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Ben Bernanke, sabermetrician

From David Leonhardt in today's New York Times:

Bernanke, a Southerner by birth who stands well shy of 6 feet, became a Red Sox fan in the mid-1970's while he was a student at Harvard. After moving to Princeton as a professor, he kept his allegiance to the Red Sox. He also became fascinated by the way that statistics can capture the game or distort it, much as they can for the economy.

Bernanke and Dwight M. Jaffee, a Princeton colleague, had a regular squash game, and they spent their walks to the campus gym talking about monetary policy and baseball, Jaffee said. Bernanke was particularly bothered by E.R.A., the main yardstick of pitching. If one pitcher leaves runners on base and another pitcher allows them to score, the runs are charged to the first pitcher.

Pitchers unlucky enough to be followed by ineffective relievers, as the Yankees' Randy Johnson was in 2005, have unfairly high E.R.A.'s. Pitchers who are bailed out by their bullpen, as Roy Oswalt of the Astros often was this season, end up with artificially low E.R.A.'s.

A better system would divide blame, depending on the base the runners were on when a pitcher departed and the number of outs, Bernanke argued.

"He was always saying, 'We ought to come up with a solution for this,' " Jaffee said.

I've always been a fan of Bernanke's research, and was pleased to see him nominated to head the Fed.

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