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Can you trust early hot, cold starts?

Updated: April 13, 2011, 12:33 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

Small sample size.

It's a phrase you'll hear tossed about by baseball analysts, especially at this early stage of the season, when statistics are still relatively new and, well, small.

A small sample size -- usually only several days' worth of statistics that represent a tiny fraction of a full season's worth -- can often be a crutch: stats cherry-picked by an analyst to support a player's often flimsy case. Conversely, the phrase "small sample size" can be a crutch: ...

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