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Monday, March 31, 2008

Bill James on 60 Minutes

No Tivo required.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:03 AM | 270 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, sabermetrics

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   101. JC in DC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2724708)
Well, clearly you don't watch the game with same experienced eye as kevin.

Hasn't he already established that he knows more hoops than you?


A lurker pops in with that? Awesome.

Sure, JC. I'm rejecting the notion that somehow, professional baseball players are immune to the same pressures that everyone else is susceptible to.


Well, I agree and I disagree. I agree that MLB players feel pressure. I'm not sure, though, whether fewer of them do than the rest of us. I recall once when a reporter asked Evander Holyfield if he was scared of Tyson (b/c everyone is scared of Tyson). Evander looked at the guy like he was crazy and said something like, He ought to be scared of me. Guys at the highest level of sport train so much and experience so much that at some point performance becomes so much muscle memory and so immune to anxieties we might have in similar positions. I'm not denying choking (as I said above), but I might deny that it's as common as it is among us.
   102. Srul Itza Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:39 PM (#2724710)
The answer you know he wanted to give: It's amazin' how no one ever talks about the great chemistry on a losing team.

When the Sox came back from 0-3, James talked more about the team chemistry than anything else as the reason.
   103. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:40 PM (#2724711)
Time and time again you hear ballplayers say how much a ring means to them.


Yes, but you will also hear some say that winning the college WS meant just as much to them (At THE TIME) etc etc...

Sure, there may be players who, at lower levels, so athletically overwhelm their competition that whether they are a choker or not doesn't really matter. They may not face players as good as, or even better, than themslves until they are nearly in, or actually in, "the show".
   104. BDC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:41 PM (#2724718)
Yes, I agree with David, too. The first time a young athlete performs at a big venue, in a big tournament, for a state championship ... nothing has ever been as important for him or her before and in a sense nothing ever will be that big again. Anybody who's parented a high-school athlete can attest to this.
   105. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:43 PM (#2724724)
Once you posit magic green elves that can make effects come and go at will, you're out of the realm of science and into the realm of faith.


You got that backwards Nieporent. What most people say is there is a REAL cause to the variation in performance, namely an individual's temporal ability to handle anxiety.

Its usually the other side of the argument, that posits that there are no causal actors, that its some supernatural force they call luck which is responsible for the situation.

What most anyone trying to explain the situation would say is that you don't have the proper instrumentation to measure a players temporal ability to measure anxiety, and there are very few and imprecise metrics that show an increase or decrease in that ability over time for environments that occur during MLB contests.

What Bill James would and did say is something about Misunderstimating the Fog, which his legions of supporters have decided to interpret in more different ways than the existing clergy have interpreted the bible.

And the ability to know the level of anxiety, the effect of anxiety on performance, and the ability to mitigate or change the level of anxiety --- that is meaningful.

What Bill James and his ilk, cannot see, should not effect the decision calculus of others when they have the ability to make a decision that is going to effect the performance of their team.

Maybe a magic green elf has told someone what Bill James was thinking when he said, "Other people know more about this than me." Maybe a purple pixie told someone, that "What is in the Fog does not matter", but if you put faith in those supernatural explanations, you are likely to end up crashed on the rocks you did not see.
   106. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:45 PM (#2724729)
Sure, there may be players who, at lower levels, so athletically overwhelm their competition that whether they are a choker or not doesn't really matter. They may not face players as good as, or even better, than themslves until they are nearly in, or actually in, "the show".

Well, that's what I'm driving at. These guys do exist, IMO, and its more than plausible to expect some of them to get to the Majors.

I agree that the "clutch" and "unclutch" labels are applied too liberally. That should not somehow discredit the fact that these players exist.
   107. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:46 PM (#2724735)
And not liking the tournament because of Vitale is a pretty stupid argument, since he doesn't even work for CBS. If you don't like Vitale, don't turn on ESPN.


Good idea.
   108. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:48 PM (#2724739)
Yes, but, I don't care how much of a choker someone is, after playing in front of "45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off" enough times and you will habituate to it.


Certainly that is not true for all persons. Exposure to situations do not always reduce the amount of anxiety that is felt. In fact, sometimes the affect is exacerbated. In real life, we have PTSD. In baseball, we can get Steve Blass disease. Obviously, that can occur on a micro level to less extremes.

More important, we should know that we don't have the tools to select for such trait (and if we did, then the trait should exist and we would have at least as much variation as the error rate in our decision calculus) and that we see this occur in MLB.

What does likely happen is that for non-acute cases, the anxiety response is lessened with repetition. Nevertheless, you only have so many "world series is on the line" level of situations that can exist.
   109. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:50 PM (#2724746)
People freeze up under pressure. It's happened to me. It's happened to just about everybody at one time or another. Public speaking does it to a lot of people.


But it doesn't happen to, say, Tim Russert.
   110. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:52 PM (#2724749)
But it doesn't happen to, say, Tim Russert.

But it did happen to Howard Dean kind of. I'm sure with someone with a better sense of speech history can find a better example of a choke job in public speaking.
   111. BDC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:53 PM (#2724752)
One problem here, which I often raise, is that you cannot really measure how "clutch" a given situation is. You can make various heuristic assumptions about postseason, close-and-late, RISP, whatever, but how much more clutch is the World Series than the LCS? The playoffs than Septemnber? September than June? And how persistent is the "clutch" ability? Was Mike Schmidt a bundle of nerves in 1977-78, a block of pure ice in 1980, in a fabulous zone in the 1983 LCS, and a basket case by the 1983 Series?

The other completely hidden factor is random personal pressures. Kevin mentions the mortgage that would choke a pig. Suppose player A has that, an imminent divorce, a sick kid, a FA offseason looming, a father going into a nursing home. Player B's life is sweetness and light. It is, I think, undeniable that whatever the game state, player A is under more pressure, but how on earth are we to measure that? That's the problem with trying to account for psychology in quantifying baseball outcomes.
   112. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:54 PM (#2724753)
I agree with DMN about pressure, Kevin. It's really a kind of existential problem: for the 22 year old, they think law school rejection's the end of their lives as much as the parent will.

FWIW, I agree more with Kevin on this one. While I agree with JC, that there is a relative concept at play. A person feels stress, anxiety and sadness inside of the world they know. Nevertheless, an individual can react to situations differently at different stages of life based on their changing thoughts to their position in the worldview. Specifically, a specific 22 year old could feel more pressure later in life when they felt their responsibility is greater. A person can be carefree in one environment and stressful in another, even if the relative degree of failure would be the same in both environments.
   113. JC in DC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2724756)
Doing that was a form of choking on the part of Tyson.


I wouldn't call that choking. Choking is not quitting. Tyson quit.
   114. Jay Z Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:56 PM (#2724757)
Regarding the Davidson game:

The biggest mistake basketball teams make at the high school and college level now is waiting too long to run the play for the last shot. Davidson had 16 seconds, but Curry walks the ball up the floor and it's at 10 seconds before he gets it to half court. You should really be running your last shot play starting with 10 seconds. Then you get the two or three options you want on a good possession. Now, the point guard or whoever sits until 5 seconds are left, and they have one or two choices which are easy to defend. Yes, you run the risk of taking an early shot and losing the ball, but I think percentage wise running the play so late is a bad move.

