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Friday, January 10, 2014

Rakich: Hall of Fame Post Mortem

It was an unpredictable day, although that didn’t stop us from trying. Twitter user @RRepoz aggregated all the public ballots prior to the announcement, and I took a stab at projecting final vote totals based on these “exit polls.” Both proved relatively accurate on Election Day.

...I recalculated my projections using adjustment factors averaged from just the past three years of voting history and made a startling discovery: the average error dropped to 2.9 points, and the median error plummeted to 2.1. Using three-year polling error this year would have produced more accurate results, suggesting that four-year-old data have indeed outlived their usefulness. (Curious to see if we could do even better, I also tested a version that used an average of just the previous two years; this produced an equivalent average error to the four-year average—3.0 points—but a lower median error—2.2 points. That’s still worse than the three-year calculation, though, indicating that three years is the sweet spot.) Therefore, I will use three-year calculations for my 2015 projections—accounting for the exit-poll error in 2012, 2013, and 2014 only.

Another tweak I will make to the experiment will be a subtle, yet important, change in how I calculate the polling error itself. Currently, I subtract a player’s percentage on public ballots (the polls) from his percentage on all ballots (the actual vote). However, it would be more precise to subtract his percentage on public ballots from his percentage on private ballots (i.e., all ballots minus public ballots). This is because “turnout” for the exit polls (i.e., the number of ballots publicly revealed) has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2012, we only know of 114 public ballots out of 573 total (19.9%); in 2014, a whopping 208 people out of 571 (36.4%) revealed their ballots beforehand. This necessarily creates some error because, for instance, some of the +7.9% error for Jack Morris in 2012 was eaten into by the 94 additional ballots that were public in 2014 but private in 2012. Put another way, if someday 98% of voters make their ballots public before Election Day, my adjustment factors will be pretty useless; we’ll already know that there can be only a minuscule amount of error in those polls. The very error represented by my adjustment factors by definition gets smaller with a larger sample size in @RRepoz’s exit poll.

Finally, one common denominator in both my projections’ errors and the polls’ errors was that we both guessed too high. Most players ended up getting fewer votes than we projected they would—whether because of the controversial Rule of 10, or old-school voters protesting the Steroid Era, or for some other reason. This suggests automatically building in a one- to two-point negative adjustment factor in addition to the player-specific one. However, a closer examination reveals that it is disproportionately the first-time candidates dragging the ballot in this direction; they over-performed in exit polls by an average of 3.7 points. Rather than try to devise my own method of projecting these fickle ballot rookies—an endeavor that has failed two years in a row now—perhaps I should simply dock them each a few points next year and call it a day.

Thanks to Barnald.

Repoz Posted: January 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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