Thursday, August 22, 2013

P&G Championships Number Love: The Gentlemen

Unless you love drama, don't fall in love with the U.S. men's gymnastics team. The last 96 hours of my life have been like a telenovela, but without the cheating husband and love triangles. First, Jake Dalton fell on parallel bars. Then, Sam Mikulak fell twice on pommel horse. Then, Danell Leyva was on the team. Then, he wasn't. And now, John Orozco is the sixth member.

It has been exhausting.

In these turbulent gymnastics times, I turn to my spreadsheets because numbers are my Xanax. Here's what I've found…

Most Improved Senior Elite goes to…

Alexander Naddour

As the chart shows, Alexander Naddour went from 16th at the 2012 Nationals to 2nd at the 2013 Nationals. I must admit that I wasn't expecting the jump. When I saw him at the Winter Cup, it appeared as if he had forgotten how to do pommel horse while he was on the Kellogg's Tour.

But by the Anadia Challenge Cup in June, Alex was looking better. He won silver on floor and bronze on pommels and still rings. This was a milestone in Alex's career because prior to June, Alex had not won an individual medal at an FIG-sponsored event. In fact, in 2012, he failed to qualify for finals on pommels at the Zibo World Cup. (To be fair, he was going up against some guys who really know how to ride that horse–Teng Haibin, Louis Smith, Krisztian Berki, and Saso Bertoncelj).

I think that these tweets from Will Graves sum up Alex's progress:

Honorable Mention: Brandon Wynn

Based on the numbers, who's struggling to learn how to use his huge D?

P&G Championships Day 1 - D Score

P&G Championships - Day 1 - E Score

P&G Championships - Day 2 - D Scores

 P&G Championships - Day 2 - E Scores
Red marks the juniors who were invited to compete during the senior session on day 2.

Based on the charts, that award clearly goes to Danell Leyva. Both days, he had the highest D-score total, but compared to his competitors, his E-score was lacking. As a result, Danell finished seventh overall.

Before the Danell  Leyva defenders berate me, I want to say this: I recognize that Danell Leyva had a shoulder injury at the P&G Championships, which may have affected his performance. That said, his shoulder injury does not explain his performance at the beginning of 2013. As you'll see, Danell's E-scores were erratic long before his shoulder injury popped up at the Tokyo World Cup in April.
I didn't realize how mutable Danell's E-scores were until I made a spreadsheet. As you can see, Danell's E-scores have varied as much as the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1929.

Part of Danell's problem stems from the fact that his routines are always changing. At the Winter Cup, he debuted a high bar routine with a 7.2 difficulty score. Then, at the American Cup, it was back down to a 6.9 difficulty routine. During the finals of the French International, he performed a 6.7 difficulty routine. At the P&G Championships, his high bar routine was back up to a 7.0. Not to mention the fact that he completely revamped his floor routine halfway through the year, adding a Tamayo and a whip to a 2.5 punch barani.

It's hard to build consistency when you're always changing the composition of your routines. In order for Danell to improve his execution scores, he's going to need to pick a routine, stick with it, and perfect it. Period.

But Danell won't be in Antwerp. So, what should we be watching for at Worlds?

First, will Sam Mikulak hit pommel horse during the all-around competition?

The stick bonus explains, in part, the chasm between his domestic and international p-bar scores. But Sam also changed his routine, eliminating his peach 1/2, which gave him problems in Portugal.

Though Sam has been branded as Mr. Consistency, he's 1 for 3 on pommel horse this year. Which means that it's possible (hopefully not likely) that Oleg Verniaiev and Sam Mikulak both fall on pommels during the all-around final in Antwerp. If that happens, brace yourselves. Not even my spreadsheets will be able to console me.

Second, what will happen with Steven Legendre?

It's generally believed that Legendre was chosen because he threw two vaults with 6.0 start values. In order to compete with guys like Ri Se Gwang, Yang Hak-Seon, and Denis Ablayzin, you need at least two 6.0 vaults. But unlike high bar, where you can get away with big difficulty and poor execution, vault requires some decent execution scores. At the European Championships, Denis Ablyazin averaged a 9.308 in execution with a 6.0 and a 6.2 vault during finals. At the University Games, Yang Hak-Seon averaged a 9.587 in execution with a 6.0 and a 6.4 vault during finals. Right now, Steven Legendre, well, he doesn't even come close to that…
Only one vault is counted in the E scores on vault for the P&G Championships.