Regarding Bill James on 60 minutes:

I thought it was a good piece. The funniest thing to me were some of the visuals. They had to show something when Morley Safer's doing his talking, and I suppose you can't show the gears of James' mind turning or him stroking his chin or something, so we get all of these shots of Bill James lumbering from place to place. I suppose since James favors the base on balls, they wanted to show his walking ability?

On clutch hitting:

My view on Win Shares and all that was that James is trying to reward clutch PERFORMANCE, not clutch hitting. Mazeroski or somebody wins the World Series with a home run, and all of the statheads say "sample size" and pretend like it didn't happen. Now if I needed a home run, yeah I'd rather have Mays or Aaron up there, but Mazeroski did what he did. Give him credit. Luck and being in the right place at the right time are a part of life. Same with a situation like the 1969 Mets. All of the formulas will tell you that the 1969 Cubs were a better team. And yet the Mets won. Maybe some of the players weren't all that good, but they deserve credit for winning 100 games and winning the postseason because it happened. That's all of the "sample size" we get in real life.
   115. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:58 PM (#2724765)
Think about the difference in the pressure in your life if you had gotten a letter in the mail when you were 22 years old indicating that you would not be getting into law school, versus the pressure of being fired by your law firm when you were 38 for non-performance when you had two little kids, another on the way, and a mortgage that would choke a pig.
Gee, I guess I'll have to manage somehow to pay that mortgage on the $10, $20, $30 million that I've earned in salary up until I was 38 years old. And then go apply to another firm, or open up my own with all the experience I've acquired over the last 16 years.

Or, at 22, with no money in the bank, I can be completely barred from the profession I've been spending every free moment of my entire life on for the past decade.

Again, a player who chokes in the postseason costs his team a championship. A player who chokes in the minors costs himself his entire career. Which is higher stakes?
   116. JC in DC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:58 PM (#2724767)
BL: I don't think we're in disagreement.
   117. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:59 PM (#2724768)
... The other completely hidden factor is random personal pressures....

I agree with Bob Dernier..Goat, on this series of statements, even though we came to different conclusions on relative pressure. Anxiety is also subject to external factors for many, but perhaps not all people.
   118. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:59 PM (#2724769)
It is, I think, undeniable that whatever the game state, player A is under more pressure, but how on earth are we to measure that? That's the problem with trying to account for psychology in quantifying baseball outcomes.

I don't have a clue how to measure it, but the acknowledgement from everyone that of course these things have an effect on some ballplayers would be nice.
   119. BDC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:59 PM (#2724770)
Specifically, a specific 22 year old could feel more pressure later in life when they felt their responsibility is greater. A person can be carefree in one environment and stressful in another, even if the relative degree of failure would be the same in both environments

And, just to follow up, the dynamic is so complex as to be unpredictable in the extreme. There are 22-year-old idiots who become hypercautious 38-year-old dads or moms, and nervous 22-year-old talents who become what-the-hell nothing-to-lose 38-year-olds. When a 31-year-old hits or misses a free throw, who knows where s/he falls on that continuum at the moment.
   120. Conor Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:00 PM (#2724773)
Kevin and Shredder-

I hear what you are saying. Curry is clearly their best player and if you are going to go down, you might as well go down with your top gun firing. But just watching him in the 4 or 5 games I did, he isn't a great 1 on 1, isolation player. He does have some clever moves trying to score in the paint, but his strength is definitely catch and shoot. I certainly can't completely fault a play where they tried to get their best player a shot, but I think if you are going to have him bring the ball up you are better off letting him go 1 on 1 instead of using the screen, because you are just asking for KU to switch it or hedge it with one of their long armed, tall defenders.

And I agree with Curry's decision on the last play; I have no problem with him giving the ball up there. He really had nowhere to go, and Richards is a decent shooter, and while the shot was maybe a little further out then you would like, it was a pretty good luck. Sometimes things just don't fall your way.

You have to be impressed with the coaching job my McKillop though. Curry had his worst game of the tournament (25 points, but on 9-25 shooting, 44 EFG%) and he still had his team with a chance to win on the last possession.
   121. Conor Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:02 PM (#2724779)
The only thing that would have made more sense would have been for him to drive, and either go to basket, or draw and dish and send it to overtime, but I think in that situation, with their one pretty good player having fouled out, you have to try to win it in regulation.



I didn't see this in my original response, I 100% agree. You had Curry and Barr, 2 40% shooters on the floor, I think you go for the win if you can get a look.

Though I still think Richards would have been better off in the driving role. But that is just based on the 4 or 5 games I saw them play, maybe Curry is the better driver.
   122. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:06 PM (#2724787)
Don't hold your breath, CP.

Well, I'm with you on this one Kev and I think the line of reasoning put up in this thread is really strong. I bet the pro-clutch group convinced someone.
   123. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:06 PM (#2724789)
Now if I needed a home run, yeah I'd rather have Mays or Aaron up there, but Mazeroski did what he did. Give him credit.


Bucky effing Dent!!!

seriously, but you can sometimes have trouble separating one player choking from another being clutch
case in point- I recall some announcer repeatedly calling Larry Brown "clutch" after Super Bowl 30...
I saw that game, Larry Brown wa steh lucky stiff who was standing there when Neil O'Donnell choked.

Sure Brown wasn't a choker, if he was, he would have dropped those balls and maybe O'Donnell would be remembered as "clutch" [OK that wouldn't have happened, Neil would have thrown the ball away to someone else, fumbled a handoff etc etc)

How do we know that Ralph Terry didn't lose his nerve and simply grooved a BP fastball to Maz? (ok we might be able to tell from the videos/films, but you get the idea)
   124. Sandlapper Spike Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:08 PM (#2724793)
I think Davidson may have been going for the win even if it didn't get a good look.
   125. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:08 PM (#2724795)
That's not really true. If you screw up a big play in college or the minors, chances are no one outside of a few hundred people are watching, everyone will forget for the most part anyway because those games don't mean much.


I think you're missing the point, Cowboy. Minor league games can represent pressure for the players in the sense that the players know that if they don't perform well, they won't make the majors. The point is not how many fans are in the stands for the minor league games; the point is that the organization is watching and tracking the player's performance.

People want to pretend that the most "pressure" a major leaguer ever faced is bases loaded, 9th inning of a major league game. I don't have the foggiest notion how one arrives at that conclusion.
   126. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:09 PM (#2724796)
Well, I'm with you on this one Kev and I think the line of reasoning put up in this thread is really strong.


well except for Kevin's reasoning this has been a pretty strong thread on both side (all 3/4/5 sides?).
   127. Delorians Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:10 PM (#2724798)
Since both sports are being discussed, this seems like as good a place as any to mention that I'm glad MLB opening day and the NCAA championship game are a week apart this year. Since most MLB games are at night, I always hated having to choose between watching my team's first game or the NCAA finals, which had been the case as far back as I can remember.
   128. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2724805)
I know that kevin wants to equate coming through under pressure with some sort of better character. Of course, a lot of this is very much chemical in nature.

