Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Frederick Mosteller and Poisson golf scores

Baseball Toaster’s Bob Timmermann blogs the death of Frederick Mosteller, a sabermetric pioneer who published on baseball in 1952.

King Kaufman’s article in Salon:

Mosteller's Washington Post obituary, like various other online citations, credits "The World Series Competition" as "the first known academic analysis of baseball."

It showed that even a very good team relies heavily on luck in winning a short series. "The probability that the better team wins the World Series is estimated as 0.80," the abstract reads.

Pretty simple stuff now, but we stand on the shoulders of giants, etc.

The reason I run this note, redundant as it is following the postings of Bob and Mr. Kaufman, is that Bob sent me a link to
another Mosteller abstract where we learn something about golf:

Professional golf players on the regular tour are so close in skill that a few rounds do little to distinguish their abilities. A simple model for golf scoring is "base + X" where the base is a small score for a round rarely achieved, such as 64, and X is a Poisson distribution with mean about 8.

I assume the base and Poisson mean vary by golfer.


At Thursday, July 27, 2006 2:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pretty simple stuff" blogs the blogger on the subject of Frederick Mosteller, as if this founder of the Harvard University statistics department ever made a "simple" contribution to statistics in his entire career. Mosteller's 1952 work on the World Series -- far from "simple" -- was a seminal work in the application of statistics to sports. If it weren't, it never would have been granted ink in a journal as prestigious as the Journal of the American Statistical Association, a journal in which nary a word from even the "best" of today's ilk of "sabermetricians" could hope to pass muster. No less a player than Sir Isaac Newton once commented about his own greatness: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Fred Mosteller was a giant, and not of the mere New York/San Francisco variety, and a number of would-be-statistician sabermetricians stand on his shoulders, and they confuse the giant with a simpleton. The simpletons are the ones standing on the shoulders, in this case.

At Monday, August 07, 2006 2:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

<< Home