## 21 April 2010

### A Role for Empirics

I have not written in a while and this will be just a short post on contradiction in my views around empirical analysis.

I ask, is it fair of me to constantly minimize the usefulness of empirical analysis in economics while doting over baseball statistics?

This site is a must see for any fan of baseball or empirical analysis!

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

It looks a little "90's", but search for a favorite player and go from there...this website is truly a triumph of data collection.

joseph göner-rebello said...

Hey James.

I don't know if it is fair because I'm not sure exactly how you "minimize the usefulness of empirics."

But I don't think there is any necessary contradiction between thinking an empirical approach is more or less useful in different circumstances.

I mean the question is not so much about whether a method has uses, but what these uses and possible limitations are. Right?

Baseball is probably about as appropriate an object of statistical analysis you can find so its no surprise. One can go pretty hog wild with stats without missing all that much (or without missing all that much that could be solved with better/more stats). Something like basketball - or economy/society - less so imo.

James Miehls said...

Joe, I couldn't agree with you more.
I was lazy in my language on this post to say the least.
The important question to me is not so much one of the method used, but the goal in mind when approaching an object.

That being said, generally my goals when I approach objects of analysis that are commonly considered to be "economic" usually are ones where empirical analysis adds very little (imo).
The complete contrary is true in baseball. As I am writing this Detroit's ace pitcher has given up 3 hits, two walks and two earned runs in the first 2/3 of an inning.
Small sample size aside do these statistics describe a player? Of course not, but they do describe an inning of a game well. I would argue yes, very much so. Does a 10% unemployment rate describe an economy? Obviously not...
Basketball on the other hand....less empirically measurable than baseball because of the nature of the game?
I am inclined to agree with you although it would be an interesting conversation to have sometime.