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Consistency

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Consistency"

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Here’s a little slice from a John Hollinger chat earlier this week:

hassan (Baltimore): Drew Gooden – MIP?

John Hollinger: Most Inconsistent Player? They give an award for that?

You hear a lot about “consistency” in sports and most of it’s BS. Fans look at a player who’s above average some days, and below average other days, and then instead of concluding that he’s a mediocre player they say he needs to be “more consistent.” But by that they mean they want him to play as well as he does on his best nights every night. In the real world, of course, nobody does that. Even a great slugger doesn’t consistently hit home runs on a nightly basis; Chris Paul has better games and worse ones.

But consistency is a real property, and I always think it’s something that it would be interesting to take a look at. Players’ performance varies. But how much does the average player’s performance vary? And are there some players with substantially larger-than-usual standard deviations in key categories? Inquiring minds want to know.

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