Thursday, August 21, 2014

2014 Motocross | Budds Creek

Photo: George Crosland, allisports
I often criticize our broadcast crew for not paying enough attention to the entire field.  There are individual races all over the track and some of the most exciting are often found in the back.  Years ago the Speed Channel broadcast the CMRC (Canadian Motocross) series and Marc Travers, Brian Koster and Ryan Gould set the bar pretty high with the most exciting and extremely entertaining race commentary you’ll find.  I’ve concluded that one of two conditions exist with our crew; either Jason Weigandt and Grant Langston are not as skilled or they are asked not to cover the back, I’d like to believe the latter.  I suppose it’s all about the Benjamin’s and until privateers can lure an audience things aren’t likely to change.  This will never happen here at The Roost’r because the privateers make all this relevant.

Alright, so what’s new this week?  I’ve been trying to figure out how to account for some random variables for more accurate evaluations and I believe I may have come up with a tweak to my formula.  It’s a small tweak, one I call MaxMob, and when applied it creates a TRAP that may make a bit more sense to race fans.  I’ve also decided to add an extra slide to help give my TRAP’s some context.  I took a little extra time comparing the video to my spreadsheets and my figures seem to support the results.

It’s important to note that I’ve excluded up to 18 riders in certain categories this week for not meeting my base parameters.  The greatest % change category shows the 3 riders who had the largest point differential between motos either positive or negative.  Most Undervalued and Overvalued (not pictured) is a category I’m particularly interested in.  These categories at the end of the season should ultimately identify who deserves the richest contracts in terms of relative performance – but then how do you put a price on a million dollar smile?

Next post I may avoid some redundancy and I’d like to keep them short but for now this is it.  Thanks for clicking in.

The Roost'r

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Motocross | RedBud

RedBud; that has a different meaning here in Colorado but for those dirt bike enthusiasts it means just one thing and that’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross.  I actually missed the broadcast and as of this posting I have yet to catch the replay so this should be fun.

The problem with TV is that the broadcast focuses on the front and they often miss a lot of what's happening in the back.  My TRAPs illustrate a race in one frame so now you can keep tabs on your favorite rider in every moto without having to read through paragraphs of text the day after, hoping your guy is mentioned.  Remember, I'm NOT looking for winners and losers but rather measuring individual performances.  You can find box scores and play-by-play anywhere, here you're going to find something different.

It appears that we are on the threshold of some groundbreaking technology that will absolutely change the way we watch motorsports.  This new technology will take timing and scoring to a whole new level but it’s too early to tell if this technology will be available to “the great unwashed.”  I suppose only time will tell.

Well, I’ve decided to cover just one class again given my time constraints and I actually find it more interesting to focus on one group of riders so let’s take a look at the 250 motos.

It's all about the O so I updated this post to reflect the entire field however I did exclude 15 riders for scoring outside the base parameters.  I ran a whole bunch of filters to find some of my favorite stats and you'll find some of them in figure 1.  The overall TRAP for Red Bud is posted below. 

Figure 1
It appears to me that some of these riders had better rides than their finishes would suggest.  I should remind everyone that I haven’t seen the full coverage but I suspect I’m not far off.  Below are the TRAPs for the 250 riders.  I'd like to catch up  but now we have NFL preseason and Shark week; it's always something.

CORRECTION: Jessy Nelson should be 2nd overall in moto 1.

The Roost'r

Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 Motocross | Muddy Creek, TN

Photo: Cudby (racerxonline)
Jimmy Jack and I were sitting in Union Station the other day sipping a cool one, tossing around the idea of scaling some rock over the weekend.  As cool as that sounds, there's no way I'm sharing a rope with that monkey.  Between Fireball shots JJ did have one coherent thought; why not analyze both motos of one class?  Didn't think you cared, I asked.  I don't, he replied, I just thought it'd get me a free beer.

This week I decided to give my friend some props and focus on the 450 class only.  Just out of curiosity I thought I'd measure the performance of the top 10 from moto 1 to moto 2 and here's what I found.

Rider         Percentage Change
Roczen        +10.32%
Dungey        -12.28%
Stewart, J    +7.80%
Canard        +10.68%
Metcalfe      -24.47%
Peick         -33.73%
Grant         -56.33%
Stewart, M    -57.06%
Reed          -35.89%
Short         -15.43%

So how did this affect their finishes?

