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Great piece on Bill James


True Grich

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http://sportsworld.nbcsports.com/bill-james-statistical-revolution/

 

From one of my favorites... Joe Posnanski...

 

James on WAR...

 

Here is Bill James on Wins Above Replacement, perhaps the hottest advanced statistic in the game right now:

“Well, my math skills are limited and my data-processing skills are essentially nonexistent. The younger guys are way, way beyond me in those areas. I’m fine with that, and I don’t struggle against it, and I hope that I don’t deny them credit for what they can do that I can’t.

“But because that is true, I ASSUMED that these were complex, nuanced, sophisticated systems. I never really looked; I just assumed that the details were out of my depth. But sometime in the last year I was doing some research that relied on these WAR systems, so I took a look at them, and … they’re not very impressive. They’re not well thought through; they haven’t made a convincing effort to address many of the inherent difficulties that the undertaking presents. They tend to get so far into the data, throw up their arms and make a wild guess. I don’t know if I’m going to get the time to do better of it, or if it will be left to others, but … we’re not at anything like an end point here. I assumed that these systems were a lot better than they actually are.”

 

 

On clutch hitting:

 

The young Bill James rather famously wrote that he could not find any evidence that certain types of players could consistently hit better in the clutch – he still has not found that evidence. But unlike his younger self, he will not dismiss the idea of clutch hitting. He has been a consultant for the Red Sox for more than a decade, and he has watched David Ortiz deliver so many big hits in so many big moments, and he finds himself unwilling to deny that Big Papi does have an ability in those situations others don’t have. He wrote an essay with this thought in mind, suggesting that just because we have not found the evidence is not a convincing argument that the evidence does not exist.

 

“I think I had limited understanding of these issues and wrote about them — little understanding and too-strong opinions,” he says. “And I think I damaged the discussion in some ways when I did this. … these sorts of effects (leadership and clutch-hitting and how players interact) CAN be studied. You just need to approach the question itself, rather than trying to back into it beginning with the answer.”

Edited by True Grich
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