Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won (Anglais) Relié – 25 janvier 2011
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THE CURSE OF THE NO. 1 DRAFT PICK
In 2004 Richard Thaler, a professor of behavioral economics at the University of Chicago, and Cade Massey at Yale were watching the NFL draft. With the first pick, the Chargers chose quarterback Eli Manning, the brother of perhaps the best quarterback in the league, Peyton Manning, and the son of longtime NFL quarterback Archie Manning. The Giants held the number four pick and were in the market for a premier quarterback as well. It was no secret they coveted Manning.
During the 15 minutes the Giants had to make their selection, they were ambushed with two very different options. Option 1 was to make a trade with San Diego in which the Giants would first draft Philip Rivers — considered the second best quarterback in the draft — and then swap him for Manning plus give up their third-round pick (number 65) that year as well as their first- and fifth-round picks in the 2005 draft. Option 2 was to trade down with the Cleveland Browns, who held the seventh pick and also wanted a quarterback. At number seven, the Giants probably would draft the consensus third best quarterback in the draft, Ben Roethlisberger. In exchange for moving down, the Giants would also receive from Cleveland their second round pick (number 37) that year.
The Giants chose the first option, which meant they effectively considered Manning to be worth more than Roethlisberger and four additional players.
To the two economists, however, this seemed like an extraordinarily steep price. But after collecting data from the NFL draft over the previous 13 years and looking at trades made on draft day as well as the compensation — salaries plus bonuses — paid to top picks, they found that the Manning trade was anything but unusual. As a matter of routine, if not rule, teams paid huge prices in terms of current and future picks to move up in the draft. They also paid dearly for contracts with those players.
Not only did Manning cost the Giants four other players — one of whom turned out to be All Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman — but he was also given a six-year, $54-million contract. Compare this to Roethlisberger’s compensation. Ultimately drafted 11th by the Steelers, he received $22.26 million over six years.
Thaler and Massey found that historically, the number one pick in the draft is paid about 80% — 80%! — more than the 11th pick on the initial contract. The economists also found that the inflated values teams were assigning to high picks were remarkably, if not unbelievably, consistent. No matter the circumstances or a team’s needs, teams routinely assigned the same value to the same pick.
Thaler and Massey compared the values teams placed on picks — either in terms of the picks and players they gave up or in terms of compensation — with the actual performance of the players. They then compared those numbers with the performance of the players given up to get those picks. For example, in the case of Manning, how did his performance over the next five years compare with that of Rivers plus the performances of the players chosen with the picks the Giants gave San Diego? Likewise, how did those numbers stack up against Ben Roethlisberger’s stats and those of the players the Giants could have had with the additional picks they would have received from Cleveland?
The economists looked at each player’s probability of making the roster, his number of starts, and his likelihood of making the Pro Bowl. They found that higher picks were better than lower picks on average and that first rounders on average post better numbers than second rounders, who in turn post better stats than third-round draft picks, and so on.
The problem was that they weren’t that much better. Even looking position by position, the top draft picks are overvalued. How much better is the first quarterback or receiver taken than the second or third quarterback or receiver? Not much. The researchers concluded the following:
• The probability that the first player drafted at a given position is better than the second player drafted at the same position is only 53%, that is, slightly better than a tie.
• The probability that the first player drafted at a position is better than the third player drafted at the same position is only 55%.
• The probability that the first player drafted at a position is better than the fourth player drafted at the same position is only 56%.
In other words, selecting the consensus top player at a specific position versus the consensus fourth best player at that position increases performance, measured by the number of starts, by only 6%. And even this is understating the case, since the number one pick is afforded more chances/more starts simply because the team has invested so much money in him. Yet teams will end up paying, in terms of both players and dollars, as much as four or five times more to get that first player relative to the fourth player. Was Manning really 50% better than Rivers and twice as good as Roethlisberger? You’d be hard put to convince anyone that Manning is appreciably more valuable than Rivers or Roethlisberger; in any event, he’s certainly not twice as valuable.
