the tournament was designated as a major in 2001 based on winner’s Z Score:

Rank      Player                                   Year       Course                                  Z Score

1              Jiyai Shin                              2012       Royal Liverpool                 -3.62

2              Yani Tseng                           2011       Carnoustie                          -2.83

3              Yani Tseng                           2010       Royal Birkdale                    -2.77

4              Jeong Jang                          2005       Royal Birkdale                    -2.70

5              Georgia Hall                        2018       Royal Lytham                     -2.67

6              I.K. Kim                                 2017       Kingsbarns                          -2.66

7              Inbee Park                          2015       Trump Turnberry             -2.59

8              Jiyai Shin                              2008       Sunningdale                       -2.56

9              Ariya Jutanugarn              2016       Woburn                               -2.50

10           Karen Stupples                 2004       Royal Lytham                     -2.46

The true impact of July trades

Between now and July’s end, baseball fans get swept up in the efforts of their contending or non-contending teams to improve themselves. Several big trades have already been made, including the trade of Manny Machado from Baltimore to Los Angeles in exchange for several prospects. But what is the reality about such trades? Do the teams acquiring the name players actually reach post-season play? Do they get to the World Series, or win it? And what of the prospects; do they generate any value down the road for the downtrodden teams that acquire them? To answer these questions 50 trades were examined between 2007 and 2013. The results follow:

Methodology: The 50 trades that were evaluated took place between 2007 and 2013. Choosing this time period allows consideration both of the short-term impact of the trade on the contending team as well as the long-term impact of the trade on the non-contending team. A trade was included if two conditions were met: 1. The team acquiring the proven commodity was within five games of first place at the time the trade was consummated; 2. The team acquiring the prospects was more than 10 games out of first place. The short-term value of the trade was judged based on the Wins Above Replacement generated by the acquired player for the contending team between the date of acquisition and season’s end. (Some of the acquired players generated value for their new teams in subsequent seasons, but for purposes of this exercise that subsequent value was not included.) The long-term value of the trade was judged based on the Wins Above Replacement generated by the prospects for their new teams in the five seasons subsequent to the trade.

Short-term results

Of the 51 contending teams acquiring players (there was a three-team trade involving two contending teams), 19 went on to play in that year’s post-season. That means 32 (63 percent) failed to do so. Of the 19 that did reach post-season play after making such a July trade, eight reached that season’s World Series, five of them winning it. Those five were the 2007 Red Sox, 2008 Phillies, 2010 Giants, 2012 Giants and 2013 Red Sox.

What is far less clear, however, is whether any of those teams won that season’s World Series due to their July trades. The 2007 Red Sox acquired relief pitcher Eric Gagne from the Texas Rangers in exchange for three prospects, but Gagne actually generated a negative WAR during the Boston portion of his 2007 season, then gave up two runs in just three innings of post-season work. The 2008  Phillies traded three prospects to get starter Joe Blanton, but he too generated a negative regular season WAR. Blanton did pitch respectably in the post-season, making one start in a World Series the Phillies took in five games. The 2010 Giants sent two prospects to Pittsburgh for reliever Javier Lopez, who generated a 0.9 WAR that might arguably have been central to San Francisco’s eventual two-game NL West margin over San Diego. But when the 2012 Giants picked up Hunter Pence from Philadelphia for three prospects, Pence generated only 0.3 WAR for his new team, then batted .210 in post-season play. The 2013 Red Sox acquired starter Jake Peavy to bolster their pennant chances, and he did generate a 0.7 regular season WAR. But Peavy’s three post-season starts were terrible, generating one loss and a 7.09 ERA.

A deeper look at the data suggests that of the 50 deals, only two boosted the teams acquiring established players into post-season play; the rest either didn’t make it or would have made it with or without the trades. The two truly impactful short-term deals were the Brewers’ 2008 acquisition from Cleveland of C.C. Sabathia for four prospects and the Dodgers’ pickup of outfielder Manny Ramirez that same season for two prospects. Ramirez generated a 3.5 WAR for an LA team that won its division by two games. The Brewers beat the Mets for the NL wild card by one game; Sabathia produced a 4.9 WAR after joining Milwaukee. Neither of those teams, however, made it to the World Series. The Phillies beat Sabathia’s Brewers in a four-game NLDS, Sabathia allowing five earned runs in his only appearance, a loss. Ramirez went 13-for-25 in the 2008 post-season, but that did not prevent a four-games-to-one NLCS loss to the Phillies, who went on to beat Tampa Bay in the World Series.

