Thursday, June 3, 2010

Analytics In Sports

Today I was reading a story about how Marian Hossa chose to play with the Chicago Black Hawks this season. He chose the team based on a statistical knowledge of what it takes to win.

">Hossa’s agent has developed a model which analyzes goals by the top 6 forwards, other measures for defensemen, and a  goalie’s save percentage all add up to success. The key measure for Hossa and Winter was the fact that a team who scores 143 goals in it’s top 6 will achieve 100 points. This along with quality of management helped him make the decision and now he is appearing in the Stanley Cup final for the 3rd consecutive year.

Analytics in sports is no stranger, but it is one which has been slow on the uptake. Baseball has always been an active statistical league, but companies like Ariball ( have taken the analysis of the these numbers to a new level. He helps teams and players understand their own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of their opponent to achieve maximum performance. Consider that we can easily look at where every ball hit at Yankee Stadium landed in 2009 as you see below:

image Imagine what you can do with this by adding the dimensions of hitter, pitcher, pitch, count and more….lots of power.

And considering the controversy of last night’s blown call in the Detroit-Cleveland game where Armando Gallarraga lost a perfect game….was this simply a mistake or a blown call or was it official bias? If it was Roy Halladay or some other great pitcher on the mound would the call had been “right”. The statistics definitely do show this for the NBA. When a star is in foul trouble they have fouls called about 1/2 as often a non-stars. So how would things had gone last night if we were watching a future all-star?

Sports statistics are here to stay and just as they make a company more competitive it does the same for a sports team.