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Math Stats Science

Nate Silver Turns His Eye To the American League 50

Lasrick writes "Nate Silver is at it again. This time, instead of the presidential election, he's focusing on the baseball's Most Valuable Player race for the American league. It's a race that embodies the split among baseball fans between those who think of it from a mathematical perspective (the Moneyball generation) and those who prefer the traditional, feel-of-the-game perspective. Here's a quote: 'On Thursday, the American League will announce the recipient of its Most Valuable Player award. The winner is likely to be Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers star who won the league’s triple crown by leading in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139). It might seem as if these statistics make Cabrera, the first triple crown winner in either league since 1967, a shoo-in for the M.V.P. But most statistically minded fans would prefer that it go to another player, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels.'"
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Nate Silver Turns His Eye To the American League

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  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:16PM (#41984695)

    This is a little different in that he's not doing a purely descriptive prediction, but an attempt at objective evaluation. In the presidential election, he wasn't trying to build a statistical model that would say whether Romney or Obama was a better leader, or a better politician: all he was attempting to do was predict who would win. But in baseball his approach is to analyze objective criteria in an attempt to quantify how valuable a player is to their team. For example, one measure of value is if they get on base more than an "average" replacement player would, which typically means a player who can play the same position (e.g. a catcher compared to an average catcher). Another measure of value is whether they field better than a typical player at that position. You add all those up and you can attempt to estimate how many runs more/fewer a team would've had over the season if your 2nd baseman had been replaced with The Average MLB Second Baseman.

    So in this case he's not trying to predict who'll win the MVP, but arguing who should win the MVP, on the basis that they are objectively the most valuable player to their team. Now trying to do that with presidential elections would be interesting...

  • miss the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @05:43PM (#41985075) Journal

    The thing that makes Nate Silver is not so much that he uses Math. Lots of people used math to predict the outcome of the election, including Princeton's Sam Wang and the pollsters at PPP (who were the most accurate polling organization).

    What makes Nate Silver valuable is that he can write. He explains what he's doing and why. He describes his model in detail and lets us in on what elements go into his predictions.

    There are probably a fair number of handicappers who can do as well as Nate Silver in the predicting department, but while we can make money betting their predictions, we're not going to gain any valuable insights. You can learn from Nate Silver.

  • Easily Cabrera (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Krater76 ( 810350 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @06:06PM (#41985315) Journal
    Mike Trout is a great player, no doubt. He should definitely be on the short list for MVP. The problem is that this isn't just a statistical/quantitative award, there's a qualitative measurement as well. Were you just 'good' but on a terrible team? Were you 'great' but on a great team? These things matter. Felix Rodriguez got the Cy Young award even though he had barely a winning record as a pitcher. His team gave him ZERO help but he was the best pitcher in the AL that year.

    What is all comes down to is the Triple Crown. The last guy to do it was Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Of 16 Triple Crown winners, only 14 players have ever accomplished it (two of them did it twice). In this age of hitters that are specialists, it's incredible that someone accomplished the feat. I honestly never thought I would see it in my lifetime.

    So unless Nate Silver can put some weight on the psychological importance of the title - Triple Crown - then his calculation will be flawed. Knowing that Nate Silver is a baseball fan, I assume he is well aware of the importance of the feat.

    CABRERA 2012!

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears