Tag Archives: eric seidman

One Idiot with a Stats Software Package

if tRA is FIP having a nightmare SIERA is giving two idiots a stats software package and telling them not to ask questions

Just when you thought this blog was dead and buried, Matt Swartz comes riding to the rescue. At FanGraphs, he has a new five-part series on everyone’s favorite stat, SIERA. Because last time around, as Swartz trumpets, he and his partner in stupidity crime, Eric Seidman, “didn’t totally appreciate why it worked.” And the name “skill interactive” was completely misleading, too. It’s not like you two devoted more than 10,000 words and its own five-part introductory series on Baseball Prospectus about it last winter. This time, though, Swartz has totally got this.

He isn’t shying away, though. He answers the questions SIERA-atics (like myself) have often asked, like, “Why aren’t there more terms in this equation?” To which he says, in Part Two, “Excellent question. I’ve added (BB/PA)^2, (SO/PA)*(BB/PA), a run-environment variable, and percentage of innings as a SP! And all only because they improve my RMSE!” Swartz even managed to flip the sign on one of the preexisting terms with no explanation why.

I don’t know anything about FanGraphs’ business, but bringing on Matt Swartz and letting him revamp SIERA has to be a waste of money. A one-percent improvement over xFIP would be valuable to a team, I imagine, but to the average fan, it’s worth zero. Maybe less than zero when it’s impossible to explain in English the rationale for the stat.  (Though we’ll have to wait until Part Four to see the comparison between the two, I wouldn’t bet the improvement is close to one percent. And there’s always a good chance that the comparisons aren’t done correctly anyway.) So they’re paying Swartz to blather on about something pointless at best and wasting Dave Appelman’s time in having to add it to their database. The rich grandpa lives on.

Somewhat surprising to me is that the FanGraphs commenters are being uncharacteristically kind to Swartz and his Frankenstein stat. Baseball Prospectus commenters, less so.

The Seidman Challenge

I took the Seidman Challenge today. First I had to make it up and then I took it. The Seidman Challenge is to read every word in an Eric Seidman article (no skimming) without interruption.

My opponent was his latest column, “Seidnotes: Those Who Don’t Need Support”. Here’s my running commentary.

  • One paragraph in. This is painful.
  • “Usually, run support is mentioned in passing, as if it is an ancillary character in the tale, a Lloyd Braun or a Kenny Bania. In actuality, the evidence suggests that run support is more or less a Costanza in fueling the end result of a pitcher’s W-L record, the measure relied upon by many in award season.” Even for a BP pop culture reference, that’s horrible.
  • This is a contender for best Seidmanism of 2010: “In addition to listing the wild-card era trailers in run support, I also looked into pitchers with solid winning percentages in spite of the poor run support, which led to an interesting suggestion in the comments section: what if I looked at the opposite topic?”
  • Seidman writes screenplays. He also writes things like, “Yes, the journeyman right-hander who was about as generic of a pitcher as they come, the kind that would result in a video game if the create-a-player feature was left purely on default settings, went 17-4 that season while receiving 6.96 runs of support per nine innings.” To make a joke like that, he has to be the worst freaking screenwriter on the planet, right?
  • Seriously, I think MGL has a better sense of humor.
  • I feel very bad for Christina Kahrl, Steven Goldman, John Perotto, or whoever at BP pretends they copy edit these articles. They really should just try to teach Seidman to write in English (or, as MGL would say, “English”). To wit: “Now, one aspect to keep in mind is that receiving run support doesn’t automatically invalidate the reputation derived from a winning percentage.”
  • Almost there.
  • FREEEEDOM!

It was pretty grueling, but I made it. Do you have what it takes? Are you a true SABR?

I Like Eric Seidman

Commeter “rick flair” left a tip to a thread on BodyBuilding.com titled “Professional Actor’s Workout” from August, 2006. The first post begins:

Hey everyone, Eric J. Seidman here. I’m a writer, actor, and director who, if you have not heard of, will have in the next year or so.

Seidman has been a great addition for Baseball Prospectus, since his prediction skills are as accurate as PECOTA’s.

God, that was terrible.