FanGraphs Audio: The Awful Burden of Assigning Credit

Episode 721
Managing editor Dave Cameron is the guest on this edition of the pod, during which he discusses the question of assigning credit, especially where WAR is concerned. How much credit does Andre Ethier for a wind-aided home run? For catching a fly ball that’s caught 95% of the time by major-league outfielders? These are merely two of the questions asked poorly and slowly by the host and half-answered by Dave Cameron.

A reminder: FanGraphs’ Ad Free Membership exists. Some people think it doesn’t exist. Actually, though, it does exist. Click here to learn more about it and share some of your disposable income with FanGraphs.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 42 min play time.)

We hoped you liked reading FanGraphs Audio: The Awful Burden of Assigning Credit by Carson Cistulli!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

newest oldest most voted
Joshua Northey
Joshua Northey

As regards the discussion of moral luck, you two are both really overestimating the seriousness and likelihood of an issue with a DUI. Certainly it is a serious thing, but the 1 in 20 or 1 in 10 figures are just laughable. I certainly have no sympathy with drunk drivers, having once been the victim of one (a family member to boot), but compared to similar things (driving while tired, driving while distracted with radio/phone, driving while talking even), drunk driving particularly around modern legal limits is simply not as proportionally dangerous as the associated punishments can be (multiple thousands of dollars of fines and license suspensions…of course then you also do hear about the guy who is on his 15th DUI and still has a license, not sure where society is breaking down there…).

In addition, to bring it to a less socially fraught area, I would suggest looking at something more common and less socially opprobrius action like speeding on residential streets. Probably what 65% of the population goes ~5 over +/- on residential streets. This is mostly not even enforced as a crime except in rare circumstances. But if a totally unrelated piec eof poor moral luck happens and say a child darts out between two cars, you get into very serious trouble. this on the surface seems unfair and inconsistent, but the reason is that the law has a strong outcome bias because unlike in a game or simulation the contexts are rarely similar. You don’t punish the people who are not hitting children because you assume they are taking reasonable precautions et cetera. Moreover there is a bias to assume that the person who hit one did not. As the law and most of the world does not exist in an environment of perfect information you need to use the outcomes to stick a thumb of the scales of justice.

Anyway, I have gone on way too long, but this is something I have been reading about for years as it has interested me since childhood.

As far as the future of WAR, I will just repeat what I said in the other thread.

I don’t want to make too wild a suggestion here, but why not just have a diverse messy family of figures, some of which are more descriptively focused and, some of which are more predicatively focused. As long as the Dave Camerons, and Rob Neyers, and Jeff Sullivans of the world stay on message and stay consistent with their use and description of what a particular figure means, I don’t think there is a problem.

Most people are idiots and you are never going to reach them, stop trying to. The conversation you are interested in leading/participating in is with the top 20-25% of fans, and just stick to that. Don’t bend over backwards to have just 1 or 2 unitary franken-figures to make things simpler for people who aren’t going to understand it anyway. You just end up undermining the value of the whole project.


I agree as long as we have smart people interpreting the data it doesn’t matter so much.