Friday, July 16, 2010

DanDotLewis Is My Hero


3) Drop the arrogance of specificity. Use ranges when possible.

We’re measuring luck. Luck isn’t exact. So we’ll never be right on the money. You’ll never be able to find a season where a significant number of players have an xBA equal to their actual batting average. That makes us look stupid, when in fact, we’re just being arrogant — by being so exact.

We should use ranges. xBA should be the 50% confidence interval, not the midpoint thereof. More made up numbers: If a guy’s xBA is .285, it’s probably better expressed by saying that it’s between .279 and .291, or whatever. It makes that .290 BA not seem “lucky” (it really isn’t) but tells us that a .274 is really unlucky. In other words, it does the job — without the excruciatingly nerdy exactitude we are (wrongly) associated with.

It’s our job to communicate this stuff. It’s not their job to get smarter (they’re not dumb) or to figure it out themselves (they’re busy) or that they don’t respect us (true, but fixable). The problem is semantic, not logical, and semantic problems can — and indeed, must — be fixed by revising our language. It’s time to stop using BABIP.

Personally, I have thought for years that BABIP should have been called In Play BA. In Play BA flows better and BABIP, frankly, sounds like the name of a robot in some cheesy sci-fi flick. But I'm not the one who names these things.

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