The Major League baseball season started last weekend and the teams that should be winning are panicking (consider an 0-5 start for the Red Sox), while others are looking at what might happen after a quick start. The length of the baseball schedule, tends to be a big equalizer and as the Summer progresses into the Fall, the cream of the crop tends to come up to the top. So although the Toronto Blue Jays have started 4-1 and look to have some real pitching this year; I am not ready to get overly excited… it’s early. After all there are 157 games left. The playoff race is months away, but yet we get excited none the less. It is baseball season.
It is also the time when one of the most analyzed sports is changing the way they do business. I think I mentioned in the past that baseball is a sport that collects more information, which is at a very granular level, compared to other sports. It provides so much data that the science of sport not longer refers only to medicine but to data as well. Data may even be more important than ever in baseball and growing in all sports. Today, when someone \wants to sign a free agent or trade for a veteran or prospect player; the first thing a team will look at is their data. Men like Bill James and Ari Kaplan have made analytics part of the game but also part of the business. By tracking how a player reacts to situations you can now extrapolate how they will fit into your type of offense and see in advance the benefit they will give to the team. The concept of “gut-free” still exists in baseball but data is quickly replacing it as part of multi-million dollar decisions.
So as we start the season we will be able to see if Mariano Rivera can continue to deliver heat in the strike zone, or the edge of the strike zone. We will that Derek Jeter likes to hit fastballs, but hits sliders even more effectively, all of this will be tracked. We all need to find the edge. Businesses have understood the value of data, but today sports are embracing them and changing the way they make game and player decisions….it’s all in the stats.
Play Ball! Or Run the Report!