Long-term results

Media types and officials of downtrodden teams routinely gush about the transformative value of prospects acquired at or near the trade deadline in exchange for established major leaguers. The reality is very much otherwise. The analyzed deals shipped a total of 121 prospects to non-contending teams, of whom only 44 generated long-term positive value for their new teams. And while there were a handful of long-term franchise-changers among the 44 – Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley and Josh Donaldson – most could only hope to be counted among “useful parts” such as Kyle Hendricks in Chicago, Josh Harrison in Pittsburgh and Tanner Roark in Washington.

Among the teams who traded stars for prospects in July deals from 2007 through 2013, only 21 percent reached post-season play during the five subsequent seasons.

Of the 50 trades, only 11 generated long-term value in excess of 5.0 games for the teams acquiring prospects. The best of those were the July 31, 2007 trade in which the Rangers acquired five players – among them Elvis Andrus and Matt Harrison – from the Braves for Mark Teixeira (+46.6 long-term WAR), the July 31, 2010 deal in which the Indians acquired Kluber from San Diego in a three-team trade that cost them Jake Westbrook (+31.5 long-term WAR), the July 7, 2008 trade that brought Cleveland Michael Brantley and three other players in exchange for Sabathia (+18.4 long-term WAR), and the July 30, 2011 trade that brought Baltimore Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter in exchange for reliever Koji Uehara (+18.7 long-term WAR).

The 51 teams trading for prospects – again, one trade involved three teams – had 255 opportunities you take advantage of the long-term benefits of that trade to reach post-season in any of the five seasons subsequent to the trade. In 53 of those subsequent seasons, the team succeeded in reaching post-season. That number is padded a bit, however, by the reality that some downtrodden teams made multiple trades, some reached multiple subsequent post-seasons, and some did both. Five times since 2008 a team that had invested in a July “deal for futures” did win the World Series, those five being the 2010 and 2012 Giants, the 2015 Royals, 2016 Cubs and 2017 Astros. Three other teams reached the World Series, those being the 2010 and 2011 Rangers and the 2015 Mets.

That is not to say, however, that the long-term deals were consequential to future success. The “futures” deal executed by  the 2010 and 2012 champion Giants came about on July 20, 2008, when they sent Ray Durham to the Brewers in exchange for Steve Hammond and Darren Ford. Hammond neer made the majors, while Ford compiled a career WAR of +0.2 for the 2011-12 Giants.  Here are the details of the deals that brought prospects to the future World Series champion Royals, Cubs and Astros:

Date           Team     Traded                       To           For                                     Long-term gain

7-30-11       Royals   Mike Aviles                Boston    Kendal Volz                                        —–

Yamaico Navarro                              —–

7-24-12       Astros   Wandy Rodriguez      Pitts.      Cotton Cain                                        —–

Robbie Grossman                            +1.6

Rudy Owens                                      -0.2

7-31-12       Cubs      Ryan Dempster         Texas     Kyle Hendricks                                  +14.5

Christian Villanueva            (traded to SD)

7-31-12       Cubs      Geovany Soto            Texas     Jake Brigham                                        —-

 

It’s readily apparent that only one of those “futures” trades contributed to the acquiring team’s world championship, that being the Cubs’ 2012 pickup of Hendricks from Texas.  Four of the eight “futures” never made it to the big leagues, and a fifth never made it with the team that acquired him. Only two, Hendricks and Grossman, produced a net positive long-term WAR for their new teams.

Overall judgment: With rare exceptions, most trades of front-liners for prospects do not elevate teams to playoff status, either because the moves were unnecessary or because the acquired front liners were overrated. Nor, with rare exceptions, did the trades markedly improve the long-term prospects of the teams acquiring the prospects, either because the prospects never developed or because they proved at best to be marginal contributors.

