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Interview: Patrick Dicaprio of the Fantasy Pros 911

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fantasy pros 911I caught up with sabermatrician Patrick Dicaprio of the Fantasy Pros 911 for this mini interview.  Patrick is a member of SABR‘s Statistical Analysis and Science of Baseball Committees and is a lifelong fantasy player. Patrick is also a practicing attorney, despite a degree from MIT.

PMT – How has the collection and analysis of data changed baseball in recent years?

PD – I don’t think that the methods in which data collection is done have changed much in recent years. Baseball has always been a statistics driven enterprise, and data collection has always been an integral part of that enterprise. But how that data is used and how people can access and distill the data has changed tremendously. And this is not just in the fantasy baseball realm. More and more teams have statistics experts on their staffs, and these experts are slowly getting more of a say in personnel decisions.  We have even seen the emphasis on more accurate statistics start to show up in traditional media such as TV and newspapers. These traditionally staid outlets are now starting to discuss more advanced baseball statistics and that is a huge boon to the analytical and baseball community.

PMT – Can some of these new measurement tools or ideas be transferred to better evaluate other activities?  I’m thinking of things like the job performance of a ‘regular’ person or the effectiveness of business investments?

PD – There is nothing in the use of baseball statistics, and by “statistics” I am now talking about in a mathematical sense and not in a baseball sense, that is any different than in any other business enterprise. The value of contracts and whether a team will profit form an individual player’s contract by comparing money spent to runs generated and marginal wins generated is an idea that cuts across any business investment.  As in any business enterprise or any evaluation, one must identify the proper metrics and analytical numbers and must then analyze them correctly. That process is one that should be universal but is not, and the businesses that do so, especially small “Mom and Pop” businesses undoubtedly have a leg up on their local competition.

PMT – What’s the one piece of data, baseball or otherwise, that you haven’t been able to figure out how to measure that could really be game changing?

PD – For me it is a way to measure defensive contributions of individual players. Guys have tried using regression analysis and the like to do so, but it has not been compelling. There is a synergy that exists between a pitcher and his defense; if a batter hits a hard grounder that the shortstop fields by making a diving catch, how much of that is the shortstop’s skill, how much is the player’s skill and how much is coaching and proper positioning? We have rough guides that are wholly insufficient to answer questions like this, but baseball analysts take the existing metrics as if they are gold, and they are simply not indicative of much. We are still barely at the point where we can verify whether a player is above average or not.

To learn more about the application of statistics in baseball pick up a copy of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game from moneyball


Written by Greg M

August 15, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Interviews

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