Anyone who truly knows anything about statistics, would find it hard to stomach “The maths Problem,” an essay by Jonah Leher that was published on Grantland today.
Leher is concerned that sports teams are being seduced by sabermetrics, paralysed by an excess of information, and unable to see the forest for the trees.
Also something about car shopping that makes no sense.
It’s a tired argument that completely misunderstands what sabermetrics is and how smart teams use it. It hardly seems worth rebutting.
However, Colin Weyers at Baseball Prospectus decided to anyway and he expertly fillets Leher’s argument (much better than we could) and you really should read the whole thing.
However, if you only need one tidbit to realise how colossally wrong Leher, you only have to read this:
Lehrer then goes on to talk about the Mavs beating the Heat in the NBA Finals as a point of evidence [Ed.: Evidence that grit and savvy trump talent] ….
I don’t really know what’s on the cutting edge of basketball statistics. But you know who does? The Dallas Mavericks. They’ve hired guys like Roland Beech as consultants. They’ve also been using things like Jeff Sagarin and Wayne Winston’s WINVAL system for over a decade. Using the Mavericks as an example of how using stats is ruining sports is like using the Yankees as an example of a successful small-market team. It’s appallingly ignorant.
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