Are anti-anxiety drugs performance enhancing?
   129. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2724807)
That's not really true. If you screw up a big play in college or the minors, chances are no one outside of a few hundred people are watching, everyone will forget for the most part anyway because those games don't mean much.
It doesn't matter how many people are watching so much as who's watching. Namely, scouts. Who won't forget. One of those is worth 50,000 fans who have no impact whatsoever on your life.
   130. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:13 PM (#2724808)
Or, to drop the metaphor, if "clutchiness" is hidden in the noise, it may exist but it's too small a factor to matter. There may be a mathematical distinction between "doesn't exist" and "can't be detected," but there's no practical distinction.
We don't know if (a) it's too small to matter, or if (b) our methods for measuring it are not good enough or if (c) the fog is thick enough that it can obscure even an effect that is meaningfully large in baseball terms.

What Tango et al showed in the Solving DIPS work is that a factor (pitchers' "control" over BIP) can be a real effect on the order of a win or two while also being almost entirely hidden within the "fog" of sample size and variation.

With clutch hitting, the problems that plague DIPS are even larger, and other problems come in as well. The sample size is just tiny, which means that "clutch" would have to be a very large effect to shine through, since the fog is quite think. Further, we have massive problems in defining clutch - even two at-bats identical in game-state may not be the same amount of pressure given the situaiton of the season, team, or player. No one has come up with a happy definition. And then there's the problem of whether "clutch" is a characteristic that inheres in a player or is constructed by the particular situation in which the player finds him or herself - given that "clutch" is more psychological, cognitive, and emotional than physiological, it seems that changes in "clutch" characteristics could shift drastically over a career, while still being very real in cause and in effect. Such a shifting, unfixable nature would make clutch almost impossible to measure with both abstraction and precision, even though it would have real effects on the outcomes of real baseball games.

I think that we will see very little value from measuring "clutch" with abstraction and precision via traditional statistical measures for all of these reasons. I think that CP's notion above that it's only going to be wide a real depth of observational data (I would add player interviews, good ethnography) that we're going to get a useful picture of "clutch" as a concept in contemporary baseball.
   131. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:14 PM (#2724810)
I don't have a clue how to measure it, but the acknowledgement from everyone that of course these things have an effect on some ballplayers would be nice.


Being human has an effect on all ballplayers. It's just simplistic to divide it into "clutch" and "unclutch." Pressure comes from many avenues when you're a major league ballplayer; the players best equipped to be "clutch" are those who are able to perform under ALL of the different pressures a ballplayer encounters - in other words, the good ballplayers.
   132. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:17 PM (#2724815)
People want to pretend that the most "pressure" a major leaguer ever faced is bases loaded, 9th inning of a major league game. I don't have the foggiest notion how one arrives at that conclusion.


years ago I had a "debate" with some other poster on a Met's blog regarding, of all people, Mike Jacobs.

Jacobs was an aging, soon to be ex-prospect, who had been told he was being sent down after the game, he had also read in the Newspaper that his own manager wasn't comfortable using him (not as a starter, but as a bench guy for crissakes).

Well Willie decided to be a nice guy, and let Jacobs have one frigging at bat, the night before he was flying back to Norfolk. 7-0 game, 5th inning, he let him pinch hit for the pitcher.

He CRUSHED a 3 run homer
The Mets sent someone to the airport the next day to intercept him from flying to Norfolk. He's no star, but he now has an MLB career.

I wrote on Metsgeek a few days later, that it was a clutch hit, Jacobs knew his chance of having a career was sliding, 24 year old, ex-catcher 1b/DH type?, from his POV that hit was HUGE, taht was the biggest AB of his life.

Another poster said no, Jacobs wasn't under any pressure (no more than any other player feels), because he hit it at a meaningless time in a meaningless game.
   133. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:19 PM (#2724819)
Minor league games can represent pressure for the players in the sense that the players know that if they don't perform well, they won't make the majors.

They absolutely can. Just not for everyone. I'm not trying to prove that everyone is a choker.

It doesn't matter how many people are watching so much as who's watching. Namely, scouts. Who won't forget. One of those is worth 50,000 fans who have no impact whatsoever on your life.

And I don't doubt that those who can't cut it pyschologically on the minor league level don't make it to the big leagues very often. I do think there are players who are not pyschologically effected by those situations who will be effected by stepping up to the plate in a pennant race or a World Series.
   134. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:20 PM (#2724820)
(a) Pressure comes from many avenues when you're a major league ballplayer; (b) the players best equipped to be "clutch" are those who are able to perform under ALL of the different pressures a ballplayer encounters - in other words, the good ballplayers.
(a) is a very good point.

(b) doesn't follow at all. It shuts off our opportunities for research and theorization instead of leaving them open. The interesting question here is precisely how all the very different forms of pressure are felt by ballplayers and have effects on baseball games - and then I would add how different clubhouse situations, different places in a pennant race, different personalities, different life situations are affected by these different forms of pressure. Very soon "clutch" becomes an interesting and complex thing.

Why should we shut off discussion instead of opening it up, if we do not have the data that allows us to shut it off with confidence?
   135. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2724827)
Further, we have massive problems in defining clutch - even two at-bats identical in game-state may not be the same amount of pressure given the situaiton of the season, team, or player. No one has come up with a happy definition.


There are plenty of reasonable definitions; none of them fit the theory, so people try to say that the problem is in the definition. It could certainly be that no two at bats (say, in LIPS) are identical in Clutchiness, as you say, and this is why we're having trouble measuring it; but if we can't measure it, I don't see why we should worry about it -- let alone assume that it's there anyway.
   136. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2724828)
Pressure comes from many avenues when you're a major league ballplayer; the players best equipped to be "clutch" are those who are able to perform under ALL of the different pressures a ballplayer encounters - in other words, the good ballplayers.

Except that all good ballplayers are not able to perform under all different pressures. Just like all good ballplayers can't perform in all different situations. Jim Thome turns pedestrian against lefties. Mo couldn't start. Soriano has trouble with pitchers who throw good sliders. Sizemore hits like .220 against curveballs. Just as even great ballplayers have their physical limits, I expect even great ballplayers to have their psychological limits.
   137. SoSH U at work Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2724829)
I don't have any doubt that even players on the highest levels of professional sports feel and react poorly to pressure situations at times (hell, just yesterday PGA golfer Woody Austin called himself a choking dog when he hit an atrocious shot on the 72nd hole). Just because someone handled the various pressures at the age of 18 or 22 does not mean he is immune to feeling others at age 27. The pressures athletes face change fairly regularly.

Take Arod. His performances in the final four games of the 04 ALCS and the 05 ALDS may have been your normal random variation. But, as he began being labeled as a choker and someone who can't win the big one by fans and press alike, I don't think it's unreasonable to believe that kind of talk could have impacted his performance in the 06 playoffs.

