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Asymmetrical Motivation & The .299 Hitter
Posted By Barry Ritholtz On October 3, 2010 @ 3:00 pm In Mathematics,Sports | Comments Disabled
There is a fun mathematical discussion in the NYT Sports section  today worth looking at.
It turns out that major league hitters on the verge of a 3 handle batting average — .300 — hit an astounding .463 on their last at bat of the season:
“Two economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, while investigating how round numbers influence goals, examined the behavior of major league hitters from 1975 to 2008 who entered what became their final plate appearance of the season with a batting average of .299 or .300 (in at least 200 at-bats).
They found that the 127 hitters at .299 or .300 batted a whopping .463 in that final at-bat, demonstrating a motivation to succeed well beyond normal (and in what was usually an otherwise meaningless game).
Most deliciously, not one of the 61 hitters who entered at .299 drew a walk — which would have fired those ugly 9s into permanence because batting average considers bases on balls neither hit nor at-bat.”
Its fascinating, but certainly not surprising. The psychological motivations of the pitcher-batter confrontation are the major factor. The batter is extremely motivated, for reasons that are both professional (compensation) and personal (i.e, pride). The pitcher, on the other hand, just wants to get thought the end of season games (especially the ones that don’t matter) without incident, injury etc.
Hence the term, “Asymmetrical Motivation.”
Chart courtesy of NYT 
Fun stuff . . .
Grunting and Tennis: It’s All Good 
Infectious Greed, October 1, 2010
Sniffing .300, Hitters Hunker Down on Last Chances 
By ALAN SCHWARZ
NYT, October 2, 2010
Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog
URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/10/asymmetrical-motivation-the-299-hitter/
URLs in this post:
 NYT Sports section: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/sports/baseball/03hitters.html
 Image: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/03scoreGrfx-popup.jpg
 NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/10/03/sports/baseball/03scoreGrfx.html?ref=baseball
 Grunting and Tennis: It’s All Good: http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2010/10/grunting_and_te.html
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