Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Clarifications About the JSM Poster

David Smith--from Revolutions--referred me to a criticism at Reddit regarding the poster my fellow grad student and I presented at JSM last week. This comment made me want to clarify what we are attempting in the analysis.

We ARE NOT attempting to find the most deserving players or the best players. We are attempting to use simple statistics to model the voting behavior and decision rules of those making the induction decisions. Many involved in baseball would argue that WAR is the best measure of overall player performance. I'd likely agree. But how many BBWAA voters make inductions based on that statistic (at least prior to, say, 2005)?

This is the idea we are presenting here: Hall of Fame voters are simplistic in nature when it comes to their voting. That doesn't mean they won't change, but it means that they will vote based on the information they have available. This likely includes Goals and Assists. We include Plus-Minus, but find it to be essentially useless in classification, which is probably a good thing: it shows that our model is making the decision rules correctly for this metric.

Now, I do think the thought about normalizing things like goals and assists is a valid one. It is something we are working on, but in baseball have generally found that aggregate milestones are most predictive of Hall induction. For example, using ERA+ did not improve upon the model with ERA. I'm not saying that it's the best way to go, but it seems to be the way the decision rules are made. I will double check this version of the model for hockey, of course.

Lastly, there was concern over including All-Star games in the analysis. Because there are other reasons for voting a player into the Hall--for example "integrity" is used specifically in the baseball induction requirements--the ASG totals are included in order to control for the popularity and general well-liked-ness (is that a word) of a player. We do not include it simply because we think it's a great measure of the best players. And there is certainly noise when it comes to ASG participation. The same goes for Stanley Cup Wins. But a player like Phil Rizzuto almost surely was inducted into the baseball HOF thanks to his appearance on so many World Series teams. It seems that some players are voted in based on their prominence in the media and on good teams. Again, I make no judgement as to whether or not that's the correct way to go.

I hope this clears up any confusion. Hopefully we will have a working version of the paper out in the coming months.

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