What I have a problem with is when sports fans/writers equate "has choked" or "hasn't won the big one" to "choker" or "can't win the big one." Guys like Peyton Manning, John Elway and Barry Bonds should have demonstrated by now the folly of that particular line of thought.
   138. The Good Face Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:23 PM (#2724831)
The other completely hidden factor is random personal pressures. Kevin mentions the mortgage that would choke a pig. Suppose player A has that, an imminent divorce, a sick kid, a FA offseason looming, a father going into a nursing home. Player B's life is sweetness and light. It is, I think, undeniable that whatever the game state, player A is under more pressure, but how on earth are we to measure that? That's the problem with trying to account for psychology in quantifying baseball outcomes.


Good post. I have no doubt that any number of factors can effect a player's mental/emotional state, and that could carry over into their athletic performance. The trouble is trying to extrapolate whether a given player is clutch or not from that performance. Unless you have perfect information about a player's private personal life and state of mind, we'll never know enough to really say. That's probably, in part, why players seemingly lurch at random from "clutch" to "unclutch" performances.
   139. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:27 PM (#2724836)
Another poster said no, Jacobs wasn't under any pressure (no more than any other player feels), because he hit it at a meaningless time in a meaningless game.


Ah, yes, the moving of the goalposts after someone points out that a nonclutchy player did something that was clutchy.
   140. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:28 PM (#2724837)
We don't know if (a) it's too small to matter, or if (b) our methods for measuring it are not good enough or if (c) the fog is thick enough that it can obscure even an effect that is meaningfully large in baseball terms.
But we know what our methods for measuring it are, and thus we know how small something has to be for us not to be able to detect it.
   141. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:30 PM (#2724843)
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose
   142. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:43 PM (#2724865)
What's the difference between us trying to figure out if a player feels more pressure than usual and say...phrenology? I mean we have the technology to determine elevated heart rates and all, but we're never going to have access to that data (at least for the forseeable future). Until then, there's a weird undertone of morality we're attributing to chokers and clutch-gods that I find bogus. Just look at the players that always come up in these discussions, guys who are generally disliked and guys who are generally liked.
   143. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:45 PM (#2724868)
the players best equipped to be "clutch" are those who are able to perform under ALL of the different pressures a ballplayer encounters - in other words, the good ballplayers.


This seems to imply that the ability to handle anxiety is a larger trait in performance than hand to eye coordination, or that those pressures are static and not subject to variation over time or aggregation.

There are lots of players that would encounter very few situations that make them nervous, and will perform admirably. The few were they do choke aren't as outcome determinative. They may be the best players and still "chokers".

There are some players that become less nervous if they have a clearly defined role. There are some players that are less nervous in one role, and more nervous in another role. There are some players that become less nervous based on other parts of their environment. IOW, there is no real reason to believe that stress agent variation does not exist in the MLB population.
   144. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:46 PM (#2724873)
It shuts off our opportunities for research and theorization instead of leaving them open. The interesting question here is precisely how all the very different forms of pressure are felt by ballplayers and have effects on baseball games - and then I would add how different clubhouse situations, different places in a pennant race, different personalities, different life situations are affected by these different forms of pressure. Very soon "clutch" becomes an interesting and complex thing.


And an irrelevant one.

If we can't measure something, there's not much sense worrying about it.

If we can't measure something, then the claim that a player is affected by it is baseless.

If we can't measure something, then we can't make personnel decisions based on it.

Why should we shut off discussion instead of opening it up, if we do not have the data that allows us to shut it off with confidence?


Nobody is trying to "shut off discussion." They're saying there's no evidence for it.

And, you know, we don't have a problem seeing how a ballpark affects a hitter, or how a righty/lefty pitcher affects him, or how the ball-strike count affects him. We don't have a problem measuring how age affects hitters. We have no trouble measuring any of those things. So why should we think something we can't measure is so important?
   145. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:49 PM (#2724878)
If we can't measure something, there's not much sense worrying about it.

If we can't measure something, then the claim that a player is affected by it is baseless.


Why?

So why should we think something we can't measure is so important?

Because it often comes up in the highest leverage situations!

I was originally going to say something about the human element in baseball, but I don't think that would have persuaded you.
   146. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:54 PM (#2724897)
If we can't measure something, then the claim that a player is affected by it is baseless.

Why?


Because it's not supported. The claim may be true; but that is not the same thing as saying it's supported.

Again, it may be true; we just have no idea whether it is. And if we have no idea, then it's not important to me. And there's no reason to believe it.
   147. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:56 PM (#2724901)
but if we can't measure it, I don't see why we should worry about it -- let alone assume that it's there anyway.

I doubt the Egyptians could measure the properties of sheer stress on their stones and mortar, or the effect of gravity on the building. Nevertheless, they still had to worry about it.

The issue that often arises at this site is the demand for precision in measurement. Trained human actors are often able to approximate these responses by recognizing certain patterns and making the best decision based on the current information within the time constraints of making the decision. (Or if you are so Baysian that you can't see beyond that paradigm, by using approximations of posterior probabilities) IOW, they do measure it, they just don't spit out some number as a symbol of their measurement.

That measurement rarely satisfies the Bill James of the world. So instead of calling it measurement, he calls is something like Fog. To others, they deny its existence or utility. That is how you crash in the Fog.

Its rarely a problem until someone critizes someone else for not using player A because he has such and such WARP factor. It only becomes a big problem when you come up with erroneous measurements like DIPS which ignore the human selection criteria among the entire population. That is ignoring a pitcher throwing meatballs without (a) trying to correct it; or (b) selecting another player; because you erroneously think its luck because nobody has come up with a meatball NUMBER.

The problem isn't so much measurement as the complete inability of some people to accept information if its not conveyed in the symbology of numbers.
   148. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:57 PM (#2724904)
If we can't measure something, there's not much sense worrying about it.

If we can't measure something, then the claim that a player is affected by it is baseless.

If we can't measure something, then we can't make personnel decisions based on it.
That's absolutely idiotic. If you actually believe that, this discussion is going to fail on some really basic levels.

The idea that all the knowledge about baseball that is possible is already in existence, and so the areas of baseball which remain unknown due to our inability to measure them should be ignored, is just incomprehensible to me.

We can't measure, for instance, the projectibility of a high school player. We don't have an abstract, precise method for saying that Jimmy Bob has the capability to grow into 30 HR power while Jesse Sue will never top 82 mph with those mechanics. Those sorts of issues of projectibility, though, are massively important to any successful draft-and-development strategy.

There are huge aspects of baseball that involve too many moving parts, too many variables, too much change over time, for anyone to locate them abstractly with statistical significance. What makes baseball so great is the way that there is really useful abstracted knowledge that we can apply and play around with, but there are also wide, important areas where we are ignorant, or where different tools for the production of knowledge (tools which can't attain to "measurement" in the sense you use it above) are necessary and useful.
   149. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:59 PM (#2724908)
For the same reason evolutionary biologists think natural selection is important, even though they find it difficult to quantify.

But it can be measured. There are tools for it. There is objective data. I'm not saying clutchiness can't be measured in baseball, but I am arguing that it can't be measured by the statistics we currently keep. It's like trying to study quasars before there were radio telescopes.
   150. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 06:59 PM (#2724910)
Reggie Jackson career: .262/.356/.490
Reggie Jackson divisional series: .227/.298/.380
Reggie Jackson World Series: .357/.457/.755

Clutch or not-clutch?
   151. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:00 PM (#2724911)
Until then, there's a weird undertone of morality we're attributing to chokers and clutch-gods that I find bogus.

