The Morning Report
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It’s hard to exaggerate the impact of a numbers guru named Bill James, who’s single-handedly changed the world of professional baseball without ever scoring a game-winning run.
These days, teams and fans now track more than old-school RBIs and ERAs. Inspired by James’ crack analytical skills, they use complex statistical formulas to predict game scores and figure out players’ true talent.
“He invented metrics that isolate individual performance from the white noise of a team sport,” said voiceofsandiego.org editor and baseball fan Andrew Donohue after trying to impress me by throwing out James-ian statistical abbreviations like FIP, UZR and wOBA. “The game went from being run on the hunches of ex-jocks to the statistical models of 30-something MIT grads and Wall Street quants.”
I’m not a quant (a qualitative analyst, whatever that is). And I last followed baseball in the days of Fingers, Winfield and Garvey, when the most complicated thing any fan had to figure out was how to score a game.
Even so, I know how to ask questions. And James — who talked to me this week for my story in The Christian Science Monitor about his new book on true crime — is willing to answer them.
I just need to know what to ask. That’s where you come in. Have you got a question for Bill James about the San Diego Padres, who have been winning lately despite a poor overall record this season?
Send me questions and I’ll ask James to answer the best ones. We’ll make sure he doesn’t keep them on the QT so you can get the 411 on the xFIP and the OPS. (No, I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m talking about).