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Teaching Statistics Using Baseball

Teaching Statistics Using Baseball

By Jim Albert

Catalog Code: TSB
Print ISBN: 978-0-88385-727-4
304 pp., Paperbound, 2003
List Price: $56.95
MAA Member: $45.50
Series: Classroom Resource Materials

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There is an active effort by people in the baseball community to learn more about baseball performance and strategy by the use of statistics. This book illustrates basic methods of data analysis and probability models by means of baseball statistics collected on players and teams. Students often have difficulty learning statistical concepts since they are explained using examples that are foreign to the students. The idea of the book is to describe statistical thinking in a context (that is, baseball) that will be familiar and interesting to students.

Table of Contents

An Introduction to Baseball Statistics
Exploring a Single Batch of Baseball Data
Comparing Batches and Standardization
Relationships Between Measurement Variables
Introduction to Probability Using Tabletop Games
Probability Distributions and Baseball
Introduction to Statistical Inference
Topics in Statistical Inference
Modeling Baseball Using a Markov Chain
An Introduction to Baseball
Datasets Used in the Book and Acquiring Baseball Data over the Internet
About the Author

About the Author

Jim Albert received a BS degree in mathematics from Bucknell University in 1975 and a PhD in statistics from Purdue University in 1979. He has taught at Bowling Green State University since 1979 and is currently a Professor of Mathematics and Statistics. His is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. His research interest is in Bayesian inference and has published over 60 papers in refereed journals. In addition, he works in the areas of statistical education and applications of statistics in sports. He is currently editor of The American Statistician, the “general interest” journal published by The American Statistical Association (ASA). He has been active both in the Section of Bayseian Statistical Science and the Section on Statistics in Sports of the American Statistical Association. He has written four books: Bayesian Computation Using Minitab, Ordinal Data Modeling (with Val Johnson), Workshop Statistics: Discovery with Data, A Bayesian Approach (with Allan Rossman), and Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game (with Jay Bennett). The book Curve Ball has been reviewed favorably in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Journal of the American Statistical Association, Physics Today, Technometrics, MAA Reviews, Tech Directions Magazine, Baseball American, Mathematics Magazine, SIAM News, and Science News. Curve Ball was a winner of the 2001 The Sporting News-SABR Baseball Research award, and was recently included in the “The Essential Sabermetric Library” in an article by Randy Klipstein in the Newsletter of the Statistical Analysis interest group of SABR (The Society of American Baseball Research).

MAA Review

I have been afflicted with a chronic condition that ensures that at least once each year, usually in August or September, I will feel miserable. I am a Cubs fan. This year, the annual attack came a month later than usual, but it was much stronger than in past years. As I was recovering, I was asked to review Teaching Statistics Using Baseball, by Jim Albert. Heeding the old saying that you can prove anything with statistics, I sought to cheer myself up by searching for some sort of vindication for my years spent rooting for the lovable losers from Chicago, beyond the affirming regularity with which I get to say, "Wait 'til next year!"

Well, I'm still looking for the vindication, but this is a delightful book. Albert has been applying his love of baseball to his vocation of teaching statistics for some time now, and this text uses baseball as a framework to introduce and explore statistical topics. He has created a window through which the statistically-minded baseball fan can explore, explain, and debunk conventional wisdom concerning the national pastime. Albert uses this text for an introductory statistics course focused on baseball, but it's far more valuable as a resource for non-trivial applications and projects for any introductory statistics course, and as a gift for that baseball fan in your department. Continued...