Math for the fantasy sports enthusiast
March 17, 2009 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Looking for resources regarding math in sports.

I'm an avid fantasy baseball player, and bought the Baseball Prospectus this year. The use of statistical analysis in that book is amazing.

To that end, I want to learn more about new statistics or metrics being used in sports and also how I can learn more about these methods (e.g. regression analysis), so I can better understand the rationale behind each formula. I am a math amateur in every regard.

Any books, websites, or other resources that can help me understand how these metrics are created, and perhaps that can give me enough of an understanding to try and do some independent research would be much appreciated.

posted by reenum to Education (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There's an O'Reilly book called Baseball Hacks that's basically designed especially for you.
posted by jeb at 9:40 AM on March 17, 2009

Moneyball is right up your alley.
posted by sanka at 9:50 AM on March 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks jeb! I will check that out. Unfortunately, I'm not very familiar with programming languages, and from the Amazon review, it appears that the book has a lot of Perl and SQL scripting involved.

Anything for the non-CS and non-math inclined?
posted by reenum at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, the last post wasn't clear. I don't know a lot about computer science, but if there is a rudimentary tutorial, I'd be willing to give a Perl or SQL approach a shot.
posted by reenum at 9:53 AM on March 17, 2009

Tom Tango (who I believe parlayed his amateur research into a consulting gig with the Seattle Mariners) has a bunch of articles on his site describing some of his statistical work.
posted by letourneau at 10:01 AM on March 17, 2009

There's a relatively new site called Statcorner which is run by two of the analysts on the Mariner-centered Lookout Landing blog (full disclosure: I'm not one of the analysts but I am a LL regular), and the Statcorner glossary of statistics is here.
posted by pdb at 10:12 AM on March 17, 2009

The wikipedia article on sabermetrics is a good place to start looking into this, and also has links to other resources.
posted by Jakey at 10:15 AM on March 17, 2009

Best answer: Read everything you can by Bill James.

The best fanalytics (fantasy / sabermetric blend) is Ron Shandler's, hands-down. 2009 projections updated every day.

Tom Tango's "The Book" is great. "Baseball Hacks" is terrible. If you want an overview of the history, read "Numbers Game" by Alan Schwarz.

Jerry Dallal's Little Handbook of Statistical Practice is a good on-line "textbook" that can introduce you to regression techniques.

For other sports, Michael Lewis had a great article in NYT a couple weeks ago about "sabermetrics" of basketball.
posted by tiburon at 10:46 AM on March 17, 2009

reenum-- the stuff in baseball hacks assumes no prior knowledge, IIRC. It's more like "click 'Download' to retrieve the database." Then it uses tools like perl and so on to demonstrate the stats tools. It doesn't assume a whole bunch of programming knowledge.
posted by jeb at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2009

nthing Tom Tango. You can find his blog here. You can also purchase his book here.
posted by jasondbarr at 1:40 PM on March 17, 2009

The Wages of Wins blog is about basketball. Naturally, there are some good posts now about March Madness.
posted by lukemeister at 8:12 AM on March 18, 2009

You might enjoy this CNN story that I read this morning. It includes names of some people doing research in this area.

Computer model says UNC will win tournament
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2009

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