Evin Demirel: The Nate Silver of Sports Injuries (Excerpt)


Visit Evin's Author PageSports injuries are a major story-line in the semifinals of this year’s NBA Playoffs. Miami and San Antonio have been able to prevent significant injuries to their aging stars, Indiana rolled the dice by letting Paul George return to action after suffering a concussion and Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka has unexpectedly bounced back from a plantaris strain that was expected to keep him out for the rest of the postseason.

As a result, the newly inspired Thunder have won two straight games in dominant fashion against the Spurs to tie that series 2-2.

Injuries are big news; They make or break champions and bank accounts. And whenever that news is broken in today’s mainstream media, it’s more and more likely that some of the analysis behind it comes from Little Rock resident Jeff Stotts.

Stotts, whose day job is athletic trainer for Mount St. Mary Academy, also works as the go-to injury analyst for RotoWire, a major player in the multi-billion-dollar fantasy sports industry. Stotts is likely the nation’s foremost injury analyst in fantasy football, basketball and baseball. In the last eight months, though, he’s started publishing analysis from his own NBA injuries database. The timely stats spewing from his spreadsheets are making him a go-to source in the world of real sports news as well, as I note in my most recent Daily Beast piece:

The 31-year-old Dallas native, after all, chose a hobby in injury analytics that just happens to be the next big thing in sports. “Injury is kind of the golden question that everybody wants to answer,” sports scientist Michael Regan told ESPN’s TrueHoop. “Because when you look at analytics in sports, the only thing that correlates consistently with elite performance and championships, is number of games played by your best players.”

Stotts calls his year-and-a-half-old database a “random, crazy idea,” but its premise is simple and straightforward. Each game night during the NBA season—often after watching some Mavericks basketball with his 3-year-old daughter and tucking her into bed—he fires up Excel. He then notes which players that night suffered an injury (or were kept out because of an injury) and what the injury was. Sources include news articles and databases and archives available through Rotowire, the fantasy sports company for which he writes. So far, he’s tracked the entire injury histories of 866 players dating back to the 1984-85 season.


For the rest of the story, visit Demirel’s blog.

nate silver of sports injuries

Tags: ,