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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Schilling on Neyer and sabermetricians 

這一篇早就該拿出來,不過最近一直在談 Aaron Boone,所以一時懶得提筆寫。

Curt Schilling 前幾天在 Sons of Sam Horn 表達他對 sabermetricians 的不滿,唯一被點名的是 Rob Neyer,我個人並不同意 Schilling 的講法,Steven Goldman 在前天的 The Pinstriped Bible 專欄裡講的很好:

In truth, being a clubhouse scribe does not automatically confer any great wisdom; like any other occupation, the members are a mixed bag. On any trip to the Yankee Stadium locker room, one can observe many writers, some of them quite notable, hustling for interviews, trying to build a rapport with the players, cajoling their reluctant interviewees into giving them something worth passing on to their readers. There is a second, larger group of writers, whose approach to the job seems to be to mill about in the center of the clubhouse hoping that Derek Jeter punches out Alfonso Soriano. Similarly, there are members of the analytical school who have something valuable to say and some who don't.

Schilling complains that Neyer "talks about the numbers as they pertain to future performance almost as if it's an absolute … He always inserts the italicized "maybe" and "potentially", but the tone of his writing suggests his belief lies more in what he is writing to be fact, than just trend and probability. I've seen him say things in the past about players, and be so far wrong it's ludicrous, but you do enough projecting of enough people and at some point, you'll be right or near right."

It's the nature of the analytical school that you're going to make your mistakes in public. Neyer writes a great deal about baseball, meaning he goes out on a couple of hundred limbs a year. Every once in a while, a man in his position will swing and miss. This is the risk taken by every columnist whose job is not simply to report the events of the game, but to form cogent explanations of its events.

不過 Schilling 是我知道的唯一一個有這種身價還會跑去聊天室跟球迷聊天的球員。雖然他現在是 Red Sox,他應得的掌聲不能少給他。如果有人還沒有看過他的討論的話,請到 Sons of Sam Horn 討論區查詢 Gehrig38,這是他的 screen name。Schilling 是個 Lou Gehrig 迷,所以他用了 Gehrig 加上他自己的背號。他同時對於俗稱 Lou Gehrig disease 的 ALS 研究募款出力甚大,值得在這裡提一下。

不過在 Baseball MusingBronx Banter 裡面對於他批評 Neyer 這件事情也都有所討論,大家大致上是站在 Neyer 這邊的。前面引述的 Steven Goldman 文字是一例,Baseball Musing 提到了一點對於 Schilling 的批評所作的反駁:即使是 Red Sox 或 Yankees 的球迷也不會拿這些 sabermetric numbers 來噓球員,這些數據是拿來作深入的討論,同時我們努力藉由這些數據來預測未來的可能表現(成果比financial markets 好,不過遠不至於令人滿意的地步)。

在預測時那些 “maybe” 和 “potentially” 事實上也是不可少的。棒球分析靠的是統計數據,不是水晶球,我們能夠找出的是最可能的 distribution,同時由此做出分析。沒有人可以公佈如下的東西:
Derek Jeter 今年預計打擊率的分布是 skew-t distribution at mean 0.321, deviation 0.049, skewness -0.009, DoF 1,500。這種數據誰要看?學過統計的人都知道看到上面這幾個數據後可以大概估計出來什麼成績最可能發生,但是那並不表示是唯一的可能。以 Baseball Prospectus 的 Pecota 預測為例,他們也只公佈預期值,而不是整組數據他們所估計的統計分配。

無論如何,Schilling 的文章還是值得去看看,畢竟這種機會難得。他常常在很奇怪的時間post,看不出來他到底平常有沒有規律的睡眠。投手和捕手就快要報到了,以後應該看他的 post 的機會會少很多。

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