Not domestically. Not internationally. And keep in mind that he was competing easier vaults at the French International. (Two 5.6 vaults.) So, if Steven Legendre is going to make vault finals and medal, he's going to need to work incessantly in the gym. Even then, he might need a little luck on his side if he's going to medal.

Third, how will the Americans be judged on pommels and rings?

Coach Rick was skeptical of the scores on pommels and rings at the P&G Championships. So, I did some sleuthing…

Alex Naddour, of course, is America's pommel horse guy, who's not bad at rings either, and Brandon Wynn, of course, is the rings guy. As you can see in the tables, both guys scored significantly higher domestically on their respective events.

Before we jump to conclusions, we must remember that several variables are in play. There was a stick bonus (and a pommel dismount bonus) at the P&G Championships. At most, those bonuses would add 0.1 to their scores. The bonus system, however, doesn't account for the difference between domestic and international scores. Take Alex Naddour as an example. On Day 1, he shuffled on his rings landing, so no bonus for him. (8.750) On day 2, he stuck his landing, so we have to take away the stick bonus. (8.700). That gives him an average of 8.725.

Keep in mind that his best execution score was an 8.533. That's nearly 0.2 difference. So, what else could be in play? Timing. The P&G Championships happen later in the season. Which means that the gymnasts have had more time to perfect their routines. Which means that they could receive better execution scores.

Even so, the numbers do raise some eyebrows. Were the domestic routines better than the international ones? Were the U.S. judges simply more kind to Naddour and Wynn because they wanted to assure that Naddour and Wynn would be selected to go to Worlds?

If I had to bet, my guess is that we'll see execution numbers similar to the ones from FIG World Cup events. But that's just my gut speaking. And keep in mind that you're talking to the guy whose heart forces him to pick Oleg Verniaiev to win every all-around competition. And well, that never happens.

Finally, how will John Orozco do?

John's disheartening Olympic experience has shaped the public's perception of him. His face triggers a Pavlovian response, and now, whenever he's on TV, American viewers automatically reach for a box of Kleenex. Unfortunately, thanks to NBC, his Olympic falls are what we remember of his career, and we forget that John finished 8th in the all-around in London. That's not too shabby, and before that, he was a finalist on high bar at the 2011 World Championships.

Undoubtedly, John will be competing high bar at the World Championships in Antwerp (and maybe parallel bars and pommel horse). With only the U.S. National Qualifier and the P&G Championships under his belt, it's hard to say how he will do. What I can say is this: All in all, it appears that John's getting his groove back. In fact, his execution scores are similar to those in London.
I hate to be a size queen, but look at that E score on high bar! Even if we were to remove the stick bonus, it's better than it was in London! What is more, his D score was the same at both the Olympics and the P&G Championships. At both meets, John competed a routine with a 6.7 D score.

Okay, before we get too excited, there's only so much comparison we can do between Codes and between domestic scores and international scores. John's table is meant to give us a rough idea of where he is during his recovery. (That stupid pommel horse, though! It continues to be his Achilles heel!)

I can't guarantee that John will make event finals, but I'd like to think that Antwerp will be a good meet for John--one that will restore his confidence in himself.

Well, there you have it.

A lot of numbers, and a bit of discussion. If you'd like to play along, here are the spreadsheets for the rest of the World Team members and the alternates.

Jake Dalton

Eddie Penev

Paul Ruggeri

Dan Bricklin, Father of the Modern Spreadsheet, I salute you!

Related Posts:

P&G Championships Number Love: The Ladies


  1. Thanks for being a spreadsheet nerd like me.

  2. Great spreadsheets and analysis - thank you!

  3. You should post the excel files so readers can play around with them

  4. Just watched day 1 after being without internet until yesterday ... sweet Jesus Donell Whittenburg is a beast! I award him the Lexie Preissman award for 'first-year senior who's secretly 30'