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Stumbling on Wins

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Stumbling on Wins

Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports



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Stumbling on Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports by David J. Berri
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The next quantum leap beyond Moneyball, this book offers powerful new insights into all human decision-making, because if sports teams are getting it wrong this badly, how do you know you're not? Sometimes the decisions that teams make are simply inexplicable. Consider: sports teams have an immense amount of detailed, quantifiable information to draw upon, more than in virtually any other industry. They have powerful incentives for making good decisions. Everyone sees the results of their choices, and the consequences for failure are severe. And yet...they keep making the same mistakes over and over again...systematic mistakes you'd think they'd learn how to avoid. Now, two leading sports economists reveal those mistakes in basketball, baseball, football, and hockey, and explain why sports decision-makers never seem to learn their lessons. You'll learn which statistics are connected to wins, and which aren't, and which statistics can and can't predict the future. Along the way, David Berri and Martin Schmidt show why a quarterback's place in the draft tells you nothing about how he'll perform in the NFL...why basketball decision-makers don't focus on the factors that really correlate with NBA success. ..why famous coaches don't deliver better results...and much more.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ... xi About the Authors ... xiii Preface ... xv Chapter 1: Maybe the Fans Are Right ... 1 Sporting Rationality... 3 Crunchers, "Experts," and the Wrath of Randomness ... 5 A Century of Mistakes in Baseball ... 7 Chapter 2: Defending Isiah ... 13 Isiah Thomas Illustrates How Money Can't Buy You Love ... 14 Getting Paid in the NBA... 20 Coaching Contradictions... 23 Isiah's Defense... 28 Chapter 3: The Search for Useful Stats ... 33 Identifying the Most "Useful" Numbers ... 33 The Most Important Position in Team Sports? ... 39 Assigning Wins and Losses ... 47 Chapter 4: Football in Black and White ... 49 A Brief History of the Black Quarterback ... 50 Performance in Black and White ... 55 Quarterback Pay in Black and White ... 63 Chapter 5: Finding the Face of the Franchise ... 67 Birth of the Draft ... 68 The Problem with Picking First ... 69 How to Get Picked First? ... 78 Back to Kostka... 80 Chapter 6: The Pareto Principle and Drafting Mistakes ... 83 The Pareto Principle and Losing to Win ... 83 The NBA Draft and NBA Performance... 93 Catching a Baseball Draft ... 100 Chapter 7: Inefficient on the Field ... 103 Just Go For It! ... 106 Evaluating the Little Man in Football ... 113 The Hot Hand and Coaching Contradictions ... 115 Chapter 8: Is It the Teacher or the Students? ... 119 The Wealth of Coaching ... 120 "Take Your'n and Beat His'n" ... 122 Deck Chairs? ... 125 Growing Older and Diminishing Returns ... 126 Putting the Picture Together ... 132 Chapter 9: Painting a Bigger Picture ... 135 Appendix A: Measuring Wins Produced in the NBA ... 141 A Very Brief Introduction to Regression Analysis ... 141 Modeling Wins in the NBA ... 143 Calculating Wins Produced in the NBA... 148 Win Score and PAWS48 ... 154 A Comment on Alternatives ... 156 Three Objections to Wins Produced for the NBA ... 158 Appendix B: Measuring Wins Produced in the NFL ... 161 Endnotes ... 173 Chapter 1 ... 173 Chapter 2 ... 176 Chapter 3 ... 181 Chapter 4 ... 186 Chapter 5 ... 189 Chapter 6 ... 194 Chapter 7 ... 198 Chapter 8 ... 202 Chapter 9 ... 207 References ... 209 Books and Articles ... 209 Web Sites ... 222 Index ... 225

Author Biography

David J. Berri is associate professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He has written extensively on sports economics for academic journals, newspapers, and magazines, including The New York Times. Martin B. Schmidt, professor of economics at the College of William and Mary, specializes in sports economics and macroeconomics. His writing has appeared in the field's leading academic and general interest journals, including The New York Times. Berri and Schmidt coauthored The Wages of Wins and maintain a popular blog, The Wages of Wins Journal, which discusses the economics of sports decision-making (
Release date Australia
March 8th, 2010
Country of Publication
United States
Financial TImes Prentice Hall
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