Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Data and Hubris

Michael Goldstein, using a helpful baseball analogy to explain why it isn't necessarily important for teachers to have long careers, on May 5:

David Ortiz used to be the Red Sox best player. Now he is their worst player. He may be the worst baseball player in the Major Leagues, actually.

He doesn’t have tenure per se. But it has been hard for management to pull the trigger on the obvious move: sit him down.

Ortiz is blocking an excellent player, Mike Lowell, from getting playing time. So not only does Ortiz stink, but someone good doesn’t get a chance.

David Ortiz's batting average in the 10 games from May 7 to May 19: .378

Home runs in that span: 4

Mike Lowell's batting average and home runs in that span: .269, 0

David Ortiz's slugging percentage, May 1 to May 19: .755

Rank of Ortiz's slugging percentage among all major league baseball players with more than 25 at bats in that span: 5

3 comments:

Russ Goerend said...

Hi, Tom,

New reader, so I just want to check that I'm tracking with you.

You're using small sample sizes to show that Goldstein's analogy doesn't work, correct?

Besides the terrible choice of example by Goldstein, what thoughts do you have on his point?

Russ Goerend

Tom Hoffman said...

I think his actual point is rather banal. What's more striking is, as I alluded to in the title, his hubris. As a fellow Red Sox fan, on May 5th I was tearing my hair out about Ortiz too. I wasn't predicting a turn-around for him, but I knew he had started slow last year, too. I knew that I didn't know what was going to happen.

What struck me about Goldstein's post was how unequivocal it was -- he's the worst player on the Red Sox, maybe the entire major leagues?

This is the same lack of doubt that drives many decisions about school reform today. Schools are dismissed as failures based on a handful of numbers and no real curiosity or doubt.

Russ Goerend said...

Admittedly, I had to look up hubris, so I'm already learning from you.

This is the same lack of doubt that drives many decisions about school reform today. Schools are dismissed as failures based on a handful of numbers and no real curiosity or doubt.

I'm glad I asked, because your use of his analogy makes much more sense.

What if baseball had cast Big Papi aside for good when he was David Arias with the Twins. Are we doing that to any teachers in their first or second year?