The HSAC “Stumbling On Wins” 5-Book Game Theory Giveaway

By David Roher

I’m very excited to announce the HSAC blog’s first giveaway contest. David Berri was nice enough to send us a few complementary copies of his and Martin Schmidt’s new book, Stumbling on Wins. Darren Rovell’s blurb on the back cover called this book the Moneyball for sports other than baseball. I agree, not only because the book is a great find for anyone interested in sports or economics, but also because it was easy and fun to read.

Profs. Berri and Schmidt are primarily concerned with decision-making, a key part of which is valuation. How much is your star player really worth? Is going for it on 4th down worth more expected points than kicking a field goal? But an equally important aspect is knowing how others value the same things. Does another team think more highly of that same player? Is an opposing coach even considering the possibility that you might not kick on 4th down?

Our contest includes both of these elements. There are 5 questions to answer, and 5 books to give away. They all involve a matchup that will take place roughly a week from now. On Wednesday the 21st, the Royals will visit the Blue Jays. Reigning Cy Young winner Zach Greinke is scheduled to pitch for KC, and the third batter for the Jays in the first inning will be reigning Silver Slugger Adam Lind. The basic question is simple: will the third batter for the Jays reach base in his first plate appearance? You’re allowed to update your entry as often as you like, so if this matchup changes, you can change your answers. All entries must be made by 12:00 EDT on April 21; send them to Here are the questions. You must answer all of the first 4 to be eligible to win.

  • 1. Place yourself in either the “Jays 3rd batter reaches base” or the “Jays 3rd batter does not reach base” pool. If he does reach, two randomly selected people from that group will receive a book. If he does not, two people from the other group will receive a book.
  • 2. What percentage of entrants do you think will place themselves in the “Jays 3rd batter reaches base” pool, not including you? The closest entry will receive a book. If there is a tie, it will be broken at random.
  • 3. What do you think the average answer to question #2 will be, not including yours? The closest entry will receive a book. If there is a tie, it will be broken at random.
  • 4. What is the chance that the Jays’ 3rd batter reaches base? The accuracy of your answer will not affect your chances of winning a book, but you must answer it to be eligible.
  • 5. (Optional). Explain your reasoning for the above choices. The person with the most compelling and interesting answer as chosen by the HSAC board will receive a book.

As you can see, this isn’t just about your knowledge of Grienke, Lind, or any of the factors that could influence this at bat. Predicting the behavior of other contest participants will be equally important. I’d love to have as many entries as possible here, because the data collected will surely be interesting.

Here are the rules:

  • One entry per email address. However, you may update that entry before the deadline by replying to your original email and changing your answers. One person using multiple addresses is not allowed.
  • Maximum one book per winner.
  • We will only send the book to addresses within the continental 48 states. Beyond that restriction, everyone is encouraged to participate, including Harvard students and HSAC members. But the HSAC board is ineligible for all questions, and HSAC members will not be eligible to win a book on question 6.
  • No discussing your choices with other participants!
  • Again, send your entries to by 12 EDT on Wednesday, April 21.

I’m looking forward to people’s answers. For other promotions related to the book, check out this post on Berri’s blog.

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  • Just wanted to say thanks again for the contest and the book arrived to me in the mail today. Deleted my email from whomever contacted me, so thought I’d say thanks here.

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