51118XdLgVL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Travis Sawchik’s new book Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak is wonderful. Even though its primary subject is the Pittsburgh Pirates (Sawchik covers the Pirates and MLB for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) it is must reading for anyone interested in modern major league baseball, regardless of which baseball cap you wear when you’re cheering.

Big Data Baseball tells the story of how the Pittsburgh Pirates used advanced data and modern thinking to end 20 years of frustration.

But what separates BDB from most writing about the use of analytics in baseball is that Sawchik does a masterful job of storytelling. The reader gets to know the background and personalities of the important figures in the Pirates organization. That’s important because Big Data Baseball shows that the Pirates resurrection was as much about people as it was regression equations.

BDB begins with a captivating account of the fateful October 2012 meeting between Pirates general manager Neal Huntington and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. The two men met at Hurdle’s home and that’s when Huntington, age 43 at the time, made the case to his veteran manager for the need to overhaul the way the organization approaches the game of baseball.

Led by Huntington and Hurdle, the Pittsburgh Pirates did just that. Twelve months after that meeting, they were playing in the fifth game of the NLDS.

Sawchik takes the reader behind the scenes to show the complex interpersonal dynamics that were involved in bringing about this revolution. It involved new thinking by the front office, the manager creating a culture of respect for outsiders, and winning the buy-in of old-school coaches and intuition-based players who had to overcome lifetimes of habit.

We learn from the outset that Clint Hurdle “was raised on and believed in old-school, twentieth-century baseball orthodoxy, which suggested that statistics often lied and that subjective decisions were most important, and that only those who had played the game could understand it meaningfully (BDB, p.26).”

In other words, the Pirates manager was the kind of person you would least expect to be willing and able to adopt new thinking and practices. But Hurdle became a true believer and fierce advocate for incorporating advanced data into the decision making of the baseball team he manages. That transformation led to his winning the Sporting News Manager of the Year Award in 2013.

Sawchik identifies three specific areas where the Pirates made fundamental changes to great effect:

Defensive Shifts

Sawchik takes us back to the birth and development of defensive data, which John Dewan started cataloging in 1984. BDB then tells the fascinating story of how the Pirates became league leaders in defensive shifting. It involved spray-painting X’s and O’s on their practice fields. It involved the faith that the players would actually stand where they were told on Opening Day. It involved the positive reinforcement of turning batted balls into outs.

“I just continue to remind them I played in an era where a hard-hit ground ball up the middle was a base hit nine out of ten times,” explained Hurdle. “Now a hard-hit ground ball up the middle might be a hit two out of ten times (BDB, p.103).”

Pitch Framing

Pirate data analysts convinced Huntington of the value of pitch framing by catchers, an attribute not commonly appreciated in 2013. The Pirates general manager then focused on signing free agent Russell Martin, the best pitch framer on the market. Martin said it made a difference that the Pirates were the most aggressive team recruiting him. They also put their money where their metrics were, offering the catcher $17 million over two years. The Pirates numbers guys said he was worth it, and they were right. Over the two seasons, Martin gave the Pirates production that would have been worth $65 million on the open market.

“And the rest of the industry wasn’t quite ready to buy into pitch framing the way the Pirates had. What the public wasn’t able to see was that Martin had just improved the Pirates by nearly 40 runs per season over their previous catchers, and it had nothing to do with his bat – which everyone kept judging him by. It had nothing to do with performance stats that could be found on the back of a bubble-bum trading card (BDB, p. 72).”

Ground Ball Pitchers

Hurdle took the Pirates commitment to defensive shifts to a next level. He reasoned that the club should look for pitchers who would throw more ground balls, hits that could be fielded by their newly positioned infielders. Hurdle recognized an emphasis on ground balls as a synergy between pitching style and defensive shifts. According to old-school thinking, a pitcher was a fly ball or ground ball pitcher by nature, and these “traits were thought to be hard to change. Moreover, for most of the game’s history no one had been recording ground-ball rates of hitters or pitchers (BDB, p. 123).”

