Up to that point, Japanese air power had proven to usually be superior to the Americans
Actually, it had not. Japanese air power had proven to be superior against isolated aircraft at the end of a logistical rope. Against well maintained and supplied a.c., including all US CV-based F4Fs, and USAAF units around Moresby, they had prover to be somewhat inferior.
The Japanese, however, were inclined to THINK that they were superior, and that is probably why the attritional air war in the SoPac "seemed like a good idea at the time."
Yamamoto's survival or not *might* have saved the IJN from some fairly embaressing subsequent underestimates of USN strike capability, as in the case of the Truk raids, and he might have had enough political clout to prevent IJN Yamato's suicide run.
Show me a fellow who rejects statistical analysis a priori and I'll show you a fellow who has no knowledge of statistics.
Didn't we have this conversation already?