The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

US Worlds Team, By The Numbers

NUMBERSSSSS

Lots and lots of acrimony over the worlds team this year—mostly by me, because scores and charts and frustration over “rank order” from previous selections—which is fine and normal.

But Spencer, why do you have a problem with the selected team if those were the gymnasts who earned it on the day?

My earlier post was hideously short on charts, so I’m going to try to answer that question and break things down a little bit in terms of WHY I think what I think with some examples and comparisons, even starting with a chart in favor of the selected team. (GASP I KNOW.)

The argument for the selected team

The argument for the selected team is based mostly on performances at selection camp specifically (at least the scores we have from the first day). So the more you value “hit on the day” reasoning, with the assumption that you’re then selecting athletes peaking at the right time, the more you’re likely going to approve of the team as selected. The team as selected (once again with the assumption that McCallum is the alternate because of her AA placement and because that seems to make the most sense in this 6) was the highest-scoring group on the day:

Biles15.35013.85014.55014.800
Lee14.55015.00014.55014.100
Skinner15.05013.50013.65013.850
Carey15.25013.35013.40013.900
Eaker14.00013.90015.20014.000
175.60045.65042.75044.30042.900

That exact chart is your argument for this team. It is so loaded on vault, that it doesn’t matter that the bars scores are so anemic that they’re even counting a fall from Biles.

That’s also why I think of Grace McCallum as the clear alternate in that group, because she can’t replace anyone to create a higher-scoring team.

That team scores better than your next best team on the day, which would have Leanne Wong in place of Skinner.

Biles15.35013.85014.55014.800
Lee14.55015.00014.55014.100
Wong13.20014.15014.05013.300
Carey15.25013.35013.40013.900
Eaker14.00013.90015.20014.000
175.40045.65042.75044.30042.900

The argument against the selected team

The argument against the selected team is that it is based on the assumption that Morgan Hurd will fall on bars (and that Leanne Wong will fall on vault) again, when that hasn’t been the story this season. Morgan Hurd has struggled mightily on floor to the point where you would never use her on floor in TF, but that hasn’t been the case on bars….until selection.

If we use the average score of the four big domestic days of competition this summer (Classic, Nats 1, Nats 2, Camp AA), the selected team comes out like this:

Biles15.40014.27514.77514.813
Lee14.05014.86314.16314.017
Skinner14.80013.28313.46313.575
Carey15.03812.83813.18814.138
Eaker13.80013.26314.81313.625
174.37845.65042.75044.30042.900

This team, based on average, has to count MyKayla Skinner’s bars score, which is the risk it opens itself up to. By average, this team falls behind teams like this one:

Biles15.40014.27514.77514.813
Lee14.05014.86314.16314.017
Wong14.33813.93814.21313.163
Carey15.03812.83813.18814.138
Eaker13.80013.26314.81313.625
174.62144.77643.07643.80142.968

This one (still a possibility if the alternate position is different):

Biles15.40014.27514.77514.813
Lee14.05014.86314.16314.017
McCallum14.67813.67514.00013.913
Carey15.03812.83813.18814.138
Eaker13.80013.26314.81313.625
174.64845.11642.81343.75142.968

And this one:

Biles15.40014.27514.77514.813
Lee14.05014.86314.16314.017
Hurd14.42514.06314.01313.075
Carey15.03812.83813.18814.138
Eaker13.80013.26314.81313.625
174.78344.86343.20143.75142.968

So basically it comes down to the age-old question of which is more important, an average of recent meets, or one specific, recent-est meet. And I will always defend the one that includes more data points.

The scenarios in my newly beloved MCCLURE system come out similarly to the ones based on pure average, so for the sake of ease and clarity, I decided to use basic average there, but if you’re curious, the highest-scoring team by average, except dropping the lowest and averaging the remaining three score, would be this one:

Biles15.43314.41714.85014.967
Lee14.05014.93314.26714.017
Hurd14.45014.56714.05013.417
Carey15.08313.23313.33314.217
Eaker13.85013.71715.16713.900
176.36844.96643.91744.28443.201

Compared to the selected team, which ends up here:

Biles15.43314.41714.85014.967
Lee14.05014.93314.26714.017
Skinner14.86713.28313.65013.800
Carey15.08313.23313.33314.217
Eaker13.85013.71715.16713.900
175.93545.38343.06744.28443.201

So these charts are why, despite the inconsistency of Morgan Hurd this year and some lower AA placements, I would put her on the team. The full collection of scores we have justifies that.

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