Your verification ID is: guDlT7MCuIOFFHSbB3jPFN5QLaQ Big Computing: Gelman writes about Bill James

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gelman writes about Bill James

I always knew that Professor Andrew Gelman of Columbia was a well known Statistician and Social Scientist, but when he writes an article in the Baseball Prospectus now he is famous. It is always good to see a statistician write about a sabermetrician. Although these two fields are really the same it seems they try to separate themselves from each other.

It was interesting to me that Gelmen wrote about James as a baseball outsider not too different from what James was to baseball in 1984 when he wrote the "Inside-out Perspective" article. Baseball may always need the outsider prospective to push it along because its traditions and beliefs are so deep.

I thought one interesting issue that Gelmen touched upon was how little of the real work in sabermetrics gets published. When Gelmen works on a topic he publishes a paper that discusses his approach, provides an example and the code to run the example yourself. Not so in Sabermetrics. I find little detail in the published articles and very little code. This results in people like James moving away from positions and theories without explanation. I think this hurts the development of Sabermetrics in some ways. My view on how science is developed is the path of how gravity was discovered through a series of theories that we accepted and then rejected. First there was nature abores a vacuum, then there was nature abores a vacuum up to 32 feet and then finally there was gravity at 32ft/sec.

It was a fun article to read in preparation of my attendance at the Sabermetrics Seminar at Harvard May 21-22

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