Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Math in Sports

Here's a bit from Bill Simmons' new writing project (the piece is not by him). It feels familiar. Some thoughts:

1. I've never understood sabermetrics to be about "solving" sports. It's a tool to gain an edge on some margin by which you generate for yourself an information advantage. Sports and management decisions are not solvable; find an edge, exploit it.

2. Sabermetrics developed with baseball; it's evolution into basketball and football seems to overlook the nature of separability in the baseball production function (and the lack thereof in the production functions for basketball and football). I'm not sure that this is completely intractable but it's a hurdle, and not an insignificant one. "Finding the right metrics" in basketball and football doesn't get at the root issue.

3. Since we're here-- here's the trailer for Moneyball. Jonah Hill playing Paul DePodesta (I understand he's a composite of individuals, but nonetheless) has to be one of the most surprising movie castings in recent memory, though the more I consider it, I think it may work out well. And is it mandatory that Kevin Costner be cast in any and all movies concerning baseball?

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