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Comments on: Foul Trouble

A blog about economics, politics and the random interests of forty-something professors

Last Build Date: Thu, 01 Feb 2018 04:10:56 +0000


By: jeff

Wed, 12 May 2010 04:06:44 +0000

Its not clutchness that is being leveraged, it is just the resolution of uncertainty. Athletes do not have an upper bound to their performance level, there is always a tradeoff at the margin between higher performance vs costlier effort. Uncertainty about how many points need to be scored means that you resolve this tradeoff by equating marginal effort cost versus *expected* incremental probability of winning. This will entail losing if it turns out that the other team scores an unexpectedly high number of points at the end after the star has fouled out. On the other hand if the uncertainty is resolved first, then the tradeoff is between marginal effort cost and *actual* winning margin. In those states where the opponent scored many points while the star was on the bench, he has the right incentives to exert exceptionally high effort to surmount the deficit.

By: lyle_s

Tue, 11 May 2010 20:09:28 +0000

Generally when a player is benched for risk of fouling out the coach is trying to get by without them early in the game on the assumption that, were the player left in, he/she would foul out at some point and not be available later when they may be needed for sure. If that strategy fails, coaches will reinsert the player and assume the risk of that player failing out. If the team can swim with the player on the bench, why not wait until n/6? I agree on the closer comments, your best reliever should go in the highest leverage situation, in theory. However, there's lots of elements to managing a staff across a season that make it desirable to mix up who takes the high leverage innings and so the convention of a closer can work to the team's advantage in that it gives the rest of the bullpen a chance to establish just who can and can't handle the high leverage situations. It also provides a sense of order that is said to be good for players' psyches. The closer knows he's going to pitch the 9th (and maybe a little before) so he can mentally prepare for that challenge. That might be a load of hooey but I think there's something to it. Long story short, the baseball manager has to think beyond the context of that one game/situation. I'm not sure the basketball coach has to consider as much.

By: Nate

Tue, 11 May 2010 14:32:20 +0000

basketball stars and relief pitchers are apples and oranges here. the pitcher will only have so many innings they can work in a given week, so rest is an important consideration. presumably long-term rest is not an issue for the basketball star. (maybe a few minutes as a breather in-game, but that's it) also, the evidence is piling up that there is no such thing as "clutchness" in sports, so your contention that a star will "rise to the occasion" is likely false.

By: bellisaurius

Tue, 11 May 2010 09:12:30 +0000

While in a military sense reserves matter, does a player actually increase his chance of scoring because his team is down? Perhaps it affects some managerial strategies (I just need to manufacture one run...), but the idiosyncrasies of hitting and shooting seem to confound most plans, except on the level of many, many iterations. A lot of it seems like butt covering, or simple rule following to me.

By: Anonymous

Mon, 10 May 2010 21:30:56 +0000

Benching the star would have effect on the peers, which may depend on the situation at that moment.

By: Bryce

Mon, 10 May 2010 14:27:34 +0000

There's actually a pretty strong consensus in the sabermetrics community that baseball managers are falling victim to the same fallacy as basketball coaches. And in the baseball case, there are some good statistics to back it up. The idea is that the closer is usually the team's best reliever and should be brought into the game in the [probable] highest-leverage situation, which is not necessarily the 9th inning. The website Fangraphs recently had an article titled "Jim Tracy's Creative Bullpen Management," that reflects this consensus.