Silver was a former Baseball Prospectus author and the driving force behind the PECOTA forecasting system that makes up the heart of the book.
Now he’s a rock star.
“Well, it’s hard to make sabermetrics any more cool than it already is — after all, millions of American teenagers use a picture of Bill James in Terminator shades as their smartphone wallpaper — but I think Nate may have managed it,” Ken Funck, a current BP author, related to me in an email interview. “I think his success, and the attention it received, went a long way towards demonstrating the validity of using statistical methods to forecast results.
“Baseball results are harder to forecast than election results — which is, of course, a large part of its appeal — so I hope no one expects me to predict every team exactly right this year.”
...“Any baseball fan who pays attention to something like a PECOTA projection is most likely quite passionate about the game, and one of the great things about baseball is its ability to spawn discussion and disagreement,” Funck said. “We’ve all sat on bleachers, couches or barstools arguing with our friends over whether the White Sox can compete with the Tigers this year, or how good Anthony Rizzo will be.
“PECOTA also has an ‘opinion’ on those topics, but unlike our friends, PECOTA is impersonal and dispassionate. Merely reading a PECOTA projection, especially one that you don’t agree with, doesn’t make you feel like you’re having a conversation. Instead, you can feel like you’re being lectured by some know-it-all blowhard, especially if you buy into the stereotype of baseball analysts as math geeks with spreadsheets who’ve never played and rarely watch the game.
“... That’s why I try to make the point in most conversations I have about PECOTA, or about baseball metrics in general, that they are not the end of the discussion. They’re really the beginning of the discussion.”
...“Our authors and editors do their best each year to make the Annual not just an invaluable reference, but an entertaining read,” Funck said. “Can that help debunk the propeller-head stereotype? Sure it can, and I think it does for most people that read our books or our website, or who meet us in person. No one who listened to the “Up and In” podcast would have ever confused Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks for humorless stat-heads. I’d be shocked if anyone that met me described me that way.”
Posted: March 03, 2013 at 10:20 AM | 7 comment(s)
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