Category: Baseball

Begin with a data set, preferably one in which many people are interested. Let’s say, World Series results from 1903 to the present. Now ask a question about the data, one that should be easy to answer with a highly simplified model. Our question will be: have World Series teams, historically, been evenly matched? Our […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted January 4, 2007 @ 9:34 PM | Baseball

Five years ago, after the 1999 season, a fellow fantasy league baseball owner and I fell into an argument about Roger Clemens. Clemens was 37 years old. In 1998 he had a brilliant season with Toronto, winning the pitching triple crown — ERA, wins, and strikeouts — and his fifth Cy Young Award. In 1999, […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted February 21, 2004 @ 11:44 AM | Baseball,Heuristic

Niceness counts, your mother used to tell you, and so it does, for you and me. When you are one of the best in the world at what you do, niceness stops counting. I am reminded of this by the sportswriters’ treatment of Barry Bonds. Barry Bonds is one of the greatest hitters who ever […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 20, 2003 @ 5:07 PM | Baseball,Philosophy,Sports

I just finished Michael Lewis’s terrific book about Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager who consistently fields a great team with one of the lowest payrolls in the major leagues. The A’s are baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s particular albatross. Selig harps on the need for more baseball socialism (“revenue-sharing”) because of the alleged “inability […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 2, 2003 @ 12:46 PM | Baseball

It requires a certain type of mind to excite itself over “fragments of fragments,” but the normally sober baseball analyst Rob Neyer exults giddily over them in his column the other day. The question at issue is how lucky the 2002 Detroit Tigers were. On the one hand, they lost 106 games. On the other, […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted April 30, 2003 @ 7:31 PM | Baseball,Business,Philosophy


It’s been a while since I’ve thrown a sop to my baseball-oriented readers and the season is under way, so I’m gonna make it up to you with a new statistic, because the one thing baseball suffers from is not enough statistics. I was trying to explain the game to an Icelandic friend of mine […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted April 22, 2003 @ 7:50 PM | Baseball

Read Part 1. Five things I learned about fielding in baseball from reading Bill James’s new book Win Shares: 1. Defensive efficiency, the percentage of balls put into play that is turned into outs, defined, if we ignore the small peripherals, as total outs minus strikeouts divided by the total number of balls in play, […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted July 16, 2002 @ 10:23 AM | Baseball

Read Part One. Go on, it’s short. Watching baseball actually impedes understanding. When I was fourteen my father took me to a Yankee game. The Yankees lost and Bobby Bonds struck out four times, twice on changeups in the dirt. After the game my father said, “I never realized Bonds was such a bum.” Now, […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 21, 2002 @ 11:34 AM | Baseball

Many people actually watch baseball (though not as many as there used to be), which amazes me. Have you ever tried to watch a baseball game with someone who knows nothing about sports, like your girlfriend? Mine can appreciate, at least for five minutes, the balletic grace of basketball or soccer, the raw violence of […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 18, 2002 @ 2:06 PM | Baseball

Several premises underlie Bill James’s new book, some of them radical, and it seems best to examine them individually. 1. It would be valuable to have a single number to represent the value of a player’s season. Well, sure. Wouldn’t it? People spend a lot of time rating things on a scale “from 1 to […]

Aaron Haspel | Posted June 16, 2002 @ 4:05 PM | Baseball