Yet this pattern persists year after year. Is having the top pick in the NFL draft such a stroke of good fortune? It’s essentially a coin flip, but not in the traditional sense. Heads, you win a dime; tails, you lose a quarter. Massey and Thaler go so far as to contend that once you factor in salary, the first pick in the entire draft is worth less than the first pick in the second round.
From the Hardcover edition. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .
Revue de presse
—Steven D. Levitt, Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, and co-author of Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics
"I love this book. If I told you why, the NBA would fine me again."
—Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks
“Scorecasting is both scholarly and entertaining, a rare double. It gets beyond the cliched narratives and tried-but-not-necessarily-true assumptions to reveal significant and fascinating truths about sports.”
"A counterintuitive, innovative, unexpected handbook for sports fans interested in the truths that underpin our favorite games. With their lively minds and prose, Moskowitz and Wertheim will change the way you think about and watch sports. Not just for stats nerds, Scorecasting enlightens and entertains. I wish I had thought of it!"
—Jeremy Schaap, ESPN reporter, Author of Cinderella Man.
"(Sports + numbers) x great writing = winning formula. A must read for all couch analysts."
—Richard Thaler, Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, best-selling author of Nudge.
“Scorecasting will change the way you watch sports, but don’t start reading it during a game; you’re liable to get lost in it and miss the action. I’m not giving anything away because you’ll want to read exactly how they arrived at their conclusions."--Allen Barra, NJ Star Ledger
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interesting but difficult to understand if you do not possess a sport vocabulary (more precisely about baseball)
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
By and large, Scorecasting is highly readable. My one critique would be that the chapters a highly variable in length, and in particular some of the shorter chapters seemed to be just tossed in. (Did we really need 4 pages to show that, indeed, the Yankees win because they have the biggest payroll in baseball? Three pages to show that the coin toss at the start of NFL overtime is important?) I would also point out that, again like Freakonomics, the chapters are unconnected by any underlying theme, unless that theme is to examine preconceptions and use evidence. I don't consider that a flaw, more a notation of what type of book this is.
In addition, I was reminded of my favorite sports book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Just as a large part of Moneyball was devoted to showing how a systematic statistical approach to building a team could lead to better results than traditional scouting, Scorecasting can give a reader an appreciation of some recurring trends in sport. It is not just descriptive, but predictive. (The one thing that sets Moneyball apart is that is also has the very compelling story of Oakland A's manager Billy Beane woven in. That human element is absent in Scorecasting.)
Some quick examples from chapters I enjoyed:
Why you should (almost) never punt in football, including an example of a coach who followed the philosophy to a state title. Also, why most coaches still punt, in spite of the evidence.
Why Tim Duncan's 149 blocked shots are more valuable than Dwight Howard's 232 (Answer: Duncan tends to block the ball to his teammates, Howard tends toward the spectacular swat that goes into the 4th row...then back to the other team.)
The incredible differences in strike zones when comparing a 3-0 count to a 0-2 count. (Hint: umps expand the zone in the former, shrink the zone in the latter, allowing the hitter to determine the outcome)
So, if you are a sports fan, a bit of a stats geek, and enjoy a well thought out contrarian argument, this is a 5 star book. If you generally enjoyed the other two books I mentioned, I think this would be a good choice.
4.5 stars overall
Some of the eye-opening subject include:
1. very solid evidence that umpires bias games - however what is interesting is the bias is not random. The bias tells a story.
2. the subject of home-field advantage was mesmerizing. Turns out not at all what sports pundits tells us are true or at least not in the way you might think so.
3. incentives lie at the heart of the Chicago Cubs dismal century.
4. great use of numbers to show how desperate baseball players are to have a batting average of at least 0.300.
5. a look into why some stats are not telling us all we need to know (i.e. blocked shot stats in basketball).
6. why don't football coaches go for it on 4th down when it is a statistically correct move?
