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A Mathematician at the Ballpark: Odds and Probablilities for Baseball Fansby Ken Ross
Synopses & Reviews
Here is a perfect introduction to the ideas of probability that baseball fans will love. Books on baseball give statistics and use language such as odds, likely and no chance without any explanation. Now professor of mathematics Ken Ross has written a guide to the beautiful and powerful science of probability for baseball fans who love statistics. In the last few years, revolutionaries armed with good old mathematics have changed baseball forever.
Ken Ross, himself a lifelong baseball fan, opens up the math behind Michael Lewis's bestseller Moneyball and shows how anyone can use probability to better understand the future of the game, in the next inning, or in the rest of the season, or in the rest of the World Series.
See why the "On Base Percentage" and "Slugging Percentage" together are more meaningful than each is by itself (and why they are neither percentages nor averages). See how to calculate the probability that a seven-game series will go four, five, six or seven games. Learn how a mathematician adept in the arithmetic of probability can combine statistics to produce tailor-made analyses in answering questions about specific teams, players, and games. Filled with current and historical players, this is the first book that focuses on probability in baseball. There is no basic introduction to these ideas written for, and accessible by, ordinary baseball fans of all ages. Ken Ross' A Mathematician at the Ballpark is designed to fill this gap in a friendly and interesting way. This is a book for anyone who reads box scores. It is the real math behind Moneyball.
"This math book for baseball fans is a hardcore yet accessible volume and serves as an entertaining introduction to the 'sweet science' of probability. Ross (Elementary Analysis: The Theory of Calculus), a math professor at the University of Oregon, is baseball crazed — he swears that his early love of the game made him 'comfortable with, and reasonably proficient at, elementary probability.' He successfully sets out to introduce basic concepts and use them 'to explain some results that have interesting applications for baseball.' A chapter titled 'Will the Yankees Win if Steinbrenner Is Gone?' is a delightful introduction to the concept of conditional probabilities. In 'Who's the Best Hitter,' he presents a fascinating look at how statistical measurements of a batter's offensive contribution, including 'Slugging Percentage' and 'On-Base Plus Slugging,' show how two outstanding young outfielders, Yankee Hideki Matsui and Mariner Ichiro Suzuki, had 'amazingly close' 2003 seasons offensively, although Ichiro was widely thought to have had a substantially better season than Matsui. And in 'What Would Pete Rose Do?' Ross cleverly examines the concept of 'double or nothing' and statistically proves that no preplanned strategy can make a losing situation into a winning one. Overall, Ross's book lovingly supports his assertion that '[p]robability is a wonderful window into the workings of baseball, gambling, and, sometimes it seems to me, life itself.' (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In A Mathematician at the Ballpark, professor Ken Ross reveals the math behind the stats. This lively and accessible book shows baseball fans how to harness the power of made predictions and better understand the game. Using real-world examples from historical and modern-day teams, Ross shows:
Why on-base and slugging percentages are more important than batting averages
How professional odds makers predict the length of a seven-game series
How to use mathematics to make smarter bets
A Mathematician at the Ballpark is the perfect guide to the science of probability for the stats-obsessed baseball fans—and, with a detailed new appendix on fantasy baseball, an essential tool for anyone involved in a fantasy league.
About the Author
Ken Ross, Ph.D. taught mathematics for 35 years at the University of Oregon. He has been Associate Secretary of the American Mathematical Society and President of the Mathematical Association of America. He is the author of Elementary Analysis: The Theory of Calculus and co-author of Discrete Mathematics. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.
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