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Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

Statistics job opening . . . at the NBA!

Jason Rosenfeld writes: I work for the NBA League Office headquarters in New York City. I’m the Director of Basketball Analytics here at the NBA, and I’m again recruiting analysts. More information on the roles I’m trying to fill can be found here ( I’m open to both undergraduate and graduate students. I’d be perfect […]

Two Unrecognized Hall Of Fame Shortstops

Michael Humphreys writes: Thought you might be interested in or might like to link to the following article. The statistical rigor is obviously not at a professional level, but pitched somewhere around the Bill Jamesian level. Here’s the link. This sort of thing makes me realize how out of it I am, when it comes […]

The plagiarist (not; see correction below) next door

In a comment on this chess-related post, Matt Gaffney pointed me to this wonderful page full of chess curiosities by Tim Krabbé. My nederlands is not what it used to be, but Krabbé has posted lots of material in English so that’s no problem. I started reading his “Open chess diary” (i.e., blog), it’s updated […]

Crowdsourcing data analysis: Do soccer referees give more red cards to dark skin toned players?

Raphael Silberzahn Eric Luis Uhlmann Dan Martin Pasquale Anselmi Frederik Aust Eli Christopher Awtrey Štěpán Bahník Feng Bai Colin Bannard Evelina Bonnier Rickard Carlsson Felix Cheung Garret Christensen Russ Clay Maureen A. Craig Anna Dalla Rosa Lammertjan Dam Mathew H. Evans Ismael Flores Cervantes Nathan Fong Monica Gamez-Djokic Andreas Glenz Shauna Gordon-McKeon Tim Heaton Karin […]

Debate on using margin of error with non-probability panels

Tomorrow (Thurs 22 Jan) at 2pm, I’m participating (along with Jane Tang, John Bremer, Nancy Brigham, and Steve Mossup) on an online discussion, moderated by Annie Pettit, on the above topic. Here’s the description: Most marketing researchers know that using Margin of Error with convenience samples, non-probability samples, and online research panels is inappropriate. However, […]

Stan comes through . . . again!

Erikson Kaszubowski writes in: I missed your call for Stan research stories, but the recent post about stranded dolphins mentioned it again. When I read about the Crowdstorming project in your blog, I thought it would be a good project to apply my recent studies in Bayesian modeling. The project coordinators shared a big dataset […]

Try answering this question without heading to Wikipedia

Phil writes: This is kind of fun (at least for me): You would probably guess, correctly, that membership in the US Chess Federation is lower than its peak. Guess the year of peak membership, and the decline (as a percentage) in the number of members from that peak. My reply: I don’t know, but I’d […]

The latest episode in my continuing effort to use non-sports analogies

In a unit about the law of large numbers, sample size, and margins of error, I used the notorious beauty, sex, and power example: A researcher, working with a sample of size 3000, found that the children of beautiful parents were more likely to be girls, compared to the children of less-attractive parents. Can such […]

Who should write the new NYT chess column?

Matt Gaffney gives these “three essential characteristics” for writing “a relevant, interesting weekly chess column” in 2014: 1. It must be written by someone who is deeply involved in the chess world. Summaries of information that is already available online won’t cut it anymore. And since newspapers can’t afford to send columnists around the world […]

Times have changed (sportswriting edition)

The name Tom Boswell came up in a recent comment thread and I was moved to reread his 1987 article, “99 Reasons Why Baseball Is Better Than Football.” The phrase “head injury” did not come up once. Boswell refers a few times to football’s dangerous nature (for example, “98. When a baseball player gets knocked […]

Ray Could Write

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections, To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. . . . You were silly like us; your gift survived it all: For chess makes nothing happen: it survives In the […]

2 on chess

Is it really “often easier to win a rematch than to defend a championship”? The quoted bit above comes from Tyler Cowen, writing about the Anand/Carlsen world championship rematch. I’m still not used to the idea of a new world championship match every year but I guess why not? Anyway, here’s my question. Tyler Cowen […]

“Derek Jeter was OK”

Tom Scocca files a bizarrely sane column summarizing the famous shortstop’s accomplishments: Derek Jeter was an OK ballplayer. He was pretty good at playing baseball, overall, and he did it for a pretty long time. . . . You have to be good at baseball to last 20 seasons in the major leagues. . . […]

Poker math showdown!

In comments, Rick Schoenberg wrote: One thing I tried to say as politely as I could in [the book, “Probability with Texas Holdem Applications”] on p146 is that there’s a huge error in Chen and Ankenman’s “The Mathematics of Poker” which renders all the calculations and formulas in the whole last chapter wrong or meaningless […]

Luck vs. skill in poker

The thread of our recent discussion of quantifying luck vs. skill in sports turned to poker, motivating the present post. 1. Can good poker players really “read” my cards and figure out what’s in my hand? For a couple years in grad school a group of us had a regular Thursday-night poker game, nickel-dime-quarter with […]

Understanding the hot hand, and the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the hot hand, and the myth of the myth of the myth of the hot hand, all at the same time

Josh Miller writes: I came across your paper in the Journal of Management on unreplicable research, and in it you illustrate a point about the null hypothesis via the hot hand literature. I am writing you because I’d like to move your current prior (even if our work uses a classical approach). I am also […]

NFL players keep getting bigger and bigger

Aleks points us to this beautiful dynamic graph by Noah Veltman showing the heights and weights of NFL players over time. The color is pretty but I think I’d prefer something simpler, just one dot per player (with some jittering to handle the discrete reporting of heights and weights). In any case, it’s a great […]

Stan World Cup update

The other day I fit a simple model to estimate team abilities from World Cup outcomes. I fit the model to the signed square roots of the score differentials, using the square root on the theory that when the game is less close, it becomes more variable. 0. Background As you might recall, the estimated […]

Stan goes to the World Cup

I thought it would be fun to fit a simple model in Stan to estimate the abilities of the teams in the World Cup, then I could post everything here on the blog, the whole story of the analysis from beginning to end, showing the results of spending a couple hours on a data analysis. […]

D&D 5e: Probabilities for Advantage and Disadvantage

The new rules for D&D 5e (formerly known as D&D Next) are finally here: Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Edition: Basic Rules D&D 5e introduces a new game mechanic, advantage and disadvantage. Basic d20 Rules Usually, players roll a 20-sided die (d20) to resolve everyting from attempts at diplomacy to hitting someone with a sword. Each […]