Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy World Statistics Day! (AKA: WTF, Girardi?)

Did you know it's World Statistics Day? Stats geeks all over the world are spending the day celebrating the power of statistics.

I'll try not to party too hard.

For real, though, people don't realize just how often statistics come into play in their every day lives. Especially for sports fans. Take Girardi's decision to intentionally walk David Murphy with one one and two out in the top of the 6th. The next batter was Bengie Molina, and we all know what happened next - he belted a three run homer and put the Rangers on top 5-3. So why did he do it? Why did he put the go ahead run on first base? He did it because Murphy was hitting .280ish against AJ Burnett, and Molina was not. Statistics were on his side. Unfortunately, there is always an outlier, and that became Molina's homer. As a Yankee fan, I hate the decision that he made. As a statistician, I understand. 9 times out of 10 you end up with an inning-ending out, a weak grounder that goes to any base and ends the jam. But that one time, the 10% chance you have that it's not going to go your way? Well, sometimes it doesn't.

Disclaimer: For the sake of talking about statistics in (mostly) black and white, I'm setting aside the fact that Girardi should have known better than to put a second base runner on while AJ was on the mound. Statistics also tell us that AJ's effectiveness plummets when there are runners on the bases. Joe Maddon for manager!

Second Disclaimer: Yes, writing about the Yankees under the guise of World Statistics Day makes me feel better about writing about it at all. I would prefer to stick my head under the couch. Dunkin coffee helps, too.

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