FanDuel - WFBC

February 12, 2004

Player evaluation: Art, Science, Both?: A cool article on heady stuff dealing with baseball, but applicable across the board. via:hockeypundits

posted by garfield to culture at 12:12 PM - 10 comments

the print is small, but its not that small.

posted by garfield at 03:13 PM on February 12

It's a pretty cool article, but I think it's already been posted...

posted by cobra! at 03:57 PM on February 12

oh, man. thanks cobra. [scampers off with tail between legs]

posted by garfield at 03:59 PM on February 12

This is a GREAT article - worth a double-post. And it doesn't apply to just baseball (or sports or business), as clearly indicated by the forum. Things I learned (I'm cutting + pasting quotes liberally from the article): Systems analysis: - Ask the naïve question: “If we weren't already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?” (per Peter Drucker) Objective vs subjective decision-making: - Opinions are great ... for starting research projects. Then you go study and see if you can prove the opinion or not. But when placing multi—million dollar bets on future outcomes, opinions are wholly unsatisfactory. Opinions as conversation starters are fine. Opinions as conclusions are very bad. - Between stats, scouting reports and ESPN, there's too much information and it's difficult to decipher what was important and what didn't matter. Naturally, our brains go searching for cause and effect relationships, but there was too much noise. The problem was that baseball people would draw conclusions from baseball stats that just didn't matter. - I was on a quest to find relevant relationships. Usually it wasn't as simple as “if X then Y.” I was looking for probabilistic relationships. ... In baseball, if you win about 60% of your games, you're probably in the playoffs. - I built a Markov model, or actuarial table, for the last five or ten years that recorded what had actually happened in the course of every major league baseball game. ... I was able to figure out that a man on first with nobody out is worth “X” runs and a man on second with two outs is worth “Y” runs. From there I was able to jump to understanding what it means to have someone who can hit a lot of doubles. ... I went a step further and asked who the people were who could add these value—enhancing skills to our team. Finally I was able to figure out what the cost of each of those activities was and what the margins were. This was process versus outcome. I just didn't believe the outcomes that the traditional stats were giving us. - ...(R)ather than taking days to make a decision on a player we were able to make a decision on a player in about 10-15 minutes. Change management: - Get some wins, then leverage your credibility - You're not doing enough if you haven't annoyed anyone. Almost makes me want to get an MBA. And apply this approach to the pro soccer leagues, say, the EPL. Those organizational dinosaurs are ripe for re-engineering.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:56 PM on February 12

Also:

Many of us share a common psychological deficiency. We judge decisions based on the outcome instead of the time and the circumstances under which they were made. This happens all the time in baseball. They make trades and say things like, “we'll see in three or four years if it was a good decision.” That doesn't work for me because you can't go back and learn from the decisions because of all the variables that occurred in the intervening time. It makes replication of an outcome impossible.
Brilliant.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:58 PM on February 12

my apologies to lew.

posted by garfield at 06:07 PM on February 12

The entire series is fantastic. In addition to the DePodesta article, I also read a brilliant article by Juan Enriquez on genetics, maps, and access to information, and I'm now digesting an article on intuition by Eric Bonabeau:

Intuition has been shaped by biological evolution to help us deal with the environment of the hunter-gatherers. Is this the right tool for the world in which we live today? Intuition is a means not of assessing complexity but of ignoring it. Therefore, when you use your intuition, you are not always very good at evaluating options and solutions, when you have several options to evaluate. Intuition is never good at exploring alternatives. Intuition has been shaped by biological evolution in an environment where the immediate response to a big, black thing approaching is to run away. You don't have time to explore options in this environment. You would not be asking yourself to define what this thing is, or whether it might present some kind of opportunity for you.
Thanks, lew and garfield.

posted by dusted at 12:01 AM on February 13

This deserves a triple-post!

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:03 AM on February 13

"But I don't admit that my failure proved my view to be a wrong one, or that my success would have made it a right one; though that's how we appraise such attempts nowadays--I mean, not by their essential soundness, but by their accidental outcomes. " Jude the Obscure

posted by JJ at 08:48 AM on February 13

Jude the Obscure You Englishmen and your Public School educations!

posted by billsaysthis at 11:19 AM on February 13

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