Why? Its just a hypothesis about players ability to perform under certain situations. Its no more about morality than it is saying that Joe Blow can't hit a curveball. There are certain players you want up in certain matchups. Those matchups not only involve pitch/bat mechanics but also involve stress mechanics.

Its usually not morality, its just that certain players develop certain fanbases, and those fanbases get upset when their player is shown deficient in a quality. Similarly, they don't like it if other people get recognition for their skill set.
   152. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:03 PM (#2724919)
Again, it may be true; we just have no idea whether it is. And if we have no idea, then it's not important to me. And there's no reason to believe it.

I happen to believe careful observation can allow you to get pretty close to the truth in most cases.
   153. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:06 PM (#2724921)
Because it's not supported. The claim may be true; but that is not the same thing as saying it's supported.

I seriously doubt, you are anyone you know, acts based on whether a statement is true in a logical sense. They act on their belief of the statement, and they correlate their belief on the plausibility of the statement for their environment.

I'm not saying clutchiness can't be measured in baseball, but I am arguing that it can't be measured by the statistics we currently keep.

Unless "we" is a select population, that is not true. Moreover, unless you are totally baysian, why worry about "statistics". Why not deal with all manner of metrics. "We" in the more inclusive sense, do decide about players and assign some symbols to them based on projected performance based on induced stress or stress response.

In fact, your hero Billy Beane, assigns a very special symbol for this purpose. He calls it a Milo, and he describes it in Moneyball.
   154. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:08 PM (#2724926)
I'm not saying clutchiness can't be measured in baseball, but I am arguing that it can't be measured by the statistics we currently keep. It's like trying to study quasars before there were radio telescopes.
This is a key point.

One thing that we've learned from some studies of "clutch" is that statistical measures typically fail at measuring what we think of as "clutch." That's useful knowledge.

It's like MGL's old study that RHB platoon splits are not useful predictors of future platoon splits. That doesn't mean that every RHB has the same platoon split, but rather it means that we can't use the platoon split data to make statements about a RHB's platoon split. That's really useful to know. If someone comes to me with Manny Ramirez' 2005 platoon splits, I can confidently say that that information isn't particularly useful for predicting his future splits. (and it wasn't!)

Batter/pitcher splits are my favorite example. Everyone who's played the game above T-ball knows that you hit different pitchers differently - you see the ball out of their hand differently, you are better or worse at picking up their pitches and laying the bat on them - but because hitters face individual pitchers so rarely, and in such necessarily atypical situations (every situation is atypical, that's why we need to collect lots of them to construct the "typical"), their split stats against particular pitchers will tell us nothing about how well they will do in the future against that pitcher.

It takes conversations with the player, subjective analysis of different swings and windups and pitches, and a wide array of methods that do not raise to the level of "measurement" to figure out how well a certain hitter may do against a certain pitcher.

It's useful to know that we can't use certain stats to make that judgment, or that we should at least be very careful in our use of certain stats. That's what these studies do, and I don't mean to dismiss them, and I don't think I am doing that at all. I'm just trying to be more precise about what knowledge we do and do not have, and what other methods and sorts of knowledge can also be useful in talking about baseball.
   155. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:08 PM (#2724927)
Are anti-anxiety drugs performance enhancing?
I don't know how they'd affect people in other sports, but Beta Blockers are pretty controversial in golf (and are probably banned now that there is testing) because of their effect of controlling heart rate, and thereby calming a player's nerves. So yes, in some instances, they are.
   156. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:08 PM (#2724931)
Its usually not morality, its just that certain players develop certain fanbases, and those fanbases get upset when their player is shown deficient in a quality. Similarly, they don't like it if other people get recognition for their skill set.

Except that the definition of pressure and clutchiness has to continually change to make the story fit for each player. There is most definitely a human element to baseball and baeball players undoubtedly feel pressure, but you have no possible way of knowing when those situations are. You can guess, you can intuit, but you cannot read their minds. You can only attribute a mental state to them, a mental state that I can guarantee you changes from year to year and month to month and game to game and at bat to at bat and pitch to pitch. I wish I knew who the clutchy players were and I'm sure MLB executives wished they knew. But we don't. The A-Rod is a choker and Big Papi is a god of clutch story sure looks like an MLB themed morality play to me. It also makes me want to root for A-Rod, the big phony.
   157. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:08 PM (#2724932)
It seems to me that the utility, if we were to show that the clutch effect is real, would lie in predictability: if we know that ARod tends to choke in the clutch, we could send Shelley Duncan up in the 9th inning instead. So finding support for the theory would have value in decisionmaking.

Note that managers may pay lip service to "clutch" and what not, but we know that they don't actually believe in this; if they did, they would sit Barry Bonds in the 1992 NLCS against Pittsburgh. They would pinch hit for ARod in the 9th.

They would bench their stars in the playoffs and pinch hit for them in clutch situations. But they don't. The only recent example I can think of where clutch may have entered into a manager's mind was Torre batting ARod 8th in that playoff game -- but that was likely done as much to scapegoat ARod as anything else; if Torre really believed ARod was useless in the attempt to win that game, he'd have benched him.

Note that we see that managers believe in, say, platoon advantages -- because managers make use of the effect. They simply don't do this with clutch situations.
   158. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:12 PM (#2724943)
In fact, your hero Billy Beane, assigns a very special symbol for this purpose. He calls it a Milo, and he describes it in Moneyball.

Dude, I think your mistaking the gm of the team I'm a fan of for my spritual leader or something. It's just baseball.
   159. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:13 PM (#2724948)
That's absolutely idiotic. If you actually believe that, this discussion is going to fail on some really basic levels.

The idea that all the knowledge about baseball that is possible is already in existence, and so the areas of baseball which remain unknown due to our inability to measure them should be ignored, is just incomprehensible to me.


I didn't say we should stop studying it; I said if we can't measure it we can't make decisions based on it. (Or shouldn't, anyway.)

We can't measure, for instance, the projectibility of a high school player.


But we can see which ones have some skills, as opposed to no skills. Scouting is flawed and imperfect, but not useless.
   160. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:15 PM (#2724951)
The A-Rod is a choker and Big Papi is a god of clutch story sure looks like an MLB themed morality play to me.
This is a good point, too. It's quite clear that when a lot of people attempt to measure "clutch", they measure instead their particular feelings toward a player, their unschooled and far-afield judgment of a person's character, their feelings about that time when the player didn't make it to a scheduled interview on time, whatever. Those are also very, very bad methods for judging "clutch." We should be rightly skeptical of any particular judgment of clutch, and recognize the complex relationships, especially in the mainstream media, from which these judgments grow.

That doesn't mean, though, that "clutch" is non-existent or meaningless. It just means that we have a lot more work to do to speak intelligently about it. I find that an exciting situation.
   161. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:16 PM (#2724956)
But we can see which ones have some skills, as opposed to no skills. Scouting is flawed and imperfect, but not useless.
Likewise, we can see which ones swing well in big spots, and which ones seem to seize up. That's a flawed and imperfect measure of clutch.
   162. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:17 PM (#2724959)
Note that managers may pay lip service to "clutch" and what not, but we know that they don't actually believe in this; if they did, they would sit Barry Bonds in the 1992 NLCS against Pittsburgh. They would pinch hit for ARod in the 9th.

