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any T&F equivalent to "sabermetrics"?


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  • any T&F equivalent to "sabermetrics"?

    As some of you are probably aware, the field of "sabermetrics" is devoted to sophisticated statistical analyses of baseball (the name derives from SABR, the Society of American Baseball Researchers).

    One major endeavor of sabermetricians has been to develop optimal measures of player contribution. As a measure of offensive performance, for example, batting average is flawed in at least two ways: all hits are treated identically (which are then divided by official at bats) and it overlooks the contribution of players who walk a lot.

    In attempting to see which batting statistics are most closely associated with teams' run production, sabermetricians have used statistical techniques such as multiple regression. They indeed find that slugging percentage (which weights a single as 1, a double as 2, etc., before dividing by at bats) and on base percentage (similar to batting average but also including walks and hit-by-pitch) are better predictors of teams' scoring, and that the two combined (on-base plus slugging or OPS) is better still.

    My question is: Does track and field have any organizations, formal or informal, devoted to using advanced statistics (what, at a college level, would be called "multivariate" statistics) to elucidate track and field phenomena?

    I found the Association of Track and Field Statisticians (ATFS) on the web:

    but it looked like most of its work was devoted to compiling T&F records, milestones, and imperial/metric conversion tables.

    The Road Running Technical Council's "Measurement News"

    looks like it's more in the direction of what I'm looking for, but perhaps not fully.

    Among the questions that conceivably could be addressed by a "sabermetric" track and field research group are the following:

    *Quantifying the advantage in various events of performing at different altitude levels.

    *Quantifying the advantage due to wind-aided conditions (I'm assuming the standard 2 meters/second criterion for a wind-aided performance was based on some empirical research).

    *Quantification of advantages/disadvantages due to running in different lanes.

    *Developing equations to predict athletes' times or distances in one meet based on performances in previous meets; this would be helpful for the prediction contest on T&FN tours.

    Any leads would be helpful.

  • #2
    Re: any T&F equivalent to

    search for "altitude" here and you'll find some interesting discussions on both altitude and wind. And humidity, even.

    Here's a link to an on-line wind/distance conversion chart (which is mentioned in one of the threads):

    but to answer your basic question, no there's no (that I've ever heard of) group similar to Bill James and his baseball gang. There job is child's-play compared to all the variables that get thrown into the track equation.


    • #3
      Re: any T&F equivalent to

      Alan - I've done a lot of T&F stat work for years (a book, which will probably never be publishable, but too much fun to quit on...). One "sabermetrical" aspect of t&f stats I enjoy is trying to determine accurate conversion factors for varying distances, hurdle heights, implement weights, etc. (and altitude/wind of course). Would be nice if there were 'official' conversion factors. I'll contribute my 2-cent opinions if anyone's interested in that kind of stat stuff.. ([email protected])


      • #4
        Re: any T&F equivalent to

        p.s. - I also fritter time on baseball stats - but only the most meaningful, like you described (total offense, run production, W-L & ERA hybrid stat, etc etc) Baseball is truly hopeless, statistically(i.e., home ballpark factor,etc) but ya gotta do SOMETHING, stat-wise, if you're gonna follow it.. Nothing beats attending OlyTrials, OlyG, or WCh(looking forward to TFN tour in Paris), but MLB LOOKS just as good, in fact better (especially if you're a little kid. Glad I grew up in New York in the 50s!)


        • #5
          Re: any T&F equivalent to

          So let`s get to the really important information. Were you a Yankee, Giant, or Dodger fan?


          • #6
            Re: any T&F equivalent to

            my brother & I were Dodger fans. Dad was Yankee fan. But we managed to get along. Some strained moments in '55 and 56, though..


            • #7
              Re: any T&F equivalent to

              You're probably happy you said you WERE Dodger fans. I'd hate to be one of the silly saps who's trying to back that bunch of banjo-hitting pantywaists this year.


              • #8
                Re: any T&F equivalent to

                I just checked the website for which Garry provided a link above. The website is fantastic! Exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.
                I would draw people's attention to one available paper, in particular:

       ... indalt.pdf

                Other than a few technical-looking equations, the paper is written in a style that should be readily understandable to fans without extensive mathematical training. Plus, it has some very user-friendly tables.

                Table 1 presents correction estimates for the 100m at various combinations of wind and altitude (separately for men and women). By definition, the joint conditions of 0 wind and 0 altitude have a correction factor of 0.00. But, for example, a man's time at +1.0 m/s wind and 2000m altitude carries an advantage of -0.11.

                What the author, Professor Mureika, is then able to do is "add back" the "artificial" advantage due to wind and altitude and come up with a new list of all-time world rankings, on the assumption everyone were running at 0-wind, sea-level conditions (what the professor calls "t0,0").

                These adjusted all-time world rankings are shown (in limited form) in the paper I referenced above, but are available in much more extensive form on the main website: