Wednesday, April 02, 2008

JC Bradbury's The Baseball Economist

If you like baseball, then you would likely enjoy JC Bradbury’s The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed. He is an economist at Kennesaw State University and also blogs at Sabernomics.

Each chapter has a different theme, and the general idea is to challenge conventional wisdom by using regression analysis and economic theory. Actually, he sometimes gets some really vitriolic comments on his blog because in baseball, like pretty much everywhere else, people hate having their core beliefs challenged.*

So, for example, he criticizes the use of batting average (and even batting average with runners in scoring position) and shows how OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) does a much better job of predicting whether a given player will contribute to run scoring. He also argues that runs scored and RBIs are overrated because they depend so heavily on a player’s teammates.

Perhaps more controversial:

--having a power hitter “protect” you in the on-deck circle is a myth.

--Even if MLB is a monopoly, that’s good for fans: “Price discrimination by multi-price monopolists leads to higher profits for owners, but also more games at acceptable prices for fans” (p. 216).

There are also other fun chapters like why there are no left-handed catchers and how Leo Mazzone is not overrated.

* That includes me too. I still like statistics many people now call useless, or even bad, like stolen bases. I guess I am already getting somewhat old and crotchety.


boz 10:29 AM  

Of course, if stolen bases really were a bad statistic, then we'd see more left-handed catchers :)

Greg Weeks 7:15 AM  

Well, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint) managers don't necessarily listen to the statisticians.

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