• Review: Behind-The-Scenes Baseball

    Posted by on March 26th, 2006 · Comments (2)


    I’ve just finished reading Behind-The-Scenes Baseball: Real-Life Applications of Statistical Analysis Actually Used by Major League Teams…and Other Stories by Doug Decatur.

    Decatur has been a statistical consultant to big league teams for 15 years – mostly for the Brewers, Reds, Cubs and Astros.

    Behind-The-Scenes Baseball is broken into three parts. The first section is a collection of “insider” stories from his days as a consultant. The second section is a “G.M. IQ Test” of 100 questions. And, the third and last section is a focus/case study on the 2004 & 2005 Phil Garner Astros. (Decatur has worked with Garner for a while and they have a strong relationship.)

    This book is a quick read – you can get through it in a day.

    While I didn’t find the insider stories in the first section to be very juicy, they were not boring.

    I did enjoy the “G.M. IQ Test” very much. Basically, it’s a quiz on the findings of Bill James, Baseball Prospectus, John Dewan, STATS Inc., and Decatur himself.

    From a Yankees fan perspective, I found these questions most interesting:

    1. Assuming the 2004 Yankees and Red Sox were equal teams, what was the mathematical chance that the Red Sox would come back from 0-3 in the ALCS?

    2. True or False – For a manager, there is a positive correlation between the number of young players developed into full-time starters and the number of championships won.

    [The answers will follow at the close of this review.]

    The third section of the book was also interesting – to see the work behind the curtain on the 2004 Astros comeback and the Astros play in the 2005 postseason. One item in there was extremely interesting to me:

    “In all seven of the postseason series in 2005, the team in each series with the better regular DER [Defensive Efficiency Record] won that postseason series.”

    See, when I wrote about the Yankees 2005 ALDS issues back in October, and said:

    Defense. Like just about every game this series, the Angels turn hits into outs while the Yankees turn outs into base runners. That Crosby-Sheffield crash reminded me of Blair-Reggie collision back on May 12,1978 (when A.O. went inside the park). Sad part is, even without the crash, I don’t think Sheffield makes the grab there.

    ….I was not just kidding.

    On the whole, I recommend reading Behind-The-Scenes Baseball. The “G.M. IQ Test” alone makes it worth it.

    Answers to the above questions:

    1. 6.25% [From John Dewan’s Stat of the Week, 10/20/04.]
    2. True. [This is taken from a study on managers in the Baseball Report Card.]

    Comments on Review: Behind-The-Scenes Baseball

    1. March 27th, 2006 | 4:03 pm

      6.25%, of course, assumes a 50-50 chance of winning at home and on the road. The right answer, therefore, would seem to be “less than 6.25%” — just to add to how depressing that was….

    2. March 28th, 2006 | 10:32 am


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