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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

N.Y. Times: Schwarz: Professor Puts a Face on the Performance of Baseball Managers (RR)

Either this is an elaborate April Fools gag…or Wooly Willy has a major lawsuit on its hands!

Many of the numbers that measure the performance of hitters, pitchers and fielders are familiar to every fan. But now attention is being turned to a genus of baseball creature rarely examined through statistics: the manager, who sets the lineups, calls for hit-and-runs and otherwise turns the cranks of in-game strategy.

Aside from won-lost records, few metrics quantify what these men actually do and the tendencies they exhibit. But an associate professor of statistics at Swarthmore College is trying to set that right, quite literally putting a face on managerial performance.

The mathematician, Steve C. Wang, applied a method called Chernoff faces, in which data points in many dimensions are presented in a form that people react to more intuitively: the human face.

While reams of categorical data can be imposing and hard to parse, translating the differences among them into facial characteristics can communicate distinctions with striking clarity. By turning rates of bunting, stealing and pinch-hitting into hair sizes, nose shapes and smile widths, Dr. Wang used a kind of statistical Mr. Potato Head to portray the spectrum of managerial characteristics in a way that intrigued even the skippers themselves.

Repoz Posted: April 01, 2008 at 04:12 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 01, 2008 at 05:07 AM (#2726064)
So this ISN'T about Farnsworth?
   2. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: April 01, 2008 at 01:15 PM (#2726139)
Dr. Wang used a kind of statistical Mr. Potato Head

Don Zimmer would surely suffice as a real-world example, then.
   3. Sean Forman Posted: April 01, 2008 at 01:28 PM (#2726148)
Does anyone really find chernoff faces useful? I find myself saying, OK, the noses are sacrifices, all right let's compare the noses. OK, one's a little bigger, what does that mean. etc. etc.
   4. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 01, 2008 at 01:46 PM (#2726157)
I'm still waiting for a link to Schwarz's excellent stats vs. scouts roundtable discussion

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