Turns out that psychology (namely loss aversion) and incentives dictate a lot of sports decision making.
There are several shorter chapters that seem to be 'unfinished' which is a shame. For instance a chapter just mentions the Yankees 'buying' of championships. It would have been great to see a more in depth statistical analysis of how spending money predicts success in baseball.
As I hear constantly on the sport talk radio, the Seattle Seahawks benefit from their 12th man - the crowd. It would have been interesting to see if this claim stacks up and is in fact a larger effect on winning than at other venues.
Great, fast read. Highly recommended.
Like Sway, scorecasting provides an overview of numerous studies that were done and research that was conducted. Also like Sway, it's merely an overview that leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
Since I know a lit more about sports than sociology, it's easier for me to see the holes and wonder if the authors left the information out of their summary, or if it isn't there.
For example, the authors talk about how traveling is called less at the end of basketball games, but don't mention if they controlled for the fact that there are better players on the court at the end of the game. maybe they did, or maybe it doesn't natter, but I'm left wondering, and the chapter on parity and length of season started off on an interesting note but fizzled out without a conclusion.
The chapters are not anywhere near equal in length, which isn't necessarily bad. The chapters on the Rooney Rule is only a few pages and doesn't really offer any conclusions. The chapters (yes, chapters) on Home Field Advantage are much longer and could have possibly been their own book. It is by far the best researched and most convincing topic covered, and researchers far smarter than me have already weighed in, so I'll just point you to their work:
[...] (I'd say this is the definitive commentary)
Scorecasting is a good book for someone with almost no background in the subject of sports and statistical research, but more knowledgable readers may find more questions than answers.
that sports fans have wondered about for years.
For example, when baseball home plate umpires have made an obvious mistake in calling
a ball or strike do they then try and fix that mistake by making a call the "other way?"
(The research done by the authors of Scorecasting reveal that it does indeed happen.)
Another example: When do ref's throw flags in football? Early in the game or late
in the game? Why? You'll find out.
On a bigger scale, why is there a home field advantage in sports? We can understand
the Boston Red Sox....but why the Indianapolis Colts or other teams that play in
domed stadiums, say, in football. It turns out that you will likely be shocked to find
out this answer and because the home team wins around 53% of the time in baseball vs.
about 69% of the time in College Football, what you learn will change the way you
look at the game forever.
In the book, Stumbling on Wins, we found out that coaches aren't as important as
we once thought they were. That was a bit of a jaw dropper. In Scorecasting the authors
go further and deeper explaining why coaches tend to be so interchangable...it turns
out they all are programmed by the pressure of the fans and industry itself to
call plays that are very predictable ...even when they are the wrong choice...such as
punting in many fourth down situations.
It turns out that punting on fourth down IS the right decision often enough but it is
the wrong decision so often that coaches would win a lot more games for their team
if they went for it on fourth and X. So why not? Because not all coaches have job
security and losing a game or two because of a couple of fourth and two calls could cost
a coach his job. No one will be getting fired for punting on fourth down.
And the revelations go deeper and deeper up and down the scale...
You'll find out the difference betweeen the strike zone in baseball when a hitter is
3-0 vs. when the hitter is 0-2. Turns out the difference is enormous and the authors
reveal precisely what a hitter should do 3 - 0 and what a hitter should do 0 - 2.
Ah...and then there are the Chicago Cubs. I grew up visiting Wrigley Field on opening
day year after year. Each year hope sprang eternal...and today 35 years later...I'm still
hoping...why haven't the Cubs WON? It is a painful but enlightening read that every
fan will appreciate.
Scorecasting is densely detailed. It is a compelling read and offers a great deal
of wisdom for fans, coaches and players. You'll never look at a game quite the same way
after you've had your eyes opened to what ELSE is really going on.
Kevin Hogan, Author
The Science of Influence: How to Get Anyone to Say "Yes" in 8 Minutes or Less!
Wade through the dross to find the worthy gems which are certainly there.