This Element is an excerpt from Stumbling On Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports (9780132357784) by David J. Berri and Martin B. Schmidt. Available in print and digital formats.
Why sports decision-makers are wrong so often — and why they keep making the same mistakes, year after year.
When Bill James introduced his findings on the importance of on-base percentage–and the unimportance of steals–decision-makers in baseball didn’t embrace his work. Their initial reaction fully reflects the lessons of behavioral economics: people have trouble accepting information that contradicts their viewpoints. The same story has been seen again and again across the North American professional sports world.