NFL vs. MLB: Pace and Timing

Perhaps the biggest complaint non-baseball fans have about the sport is that it is boring. Often, they point to the pace of the game to make the argument.

In an NFL game in 2010 there were an average (mean) of 126 plays. Baseball doesn’t have plays in a strict sense, and its timing is, obviously, far more dependent on the action on the field, given the lack of a clock. But say you count a pitch as a play: there are almost always at least 200 in a game, and often 250 or 300.

Now consider: A typical NFL game takes three hours. That is on the long side for an MLB game, even though an MLB game will always have more plays than an NFL game, at least based on the above definitions of a play.

One’s perception of time when watching the two sports on television may be where the complaints arise. While every pitch in a baseball game has the potential to create action, most do not realize that potential. The ball gets thrown back to the pitcher and–especially if he works slowly–you wait for the next one, but generally there is not much to review. Meanwhile, after every football play, the next 30 seconds can be used for replays, since football doesn’t have the problem.

But, how often in football is there a commercial, followed by a kickoff, and immediately followed by more commercials?

Anyway, it would seem that it’s not so much that baseball has more inaction than football, just that it’s easier to cover up the inaction in NFL broadcasts than MLB broadcasts.


Quarterbacks vs. Pitchers: Credit for Win-Loss Percentage

30% of all PA in 2011 were home runs, walks, and strikeouts

Baseball is 50% run scoring and 50% run prevention
If you only give a pitcher credit for the three “true outcomes” he deserves 15% credit for wins. If you give the pitcher credit for all run prevention, he’s 50% responsible for wins. This assumes a complete game; adjust for, say, 6 IP per start and the range becomes 5%-33%. One in every 5 starts, 1%-7% is our range.
Wins in starts (CG): 15-50%
Wins in average start (6IP): 5%-33%
Wins for team: 1-7%
Football is X% offense (point scoring), and X% defense (point prevention)… but also X% special teams. The equation is something like O=D>S. Either way, the offense is something less than 50%, though perhaps marginally.
If you give a QB credit for the entire offense, he gets something less than 50% of credit for wins.
But that’s probably too much. In 2011, 34% of yards were gained on the ground, so let’s give the passing attack gets about 2/3 credit.
How much of that is the QB? That’s the question.
If we say 45% offense, 45% defense, 10% special teams, and give the QB full credit for the passing game, 2/3 of 45% is 30%.
But there is also pass protection and receiver ability to consider. How much should that count? Do pre-snap adjustments by the QB matter as much? Do QBs deserve some credit for the running game?
Overall, somewhere between 20-30% credit seems right to me.