 

Molinari’s British Open victory measures -2.14 on dominance scale

 

Francesco Molinari’s two-stroke victory in the 2018 British Open, the first major golf championship ever by an Italian player, translated to a pedestrian -2.14 Z Score.

Molinari defeated a field of challengers that included three highly ranked players. Tiger Woods, who ranks first on the peak rating chart, tied for sixth with a Z Score of -1.47. Rory McIlroy, a three-time major champion, tied for second at -1.69. Jordan Spieth, who ranks just outside the top 10 on the all-time peak list, tied for ninth with a -1.24 peak score.

Even so, Molinari’s victory was unremarkable by the standards of previous British Opens. The 25 most dominant British Open performances have all been achieved with Z Scores of -2.73 or better. (A Z Score is a measure of exceptionality based on the standard deviation of the player’s performance. Molinari’s -2.14 score means he performed at a rate that was 2.14 standard deviations better than the average of all players completing four rounds at Carnoustie.)  None of the 25 most dominant British Open performances, by the way, have been achieved at Carnoustie, which has now hosted the Open eight times.

Despite Molinari’s victory being the first ever in a major championship by an Italian, it is not the most dominant performance by an Italian player. When Costantino Rocca lost a playoff to John Daly for the 1995 Open championship, both players finished with a -2.21 Z Score.

Here are the 10 most exceptional British Open performances in history based on winning Z Score:

Rank      Player                                   Year       Course                             Z Score

1              Louis Oosthuizen             2010       St. Andrews                       -3.51

2              Henrik Stenson                 2016       Royal Troon                      -3.50

3              Tom Watson                      1977       Turnberry                         -3.38

4              Tiger Woods                       2000       St. Andrews                     -3.33

5              Tom Watson                      1980       Muirfield                          -3.26

6              Jordan Spieth                    2017       Royal Birkdale                -3.25

7              Arnold Palmer                   1962       Royal Troon                   -3.15

8              Henry Cotton                     1934       Royal St. George’s          -3.13

9              Johnny Miller                     1976       Royal Birkdale               -3.11

10           Nick Faldo                           1990       St. Andrews                    -3.09

 

If history holds, Carnoustie may produce a very competitive tournament

 

If history holds, Carnoustie will mellow the field’s performance in this week’s British Open golf championship.

The winners of the seven previous Opens contested at Carnoustie compiled an average Z Score of -2.03. That is significantly less dominant than the average Z Scores of any of the four major championships played in recent years.

Winners of the four Opens contested since 2014 have produced average Z Scores of -2.90, nearly a full point more dominant than Carnoustie winners. In essence, that means that Carnoustie produces more competitive results than other Open championship courses.

The same disparity holds for other recent championship venues. The winners of Masters championships played since 2014 have averaged Z Scores of -2.37; at the U.S. Open the average has been -2.35; at the PGA it has been -2.44. Of the 18 major championship winners since the start of the 2014 season, only four produced Z Scores that were less dominant than the most dominant Z Score ever produced by a Carnoustie champion.

That suggests the championship at Carnoustie this week is likely to be decided by one or two strokes at most, possibly in a playoff, and heading a highly competitive field. All three of the most recent Opens – going back to Tom Watson’s 1975 victory over Jack Watson – went to playoffs. Only one of the seven has been decided by more than two strokes, that being Ben Hogan’s four-stroke victory in 1953.

Of the seven previous Open championships, the statistically most dominant performance was by Henry Cotton in 1937. Cotton won by two strokes, producing  -2.29 Z Score, during some of the worst weather ever to plague a major golf tournament. The competition was marred by vicious wind and rainstorms that at times dumped as much as three inches of standing water on the putting surfaces.  The competition committee allowed players that year to move their balls in order to avoid standing water, and some competitors were reported to have utilized that rule as frequently as a dozen times. In those conditions, The Observer’s correspondent described Cotton’s final round 71 as one of the greatest final rounds in golf history. “To have such a score in a storm of wind and rain  — and on a course measuring 7,200 yards — is an achievement defying comparison.” Indeed, the average score of the nearly 50 players who completed 72 holes was 290, 16 strokes higher than Cotton’s.