Rider          Moto 1     Moto 2
Roczen         2          1
Dungey         1          2
Stewart, J     5          11
Canard         4          4
Metcalfe       9          7
Peick          10         5
Grant          11         6
Stewart, M     14         10
Reed           16         9
Short          6          8

Jimmy is back home measuring his yard stick with a ruler but he did have time to pose the first question; how can James Stewart have positive performance yet finish worse in moto 2?  A thought like that had to hurt so I figured I'd better answer.  Before I get to that I want to point out pair of riders in Roczen and Canard.  Both had similar relative performances and notice how their finishes in moto 2 varied slightly.  

Their finishes aren't so surprising but the numbers indicate Canard had as good a ride as Roczen  with far different outcomes. So why the difference?  Just ask Canard and he'll tell you, it came down to the start. Again, not much of surprise but at least we have numbers to show for it.

Back to Jimmy - the answer is simple!  You didn't watch the races.  If you did you'd see that James was, well James and encountered more problems on the track.  It should be abundantly clear by now that timing is everything and I don't mean lap times.  Perhaps in another time or another year a rider like Trey Canard would be dominating the circuit but instead its guys like Villopoto and Roczen.  Its too bad that some great riders will someday fade into obscurity but until then I'll record their finest hours.

I'm trying to keep these posts short but there is so much more to gather from my charts I just don't have the time dig in deep; hopefully that will change at some point.

Till then, here are the 450 TRAPs for Muddy Creek.


Monday, July 28, 2014

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 Motocross | High Point

Photo: Cudby/racerxonline
We are evolving here at the Roost'r camp in ways I hadn't anticipated.  My interests have been progressing more into the periphery of the "roosty" sport of dirt bikes, make no mistake though the racing and the bikes still drive my passion.  I've tried to keep a balance between quantitative and qualitative analysis but lately the numbers seem to be winning the motos.  It's no surprise, numbers flash at me 8 hours a day and uncovering a new way to enjoy my favorite pastime keeps my wheels on the ground.

Statistics is not unlike riding a new track; trust your instincts, give it a couple of test runs then twist the throttle and hope you don't crack your dome.  Alpha in my industry is the driving force behind many of our decisions.  It's a factor in determining the value of a portfolio given a level of risk and only when we've identified significant alpha will we deploy capital.  This week I decided to put my "El Capit├ín" hat on and talk about how one might employ statistics to identify the M.U.V.R. or most undervalued rider.

My buddy, I'll call him Jimmy Jack, asks me why are you taking all the fun out of motocross?  My reply, "because I can."  All joking aside, the business side of the sport can be equally exciting with non-stop maneuvering behind the scenes creating a unique and dynamic season year after year.  Billy Beane couldn't stand to watch a pitch but he absolutely loved the sport of baseball.  A live game was only confirmation of a game he'd already played on paper and since there is not much attention being paid to the subject in motocross I thought I'd concentrate my efforts here.

The best I can do as a casual observer is to simulate what I might do as a team manager to uncover the MUVR.  Alpha should at the very least assist in identifying value in motocross and only a combustible mix of statistical analysis and applied mathematics can rut it out.  So what's the alpha generator in motocross? Having pondered the question for some time I've come to the conclusion that there are three main factors to consider.  Obviously part of the equation lies in the rider and his abilities.  Now he doesn't run around the track so another factor to consider is the equipment and the support he receives.  Finally there is the level of competition he faces and to a lesser extent the track itself.

Of course one moto or one race is not enough to come to any kind of conclusion so historical data and a keen eye are critical.  Given my time constraints I doubt I'll be able to provide any meaningful results in this post but at least you know what's in the works.  I understand alpha looks great on paper but it ultimately comes down to execution and that's really where the nobby meets the dirt.  In the meantime, below are two traps from High Point.  A TRAP for those not familiar is my proprietary scoring method for evaluating individual performance.

A quick glance at moto 1 of the 450 class revealed a lot of parity with 31 riders all scoring within tier 2 and 3.  Roczen was the top performer followed closely by Grant.  You may have also noticed Fredrik Noren from Sweden clawing his way up the rankings, now sitting 13th in points.  Another glaring fact is that KTM has officially arrived with some very impressive showings.  In moto 2 of the 250 class I had 3 riders scoring in the top tier, 2 of which I had never heard of; Dylan Slusser of Butler PA and Brandon Riehm of Annadale MN.  The rest of the field held their own in tiers 3 and 4, Matt Lemoine being the only rider scoring in tier 2 but just barely.

