The Contrarian – Beane Counters

Dobber Sports

2013-10-27

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The Contrarian takes aim at so called “advanced statistics.”

My article this week is not going to focus on any one single piece but on the overall assumptions and perceptions of statistics. Especially those that are considered advanced stats.

 

Accuracy and Importance


Some statistical categories are more important and thus are very accurately kept by the league. Goals, assists, penalty minutes and indirectly plus/minus are on the official game score sheets.

 

If something was missing or not accurate there would be complaints from many.

 

Other categories, blocked shots, face-off wins and hits for example can be found on other secondary reports. These stats are compiled but are not entirely necessary or even accurate. There is an element of subjectivity to them.

 

In a subsection of an article that Steve Simmons wrote called Stats Sometimes Lie he explains how an NHL GM turned down a group selling advanced stats analytics because the compiled data could vary from city to city. "What's a giveaway in Toronto isn't a giveaway in Columbus or New York, for example".

 

The GM said to Mr. Simmons that they compile their own stats so they could trust the consistency of the data.

 

To further the point about the importance of these categories, can you see a player chase down an office official to complain that he should have been credited with an extra shot in the middle of the second period or a visiting general manager argue that the home team gets credited with more hits than his team?

 

They do not care because the important stats are accurate. Fantasy owners in leagues that use those categories are the ones that would care but as long as they got something then that is good enough. The illusion remains intact. Corsi and Fenwick advanced stat calculations are built on a weak foundation and do not even know it. See article by Tyler Dellow titled “Advanced stats already telling in young season”.

 

What some fantasy geek should do is figure out which cities mark down more hits, blocked shots, etc. and if there is an additional bias towards the home team.

 

The Past and Forecasting the Future

 

We use statistics to back up our forecasts. It is logical to defend your stated position but by no means does it mean that we are guaranteed of the future outcome. These are our opinions and best guesses regardless of the values backing up the claim. If anyone of us knew for certain what will happen then those special people would be rich.

 

It is when people, including myself, say things like "Player X got off to an unexpectedly great start to the season so expect him to slow down because the law of averages will bring his numbers back to reality."

 

It sounds right but it is not. This has a name and it is called the Gambler's Fallacy. Take a fair coin and flip it hypothetically five times. Assume it comes up heads each of those five times.

 

On the sixth toss is it more or less likely to turn up heads again? The answer is neither, the odds remain the same. A head has a 50% chance of being flipped as does a tail on the next flip. Strictly, the past results do not influence the future ones yet in our heads we make the bad assumption that because there was a run of