Here are the scores of the seven champions crowned at Carnoustie:

Year       Champion                           Score     Z Score

1931       Tommy Armour                 296         -1.91

1937       Henry Cotton                      290         -2.29

1953       Ben Hogan                          282         -2.15

1968       Gary Player                         289         -2.09

1975       Tom Watson                       279         -2.06

1999       Paul Lawrie                        290         -1.92

2007       Padraig Harrington          277         -1.77

Stearns wins first-half honors as majors’ most effective GM

 

The Milwaukee Brewers relinquished their grip on first place just before the All-Star break, but that should not obscure the team-building work done by their general manager, David Stearns.

At the 2018 All-Star break, the impact of Stearns’ moves since the end of the 2017 season has improved the Brewers by 7.1 games, the best performance of any of the 30 major league general managers. The Brewers completed the All-Star break 2.5 games behind the NL Central division leading Chicago Cubs.

Stearns compiled positive scores in all five facets of the rating: acquisitions via trade, purchase or waiver claim; free agent signings; farm system callups;  trade losses; and free agency losses. His trade for Christian Yelich improved the Brewers by 1.5 games based on Wins Above Average. His free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain provided a 3.1 game improvement, and his callup of rookie pitcher Freddy Peralta brought a 0.9 game improvement.

In what may be a surprise, the second best mid-term performance was turned in by Tampa Bay Rays’ general manager Erik Neander, whose moves improved the Rays by 4.9 games. Third was Dave Dombrowski, general manager of the AL East leading Boston Red Sox, whose signing of J.D. Martinez was among moves improving the Red Sox by 4.5 games at the break.

At the other end of the scale, the worst GM performance was by Marlins GM Mike Hill. Supervising his team’s teardown following its purchase by new ownership, the sum total of Hill’s decisions hurt the Marlins by 10.2 games. Kansas City’s Dayton Moore scored -8.1, while Colorado Rockies’ GM Jeff Bridich was saddled by a -7.3 score.

The leader in 2017 was Chicago Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer with a score of +9.0 games. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi was second at +6.7.

Here are the mid-term scores for all 30 major league general managers. (Because Dick Williams relinquished his position in early April in favor of Nick Krall, the Cincinnati Reds have two GMs ranked.)

Rank      Name                            Team                                 Rating

1       David Stearns                    Milwaukee Brewers       +7.1

2      Erik Neander                      Tampa Bay Rays               +4.9

3      Dave Dombrowski            Boston Red Sox                 +4.5

4      John Mozeliak                   St. Louis Cardinals            +3.7

5      Dick Williams                     Cincinnati Reds                +3.5

6      tie Brian Cashman            New York Yankees           +2.8

Jeff Luhnow                       Houston Astros                 +2.8

Mike Chernoff                  Cleveland Indians             +2.8

9      Jerry DiPoto                       Seattle Mariners               +2.1

10   tie Mike Hazen                  Arizona Diamondbacks   +1.6

Alex Avila                            Detroit Tigers                    +1.6

12   Farhan Zaidi                        Los Angeles Dodgers       +1.1

13   Jed Hoyer                            Chicago Cubs                      +0.9

14   Nick Krall                              Cincinnati Reds                 -0.1

15   Jon Daniels                         Texas Rangers                     -0.6

16   David Forst                         Oakland A’s                         -0.9

17   Alex Anthopolous            Atlanta Braves                     -1.0

18   Bobby Evans                      San Francisco Giants         -1.2

19   Ross Atkins                         Toronto Blue Jays              -1.3

20   Billy Eppler                          Los Angeles Angels          -1.6

21   Matt Klentak                      Philadelphia Phillies         -2.2

22   tie Rick Hahn                      Chicago White Sox            -2.7

Mike Rizzo                          Washington Nationals     -2.7

24   Neal Huntington               Pittsburgh Pirates             -2.8

25   Dan Duquette                   Baltimore Orioles              -4.1

26   tie Sandy Alderson          New York Mets                  -5.0

A.J. Preller                          San Diego Padres             -5.0

28   Thad Levine                        Minnesota Twins             -6.1

29   Jeff Bridich                          Colorado Rockies             -7.3

30   Dayton Moore                   Kansas City Royals           -8.8

31   Mike Hill                             Miami Marlins               -10.2