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Stumbling on Wins (Bonus Content Edition): Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports, Portable Documents by [Berri, David, Schmidt, Martin]
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Stumbling on Wins (Bonus Content Edition): Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports, Portable Documents Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

As seen on The New York Times' Freakonomics blog, ESPN.com's True Hoop, and Slate.com.

 

"In Stumbling on Wins, sports economists Berri (Southern Utah Univ.) and Schmidt (College of William and Mary) follow up their The Wages of Wins (with Stacey Brook, CH, Jan'07, 44-2764) with more modeling and number-crunching applications. The holy grail remains the same: understanding and improving decision making on the court, field, and ice and in the front offices of North American professional team sports. Summing Up: Recommended. Sports and sports economics collections at all levels. Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

From the Back Cover

“This book takes the hallowed traditions of sports decision-making and pokes them with a sharp stick.

-Henry Abbott, founder of TrueHoop, housed at ESPN.com

 

Moneyballshould have been called ‘MoneyBaseball.'Stumbling On Winscovers everything else. Every general manager needs to buy this book to save his owner money. Every fan needs to buy this book to know when it makes sense to yell at the general manager.

Darren Rovell, CNBC Sports Business Reporter

 

“This is an important book. Berri and Schmidt have been leaders of the revolution in the analysis of team performance in sports and, in this book, they explain why coaches, players, and fans cannot afford to ignore the stats if they want to win.Moneyballgave us an inkling of what is to come, but this is the real deal.

-Stefan Szymanski, author of Soccernomics andPlaybooks and Checkbooks

 

Stumbling On Winslays it all out—a roadmap of behavioral economics, that runs straight through your favorite sports arena. Brilliant stuff, beautifully written, and sure to captivate any student of economics or sports.

Justin Wolfers, Associate Professor of Business and Public Policy, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; writer for Freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com

 

“Berri and Schmidt are true pioneers of modern sports economics, proving time and again that sports are the perfect laboratory for social science research.Stumbling On Winsreveals that sports are more than entertainment; they tell us something important about ourselves.

-J.C. Bradbury, author ofThe Baseball Economist

 

“This book isn't just about sports statistics. InStumbling On Wins, Berri and Schmidt have a compelling story to tell about how people make decisions in sports, and the stats narrate the story. This is a fresh and revealing look at how decision-makers frequently miss the mark and how they can do better.

Brian Burke, AdvancedNFLStats.com

 

Don't they want to win? Every sports fan asks that question. And no wonder! Teams have an immense amount of detailed, quantifiable information to draw upon. 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...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 linked to wins and which aren't…and which statistics can predict the future and which can't (information that just might help you dominate your next fantasy league!).

 

The next quantum leap beyondMoneyball, this book offers powerful new insights into all human decision-making. Because if multimillion dollar sports teams are getting it wrong this badly, how do you know you're not?

 

•   Do better coaches really win more?Phil Jackson versus everyone else

•   The “hot hand and other figments of the imaginationEnduring myths of on-court and on-field performance

•   How old is too old?Are teams playing too many athletes who are past their prime?

•   Are black quarterbacks underpaid?The curious cases of Donovan McNabb and Brett Favre


Product Details

  • File Size: 4638 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: FT Press; 1 edition (December 29, 2009)
  • Publication Date: January 8, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031WHC14
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #736,216 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Peter G. Keen on June 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is disappointing and I don't recommend it, either for sports fans or anyone with an interest in the growing and substantial research on fallibilities in human judgment, decision making and use of information. Its basic point is one that is well established, that conventional measures of performance in professional sports are misleading predictors of future performance; examples are pitchers' ERAs and NBA points per game. It repeats the many-times made observations about how often NFL first round quarterback draft picks are bombs. That's well presented and thoroughly documented but in more detail than the use of the findings warrants. Its main point is that overreliance on the wrong data leads to bad economic decisions by managers who should know better. I don't recall any item in the analysis that has not been covered elsewhere. Examples here are: (1) Field managers and coaches in baseball, football and basketball have little impact on team performance, (2) Statistically, it makes sense to go for it on fourth down, (3) Trading up to get a high draft pick is generally a bad deal, economically and in terms of finding the best talent, (4) NBA draft position is a poor predictor of career performance, (5) The NBA "hot hands" streaks are a myth and (6) Isiah Thomas was a truly, truly lousy general manager of the Knicks. Agreed. Agreed.
The main weakness of the book seems to me that it largely relies on data about individual performance for its core evidence and though it alludes to the context of teams, it is very univariate in its analysis. The authors emphasize this but only in a single footnote. (The regression-based methodology examines only the strength of the linear relationship between two independent variables.
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The book presents various statistical analyses that were done on the professional football, baseball and basketball. They discuss several points including: (1) bad decision making in the NBA as GMs and couches tend to overvalue (both in salary and playing time) high scoring players. They exemplify it very nicely with Isiah Thomas terrible building of the New-York Knicks. (2) An interesting chapter discusses the way black quarterbacks are undervalued in the NFL. (3) Another chapter discusses couches and their impact of individual players performances, and yes, as expected Phil Jackson's motivational speeches have a significant positive impact.

I found the results and presentation highly interesting. The writing style if nicely flowing, the explanations are good and should fit people with very little knowledge in statistics. It will be interesting to see in the next couple of years how teams adapt to the new statistical era and change their decision making accordingly. We can see the trend expending as almost every professional team today holds a large group that does statistical analysis. Moreover, we can see GMs and owners (Mavs, Rockets) that have already took a stab at these issues

An inherent problem with statistics is that with enough data you can basically prove almost anything you want. I had some disagreements on their subjective interpretation of the data. For example, they explained bad draft day decisions based on decision-makers inability to consider everything (p. 100). However, I'm almost certain that most professional teams do apply a rigorous statistical analysis on the candidates and come up with an intelligent decision that do consider everything that they find important.
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Interesting in parts, but this is obviously a blog converted into a book, rather than content so substantive that it was suited to a book. Most of the inefficiencies discussed are relatively common knowledge by now among statistics-savvy fans, although I did think the analysis on how kickers' value comes more from their kickoffs than field goals was interesting and new.
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If your not a Bill James fan or a sabrmetric type of diehard this isn't the book for you.However,if you really love to break down the stats and what they mean,or you have always wondered how you quantify a players true value in team sports you will enjoy this study.Baseball is the one that is perhaps easiest to quantify with stats,so you can consult any number of sources on that,but the authors do a good job tackling those sports which are not so easy to deduce a players value and/or greatness like basketball,football,and hockey.Sure to tee off a lot of fans,they show who may be overrated and underrated as well using statistical theories they have devised to show this.Some of the theories and math might be over most peoples heads(like mine) but the results are interesting,and they are shown in well done graphs and charts.The book even covers as to what point it is feasible to test your luck on 4th down in football,a debate that will go on forever.Theorizes about the way teams draft in the NFL and the value and proper way thet should be drafting according to them.Some player values may be a surprise, while others,like Peyton Manning being of greater importance to his team than just about any other player in history,are hardly a surprise.I don't agree with all of it,like the goalie rankings,that show that there is not a big difference between the best and the average goalies as far as importance in winning,because they fail to take into account that often the difference between a playoff team and a 3 seed is just a couple games worth of points.Also,stats cannot quantify the "it" factor of a player like Patrick Roy,that elevates ordinary teams to heights they would never see with almost any other goalie.Despite the nitpicking on my part,the book is worth a read to the diehard fan and may even get someone new to these kinds of studies interested further into the world of sports statistics.
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