Inflation is real, but does it explain McBeth's 1062?
July 16, 2020 by Aaron Howard in Analysis with 0 comments
In response to a social media post asking Paul McBeth if he thought his new record rating of 1062 was the result of inflation, McBeth responded saying “…wouldn’t inflation result in everyone going up? I feel like it’s only me.” This seems like a pretty big flex by McBeth, but is he right?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Rating inflation does exist. The PDGA has written about it, as have I. My estimate shows it at around 0.7 ratings points per year. The PDGA’s estimate from 2009 is a bit higher. Whatever the exact value, it is a fact that on average player ratings across the board are going up.1
But is rating inflation the only reason McBeth’s rating has hit this new high? Absolutely not. Since 2012, McBeth’s rating has gone up at a rate of just over two points per year,2 which is well above my and the PDGA’s estimates of inflation.
Even if half of McBeth’s rating increase since the beginning of 2012, the year he won his first world championship, was removed because of inflation, his current rating would still be nearly 1050. Only two other players have ever been 1050 rated: Eagle McMahon and Ricky Wysocki. However, because no one can escape inflation and McMahon and Wysocki are McBeth contemporaries, their ratings would be subject to the same reductions as McBeth’s.
In fact, McBeth’s 1062 bests the champ himself, Ken Climo, and his peak rating of 1044 in 2003. If we are conservative (that is, we use a somewhat high inflation correction value) and say there is a one point per year rating inflation value, and we correct the ratings all the way back to their origin year of 1998, then Climo’s 1044 would be a 1039 and McBeth’s 1062 would be a 1040.
This, of course, is quite close, but remember that I am being conservative with my estimates. The inflation penalty is much larger for McBeth than Climo. It is pretty clear to me that McBeth’s 1062 outclasses Climo’s 1044. (If you use a corrective value of 0.7 and correct back to 1998, Climo would have a 1041 rating and McBeth a 1047.)
In short, even considering rating inflation, McBeth would still have the highest rating ever. So, as is the case with most debates on social media, both sides of the argument have some truth to them.
Why does ratings inflation exist? I am not sure, but that’s for another article. ↩
To calculate this I ran a regression of McBeth’s average yearly rating versus year. ↩