But the Pirates rejected that conventional wisdom and had their pitchers learn and throw two-seam fastballs. The spin and air resistance for that pitch was conducive to downward movement and, therefore, ground balls. “By simply changing pitch grips, some pitchers could change the nature of the balls in play against them (BDB, p. 124).” The Pirates also emphasized pitching inside. Their analysts had discovered by combing through the data that batters tended to hit more ground balls right after they had been pitched inside. The Pirates went from middle-of-the-pack in 2012 to leading the major leagues in ground-ball percentage in 2013 and 2014. They have the top ground-ball percentage again in 2015.

Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates are known as a “data-heavy, forward-thinking organization that deploys analytics heavily in decision making (BDB, p.168).” The Pirates experience shows it doesn’t take a lot of money to be a smart, modern baseball team.

It just requires understanding and a commitment to the idea. Staff members from the Pirates analytics department sit in on preparation meetings with coaches and players for every series. Number crunchers travel with the team on road trips.

“By the 2012-13 off-season, the Pirates had largely removed traditional statistics to measure pitchers’ performance. Neal Huntington rarely cited ERA, wins or hits allowed when evaluating a pitcher. The Pirates tried to separate a pitcher’s performance from his environment as much as possible.” That modern thinking produced Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett.

The Pirates no longer provide their manager data on hitter-pitcher histories, because studies have proven those histories are small samples and are unreliable predictors of the future. The Pirates get that. Instead, the prepare for match-ups by mapping how a hitter has performed against 15 pitchers similar to the one he’s facing that day, based on handedness, velocity and pitch types.

In 2013, the Pirates had 5 full-time employees devoted to data analysis, collection and architecture. In 2014, they added a full-time quantitative analyst that works year round with the minor league clubs. The Pirates have installed PITCHf/x and TrackMan in every one of their minor league parks.

The immediate subject of Sawchik’s book is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2013 season. But that’s not its primary concept.

Big Data Baseball is a book about successful organizational change.

Hurdle: “The game is changing. Sometimes you to need to change with the game or it will pass you by (BDB, p.103).”

Advanced data collection is skyrocketing. Baseball has moved from no electronic data collection to radar guns, to PITCHf/x (2008), to TrackMan (2013) and now Statcast (2015). Those technologies have been installed in every major league park by MLB. The data is turned over to each club. In terms of major league game data collection, all the teams are equal.

What a club does with that torrent of raw data depends on the priority it places on Big Data baseball and adapting to change.

To capitalize on what the league provides them, teams must employ data science experts and mathematical minds who can create algorithms to make sense of it. Data architecture. The teams who place emphasis on getting value from the data have a growing advantage.

At its core, the lesson of Big Data Baseball isn’t about defensive shifts, pitch framing and ground balls. Just two years after the Pirates parlayed those strategies into their first postseason appearance in two decades, everyone knows those strategies work now.

BDB is about being smart and nimble enough to figure out and implement what’s next. And what’s next after that.

57 Responses

  1. User1022

    Sounds like this book would be a huge indictment on Walt “I Don’t Even Text” Jocketty and his insistence on sticking with “what worked before”.

    I rather liken Jocketty’s attitude to a street brawler. He came up in an era when everyone was walking around with baseball bats, and he had the biggest bat on the block, knew how to use it, and could win all the fights.

    Then suddenly, some people started bringing chains to the fights. Chains are longer and quicker than bats, giving people who can wield them skillfully a huge advantage. Jocketty has been losing most fights now, but he’s not going to give up his trusty bat because “it worked before”.

    The way things are going, soon everyone is going to start bringing knives and even guns to that fight. And Jocketty will still be there with his trusty bat, because “it worked before”.

    (Sorry for the excessively violent imagery, but in a lot of ways, baseball front offices ARE engaged in a kind of war/arms race with each other.)

    • Tom Gray

      WJ seems to do OK on trades most of the time. CIN has drafted some good players in his time as GM. The Reds won 2 NL Central titles under his GM tenure.

      The prior 2 NL Central titles won by the Reds were in 1995 and 1990. Been a while.

      • User1022

        That’s true, but a good chunk of the core of the team that won those 2 NL Central titles was drafted or otherwise brought in by previous GMs.

