The Johnson Behind The Johnson Effect

From Arne Christensen at The Hardball Times on November 8, 2011:

A couple years ago I heard from Bryan Johnson, one of the earliest mainstream journalists to write about sabermetrics, in Toronto’s Globe and Mail in the early-to-mid-1980s, in the way of his comments on some excerpts from those columns that I’d posted on my baseball history blog.

Johnson is credited by Bill James with discovering the Johnson Effect: the tendency of a team to revert back to the win-loss total one would expect from its ratio of runs scored to runs allowed. Here’s James’ explanation of it from 1985:

The Johnson effect states that when a team wins more games than it could be expected to win in view of the number of runs scored and runs allowed … that team will tend to decline in the following season. When a team wins significantly fewer games than could be expected in view of its runs scored and runs allowed … that team will tend to improve in the following season.

Since Johnson was apparently the first journalist to write regularly about advanced statistics, Bill James’ ideas, sabermetrics and such, I’ve since taken the opportunity to ask him some questions about those days to find out about the infancy of sabermetrics.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: November 8, 2011. Last Updated: November 8, 2011.