Renormalizing Individual Performance Metrics for Cultural Heritage Management of Sports Records

Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 2020

DOI: 10.1016/j.chaos.2020.109821

18 Pages Posted: 17 May 2020

See all articles by Alexander Michael Petersen

Alexander Michael Petersen

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program

Orion B. Penner

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Date Written: April 13, 2020

Abstract

Individual performance metrics are commonly used to compare players from different eras. However, such cross-era comparison is often biased due to significant changes in success factors underlying player achievement rates (e.g. performance enhancing drugs and modern training regimens). Such historical comparison is more than fodder for casual discussion among sports fans, as it is also an issue of critical importance to the multi-billion dollar professional sport industry and the institutions (e.g. Hall of Fame) charged with preserving sports history and the legacy of outstanding players and achievements. To address this cultural heritage management issue, we report an objective statistical method for re-normalizing career achievement metrics, one that is particularly tailored for common seasonal performance metrics, which are often aggregated into summary career metrics – despite the fact that many player careers span different eras. Remarkably, we find that the method applied to comprehensive Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association player data preserves the overall functional form of the distribution of career achievement, both at the season and career level. As such, subsequent re-ranking of the top-50 all-time records in MLB and the NBA using re-normalized metrics indicates reordering at the local rank level, as opposed to bulk reordering by era. This local order refinement signals time-independent mechanisms underlying annual and career achievement in professional sports, meaning that appropriately re-normalized achievement metrics can be used to compare players from eras with different season lengths, team strategies, rules – and possibly even different sports.

Keywords: Achievement, Careers, People Analytics, Baseball, Basketball, Cultural Heritage

JEL Classification: D39, J24, J44, L83

Suggested Citation

Petersen, Alexander Michael and Penner, Orion B., Renormalizing Individual Performance Metrics for Cultural Heritage Management of Sports Records (April 13, 2020). Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 2020, DOI: 10.1016/j.chaos.2020.109821, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3579039 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3579039

Alexander Michael Petersen (Contact Author)

University of California Merced, Ernest and Julio Gallo Management Program ( email )

School of Engineering
Science & Engineering 2, Suite 315
Merced, CA 95343
United States

Orion B. Penner

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

Station 5
Odyssea 1.04
1015 Lausanne, CH-1015
Switzerland

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