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Book Description

Mathletics is a remarkably entertaining book that shows readers how to use simple mathematics to analyze a range of statistical and probability-related questions in professional baseball, basketball, and football, and in sports gambling. How does professional baseball evaluate hitters? Is a singles hitter like Wade Boggs more valuable than a power hitter like David Ortiz? Should NFL teams pass or run more often on first downs? Could professional basketball have used statistics to expose the crooked referee Tim Donaghy? Does money buy performance in professional sports?

In Mathletics, Wayne Winston describes the mathematical methods that top coaches and managers use to evaluate players and improve team performance, and gives math enthusiasts the practical tools they need to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of their favorite sports--and maybe even gain the outside edge to winning bets. Mathletics blends fun math problems with sports stories of actual games, teams, and players, along with personal anecdotes from Winston's work as a sports consultant. Winston uses easy-to-read tables and illustrations to illuminate the techniques and ideas he presents, and all the necessary math concepts--such as arithmetic, basic statistics and probability, and Monte Carlo simulations--are fully explained in the examples.

After reading Mathletics, you will understand why baseball teams should almost never bunt, why football overtime systems are unfair, why points, rebounds, and assists aren't enough to determine who's the NBA's best player--and much, much more. In a new epilogue, Winston discusses the stats and numerical analysis behind some recent sporting events, such as how the Dallas Mavericks used analytics to become the 2011 NBA champions.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication Page
  5. Contents
  6. Preface
  7. Acknowledgments
  8. List of Abbreviations
  9. Part I: Baseball
    1. 1. Baseball's Pythagorean Theorem
    2. 2. Who had a Better Year, Nomar Garciaparra11 or Ichiro Suzuki?
      1. The Runs-Created Approach
    3. 3. Evaluating Hitters by Linear Weights
    4. 4. Evaluating Hitters by Monte Carlo Simulation
    5. 5. Evaluating Baseball Pitchers and Forecasting Future Pitcher Performance
    6. 6. Baseball Decision-Making
    7. 7. Evaluating Fielders
      1. Sabermetrics' Last Frontier
    8. 8. Player Win Averages
    9. 9. The Value of Replacement Players
      1. Evaluating Trades and Fair Salary
    10. 10. Park Factors
    11. 11. Streakiness in Sports
    12. 12. The Platoon Effect
    13. 13. Was Tony Perez a Great Clutch Hitter?
    14. 14. Pitch Count and Pitcher Effectiveness
    15. 15. Would Ted Williams Hit .406 Today?
    16. 16. Was Joe DiMaggio's 56-Game Hitting Streak the Greatest Sports Record of All Time?
    17. 17. Major League Equivalents
  10. Part II: Football
    1. 18. What Makes NFL Teams Win?
    2. 19. Who's Better, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?
    3. 20. Football States and Values
    4. 21. Football Decision-Making 101
    5. 22. A State and Value Analysis of the 2006 Super Bowl151 Champion Colts
    6. 23. If Passing is Better Than Running, why Don't158 Teams Always Pass?
    7. 24. Should we Go for a One-Point or Two-Point Conversion?
    8. 25. To Give Up the Ball Is Better Than to Receive
      1. The Case of College Football Overtime
    9. 26. Why is the NFL's Overtime System Fatally Flawed?
    10. 27. How Valuable Are High Draft Picks in the NFL?
  11. Part III: Basketball
    1. 28. Basketball Statistics 101
      1. The Four-Factor Model
    2. 29. Linear Weights for Evaluating NBA Players
    3. 30. Adjusted +/- Player Ratings
    4. 31. NBA Lineup Analysis
    5. 32. Analyzing Team and Individual Matchups
    6. 33. NBA Players' Salaries and the Draft
    7. 34. Are NBA Officials Prejudiced?
    8. 35. Are College Basketball Games Fixed?
    9. 36. Did Tim Donaghy Fix NBA Games?
    10. 37. End-Game Basketball Strategy
  12. Part IV: Playing with Money, and Other Topics for Serious Sports Fans
    1. 38. Sports Gambling
    2. 39. Freakonomics Meets the Bookmaker
    3. 40. Rating Sports Teams
    4. 41. Whisch League has Greater Parity, the NFL or the NBA?
    5. 42. The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI)
    6. 43. From Point Ratings to Probabilities
    7. 44. Optimal Money Management
      1. The Kelly Growth Criteria
    8. 45. Ranking Great Sports Collapses
    9. 46. Can Money Buy Success?
    10. 47. Does Joey Crawford Hate the Spurs?
    11. 48. Does Fatigue Make Cowards of us All?
      1. The Case of NBA Back-to-Back Games and NFL Bye Weeks
    12. 49. Can the Bowl Championship Series Be Saved?
    13. 50. Comparing Players from Different Eras
    14. 51. Conclusions
  13. Epilogue to the Paperback Edition
  14. Index of Databases
  15. Annotated Bibliography
  16. Index