Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game / Edition 1

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Overview

A look at baseball data from a statistical modeling perspective! There is a fascination among baseball fans and the media to collect data on every imaginable event during a baseball game and this book addresses a number of questions that are of interest to many baseball fans. These include how to rate players, predict the outcome of a game or the attainment of an achievement, making sense of situational data, and deciding the most valuable players in the World Series. Aimed at a general audience, the text does not assume any prior background in probability or statistics, although a knowledge of high school abgebra will be helpful.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
From the reviews:

"...a most interesting and useful introduction to the subject. It should make enjoyable reading for physicists who are also baseball fans, and it ought to be required reading for baseball managers, executives, and commentators." PHYSICS TODAY

"...a smart and energetic collection of essays on baseball statistics. Curve Ball doesn't play misty-eyed homage to baseball's traditions and conventional wisdoms....This is great stuff....Curve Ball makes clear how pleasurable [stats] can be, and arguably how important, to view the great American game with real precision." — The Wall Street Journal

"Rating: 4.5 out of 5. Must own!" — Baseballnotebook.com

"In [Curve Ball] Albert & Bennett explain the game in ways the conventional press - even titans such as Bill James - cannot." — Baseball America

"[The book] illustrates how statistical reasoning can be useful in teasing out the role of chance from performance in baseball to better assess ability....Curve Ball represents another advance in the genre of baseball and statistics books." — Journal of the American Statistical Association

"This is a very good, fun and highly interesting book, applying some straightforward, and some more difficult, statistical estimation and modeling concepts to baseball. … I am a statistician, and mostly Bayesian at that, and this definitely enhanced my interest and enjoyment of the book. … Initially this book starts out as a sneaky introduction to statistics and Bayesian concepts, however, it turns into a delight for sports fans and statisticians alike. Highly recommended … ." (Richard Gerlach, Gazette, Vol. 31 (5), 2004)

"This book treats a wide variety of topics, including: comparing measures of batting ability; the impact of situation on performance; streaks; measuring a player’s clutch performance; and did the best team win the World Series. This book has the appealing quality that you can start reading at almost any chapter and enjoy and understand the journey. And for those of us who are not statisticians by training, we can also learn some statistics." (Zentralblatt für Didaktik der Mathematik, September, 2003)

"Curve Ball … is a necessary addition to any library. … Written for all followers of baseball, this book caters to those who find joy in reading (and if you are like me, memorizing) the statistics on the backs of baseball cards or who played baseball simulation games … . For readers possessing no knowledge of statistics, this book is a great way of learning how to view and interpret data from a statistician’s standpoint. Readers with statistics backgrounds will enjoy the book … ." (Jonathan L. Templin, Chance, Vol. 15 (4), 2002)

SEATTLE POST
"Numbers add to the beauty of baseball . . . Baseball is a lovely dance of numbers . . . [Jim Albert and Jay Bennett] have taken the sport's statistical bent to a new extreme . . . CURVE BALL is a study in how the game is wonderfully prone to numerical study. . . . for numerical loyalists, this book delivers a new degree of bliss."
Wall Street Journal
Smart and energetic . . . hardcore fans will find its mission refreshing. Curve Ball doesn't pay the usual misty-eyed homage to baseball's traditions and conventional wisdom. Rather it tests whether baseball's accepted measurements stand up to scrutiny. . . . This is great stuff. . . . Curve Ball makes clear how pleasurable [stats] can be, and arguably how important, to view the great American game with real precision.
Science News
Two mathematicians with a passion for America's national pastime help their fellow baseball and numbers fans look anew at the statistics that proliferate in the sport. Most sports statistics are nothing more than data, say Albert and Bennett. They go a step further by applying statistical models to the numbers to reveal hidden truths. Readers begin with a primer on data analysis as they consider tabletop baseball games. Then the authors delve into batting statistics, examining the notion of streaks, situational effects, and new measures of performance. Finally, they look at the ways that statistical models -- and chance -- can predict individuals' performances and teams' wins. All this offers readers an interesting way to learn the basic concepts of the often-daunting field of statistics.
Sci-Tech Book News
Two statisticians and baseball fans advocate a fresh approach to statistics that permits baseball enthusiasts to increase their understanding of baseball numbers and further appreciate the game. Some of the themes explored include situational statistics, the phenomenon of 'streaks,' or alternatives to traditional measures such as the time-honored batting average.
Library Journal
Baseball is a fascinating game for the statistical analyst. On the surface it appears so simple and limited. But the more closely one studies the game, the more, it seems, there is to know. The coauthors are both former chairs of the American Statistical Association Section on Statistics in Sports and fans of the Philadelphia Phillies. Though there are many other books about baseball statistics, these authors are particularly sophisticated statisticians. As they illuminate baseball, they demonstrate the power of college-level statistics to interpret the numbers. Starting with simplified board game simulations, the authors show how to model player performance or predict game outcomes. Then they use actual statistics to make the models more complex and true to life. Part of the fun is that statistical results can be counterintuitive. Does the best team always win the World Series? Not necessarily. No matter how talented other teams are, the element of chance means that Phillies fans can still hope for victory. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially in cities with a major league baseball team. Amy Brunvand, Univ. of Utah Lib., Salt Lake City Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Two statisticians and baseball fans advocate a fresh approach to statistics that permits baseball enthusiasts to increase their understanding of baseball numbers and further appreciate the game. Some of the themes explored include situational statistics, the phenomenon of "streaks," or alternatives to traditional measures such as the time-honored batting average. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780387001937
  • Publisher: Springer New York
  • Publication date: 4/8/2003
  • Edition description: Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 1,441,209
  • Product dimensions: 9.21 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition; Introduction; Ch01: Simple Models from Tabletop Baseball Games; Ch02: Exploring Baseball Data; Ch03: Introducing Probability; Ch04: Situational Effects; Ch05: Streakiness (Or, The Hot Hand); Ch06: Measuring Offensive Performance; Ch07: Average Runs per Play; Ch08: The Curvature of Baseball; Ch09: Making Sense of Baseball Strategy; Ch10: Measuring Clutch Play; Ch11: Prediction; Ch12: Did the Best Team Win?; Ch13: Post-Game Comments (A Brief Afterword); Appendix: Baseball Games; Glossary; Bibliography; Index

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