Performance Perspectives Blog

Moneyball & performance measurement

by | Jun 19, 2009

As often happens when I read, I stumble upon quotes which I will want to employ in my speaking and writing. Here are just a few from Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, along with commentary:

– The meetings, from their point of view, are all about minimizing risk (p. 27): Here, the author is speaking about draft meetings. And, the notion of minimizing risk is quite a standard aspect of our world, yes?

– Teach him perspective-that baseball matters but it doesn’t matter too much. Teach him that what matters isn’t whether I am strick out. What matters is that I behave impeccably when I compete. The guy believes in his talent. (53): Actually, this quote has nothing to do with our field, but is much broader…one of perspective…that we should avoid taking things too seriously. Being reminded of this isn’t so bad, right?

– When we state it that way, it becomes, or should become, crystal clear that the most important isolated (one-dimensional) offensive statistic is the on-base percentage. (58): Here we learn of one of the key “ah has” of the analysis of baseball statistics: that the wrong ones are often being used. Should make us reflect on what we do and whether we’re doing it right (such as the overuse of time-weighting and standard deviation).

– I didn’t care about the statistics in anything else. I didn’t, and don’t pay attention to statistics on the stock market, the weather, the crime rate, the gross national product, the circulation of magazines, the ebb and flow of literacy among football fans and how many people are going to starve to death before the year 2050 if I don’t start adopting them for $3.69 a month; just baseball. Now why is that? It is because baseball statistics, unlike the statistics in any other area, have acquired the powers of language. (Bill James, 1985; Baseball Abstract) (64): being focused isn’t such a bad thing.

– What he writes may be good, but why he writes is something you particularly want to hear more about (64): Something I can relate to, from a personal standpoint. Can’t say why it is, but I do enjoy writing.

– The statistics were not merely inadequate; they lied. (67): This one makes me think primarily of the use of standard deviation, which, given the non-normal state of returns, will result in inadequate and false information.

– The meaning of these performance depended on the clarity of the statistics that measured them (68)

I’ll share more in the future. But, for now I hope that I’m motivating you to pick up a copy.

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