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Monday, October 08, 2012

Baseball As An Excuse for Programming

Nothing like reinventing the wheel again:

What jumped out at me this year was how small the Orioles’ run differential was for a playoff-bound team. They ended up 24 games above .500 but outscored their opponents by only 7 runs over the course of the year. Contrast that with Tampa Bay, who had the third highest run differential in the majors but will be watching the playoffs on TV.

 

Mike Emeigh Posted: October 08, 2012 at 10:31 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baltimore, sabermetrics, tampa bay

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   1. escabeche Posted: October 08, 2012 at 10:43 AM (#4259014)
Nice example of the way that a relationship that is nonlinear "in real life" looks pretty good with a regression line through it; now think back to the many scatterplots you've seen with a similar regression line and ask yourself "how convinced I was that the relationship I was observing was linear...?"
   2. villageidiom Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4259043)
Nice example of the way that a relationship that is nonlinear "in real life" looks pretty good with a regression line through it
If you mean nonlinear as "not precisely linear", then yes. Otherwise, the relationship he shows does appear generally linear.

Your point still stands, however, that a lot of people will define a linear relationship where there is little evidence of one.
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4259044)
If this guy didn't exist, Murray Chass would have to invent him.

What jumped out at me this year was how small the Orioles’ run differential was for a playoff-bound team. They ended up 24 games above .500 but outscored their opponents by only 7 runs over the course of the year. Contrast that with Tampa Bay, who had the third highest run differential in the majors but will be watching the playoffs on TV.

Short answer: What of it?
   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4259077)
Short answer: What of it?


Well, it raises the question of whether Baltimore's record was just some big fluke, or whether it was largely fluke but with other things going on (great bullpen, HR-heavy offense, stark in-season improvement) that lead to a better record in close games, and thus whether it's worth focusing more on those things in building/analyzing teams.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4259079)
a lot of people will define a linear relationship where there is little evidence of one.


I'm going to stick in a plug here for Nate Silver's new book, in which he talks about predictions that succeed, and predictions that don't, and the reasons why - this is one of the things that comes up in the course of Nate's discussion. I'm also reminded of something that Jeopardy! champion Bob Harris said in his book about his path through the world of Jeopardy! - "You can often see only what you think you see".

-- MWE
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4259087)
Well, it raises the question of whether Baltimore's record was just some big fluke, or whether it was largely fluke but with other things going on (great bullpen, HR-heavy offense, stark in-season improvement) that lead to a better record in close games, and thus whether it's worth focusing more on those things in building/analyzing teams.

Well, the record in one-run games is clearly a fluke. No team in history sustains that kind of success.

But, that doesn't mean the current (and future) r.oster isn't better than a +7 team, It's very likely to be better
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 08, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4259096)
Short answer: What of it?

Well, it raises the question of whether Baltimore's record was just some big fluke,


Of course the "record" itself was a fluke, but...

or whether it was largely fluke but with other things going on (great bullpen, HR-heavy offense, stark in-season improvement) that lead to a better record in close games,

that part wasn't.

and thus whether it's worth focusing more on those things in building/analyzing teams.

It's one of many things to focus on. But anyway, the point of my original comment was the strangeness of the idea that a fan would want to concentrate on things like run differentials** right when the playoffs are in progress.

Of course since this guy isn't a fan, I guess I've answered my own question.

**without breaking them down by month, yet
   8. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4259130)
Is Silver's book any good?
   9. marty Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4259151)
Well the chapter on climate change is pretty disappointing but I haven't read the rest.
   10. Greg K Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4259171)
I'm also reminded of something that Jeopardy! champion Bob Harris said in his book about his path through the world of Jeopardy! - "You can often see only what you think you see".

Kind of like James Burke's opening line for The Day the Universe Changed?
   11. escabeche Posted: October 08, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4259178)
Yes, Silver's book is good. It might not have anything to teach people who have already spent time thinking seriously about these issues, but it's a great primer.
   12. tshipman Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4259206)
Well, it raises the question of whether Baltimore's record was just some big fluke, or whether it was largely fluke but with other things going on (great bullpen, HR-heavy offense, stark in-season improvement) that lead to a better record in close games, and thus whether it's worth focusing more on those things in building/analyzing teams.


Didn't the research find that after a certain point during a season, regular record predicted the record the rest of the way better than pythag? I'd imagine that by the time you get to the playoffs, you should evaluate the Orioles like a typical 90 win team (maybe a bit worse).

For next season, I would evaluate them based on their pythag, but for the rest of this season, I think their record reflects their level of play just fine.

This is most likely a moot point as they lost game 1, so they're unlikely to advance anyways.
   13. escabeche Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4259216)
I think the complicated thing about evaluating the Orioles is that the composition of the team is drastically different now from what it was April-July.

   14. this space for rent Posted: October 08, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4259223)
Kind of like James Burke's opening line for The Day the Universe Changed?


Or Wonko the Sane from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, for that matter:

I'm a scientist and I know what constitutes proof. But the reason I call myself by my childhood name is to remind myself that a scientist must also be absolutely like a child. If he sees a thing, he must say that he sees it, whether it was what he thought he was going to see or not. See first, think later, then test. But always see first. Otherwise you will only see what you were expecting. Most scientists forget that.

   15. Olaf Posted: October 08, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4259240)
A lot of nuances for the Orioles are probably out there to be explored, but Don Malcolm covered some areas that seem to have been overlooked elsewhere when he looked at the patterns of teams with great records in close games (virtually all of 'em exceed their Pythagoreans) and drew some charts that showed the ongoing PWP/WPCT relationships for the AL East in '12. It might make more sense to examine what happened to those teams in subsequent years, and see what comes out of that type of approach. Seems to me that the '84 Mets had a season like the O's, and went on to be a dominant team for awhile, while other teams probably regressed...still worth look into IMO.
   16. salajander Posted: October 08, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4259273)
That's a fantastic quote - I'd totally forgotten about Wonko the Sane! I need to re-read the HHGTTG "trilogy" soon.
   17. Nats-Homer-in-DC Posted: October 09, 2012 at 02:27 AM (#4260170)
Contrast that with Tampa Bay, who had the third highest run differential in the majors but will be watching the playoffs on TV.

Most Tampa Bay-area baseball fans were going to watch the Yankees series on TV whether the Rays made the playoffs or not.

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