Not true for at least a couple of reasons. We do not know if either of these players truly is unclutch, and even if they are, their supreme talent may make them more valuable then their replacements. A-rod's backup thirdbaseman has been Miguel Cairo for much of his Yankee career.

Additionally, managing a ball club is also managing personalities. Even if you know Bonds or the Rod is going to choke, you don't bench them in a big spot unless you want to deal with an extremely pissed off and humiliated superstar. It's just bad management. It will undoubtedly cost you more games (and probably your job) than leaving them in in a situation where they are more unlikely to suceed than normal because of their pyschological issues.

They simply don't do this with clutch situations.

Because there is a different level of sensitivity to pyschological and emotional issues than there are with physical ones.
   163. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:17 PM (#2724962)
It's useful to know that we can't use certain stats to make that judgment, or that we should at least be very careful in our use of certain stats. That's what these studies do, and I don't mean to dismiss them, and I don't think I am doing that at all. I'm just trying to be more precise about what knowledge we do and do not have, and what other methods and sorts of knowledge can also be useful in talking about baseball.

I think this is the reasonable course. There just some to be some aspects of baseball that are more akin to psychology than physics. Psychology is a real science, but different than one that relies on hard mathematics. How do we approach the psychological aspects of baseball? I have no freakin clue. It's there, though, I'm sure of it.
   164. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2724966)
On managers using "clutch", I think Josh Beckett's workload in the 2003 playoffs is a pretty good example. Beckett never had all that great regular season numbers, but McKeon decided to ride his right arm to the world series anyway.
   165. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:18 PM (#2724967)
The A-Rod is a choker and Big Papi is a god of clutch story sure looks like an MLB themed morality play to me.

Why? If that were the case, wouldn't it be in MLBs best interest to also start a conspiracy that Derek Jeter is a choker. He certainly has always gotten paid a heck of a lot of money, and probably more money per some production quantity.

If its a conspiracy of some sort, why don't all mega-stars get the choke label and the Neifi Perezs get the clutch label. If its big media bias, how do we get Tejeda being clutch in his MVP run, but have Arod equal choker.

Its an observation, plain and simple. Sometimes its right, sometimes its wrong. Its probably right and wrong at the same degree as any other prognostication made by any non-professional gambler. Sometimes its right for the time and the players move on. Sometimes other performance criteria hides the "clutch/choke" response; sometimes the situation makes the "clutch/choke" response appear more manifest.
   166. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:24 PM (#2724980)
On managers using "clutch", I think Josh Beckett's workload in the 2003 playoffs is a pretty good example. Beckett never had all that great regular season numbers, but McKeon decided to ride his right arm to the world series anyway.


Huh? Beckett was the team's best pitcher that year.
   167. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:26 PM (#2724985)
On managers using "clutch", I think Josh Beckett's workload in the 2003 playoffs is a pretty good example. Beckett never had all that great regular season numbers, but McKeon decided to ride his right arm to the world series anyway.


The longer careers of some pinch hitters are also testiment to a managers decision regarding using players in one specific type of psychological environment.

In fact, managers and general managers make decisions on psychology all the time. Most of the time, they are ridiculed on this site for many of them, even the ones were they were successful (this usually being relagated to a function of the god LUCK).

What MCoA finds 'exciting', is the exact thing that usually doesn't happen among the posters. There isn't investigation into the utility of decisions based on psychology, whether it be 'clutch' or 'proven leaders' or 'clubhouse cancers'; they are usually just a springboard for people to act superior for their use of rudimentary classic statistics and esoteric aggregations of numbers as their sole basis of assigning value. A small number do use that as a means for exploration.
   168. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:28 PM (#2724990)
Beckett never had all that great regular season numbers, but McKeon decided to ride his right arm to the world series anyway.

Well, if Beckett got lit up in inning 3 of one of those games then his workload would have been a bit less, I think his effectiveness at that point in time had a great impact on his workload.

IOW I don't think McKeon decided ahead of time to "ride" Beckett, it worked out that way for McKeon because Beckett was so effective, and McKeon was able to see that Beckett was pitching brilliantly and it wasn't a fluke. (By that I mean that Beckett really was pitching as well as his results).
   169. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:35 PM (#2725009)
There isn't investigation into the utility of decisions based on psychology, whether it be 'clutch' or 'proven leaders' or 'clubhouse cancers'; they are usually just a springboard for people to act superior for their use of rudimentary classic statistics and esoteric aggregations of numbers as their sole basis of assigning value. A small number do use that as a means for exploration.

I am completely for this, but dime store psychology is no more useful than knee jerk statistical analysis. The psychology of baseball is most definitely an undiscovered country, exciting and fraught with peril. It's one thing to lock ourselves in our mothers' basements and look at numbers, it's quite another to watch A-Rod's body language on hi-def and decide what's going on in his noggin. Still, I'm fascinated to see where this may lead. Go for it, soldier on and all that.
   170. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:39 PM (#2725014)
What MCoA finds 'exciting', is the exact thing that usually doesn't happen among the posters. There isn't investigation into the utility of decisions based on psychology, whether it be 'clutch' or 'proven leaders' or 'clubhouse cancers';


The utility is precisely zero, since the investigations have failed to turn up any evidence.

If new evidence of clutch ability is uncovered and presented, I'd be happy (and interested) to look at it. But I don't find it "exciting" to search for a unicorn.

they are usually just a springboard for people to act superior for their use of rudimentary classic statistics and esoteric aggregations of numbers as their sole basis of assigning value.


Funny, the people insisting that clutch ability matters are the ones who seem "superior" to me.
   171. SoSH U at work Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:44 PM (#2725030)
If new evidence of clutch ability is uncovered and presented, I'd be happy (and interested) to look at it. But I don't find it "exciting" to search for a unicorn.

Funny, the people insisting that clutch ability matters are the ones who seem "superior" to me.


That's hilarious.
   172. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:47 PM (#2725039)
Well, if Beckett got lit up in inning 3 of one of those games then his workload would have been a bit less, I think his effectiveness at that point in time had a great impact on his workload.

As opposed to giving up a lead in the 4th or getting a 4 spot hang on him in the 1st inning?

I am completely for this, but dime store psychology is no more useful than knee jerk statistical analysis.

Agreed. We don't want to end up with PIPS, unless we are Gladys Knight.

one thing to lock ourselves in our mothers' basements and look at numbers, it's quite another to watch A-Rod's body language on hi-def and decide what's going on in his noggin.

Both are fraught with peril if you ignore the other.

Still, I'm fascinated to see where this may lead. Go for it, soldier on and all that.

Not me. I think you have people like Tango that have tried to explore areas that have not been measured. Moreover, you are starting to see those projects that involve a little more than using the math you learned in high school.

I don't want to see, "Players hand/eye coordination has nothing to do with hits on balls in play" or overestimating causes for performance and labeling them with % or ^.

