“Those fourth down calls epitomize Kelly’s aggressiveness but what the average football fan doesn’t realize is that Chip’s play-calls (the fourth down tries, fake punts, two-point conversions, etc.) are almost always the correct mathematical decision. Like Paul DePodesta and Billy Beane did in baseball, Kelly’s genius comes from exploiting arithmetic that other coaches are too naïve to acknowledge.”
Popularized in the book and later on the movie, Moneyball, Sabermetrics is “the search for objective knowledge about baseball.’ Thus, sabermetrics attempts to answer objective questions about baseball, such as ‘which player on the Red Sox contributed the most to the team’s offense?’ or ‘How many home runs will Ken Griffey hit next year?’ It cannot deal with the subjective judgments which are also important to the game, such as ‘Who is your favorite player?’ or ‘That was a great game.'” -Bill James.
Sabermetrics has caused tremendous controversy among sports analysts and enthusiasts because of the positions they take on questions such as: How do we reconcile mathematical knowledge that contradicts our intuition? What if our eyes tell us one truth and our numbers tell us a different one?
Some people complain that the reliance on numbers takes away from the “magic and mystery of the game.”
The baseball organizations themselves have adopted the data driven approach to analyzing players. With the success of the Oakland Athletics (a team that was an early adopter of the mathematical methods known as Sabermetrics) and later on the Boston Red Sox, most if not all teams use these analytical methods.
The first link below is an introduction to the basics of sabermetrics and below that are two disagreeing with its use.
Interesting research into whether making one basketball shot makes you any more likely to hit your next one. The first two links summarize the fallacy and the third one questions it. Interesting way of using math to help us know and understand something too large to keep track of or understand simply by our memory.
How does math help us understand the world around us? How do we reconcile mathematical knowledge that contradicts our intuitive knowledge?
How can we use math to help us understand something in the real world? Here’s an interesting case of taking something hard to understand, the value of drafting football players, and using math to help quantify and interpret trends and outcomes that would otherwise be close to impossible to understand without math. Without some quantitative way, a lot of times, football people use intuition, sense perception, and memory to help them make decisions.
This is part of the larger trend of using data to understand information that used to be thought of as beyond the realm of mathematical analysis.