In the off season I hope to score every moto in every race so I have one full season of stats to work with.  I can't say how this will translate to supercross but then that's why I do this.  Muddy Creek profile up next, till then enjoy Budds Creek.

The Roost'r

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2014 Motocross | Thunder Valley

It’s been a busy month so far and I’ve not had much time for blogging.  I made it out to Thunder Valley a couple of weeks ago to catch round 3 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and it was everything I had hoped for.  The weather was superb and the racing was even better.

It’s always a topic of discussion over the conditions surrounding the elevation in Lakewood and this year I could actually see it play out over my spreadsheets.   It’s no surprise to all the insiders of the sport but for us lay people it’s cool to see actual numbers.  The 250’s had a harder time with the conditions but the 450’s saw the greatest impact.

In football it’s the weather that is the great equalizer but in Colorado it certainly is the altitude.  In moto 1 of the 450 class, 18 scored within Tier 2 (20 to 25 points), 15 for the 250 class in Tier 2 (20 to 30 points).  By way of comparison, at Hangtown, 9 in 450 moto 2 and 13 in 250 moto 1 scored within these respective ranges.

So what are we to gather from these statistics?  Well, looking at these 2 motos only, if I were racing at Thunder Valley I would hop on a 250 because I may have a better shot at qualifying, assuming I had the perfect setup of course.  I’m working on High Point over the break so check back in a few days for some HP stats.  Till then thanks for clicking in!

The Roost'r

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Motocross | Hangtown

Photo: racerxonline / cudby
A friend and I were sitting at a bar in Boulder with a supreme view of the Flatirons, sipping on a couple of Moscow Mules from a copper mug while sharing our best mountain bike stories when the conversation turned to motocross.  The debate revolved around my TRAP scoring and why the leader rarely has the highest score.

Great question I told him but the answer is really quite simple, I replied.  Of course I had to answer his question with a question; is the winner always the best and fastest rider on the track?  He thought about it for a moment and answered yes, of course, he won.  Wrong!  There is only one absolute in racing; the winner of a race is always without question the first to cross the finish line.

Want proof?  Just listen to the riders themselves.  Every week they give us their secret; a good start.  So why is that?  Because they know there is a distinct advantage for running up front.  For one, first place has one race and that’s to protect his position.  Everyone else, except for last place, has 2 races; protect his position and gain a position, never mind the Roost and every other hazard that comes with running from behind.  So when you think about it you have 40 individual races going on at the same time.  Here’s the twist though, when normalized, the leader has nearly maximized his competitive advantage.  His response; whatever.

I live in Colorado but the local riders I’m sure have no idea I exist but I keep up as often as I can so you can imagine how thrilled I was to see one of our local guys score big last weekend.  Bobby Fitch has no idea who I am but he had earned the top spot on my 450 TRAP this week, easily outscoring some of the top riders in the world; kudos my man.

So now let’s take a look at Moto 2 in the 450 class.  It’s important to remember that we’re talking about relative performance, or how a rider did relative to his peers and not how he did against his peers.  At first glance you’ll see that Fitch scored highest on the grid followed by Lamay, Canard, Peick, Mikhaylov, Reed, McConahy, Tedesco, Endicott and James Stewart to round out the top 10.  When we isolate performance further we find the largest concentration of riders outside tier 3; 57.5% to be exact.  We can conclude from these numbers that Fitch, Lamay and Canard had noteworthy rides in terms of personal effort and relative performance.

Tier 1 – 5%
Tier 2 – 15%
Tier 3 – 22.5%
Tier 4 – 27.5%
Tier 5 – 5%
Tiers 6 thru 8 – 25%

The fact that most riders fall outside the top tiers is of course no revelation, some riders possess far superior equipment and resources than others but over time we should be able to determine an Equivalent Average (EqA) for each rider and if I were a team manager I would look at riders who score consistently in the higher ranges of these EqA’s and let them have a run on a factory machine.

Perhaps you’re starting to get a sense of the level of complexity that goes into building and maintaining a professional motocross team and I believe to build a solid team you need to look past lap times and box scores.  Over the next few weeks I’ll be working on an Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) for forecasting rider performance – this is a system used in baseball so it’ll be interesting to see if it can be applied to motocross.

For the casual observer most of this may sound about as fun as bamboo shoots being jammed underneath your fingernails but if you’ve ever had the desire to be part of a pro motocross team, having deeper knowledge of racing wouldn’t hurt.  There are no guarantees in racing; the best we can do is improve our chances.

Thanks for clicking in and see you in Colorado,

The Roost'r