We Checked 50 Years Of Sports History To Find The Team That

8Point differential 4True shooting percentage and free throw rate* vs. avg. SportWeightCategory 62013 Arizona Diamondbacks0.7861999 Green Bay Packers1.03 11MINMLB-0.29-0.29+0.05-0.514.32 MLB10 PTSWinning percentage 13WSNMLB-0.09+0.50+0.21+0.644.56 *In addition to categories shown here, the weighted sum of the squares includes sport-specific categories not listed in the table.Source: Sports-Reference.com 92001 Toronto Blue Jays0.8691970 San Diego Chargers1.15 6Points per game* vs. avg. Pittsburgh wasn’t always this nondescript, of course. As of a few years ago, they’d been quite good — making the playoffs3Assuming you count the wild-card game as “the playoffs.” in three straight years from 2013 to 2015 — and before that, they’d been extremely bad, missing the postseason for 20 straight years. Obviously, neither of those performances will land you anywhere near our list of the most average teams. But Pittsburgh has turned in some faultlessly pedestrian play recently, with a string of near-.500 seasons that culminated in this year’s middling masterpiece.For fans seeking long-term mediocrity, the Philadelphia Flyers might be a good option, having finished with between 39 and 42 wins in four of their last five seasons. (And in the one season they didn’t, they still racked up points for a league-leading 18 overtime losses, which could easily have turned into ties — aka the best possible outcome for fans of .500 play — under the NHL’s old standings system.) According to our algorithm, no team in major pro sports has been more consistently mediocre over the past five seasons than the Flyers, although they narrowly edged out the NBA’s Washington Wizards — another great pick if you want to watch dependably so-so basketball.In the long run, the Pirates still have a ways to go to catch the Flyers and Wizards, not to mention the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB’s current five-year kings of the commonplace). But for one magical season, Pittsburgh has been home to one of the most fiercely undistinguished teams in pro sports history. TeamSportWin PCT.Scoring Diff.Scoring Off.Scoring Def.Sum of Sq. Z-scores* 62005 Cleveland Cavaliers1.3361979 Los Angeles Kings0.70 The old MLB single-season record holder for mediocrity — who could reclaim their crown, I suppose, if the Pirates play too well or too poorly over the next month — were the 1923 Brooklyn Robins,2Because that’s what the Dodgers were called back then. whose record and number of runs scored and allowed were impeccably ordinary. But the Robins’ OBP was a little outside the norm, and that might prove to be their downfall against a team as relentlessly humdrum as this year’s Pirates. Pittsburgh’s only real historical competition could be the NHL’s 1976 Vancouver Canucks (who went 33-32 with 15 ties, scoring just one less goal than they allowed) and the NFL’s 1984 Cincinnati Bengals. With an 8-8 record and precisely identical numbers for points scored and allowed (339), those Bengals were the 2007 Patriots of garden-variety football. Pittsburgh needs to bear down and really focus on being as unremarkable as possible if it has any hope of catching the Bengals.Here are the most average teams in each sport since 1971, when the NBA began tracking opponent statistics (which allows us to calculate our detailed numbers for all four leagues): 6SEANFL+0.31+0.34+0.28+0.353.36 NHL10Points percentage 1PITMLB-0.09+0.02-0.10+0.110.30 51998 Washington Wizards1.2352009 Anaheim Ducks0.55 The Pirates are the most average team in sportsTeams whose weighted sum of squared z-scores were closest to 0.0 (perfectly average) for the most recent MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL season * Both for and against the team in question. 