Predictably Irrational meets Moneyball in ESPN veteran writer and statistical analyst Keith Law’s iconoclastic look at the numbers game of baseball, proving why some of the most trusted stats are surprisingly wrong, explaining what numbers actually work, and exploring what the rise of Big Data means for the future of the sport.
For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players’ and teams’ potential and success. But in the past fifteen years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement—sabermetrics—has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the "old" way—a combination of outdated numbers and "gut" instinct—is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run by people, not by numbers.?
In this informative and provocative book, teh renowned ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer demolishes a century’s worth of accepted wisdom, making the definitive case against the long-established view. Armed with concrete examples from different eras of baseball history, logic, a little math, and lively commentary, he shows how the allegiance to these numbers—dating back to the beginning of the professional game—is firmly rooted not in accuracy or success, but in baseball’s irrational adherence to tradition.
While Law gores sacred cows, from clutch performers to RBIs to the infamous save rule, he also demystifies sabermetrics, explaining what these "new" numbers really are and why they’re vital. He also considers the game’s future, examining how teams are using Data—from PhDs to sophisticated statistical databases—to build future rosters; changes that will transform baseball and all of professional sports.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)|
About the Author
Keith Law is a senior baseball writer for ESPN Insider and an analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, focusing on all types of baseball analysis. Prior to joining ESPN, Law spent four and a half years working as a Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, handling all statistical analysis, and was also a writer for Baseball Prospectus. Law lives in Delaware.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Smrt Baseball
1 Below Average: The Fundamental Flaws of Batting Average 9
2 Pitcher Wins: One Guy Gets the Credit for Everyone Else's Work 19
3 RBI: Baseball's Unreliable Narrator 31
4 Holtzman's Folly: How the Save Rule Has Ruined Baseball 43
5 Stolen Bases: Crime Only Pays If You Never Get Caught 57
6 Fielding Percentage: The Absolute Worst Way to Measure Defense 71
7 Bulfinch's Baseball Mythology: Clutch Hitters, Lineup Protection, and Other Things That Don't Exist 85
Part 2 Smart Baseball
8 OBP Is Life: Why On-Base Percentage Is the Measure of a Hitter 109
9 The Power and the Glory: Slugging Percentage and OPS 121
10 wOBA/WRC: The Ultimate Measure of the Hitter (Until the Next One) 133
11 ERA and the Riddle of Pitching Versus Defense 139
12 WPA: Measuring Clutch, If You Must 157
13 The Black Box: How Baseball Teams Measure Defense Today 163
14 No Puns Intended: Going to WAR to Value the Whole Player 183
Part 3 Smarter Baseball
15 Applied Math: Looking at Hall of Fame Elections Using Newer Stats 207
16 No Trouble with the Curve: How Scouting Works, and How the Statistical Revolution Is Changing It 231
17 The Next Big Thing IS Here, the Revolution's Near: MLB Statcast 245
18 The Edge of Tomorrow: Where the Future of Stats Might Take Us 261