Tuesday, August 1, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes there is no selection bias

After David Ortiz hit his latest walk-off home run, I kept telling myself like a good social scientist, "Yes, we remember these events, but we don't remember the times when he has the opportunity and fails." In other words, much as I love David Ortiz, I was sure that the statistics would demonstrate that his walk-off capabilities were overrated.

Turns out, in this case, that perception is reality. From The Joy of Sox:

Since the end of the 2004 regular season, Ortiz has come to the plate in a walk-off situations 19 times -- and reached base 16 times. He is 11-for-14 (.786), with 7 HR and 20 RBI.

In 2005 and 2006, he is 8-for-9, with 5 HR and 15 RBI!

Hat tip: Gordon Edes.

UPDATE: Bill Simmons has an enertaining column comparng Ortiz to Larry Bird in terms of coming through in the clutch:

Basketball stars have a 45-50 percent chance of coming through in the clutch. In Bird's case, he was a 50 percent shooter and a 90 percent free-throw shooter, so even if he was being double-teamed, 60/40 odds seem reasonable, especially if someone raises his game in those situations. But a star slugger gets on base 40 percent of the time, only Ortiz dials it up to the 60-70 percent range in big moments (as the stats back up). I can't believe I'm saying this, but Big Papi's current three-year stretch tops anything Bird came up with simply because the odds against Ortiz were greater.
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin has a discussion thread on this very important debate.

posted by Dan on 08.01.06 at 08:53 AM


No comparison-it is infinitely easier to put a basketball through a hoop, whether double-teamed or not, than it is to hit a baseball 400 feet against major league pitching. Is the record for baskets in a year about, oh, 73?

posted by: John Salmon on 08.01.06 at 08:53 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?