Sports Statistics

Statistics tell the story…or do they?  I’m an admitted stats geek.  I love numbers.  Always have.  And I find that most of the time the basic statistics and many of the “advanced analytics” that we can easily retrieve these days are very telling.  They reveal trends, tendencies and are a good measure of overall performance over time.

On the other hand, sometimes a game situation dictates that a player perform in a not-so-normal statistical way.  For example, we’ve all heard that NFL quarterbacks pile up the numbers in passing when their teams trail much of the second half.  There are instances where pitchers perform poorly, but if a reliever comes in behind them to retire the side and not allow inherited base runners to score, then the original pitcher escapes unscathed.

I find that often a good offense or a good defense inherently benefits individual performances on the other side of the same team.  We hear of run support being mentioned with pitchers, both positively and negatively.  A starting pitcher can have a great Earned Run Average, be statistically sound and still finish the season with a losing record.  Why?  Because in that pitchers’ starts, his offense is only scoring 2.5 runs per game.  So his 3.25 ERA just isn’t getting the job done.

As much as I love statistics, I still say the “eye test” is the best measure.  You can see the little things a player does that don’t necessarily show up in the box score.  I’ve yet to find a statistic that properly measures heart, effort and timely play in the exact game situation.