But I don't think that it would be dime store psychology for baseball fans to discuss environmental performance, and to hypothesize the effect on players. Its certainly no less incorrect than throwing out some of the alphabet soup things that we have seen. It also seems to be more useful in the progression of baseball wisdom than discussions that go: (1) Here is his DIPS; (2) Here is his WARP factor. I also imagine it would be more interesting conversation.
   173. The Ghost fouled out, but stays in the game Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:49 PM (#2725045)
I'm happy with the 60 Minutes piece. Remember, this isn't ESPN, it's a news magazine show. They made it a story about James more than about his work, and did a good job of it. The fact that it whetted the appetite of some people for sabermetrics will send them off for more detailed info. That's far better than trying to explain it too briefly.

As for the Curry Conundrum, I struggle with this. I don't like the idea of him trying to take it all the way. He got his best opportunities when he was fed. At least try to have an option when it was clear that Kansas was leaving others open to blanket him at all cost. I didn't want to see Sander rtake the shot or go to the hole, nor Richard, but what about tha sub who'd hit 3 treys?

Most of all, the idea of lose-with-your-best-guy, reminds me of the old no-manager-ever-got-fired-for-going-lefty-vs-lefty.
   174. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:50 PM (#2725048)
As opposed to giving up a lead in the 4th or getting a 4 spot hang on him in the 1st inning?


and you point would be?

if instead of saying " lit up in inning 3 of one of those games" I had said:

"lit up early in one of those games"

what would your response/comment have been?
   175. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:51 PM (#2725049)
But I don't find it "exciting" to search for a unicorn.

I agree. I don't find it exciting to look for the luck fairy and the injury gremlins either. That is why we should deal with human psychology-- something that does exist.
   176. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:53 PM (#2725052)
But I don't think that it would be dime store psychology for baseball fans to discuss environmental performance, and to hypothesize the effect on players. Its certainly no less incorrect than throwing out some of the alphabet soup things that we have seen. It also seems to be more useful in the progression of baseball wisdom than discussions that go: (1) Here is his DIPS; (2) Here is his WARP factor. I also imagine it would be more interesting conversation.

Here's where we differ, especially about BBTF. There are those here that only want to see #'s, I will grant you that, but the vast majority of folks here aren't that simplistic. If BBTF was nothing but an exercise in high school statistics, I wouldn't spend my 10 hours a day--hi boss!--goofing off here. It would be boring. This stat nerd thing is not only a straw man, it's a freakin boring straw man.
   177. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:54 PM (#2725053)
The utility is precisely zero, since the investigations have failed to turn up any evidence.

Stop saying that, Ray. You're confusing the failure to properly quantify with lack of evidence.


And you're assuming lack of evidence is a "failure to properly quantify."

Again, the utility of "clutch" is zero. We know that ARod won't hit .133 this year (assuming he's healthy and plays). But we haven't the foggiest clue whether he'll hit .133 or .533 in his next postseason series.
   178. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:54 PM (#2725056)
and you point would be?

That McKeon saw a quality in Beckett that is not quantified in most of the statistical measures.


what would your response/comment have been?


That he did get lit up early in one of those games?
   179. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 07:55 PM (#2725058)
I agree. I don't find it exciting to look for the luck fairy and the injury gremlins either. That is why we should deal with human psychology-- something that does exist.


I've always been fascinated by your complete inability to understand the concept of random variation, your obviously a smart guy, but attempting to dismiss any mention of the possibility that something happened by "chance" with catch phrases like the "luck fairy" does nothing to ad dto the discussion...

or

maybe I'm misreading and you are referring to the "luck fairy" only because others refer to clutch ability as being mythological.
   180. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:01 PM (#2725063)
Oh really? Tell me something, when you see a woman, do you whip out your calculator and figure out through mathematical models whether she's attractive or not? Or is that something you just "feel"?

kevin, when I see an attractive woman, I most definitely whip it out and then just feeeeeeeeel it.

And you do realize it's easier for me to determine my own emotional state than somebody else's, no? If I'm in the box against Joel Zumaya, I know for a fact I'm terrified. It doesn't mean I know whether or not A-Rod is.
   181. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:06 PM (#2725067)
That's not what you have been saying. You've been saying that clutch doesn't exist.


Nope. I've been saying that there's no evidence it exists, and therefore if it does exist it's not important.
   182. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:08 PM (#2725070)
There are those here that only want to see #'s, I will grant you that, but the vast majority of folks here aren't that simplistic.

I do not suggest that a "vast majority" of people here or in any loosely defined stathead community are anything. I don't the ability to metricize or quantify exactly how many are subscribing to any school of thought.

I do have the ability to see that a sizable number of people that are able to post, do the things that I state they do. You usually find evidence of that statement in the threads were I make the statements. Its probably within the last month or two where you find a thread devaluing scouting and other such things because it had not been measured by persons giving measurements that have limited or no utility and making conclusions from those numbers that are continuously demonstrated to be false.

It would be boring. This stat nerd thing is not only a straw man, it's a freakin boring straw man.

You certainly don't seem bored. You seem to be either vigorously defending yourself or a group of people you feel close too, when its very likely that none of these statements are directed toward them.

We appear to agree more than disagree on these elements. We disagree on some small points. You acknowledge that my statements are true for a population of people. Those are the population at issue. For that matter, I'm not even talking about Ray. He doesn't engage in the grand sport of calling other people idiots.
   183. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:09 PM (#2725074)
Nope. I've been saying that there's no evidence it exists, and therefore if it does exist it's not important.


Well prior to the 20th Century there was no evidence that nuclear fission existed, I guess it's not important either
   184. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:20 PM (#2725097)
I've always been fascinated by your complete inability to understand the concept of random variation, your obviously a smart guy, but attempting to dismiss any mention of the possibility that something happened by "chance" with catch phrases like the "luck fairy" does nothing to ad dto the discussion...

or

maybe I'm misreading and you are referring to the "luck fairy" only because others refer to clutch ability as being mythological.


Or

Maybe you are taking what I'm saying and interpreting it into something entirely different. For instance, I haven't said anything about "random variation" in this thread.

First, I'm not sure what you think I don't understand. The issue is when someone incorrectly:

(1) Assigns luck as a causal actor in a previously completed event In those cases, there is nothing that is random, all the causes have occurred. or
(2) Confuse externalities with "luck" and not subject to a predictive model. or
(3) THE WORSE: Confuse events that are within control as being "luck"

What is very upsetting is when it is done by persons styling themselves as scientists or mathematicians, and make even worse reductionary conclusions. Stating that "hits are random" is about as useful as saying "Hits are the will of Allah" There may be some truth in saying "the result was largely outside of X person's control", but when doing it forecloses investigation on actual cause, and brands those looking for cause as being heretical, its just creating some deity, assigning it supernatural powers and using it for improper purpose.
   185. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:23 PM (#2725106)
You certainly don't seem bored. You seem to be either vigorously defending yourself or a group of people you feel close too, when its very likely that none of these statements are directed toward them.

Naw, it's not that. My BS detector is going off is all. I wish I could devote more time to a thread like this. Jumping in between paperwork gets hard. I like arguing with you, despite the tone my posts may sometimes take.

