The No-Stats All-Star

New York Times Magazine (February 13, 2009)

Tonight the Rockets were playing the Los Angeles Lakers, and so Battier would guard Kobe Bryant, the player he says is the most capable of humiliating him. Both Battier and the Rockets’ front office were familiar with the story line. “I’m certain that Kobe is ready to just destroy Shane,” Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager, told me. “Because there’s been story after story about how Shane shut Kobe down the last time.”


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One Response to “The No-Stats All-Star”

  1. Rob says:

    I read this in the NYT magazine last Sunday and thought it was excellent. I love Moneyball and thought The Blind Side was solid as well.

    As for the article itself, there’s no love lost between Shane Battier and me – frankly, if you go to Duke, I’m not going to cheer for you in the NBA, unless you score 40 a night for the 76ers – but it was an insightful look into the REAL statistics.

    My personal sports statistic pet peeve is actually fielding percentage in baseball. It measures how well a fielder performs ASSUMING HE MAKES IT TO THE BALL. It doesn’t account for a slow, immobile fielder who, if the ball is hit right at him, never air-mails the throw to first. But for fielders with great range, they sometimes are penalized by fielding percentage statistics – if they make an amazing play to get to the ball, they have a slightly higher statistical chance of screwing up the play (the denominator is larger, and the margin for error is smaller on those tough plays).

    In practice, this is why Troy Glaus – a big, immobile 3B – had the highest fielding percentage of any 3B in the National League last year (.982), even though David Wright (.962) and Ryan Zimmerman (.967) were FAR better 3Bs. In fact, Wright won the Gold Glove. Watch a Mets or a Nationals game – you’re practically guaranteed to see Wright or Zimmerman make a diving play at some point…

    Lies, damn lies and statistics, as they say…