"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Prior to my postmortem this morning, I’ve been relatively quiet this week. The main reason for that is that all of my attempts to write about baseball have come out looking something like this.

Still, baseball is never far from my mind, and that was all the more true this week as the election results proved something I’ve known for a long time: Nate Silver knows a thing or two about statistics and projections. By using the sort of corrections and adjustments Baseball Prospectus has long used to normalize baseball stats, Nate normalized the polls and predicted Obama’s popular vote win down to within a tenth of a percentage point based on the votes counted thus far. As for the electoral college, out of the 50 states, the only one he projected incorrectly was Indiana, which he had as a slim red state and wound up just going blue by less than a percentage point, backing the Democratic candidate for the first time since 1964. It seems he also will have missed the one electoral vote for the Omaha area of Nebraska, but that vote was so close, it still hasn’t been called one way or the other. Still, that’s all he missed.

If you need further proof that the BP statisticians know what they’re doing, check out my last post and note how VORP, SNLVAR, and WXLR explain the difference between the 2007 and 2008 Yankees down to the win. Some who know that I’ve edited and contributed to several Baseball Prospectus books might accuse me of being a shill for the group, but those who know me well know I wouldn’t have participated in those projects if I didn’t believe in the quality of the work they do. I just hope they’re smart enough to cash in on Nate’s newfound fame.

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1 Yankee Fan in Boston   ~  Nov 7, 2008 12:36 pm

fivethirtyeight.com has been my first stop for campaign coverage for months. mr. silver and sean quinn have a knack for breaking down the numbers in a way that enables a statistically challenged person like myself to understand the nuances of their methods.

brett marty's photos and their road to 270 features were also a fantastic peek behind the scenes and brought a real warmth to their coverage.

they are to politics to what the banter is to the yankees.

2 festus   ~  Nov 7, 2008 12:49 pm

I was obsessed with that site when it was just "Poblano" writing those projections, but as soon as he revealed himself as Nate Silver, I started telling all my friends, family, workplace associates, and random cabbies about it, in no small part b/c I wanted to prove the superiority of baseball statisticians and the sport as a whole (no offense to footballoutsiders). Still, was sweating that he'd be wrong on Monday night, then celebrated in Grant Park in the most incredibly buoyant crowd I've ever seen.

3 tommyl   ~  Nov 7, 2008 1:25 pm

fivethirtyeight.com and BP (and this site) are a boon to scientists such as myself. It just goes to show what can be done by someone who is willing to apply actual scientific principles and keep an open mind about something. Everyone I know in physics loved that website.

4 RIYank   ~  Nov 7, 2008 1:47 pm

So, Cliff, what will your secret second career be? Derivatives analyst? Hm, no, you might have waited just a little too long.

5 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 7, 2008 2:45 pm

Nate is everywhere, and good for him, he's earned it. But now that the election is over, I have my priorities in order, so I hope it doesn't take him too long to get the '09 PECOTAs out in timely fashion. =)

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver