Am I a stat geek?

Yesterday, Tigers third base traffic cone Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP award, while Angels outfielding gazelle Mike Trout finished second.

Unfortunately, today was the worst day in all of this – the day when pundits and talking heads declare their take on whether or not this was a good decision. Proponents of using baseball metrics point to Trout’s advanced numbers – his wins above replacement (WAR) is 10.7, more than 50% higher than Cabrera’s – while traditionalists argue that in winning the triple crown, Cabrera should be the clear winner.  The most disappointing part of today is when the term “stat geek” is thrown around quite loosely, as traditionalists savor an MVP who won on RBI’s and not runs saved. One local media personality went as far as to ask these stat geeks what they are smoking.

Sad. And then I realized these writers might be calling me – someone interested in statistics and sports – out.  Am I a nerd?. To me, the term geek conjures up images of these two, this guy, and, especially, this one.  Am I like these guys?

Here’s my Friday night quest to if I am indeed a stat geek.

Vote 1:  Google, obviously. Google image gives me Jonah Hill (Moneyball), this guy, and images from the 2012 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.  Google news brings up articles about Nate Silver.  Google search brings up similar ideas, and includes information from teamrankings.com’s “Stat Geek Idol”, in which I participated. I don’t like the image of the guy in the labcoat, but Nate Silver’s been trending for the past two weeks. I’m envious; google seems to have cast a vote of “Yes”.

Lengthy side note: Why is the analytics conference on sports called “Dorkapalooza“? What about analyzing sports and statistics is dorky?  Not to I’ve done any of it, but is trying to improve player efficiency, salary cap management, or player analysis for losers? Mark Cuban said using advanced player metrics helped him beat a team that didn’t make that effort, which coincidentally happened in the NBA finals. It obviously worked well for Billy Beane, who took a squad with the payroll of the LSU football team to the MLB playoffs.  And I’m pretty sure the guys at baseballprospectus and footballoutsiders would be happy to tell you how they’ve won at life much more than, well, this guy. Maybe its not the analysis, maybe its just sitting at a computer all day?  Um that’s what 29 of my 36 twitter followers do, including the two porn spammers.   Does that make them dorks?

Just like how when psychologists talk about psychology or when physicians talk about medicine, when people get together at conferences for statisticians, they don’t sit around and call one another dorks. I don’t think statisticians are dorks. So is it actually in analyzing sports that these people become dorky?  Or maybe its just everyonedoing research  in academia or in their spare time who is dorky?  I hope not.

Vote 2: My mom. “Am I a stat geek?” – my text to her. “No just a geek”- her text back.  So there’s that.

Vote 3: Facebook.  “Am I a stat geek?”- my post on facebook.  I got five responses, only one of which actually answered the question (with a simple “yes”). This seems kind of embarrassing- people who don’t post anything but happen to have a birthday that day get more publicity in ten minutes. I did also get two likes on my post…but my 18 month old daughter gets more on a per-photo basis. And she still points to her foot when I tell her to get the football.

Conclusion: 1) I guess I am a stat geek and I’m okay with that 2) I shouldn’t listen to talk radio and 3) I need more facebook friends who can help my blog on a Friday night!

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