Legendary Funk Star Deluxe, Ben Askren, asks the question: Which team peaks the best? But I think, “Is peaking real?” is a better question, because I posit that the answer is no.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can measure something called “peaking”, its just that what answer you get will have no predictive power. It’s like “clutch” in baseball. You can formulate a very precise and accurate way to measure “clutchness”, and in fact, the excellent Fangraphs does exactly that. Check it out. The problem is, all it will tell you is what you already know; that good players are generally better in the clutch and vice versa. The variation in the numbers is going to be almost all luck. In other words, there is no such skill as clutchitude
I think the same is true for peaking in wrestling. The way Askren calculated a team’s peaking ability looks about as good as any method I can think of (and like Askren, I have no PhD in stats – although I did play a little D&D back in the day). And I think its fair to say that the teams that over preformed their seeds did peak better than the teams that under preformed. I just don’t think that data will be able to tell us whether a team (or a coach) is any more or less likely to peak the next year. We can only determine if a team peaked after the tournament is over.
The other thing I think worth keeping in mind is that a team with the #1 seed at every weight can only under preform, and a team of 10 unseeded national qualifiers can only over preform. So that’s going to skew our results using the Askren method, one way or the other.
But still, very cool of Ben to crunch the numbers and share the results. And I probably didn’t need to be such a smart ass about my thots on the subject, either. Especially when the guy sharing his opinion can straight up murder me. I mean look at him pummel this Russian dude in a Bellator fight from last year that I saw:
He just annihilates this guy for like, 4 rounds. Dang.
Anyway, I very much enjoy seeing folks break out the sabermetrics when it comes to wrestling, and am very glad Ben shared his handiwork. I hope to see more of it around the wrestling blog-o-sphere in the future.