12MILNBA+0.25-0.07+0.04-0.144.49 102018 Washington Wizards1.64101978 Detroit Red Wings0.83 12018 Pittsburgh Pirates0.3011984 Cincinnati Bengals0.20 31989 Boston Celtics1.0131997 Phoenix Coyotes0.34 3LAAMLB-0.16+0.20+0.25+0.121.54 5PHIMLB+0.37-0.01-0.33+0.243.06 Who’s the most average of them all?Most average single-season teams in MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL since 1971,* measured in squared, weighted sums of the difference from league average 4WASNBA+0.16+0.13+0.07+0.091.64 4On-base percentage and slugging percentage* vs. avg. 16NYMMLB-0.54-0.31-0.57-0.045.75 6Points per game* vs. avg. 22017 Indiana Pacers0.6922008 Nashville Predators0.23 82008 Washington Wizards1.4281989 Hartford Whalers0.72 8Point differential 20LACNBA+0.08+0.01+0.70-0.796.62 NBA10Winning percentage NBASQ. DIFF. At 64-67, the Pittsburgh Pirates are nobody’s idea of a special team. Although they harbored some aspirations of contending before the season — and even held a half-game lead over the NL Central as late as May 17 — Pittsburgh has been pretty mediocre for most of the 2018 campaign, even after inexplicably picking up pitcher Chris Archer at the trade deadline.One way in which the Pirates have been exceptional, however, is in their lack of exceptionality. In addition to their .500-ish record, they’ve scored almost exactly as many runs (576) as they’ve allowed (577), at per-game rates that are almost exactly average on each side of the ball, in a manner — as measured by their on-base and slugging percentages for and against — that is almost exactly average. The Bucs are unspectacular right down to the core, and that makes them, statistically, the world’s most middle-of-the-road baseball team — not just of this season, but in all of modern history (since 1901).Or at least, they are according to a method I put together to seek out the North American pro teams in the big four leagues (so, MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) who hewed closest to their sport’s average numbers in a season. For each team, I calculated its z-scores (standard deviations above or below average) in winning percentage, per-game victory margin and scoring per game (both for and against), plus a metric I threw in (varying by sport) to represent each team’s style of play. Then I squared each z-score, weighted them (see below) and added up those numbers to arrive at a team’s overall difference from league average, where lower is better.Here are the numbers I looked at for each sport, along with how much weight each one carries: 8Goal differential 81984 California Angels0.8582011 Chicago Bears1.14 17COLMLB+0.54-0.02+0.63-0.535.76 4Passing/rushing yards per attempt* vs. avg. 19FLANHL+0.28+0.05+0.18-0.106.17 14DALNHL+0.03+0.25-0.36+0.825.29 7TENNFL+0.31-0.22-0.21-0.193.85 71997 Detroit Tigers0.8371978 Washington1.12 4Shots per game and shooting percentage* vs. avg. 32010 Florida Marlins0.5131981 Washington0.79 15CBJNHL+0.35+0.30-0.07+0.605.47 MLBSQ. DIFF. 91982 Portland Trail Blazers1.5991983 Vancouver Canucks0.78 8MILMLB+0.54+0.17-0.14+0.393.92 Finding the most average teamsCategories (and weights) considered when measuring MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL teams against their league’s average for a given season 52000 Detroit Tigers0.7551999 Detroit Lions0.88 NFL10Winning percentage 9DALNFL+0.31+0.22+0.10+0.354.06 41993 Seattle Mariners0.6441991 New York Jets0.87 Z-Score (std. deviations above/below avg.) 101976 Cleveland Indians0.86101987 Minnesota Vikings1.17 6Runs per game* vs. avg. NHLSQ. DIFF. NFLSQ. DIFF. The weights are somewhat arbitrary, but hopefully they make sense: A record close to .500 is the essence of average-ness — and worthy of the strongest weight — but we can also give bonus points for being average at every level as we dig deeper into a team’s statistical portfolio.(The components I chose at the deepest level — true shooting percentage, yards per attempt, etc. — in each sport were also arbitrary, but I wanted to include metrics that summarize how a team plays on both offense and defense. To truly be the most average team, you must not only finish as close to .500 as possible, but you must do so while playing like a typical team of the era.)And by that standard, the Pirates have managed to outshine every other current team, easily topping the other sports’ most mediocre contenders: the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks.1All numbers are through Aug. 26, 2018. 21979 Chicago Cubs0.4921972 Atlanta Falcons0.56 *1971 is the earliest season for which detailed opponent stats are available for all four sports, making our calculation possible.Source: Sports-Reference.com 8Run differential 2NJDNHL+0.35+0.10+0.18-0.021.44 71997 Minnesota Timberwolves1.3872014 Detroit Red Wings0.72 6Goals per game* vs. avg. 12016 Dallas Mavericks0.4211976 Vancouver Canucks0.23 10PHINHL+0.42+0.20+0.31+0.034.08 42007 New Jersey Nets1.1741975 St. Louis Blues0.35 18DETNBA-0.16-0.03-0.68+0.736.03

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *