July 27, 2010

Skill, luck, and more than a little style

Pictured: "Mr. May", Dave Winfield, comes through in the clutch in the 1992 World Series with, in his words, "One stinkin' little hit." The 11th-inning double drove in two runs and sealed the World Series win for the Blue Jays.

The BBC has posted an article and calculator ("Can chance make you a killer?") that is used to demonstrate the challenges in differentiating luck from skill. In this case, a simple scenario with fixed parameters is linked to a calculator that generates the range of possibilities.

While I'm not sure how this could be used in a baseball setting, it is a very good tool for demonstrating that it can be difficult -- particularly if you just look at "the numbers" in a selective way -- to make definitive statements about a player's ability. Such as, say, clutch hitting.

(Acknowledgement: The Book.)

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