In Pursuit of the Truth: An Attempt to Explain My Fascination with Advanced Stats

As my twelve or so followers-and anyone who knows me-know, I am entirely on the sabermetrics bandwagon.  I’ve never really though about why this is; I just know that I have been ever since my dad introduced me to Bill James as a young boy.  Once I finally understood James’s real purpose, I have never looked back.  And now, I’m trying to understand the reason that I am still enamored with it to this day, rather than dismissing it and moving on.

People seeking the truth.  I think that this explains/can be explained by our search for and diversity of religions, and our faith in our own opinions.  For me, I love the truth, and tend to be very stubborn and defensive.  My morality also tends to be very black-and-white.

Ever since I was five or six years old, I have loved sports statistics.  I would obsess over box scores, and create imaginary people with stat lines for many sports.  At first, it was simply the basics-like points per game, at bats, batting average, etc.

However, I eventually discovered Bill James.  When reading his work, it simply made so much sense.  Once we have discovered something, we tend to be curious and want to learn more.  As such, I would try to calculate Runs Created and his other statistics for various players.   I also picked up Baseball Prospectus’s work, and briefly joined SABR.

At this point, my basketball awareness had still not developed past the basic stats and the abysmal excuse for an advanced stat, Player Efficiency Rating (PER).  Then, when doing research for an estimation of NBA player peaking, I stumbled across http://www.basketball-reference.com’s Win Shares.  A few months later, when looking for flaws in PER, I discovered the Wages of Wins, and consequently, Wins Produced.  It took me a while to convert, but I did because its methodology seemed both correct and reasonable, even if some of its conclusions were a bit funky.

The fact that I was even researching player peak age is a testament to the depth of my search for the truth.  If we all try to discover a little truth, eventually our understanding will be exponentially expanded.  Wins Produced isn’t perfect, but people are working to fix that and discover more truth.  This pursuit is why we love advanced stats, and we have statistics at all.  We simply want to understand what we are seeing.  As someone-I can’t remember exactly who, although I think it was Dave Berri-once said, “Statistics are about separating the player from the team.”  Merry Christmas, everyone!  Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.

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2 thoughts on “In Pursuit of the Truth: An Attempt to Explain My Fascination with Advanced Stats

    • Thank you very much for the offer; I would be honored. I would like to mention Patrick Minton at http://www.thenbageek.com, whose work is honestly more impressive than mine, and he is in fact a fan of the T’Wolves, and the other contributors at the Wages of Wins, who inspired me to start this blog. Their analytic work is also much more impressive than mine.

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