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Sports Analytics Articles

A lot has changed since “Moneyball.” Many professional sports are have adopted data to help teams win, but sports analytics are by no means a completely familiar territory. Each sport has plenty of big questions left to answer about strategy and performance.

How Our March Madness Predictions Work

Got your brackets ready? Great! Now’s a perfect time to dig into the nitty gritty of FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions.-FiveThirtyEight

Professional Footballers Threaten Data Firms With GDPR Legal Action

Player data is a staple of modern sports franchises. But this data is collected and profited from without any consent from athletes.-BBC

NHL Analytics With Python

Datasets don’t get much better than this. The NHL has an undocumented data API with everything from team schedules and rosters to every single shot that was taken on the ice.-Towards Data Science

Advice to Aspiring Sports Analytics Professionals

Tips for getting started in sports analytics.-R Studio Blog

How to Feel About a Tie

What twelve years of NBA games tell us about when you should be confident during a close game, and when you should be worried.-benn.substack

Sports Analytics Reading List

First, crack the spine (or power up the ebook) on these essential sport analytics tomes. Then, choose your own adventure depending on your interests (baseball? hockey? combat sports?).-Brendan Kent


This R package can run thousands of simulations of the NFL regular season to examine the probability of team making the playoffs or winning the Super Bowl. Your fantasy football league won’t know what hit ‘em.-nflseedR

How Data Science Came to Dominate Fantasy Football

Anecdotes ruled fantasy football conversations. Then the math nerds crashed the party.-Built In

What Do You Need To Learn To Work In Football Analytics?

What skills do you need to develop in order to find a position at a club? To answer that question, you actually need to start with the different types of data available to a football analyst.-Barça Innovation Hub

Football Coaches Are Still Flunking on Fourth Down

“It has never been easier for coaches to behave rationally, and yet they still manage to be irrational.”-The Wall Street Journal

The LeBron James Decision-Making Machine

LeBron’s a free agent and this summer, he’ll pick his next team. What can all 30 NBA teams can offer him in championships and legacy?-FiveThirtyEight

The evolution of Stephen Curry

This analysis makes the case that Stephen Curry is a point guard, not just a “shooting guard playing point” because he performs the quintessential responsibility of a point guard—to help his teammates score—better than anybody else in the league this year.-Fansided

Visualizing One Million NCAA Basketball Shots

Google recently uploaded a ton of data about NCAA games, players, shot locations, and more. This fun analysis is just the tip of iceberg—play around with the massive data set yourself in BigQuery.-Max Woolf

AMA: Ben Falk, former VP of Basketball Strategy for the Sixers and Basketball Analytics Manager for the Blazers

Ben Falk got into basketball analytics in 2002 and watched the field evolve from basically nothing to rendering the NBA unrecognizable. In this AMA he shares how he got started, tactics for communicating analysis to coaches, and why he doesn't like using one-number stats to produce player rankings.-/r/nba

Why Are Some New Statistics Embraced and Not Others?

How do you turn data into a baseball stat that not only captures what’s actually happening on the field but also engages the average fan? There are lessons in here about packaging metrics to resonate with your audience— whether they're up in the stands or across the office.-New York Times Magazine

These days in baseball, every batter is trying to find an angle

In 2015, the MLB introduced a new metric— the “launch angle.” Since then, batters have become obsessed with hitting higher and harder and baseball saw the biggest surge in home runs since the steroids era. Coincidence? Probably not.-Washington Post

What’s it like to work in sports analytics?

From the outside, crunching numbers for a national sports league seems glamorous. The cold hard truth? It’s an often thankless job with low pay and long hours. The only thing that’ll prevent burnout is a pure love of the game.-StatsbyLopez

Matching to estimate the causal effects of firing an NFL coach

To fire or not to fire? When a football team gives their coach the boot, are they better off for it? (Bonus: a nice primer on causal inference.)-StatsbyLopez

MMA styles II: ranking the top striking, submission and decision specialists

If you prefer knock outs to home runs, good news! There’s an entire blog dedicated to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) analysis. Check out a new way to rank Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes using R.-Fight Prior

The Cubs Just Ended Baseball’s Analytics War

When Theo Epstein helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004, sabermetrics wasn’t a widespread practice. With the Cubs’ win last week, Epstein ended yet another World Series drought, despite facing analytically savvy opponents.-The Ringer

How One Man’s Bad Math Helped Ruin Decades Of English Soccer

Here’s a conundrum for you: Charles Reep, the father of soccer analytics, recommended a playing style that’s partially responsible for the Brits playing such a bad football.-FiveThirtyEight

The Data of the Chicago Marathon

Examine the numbers behind various aspects of marathon performance, including how to avoid hitting the wall, the best indicator of finish time, and how women are more disciplined runners than men.-Running with Data

New Tech and A Little Story About Neymar, Andros, and Eden Hazard

Improvements in player statistics have created a fun new way to follow soccer, er, “football.” Take a walk through the basic logical process of choosing the right metrics to evaluate player performance. Even non-soccer fans will love the results.-Stats Bomb

2016 Fantasy Football Dashboard

Looking for an advantage in your fantasy league this year? Check out our Fantasy Football Draft Dashboard, equipped with everything you need to make a good pick.-Overflow Data

Usain Bolt and the Fastest Men in the World Since 1896 – on the Same Track

The Olympics are over, but we wanted to squeeze in one last data viz from Rio before the long wait ‘til 2020.-New York Times

Was There a Problem with the Rio Pool?

No, we’re not talking about the green water hullabaloo. This detailed data exploration covers a different issue: Was there a current in the Rio pool affecting swimmers’ speed?-SwimSwam

Which Olympic Sport Is Hardest On Its Goalies?

Soccer and field hockey keepers have the “easiest” jobs, generally saving around 70 percent of shots.-FiveThirtyEight

How the U.S. Crushed the Competition in the Women’s Gymnastics Team Final

The American women’s gymnastics team won the gold with 184.897 points, an 8-point lead over second-best Russia.-New York Times

Michael Phelps vs. Himself

By charting all of Phelps’s individual race times since Sydney, we can see how his performance has changed over the last 16 years-New York Times

Old Olympians Ride Horses; Young Ones Do Flips

For each sport of the 2016 Games, I looked at the median age of the participants — overall, men and women — using data from athlete profile pages on the Rio 2016 website.-FiveThirtyEight

A Visual History of Which Countries Have Dominated the Summer Olympics

Just 10 countries — the United States, Australia and eight European nations — earned medals in the first modern Games, in Athens in 1896. More than 100 years later, in Rio, there were 87 medal-winning nations, from Algeria to Vietnam.-New York Times

Women Are Being Left Behind by the Sports Data Revolution

Nate Silver once wrote 'Sports has awesome data.' But hang on, we need to qualify that: 'Men’s sports has awesome data.' The surprisingly little amount of data collected on women’s sports limits the kinds of stories sports journalists can tell.-How We Get To Next

Using Data Science to Win in Fantasy Football

Many people rely on player rankings to draft their fantasy football teams, but such rankings can’t tell you how much better one player is than another. Instead, dividing players into tiers based on projected scores may be the way to go.-Huey Kwik

Golfers Join the Rest of World, Use Data

Decades after baseball front offices started using data to win games, some golfers are now turning to data to find ways to improve performance and devise course strategy.-Wall Street Journal

Six Degrees of the NBA

A social network analysis of NBA players who have played on the same team.-Fanatics

Every shot Kobe Bryant ever took. All 30,699 of them

Take a tour of Kobe Bryant's key shots over his 20-year career, or explore the makes and misses over his long career.-Los Angeles Times

Nylon Calculus at the 2016 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Nylon Calculus shares their thoughts and reactions about biometrics data, human-in-the-loop, and the Moneyball generation.-Nylon Calculus

The Big Ideas From This Year’s Sloan Conference

Here are five trends that emerged in the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference research paper competition.-FiveThirtyEight

How Stephen Curry broke his own 3-point record

Golden State Warriors legend Stephen Curry just can’t stop breaking records, and he hasn’t slowed down all season. Dig into the numbers behind his rise to the top of the NBA leaderboard.-ESPN

The State of Analytics Within MLB

A fascinating look at the effect baseball analytics has on how front offices operate, including where analysts sit within the organization, how their specializations have developed, and the evolving relationship between scouts and analysts.-FanGraphs Baseball

Football analytics Q&A with data expert Trey Causey

A good overview of football and sports analytics as a whole—“I think the general set of analytical skills is sport-agnostic, as it’s more of a way of thinking about how to solve problems with data than about specific subject matter expertise.”-Waiting For Next Year

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