Alamar’s Stats Hit Their Mark

“…I just have this image still of the researcher on the edge of his couch, hours at a time, eyes wide open, bags under his eyes, looks like a zombie, just clicking the stopwatch,” laughed Steve Inskeep, National Public Radio host of Morning Edition. The inspiration for this imagined visual is none other than Menlo College researcher Benjamin C. Alamar, Ph.D.

Morning Edition host Inskeep and sports correspondent Mike Pesca were discussing Alamar's stats on NPR Morning Edition's January 21 interview titled “4 NFL Teams Do Battle for 2 Super Bowl Spots.” They had read a January 12 article by Reed Albergotti in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Mysteries of the Offensive Line” discussing how Professor Alamar was attempting to grade the performances of offensive linemen by analyzing videos of their passing plays during games using his stopwatch to compare time allowed the quarterback to the league averages. Based on the results, he was able to estimate how much player performance likely added to team results.

“I did not focus just on playoff teams, but in the data collection, as we had limited time. More data was collected on teams that were likely to make the playoffs,” explained Professor Alamar. “We collected data on 18 teams so far, and hope to have covered all 32 some time this spring.”

No Stranger to the Game

Professor Alamar is an economist and Assistant Professor of Sports Management at Menlo College. A former high school offensive lineman, he has combined his passion for football and stats to make a name for himself as a sports statistician, an expert who makes reasonable predictions about game outcomes by poring over hard data. His reputation has soared with the recent win by the Green Bay Packers for one of the two Super Bowl spots. He timed every pass play by leading playoff contenders to show that the Packers offensive line is very good. “As someone who has been working for many years to demonstrate the value that good statistical analysis can have for football teams, it is gratifying to see the work start to gain some recognition,” he said.

Professor Alamar organized the 2010 Northern California Symposium on Statistics and Operations Research in Sports, an annual meeting of pro teams, sports media, and academic statisticians who presented original research and discuss the pressing issues in the field of sports statistics. He is the founder of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. He brings examples of his work into many of his classes including statistics, sports management and sports economics.

Update: Find out which team Alamar believes has a better shot at winning in The Wall Street Journal.