Monday, July 28, 2008

The Spinner Game

Today we played our spinner game -- quite a high-scoring affair -- the American League all-stars won over the National League all-stars 25-18.

Why did the AL team win? There are several explanations:

1. The AL was the better team with the better ballplayers.

2. There was no pitching. (Actually in this game, the pitcher isn't a part of the game, so the game has literally no pitching.)

3. The AL had more luck -- their spinners went the right way.

4. The people controlling the AL spinners were cheating. (Although some of your spinners didn't work that well, I don't believe you were cheating.)

This relates to the main subject of the next chapter. In statistics, we see a lot of variation in data and we have to figure out how much of the variation is due to skill and how much is attributable to luck or chance variation.

We distinguished between a player's ABILITY and his PERFORMANCE. We observe how players perform in games, and from the performance data, we want to learn about players' abilities.

Luck is a dirty word in baseball -- no player wants to say that he did well or that the team did well due to some lucky breaks. But luck or chance variation plays a big role in the variability of player and team performances. Statisticians want to understand this variability, so we can draw conclusions about ability.

No comments: