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August 15, 2012 5:00 am

Manufactured Runs: The Importance of Imperfect Models

17

Colin Wyers

If we disagree with something a metric says, does that mean we have to discard it?

From the Twitters yesterday morning:

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Bill James may claim to study baseball questions, not statistical ones, but what happens when a statistician studies Bill James?

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Andrew Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science at Columbia University. He occasionally blogs on baseball, including here, here, here, and here.


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January 14, 2011 11:25 am

Prospectus Q&A: J.T. Snow

3

David Laurila

The former first baseman talks about his days in the big leagues, the Hall of Fame, and most importantly his commitment to Wolfram Syndrome.

To many fans, J.T. Snow is remembered as the slick-fielding San Francisco Giants first baseman who had to scoop up three-year-old batboy Darren Baker from harm’s way in the 2002 World Series. Eight years later, the now-retired six-time Gold Glove winner is committed to a far more important cause: helping children suffering from a rare disease called Wolfram Syndrome. Snow, who hit .268/.357/.427, with 189 home runs over 15 big-league seasons, shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including the importance of defense, steroids and the Hall of Fame, and athletes as role models. His foundation, The Snowman Fund, is named for himself and his late father, former Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Jack Snow.


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Breaking down the basics of estimating runs and why it is so important.

We spend a lot of time analyzing baseball, studying it, trying to learn about it, and simply enjoying it. But what if I were to tell you that there was a secret to understanding baseball, a shortcut to knowing (almost) everything you would ever need to know?

Well, there is. And it’s hiding in plain sight–it’s the second line of the official rules of baseball: “The objective of each team is to win by scoring more runs than the opponent.”

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Ranging across a couple of old and new themes, explaining that there's something about the weather, and Pythagoras can rock steady.

"All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism."
--Unknown


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July 7, 2006 12:00 am

Schrodinger's Bat: Thinking and Rethinking: Part 2

0

Dan Fox

Dan concludes his recap of the SABR convention, and corrects some issues from last week's column.

In Part 1 of this two-part column we looked at three interesting research presentations given at the 36th annual SABR convention. In review, those included a study evaluating managers by Chris Jaffe, a look at the performance of players in the "walk year" of their contract by Phil Birnbaum, and Sean Forman's quantitative look at a catcher's ability to stop wild pitches and passed balls.

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June 29, 2004 12:00 am

You Get What You Pay For

0

Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

Inherent in the desire to develop better baseball statistics--and as a result, improve baseball analysis--is the belief that this information is not only available but also not being used by the men and women who run baseball. As Moneyball and the resulting reaction has showed, some General Managers seem to be using the same methods for performance evaluation that were used 20 or 40 years ago. It therefore stands to reason that GMs are paying players not for actual performance, but rather for perceived performance as viewed through the rusty and decrepit glasses of decades-old beliefs about the statistics of the game. For this study we wanted to find out if General Managers were, in fact, paying players along the lines of their objective "value" (as defined by VORP), or if there were something else in play.

Inherent in the desire to develop better baseball statistics--and as a result, improve baseball analysis--is the belief that this information is not only available but also not being used by the men and women who run baseball. As Moneyball and the resulting reaction has showed, some General Managers seem to be using the same methods for performance evaluation that were used 20 or 40 years ago.

It therefore stands to reason that GMs are paying players not for actual performance, but rather for perceived performance as viewed through the rusty glasses of decades-old beliefs about the statistics of the game. For this study we wanted to find out if General Managers were, in fact, paying players along the lines of their objective "value" (as defined by VORP), or if there was something else in play.

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I'm not a particularly great baseball analyst. I'm constantly fascinated and amazed by how little we really know about the game, and the limitations inherent in any analysis of the game, be it evaluation of performance data or by observation. I tend to get caught up in the problems with our tools, and the poor resolution or granularity of what conclusions one can reasonably draw. As a result, I tend to lose interest very quickly in the sort of heavy lifting done by more capable analysts like Clay Davenport, Keith Woolner, and Michael Wolverton.

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