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As the saying goes, when they argue that you’re taking over, that’s when you know you’ve won

Hey, here’s a book I’m not planning to read any time soon!

As Bill James wrote, the alternative to good statistics is not “no statistics,” it’s bad statistics.

(I wouldn’t have bothered to bring this one up, but I noticed it on one of our sister blogs.)

8 Comments

  1. Sanjay says:

    Games are decided by bad hops and bad calls, broken bats, sun and wind, pigeons in the outfield, and fans who obstruct players, among other unforeseeable contingencies That may seem obvious (apart from the pigeons), but not to the folks who increasingly run the show. Rather than celebrating baseball’s delightfully spontaneous quality, sabermetricians deny it or rebel against it.
    So their models don't have residuals?

  2. LemmusLemmus says:

    "More importantly, the saber-obsession with numbers occludes a major aspect of baseball’s beauty – its narrative richness and relentless capacity to surprise. Baseball, thank goodness, transcends and often defies quantitative analysis. Games are decided by bad hops and bad calls, broken bats, sun and wind, pigeons in the outfield, and fans who obstruct players, among other unforeseeable contingencies"

    The statisticians are denying the pigeons agency!

  3. Kyle Gorman says:

    Where's the James quote taken from?

  4. Andrew Gelman says:

    Kyle:

    I don't remember but it's probably from one of the mid-80s Abstracts. It's not an exact quote, either. I'm really just paraphrasing a point that James made many times, that those people who say they hate statistics end up relying on unadjusted batting averages etc to make their arguments.

  5. Joe Viscomi says:

    i'd like to know what a “near-random event” is …

  6. Eric Tassone says:

    Looks like a "review battle" is underway on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Beauty-Short-Hops-Circumsta

  7. Andrew Gelman says:

    Eric:

    It's not really a review battle until Mary Rosh gets involved. But I don't know if she's a baseball fan.

  8. Dave Robinson says:

    Many thanks; the 'Mary Rosh' back reference made my day.