Talk to you guys tomorrow. I'm being dragged to a Beth Orton acoustical concert in Chelsea tonight. I am sad. This show is so not going to rock. And on opening day too!
   186. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:27 PM (#2725122)
And you do realize it's easier for me to determine my own emotional state than somebody else's, no?

I do not think that is always true, and that is one of the values that coaches provide. Often, its hard for someone to tell if they are pressing; if their behavior is changing; if they are being effected by emotion; if they are subject to the effects of emotion.
   187. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:28 PM (#2725128)
Well prior to the 20th Century there was no evidence that nuclear fission existed, I guess it's not important either


Well, the rather large difference is that fission has been shown to "exist." Clutch ability hasn't been shown to exist, but as I've said you're free to keep looking.
   188. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:29 PM (#2725132)
Maybe you are taking what I'm saying and interpreting it into something entirely different. For instance, I haven't said anything about "random variation" in this thread.


there you go again :-)

no, you haven't
you have taken what others have referred to as random variation
rephrased it numerous times as "luck"

and then later throw out airy sentences referring to an irrational belief in the "luck fairy"

Or

Maybe you are taking what I'm saying and interpreting it into something entirely different.


which is quite possible, as you are no doubt well aware, since that is the most consistent aspect of your own posting style.

I don't KNOW what you are thinking when you write, any more than you KNOW what I'm thinking.
I have read quite a few of your posts (you are one of the better writers who post here), and I do my best to interpret what you are trying to convey.
   189. Backlasher Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:29 PM (#2725136)
Well prior to the 20th Century there was no evidence that nuclear fission existed, I guess it's not important either

Or Newtonian mechanics with a different century, or just about any advancement in knowledge.
   190. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:32 PM (#2725151)
Well, the rather large difference is that fission has been shown to "exist." Clutch ability hasn't been shown to exist, but as I've said you're free to keep looking.


I was talking about from the point of view before it was shown to exist, back when the atom was believed to be indivisible. I have no doubt that 100 or so years ago when the idea was first proposed, that some physicists said, well there's no evidence it exists therefore even if it does exist it's not important.
   191. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:32 PM (#2725153)
What is very upsetting is when it is done by persons styling themselves as scientists or mathematicians, and make even worse reductionary conclusions. Stating that "hits are random" is about as useful as saying "Hits are the will of Allah"


Just to be clear, if we're talking in these terms ("luck" and "randomness"), it's not that hits are "random," but that they're the result of probability. Everyone agrees that, generally speaking, Ichiro has a better chance of getting a hit than Adam Dunn does.
   192. Worrierking Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:33 PM (#2725156)
When Bill James started writing about clutch abilities in the early 80s, we were in the midst of an astonishly stupid time in baseball when legitimate analysts on Saturday afternoon national telecasts and General Managers were speaking of clutch ability as something so important as to make ridiculous roster decisions. I remember somebody on tv talking about what a great player Chris Speier was because he was a great clutch hitter. The implications were that when building a team you should go find a bunch of guys like Chris Speier. The belief was that winning baseball came down almost entirely to clutch performance, so much so that a guy like Chris Speier was believed to turn into Hank Aaron when the chips were down, in spite of the fact that he was a .230 hitter with no power the rest of the time.

Of course they had no evidence, just their own perceptions, which may have been colored by all sorts of things from a few memories of big hits to their own personal biases including fanboyism, personality or even in some cases race. In those dark days we were just a few years removed from Reggie in '77 and his remarkable World Series performance. Clutchiness was considered key.

Even if it exists in such a way that we will eventually be able to study it and predict it, James proved that it isn't that big of a deal. The discussions we have about it today, other than in a few New York Columns or Talk Radio shows, don't assign it the importance it was given before James came along. All he really had to do was say "Oh yeah? prove it!" and the importance it was given was cut a hundredfold.
   193. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2725175)
That McKeon saw a quality in Beckett that is not quantified in most of the statistical measures.
See what he means about people treating baseball as a morality play? A "quality in Beckett"? It wasn't that Beckett had a good set of starts, but that there's something special about him. Even him pitching badly in one of these games is somehow a sign of this "quality."
   194. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:38 PM (#2725176)
I was talking about from the point of view before it was shown to exist, back when the atom was believed to be indivisible. I have no doubt that 100 or so years ago when the idea was first proposed, that some physicists said, well there's no evidence it exists therefore even if it does exist it's not important.


Yes, but then they looked, and they found it. Just as you're free to look.

But not everything people look for exists or is shown to exist, so I don't really understand the analogy.
   195. BDC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:39 PM (#2725180)
The fission analogy is an odd one if you press it far enough. Basically at the moment, since (as Ray says) we don't know what makes AROD tick, and therefore don't know whether AROD will hit .133 or .533 in the playoffs, "clutch" is indeed an unimportant concept in baseball strategy. By analogy with fission, if we discover "clutch" we ought to be able to turn AROD into the ultimate weapon and explode him over Fenway Park. I somehow don't think that the effects are going to be quite that striking :)
   196. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:42 PM (#2725195)
See what he means about people treating baseball as a morality play? A "quality in Beckett"?


But did you see how he split my post in half, he essentially replaced my
McKeon was able to see that Beckett was pitching brilliantly and it wasn't a fluke. (By that I mean that Beckett really was pitching as well as his results).


with his
McKeon saw a quality in Beckett that is not quantified
????

Some people simply cannot say, "manager X let pitch Y stay in the game, and later make anotehr start because Y was pitching well"

They have to say, "X knew that Y had that special quality that champions are made of"
   197. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:44 PM (#2725206)
By analogy with fission, if we discover "clutch" we ought to be able to turn AROD into the ultimate weapon and explode him over Fenway Park. I somehow don't think that the effects are going to be quite that striking :)


No by analogy we really would have someone pinch hit for AROD if clutch was proven- and AROD didn't have it.

On the other hand, I know some Yankee fans who would be just as happy with your scenario
   198. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:48 PM (#2725227)
Yes, but then they looked, and they found it. Just as you're free to look.

But not everything people look for exists or is shown to exist, so I don't really understand the analogy.


The example was given to counter your claim that since clutch has not yet been shown to exist it can't be important. Which is a patently false assertion. Clutch may or may not exist. If it does exist it may or may not be that important, but the fact that it has not yet been shown to exist has little if any bearing on whether or not it is "important".
   199. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:48 PM (#2725233)
Dammit will someone else post so I don't have 4 posts in a row.
   200. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:48 PM (#2725234)
Of course they had no evidence, just their own perceptions, which may have been colored by all sorts of things from a few memories of big hits to their own personal biases including fanboyism, personality or even in some cases race. In those dark days we were just a few years removed from Reggie in '77 and his remarkable World Series performance. Clutchiness was considered key.
Actually, while a few memorable postseason plays often could create a reputation out of nothing, it was often the case that they did have evidence. The evidence was bad, but it existed. "Clutch hitters" would be identified as (1) people with lots of RBI, and (2) people with a high RBI/HR ratio. So much of the debate over the years which has purportedly been between statistics and creepy eyes has actually between bad (i.e., misused) statistics and good statistics.
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