FIRE JOE MORGAN: Steve Phillips+Math=Hide Your Kids


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Monday, August 08, 2005


Steve Phillips+Math=Hide Your Kids

Real quick, from Steve Phillips' most recent chat:

"Dan (Ithaca, NY): A manager looks at stats and it says a hitter is 8 for 12 against a pitcher. The manager thinks that the odds are for the hitter. I say the odds are that the hitter is due to make an out. What say you ?

Steve Phillips: You must be a statistician! The regression towards the mean would come into play. If you are over the mean, odds are you will come back to the mean. But if a guy is 8 for 12 and go 2 for 4 and still fall back toward the man, the manager is smart to put him in."

>>Of all the things you could say in response to this point, Steve chooses to laud a fundamental misunderstanding of basic probability! Sorry Steve, while it is very impressive that you're tossing around fancy terms like "regression to the mean," I'm afraid you just failed 5th grade math. This is the sort of stupidity that plagues baseball far too often. Steve, if I flipped a coin 100 times, and each time it came up heads, am I getting better odds to bet tails the next time? (The answer is no, you idiot) Actually, if that happened, I'd probably bet heads because there's probably something wrong with the coin. And what "mean" are you talking about? The mean of all batters averages against all pitchers? Because in this case, the mean of this batter vs. this pitcher, albeit a small sample size, is .667.

This is the difference between causal and non-causal probability, sometimes referred to as the "principle of indifference," not that I expect you to understand that.

Although, judging from your past, I would think that you're "due" to stop being a moron.

Also, fantastic typo in that last sentence..."fall back towards the man." Hmmm...

posted by Murbles  # 4:47 PM
Reader Kaitan points out that the mathematical term I probably meant to use was "gambler's fallacy" not "principle of indifference." Math dudes forgive me; it's been a few years.

But I stand by my point that no baseball player is ever "due" to do anything.
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