The New York Mets recently lost Game 5 of the 2015 World Series to the Kansas City Royals.
The Mets were actually leading 2-0 heading into the 9th inning. Their star pitcher, Matt Harvey, had pitched brilliantly for the previous 8 innings. At this point, the Mets’ manager, Terry Collins, had a decision to make. Does he let his pitcher back into the 9th inning, or does he use his best relief pitcher, Jeurys Familia, finish out the game?
Well, if we fast forward to the end of the game, we find out that the Mets did indeed leave Matt Harvey in the game, gave up 2 runs in that inning, and ended up losing the game (and the World Series) in extra innings.
Did Terry Collins make the right decision to let Matt Harvey stay and simply get unlucky? Or should he have put in Jeurys Familia?
In hindsight, there has been intense public backlash over the managers’ decision. The thing is, whatever he chose, if the Mets lost, he would have had the same criticism over his decision!
This second-guessing after the fact is what we call hindsight bias. We all make many decisions daily, with some decisions having larger consequences than others. Hindsight bias is extremely dangerous if it causes us to incorrectly conclude that we made the wrong decision (when we made the right one).
Trading is all about making the best decisions we can under conditions of uncertainty. We make many decisions every day in trading, and examples like the conclusion of the 2015 World Series remind us that we need to be careful not to let hindsight bias affect our assessment of our decision making.
A good way to combat hindsight bias is to justify our reasoning behind the decisions we make before we know the outcome, and work collaboratively to reduce the probability of missing important pieces of the puzzle.
If you’re looking for a good analysis of Terry Collins’ decision to stick with Matt Harvey, check out this post on Deadspin: Terry Collins Made The Right Call On Matt Harvey And Still Screwed Up.