New stats

Apr 20, 2010 7:07 AM

It’s the bottom of the ninth; the home team is trailing by three runs. Bases are loaded. The pitch, and whack, a high fly ball down the right field line. It’s going, going, oops, it’s foul by two inches. A little gust of wind was just enough to move the ball out of play.

A seam on the carpet was enough to deflect an easy-out grounder into a single. A slip on the mound, a wild pitch. A broken bat blooper and on and on. Such are the things that make up the game of baseball.

You take two teams of fine athletes honed to physical perfection. For all intents and purposes, they have close to equal abilities. Throw them into a game and a third party enters the picture. It’s the tiny nuances provided by the physical environment that can spell the difference between wins and losses.

It’s unknown, obviously unpredictable, and we call it one of nature’s chaotic ways. It’s why there’s always a risk and that’s what gambling propositions are based on.

Even if it were possible to create a pristine-pure, manicured, domed environment, we still have the vagaries of the human being to contend with. Man is also a part of nature — nothing’s perfect. However, his chaotic behavior is somewhat predictable and manageable, but nevertheless, not totally consistent.

If trying to predict the outcome of a ball game totally by reason, our predictive processes can only be as good as the information we use to reason with. Except possibly for a privileged few, essentially most baseball information (statistics) is available to all to accept or reject what they will. It is the interpretation of this common pool of facts that separates the handicappers and hence creates a difference of opinion which will constitute a potential wager.

The casual bettor or the "wise guy" bend the same facts differently or we would all come to the same conclusion. Probably, the more astute handicappers process raw data in such a manner so as to give a fresh insight on the significance of certain factors.

A case in point is by a good handicapper and high-stakes bettor known to frequent the Las Vegas sports books. He has created an amalgamated stat, which he believes better expresses pitching proficiency for comparative purposes. He loves the win/loss and ERA stats from the box score because he ignores them and lets them guide and misinform his betting adversaries.

His magic comparative stat index is B/AB, that’s bases per at bats. The "bases" are each 90-foot advances per hit, also stolen, on error, walks, etc. "At bats" are each batter he faces; innings have nothing to do with it. Here you get a very revealing number on pitcher proficiency. Taken in context with recent momentum and normal rotation, it’s quite meaningful.

Intelligence is coordinated knowledge. The more and better knowledge one has organized and can play with, the more likely he can put it to intelligent use. Such it is with "processed" stats of your own exclusive contrivance. Only in this way can one find an edge over popular opinion and the burdensome odds carried with it.

Baseball is a chaotic game from natural elements to man. The only way to fight or tame the effect of chaos is by the use of probabilities. To be more probably right than probably wrong based on proven intelligence. We must be provisionally content with probabilities.

Probabilities as we use them are a logical product of mathematical application of devised, quantified factors. If they are different or of a different mix than others, then we don’t all think alike. It’s the differences that can sway the odds in your favor. And that’s what it’s all about.

Take the time to try out this new pitching stat, especially in the early stages of the 2010 season. Hopefully, you’ll find some insights beyond the usual statistics.