Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New Issue: By the Numbers

The just-released May issue of “By the Numbers,” the sabermetrics newsletter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), is now available at my website. I am the editor, so I won’t be writing reviews of these articles, just these summaries:

Academic Research: Pitcher Luck vs. Skill” by Charlie Pavitt: a review of two academic studies by Jim Albert, which talk about how to break down a pitcher’s record between luck and skill components.

The Wages of Wins – Right Questions, Wrong Answers” by Phil Birnbaum (me): a review of the recent book on sports sabermetrics/econometrics.

The Interleague Home Field Advantage” by Eric Callahan, Thomas J. Pfaff, and Brian Reynolds: a study that shows that the home field advantage in interleague games is significantly (in the baseball sense, not the statistical sense) higher than in other games.

Best of the Ball Hawks” by Tom Hanrahan: a study that evaluates the best centerfielders of all time using Win Shares and the Baseball Prospectus ratings.

We are always looking for material for future issues – please e-mail me if interested in contributing.

2 Comments:

At Friday, August 11, 2006 3:35:00 PM, Blogger Beamer said...

Phil,

Good review of Wages of Wins. I have often pondered buying it and even though your review was a little negative I still probably will when it debuts in paperback.

I must say I find the problems that you described to be endemic for most economists writing about baseball. As you say the general approach is to collect a bunch of variables, run a regression, proclaim significance (duh -- these things often have 1000s of sample points), and make some arbitrary conclusions.

Good baseball analysis requires one to be far more thoughtful. In fact proper understanding of analytical approaches such as Markov, BaseRuns, basic stats (std dev) are actually a lot more useful than regression.

 
At Friday, August 11, 2006 3:38:00 PM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Beamer,

Thanks! I agree with you completely ... I find that often it's difficult to take a regression and actually piece together what the results actually show. As you note, there are many techniques that are simpler and more effective than regression ... my impression is that academics don't like using them because they're not as impressive.

I don't recall Bill James *ever* using a regression. I cannot think of any single result from James that would have been more convincing if he had.

 

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