Members of SABR–and if you’re not one, you should be–returned from work to find a treat in their mailboxes yesterday: the latest issue of the Baseball Research Journal, the fine publication issued by the organization that has done so much to change the way we think about, and even play, the game.
Some of the intriguing information in this issue:
-Robert Adair, Sterling Professor of Physics at Yale University and former National League “official” physicist (during the Bart Giamatti reign), reveals that the Questec system’s high error rate makes it a statistically useless tool for judging individual performance of umpires.
-Former MLB pitcher Dave Baldwin (a PhD and a specialist in systems engineering) and Terry Bahill explain the physical and physiological reasons why some fastballs appear to “rise” or jump when they reach the strike zone (they don’t; it’s an optical illusion).
-Frederic Reamer, yet another PhD, uses the statistical formula known as Spearman’s Rho to gauge the accuracy of the 2003 preseason forecasts by the experts at ESPN.com. The results: they did a pretty good job, but if you just picked the same order that the teams had finished in 2002 (basically, a default prediction), you would actually have done even better.
And there’s plenty more.