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.)

July 26, 2010

Baseball imitates real life

How understanding luck in baseball can help understanding real life, or at least your investment portfolio: "Untangling skill and luck" by Michael J. Mauboussin.

Mauboussin uses a variety of sabermetric analysis, including Jim Albert's 2004 paper “A Batting Average: Does It Represent Ability or Luck?” and Tango's True Talent Level analysis.

July 18, 2010

Probability of winning the division

The Cool Standings website presents the probabilities that any Major League Baseball team will win the division or wild card. They also have this available for the NHL, NFL, and NBA.

If I am interpreting their methodology correctly, they are using a Pythagorean basis in a Monte Carlo simulation. (To read more, here's an ESPN article on the method.)


July 14, 2010

Behind in the count

Time to get caught up with the goings-on elsewhere...

First up, Tom at Heureusement, ici, c'est le Blog! cleverly adapted the same Poisson method I used for perfect games to examine the plethora of no-hitters this season.

And no surprise, the number fits nicely with the outer range of the "expected" frequencies.