        That’s not to say Walt hasn’t made his share of good trades, but why has he not been able to find sustained success? Furthermore, why does he constantly fail in providing for the team’s obvious and glaring weaknesses?

  2. Walks Will Haunt (@scheffbd)

    I read “Big Data Baseball” earlier this summer and it kind of made me wish the Reds were the Pirates. I agree this book is “must reading for anyone interested in modern major league baseball, regardless of which baseball cap you wear when you’re cheering.”

  3. Tom Gray

    Data has been used a long time in MLB to wit:

    Bill Mazeroski was elected to HOF by Veterans Committee in 2001. Why? In part:

    … Mazeroski was noted for his defensive prowess and earned his first of eight Gold Glove Awards in 1958. He had a career .983 fielding percentage, led the National League in assists nine times, and holds the MLB record for double plays by a second baseman. Baseball analyst Bill James has written that “Bill Mazeroski’s defensive statistics are probably the most impressive of any player at any position”…

    • User1022

      We know data has been used in baseball for a long time. It’s the nature of the game. That’s like saying humans have been cooking for a long time.

      But there’s a pretty big difference in cooking skill and complexity between a Neanderthal throwing a slab of aurochs meat on a hot rock to a modern chef taking 3 days to prepare a beef Bourguignon recipe.

  4. Tom Gray

    BTW how are the Pirates doing with their use of stats?

    PIT last won NL Central in 1992. PIT last won NL Pennant and World Series in 1979.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Guess you haven’t been keeping up with baseball the past couple years. That would explain quite a few of your comments. And you should try reading the posts.

      • Tom Gray

        The Pirates haven’t won because of data. They have finished second (in large part) because of McCutcheon and players like him.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The reason the Pirates have “players like him” is because they know to sign Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano.

      • Nick Doran

        If there is anyone who needs to read this book it is you Mr. Gray. You don’t seem to understand how baseball has changed in the last twenty years.

        The Pirates completely changed everything about their organisation and this book reveals how they did it. Pretty much every team is going in this direction except the Reds.

      • peter ponds

        And losing for so long and drafting so high is never mentioned as it isn’t with the Cubs.

    • User1022

      Well, the Pirates have averaged 91 wins in the 2 years since their alleged “revolution” took place, and are on pace to win 95 this year, so I’d say things are going pretty well.

      Do you have some issue with teams modernizing their usage of data and stastitics?

      • User1022

        I’d prefer 2nd place to last place, where the Pirates were for much of the 20 years prior.

        And I also prefer 2nd place when it gives me a chance to win a championship, which is what finishing 2nd in MLB will get you.

    • Walks Will Haunt (@scheffbd)

      67-46, second place, and headed to postseason for third straight season. Will have spent around $90 million less than the Reds on payroll from 2013-2015.

  5. User1022

    Tom, can you please lay out for us what exactly your issue is? Do you think statistics are useless? Do you think collecting and analyzing data is an exercise in futility?

    What, exactly, about this post has you so riled up?

    • Nick Carrington

      I’m confused as well. Tom is right that good players equal success, but I think it’s really hard to argue against the idea that better information (stats, scouting reports, etc.) leads to better decisions about players. Who wouldn’t want more and better information when making decisions? I’m not a wise or discerning person, so I would want more information to help offset my deficiencies.

      • I-71_Exile

        One of the things that I’ve learned from reading this site is that small sample sizes are basically useless. It makes me take every stat with a grain of salt now. My question to the editors and statisticians among us is when do the numbers stabilize and when do they become predictive?

      • User1022

        Short answer:

        Stabilization Points for Offense Statistics:

        60 PA: Strikeout rate
        120 PA: Walk rate
        240 PA: HBP rate
        290 PA: Single rate
        1610 PA: XBH rate
        170 PA: HR rate

        910 AB: AVG
        460 PA: OBP
        320 AB: SLG
        160 AB: ISO

        80 BIP: GB rate
        80 BIP: FB rate
        600 BIP: LD rate
        50 FBs: HR per FB
        820 BIP: BABIP

        Stabilization Points for Pitching Statistics:

        70 BF: Strikeout rate
        170 BF: Walk rate
        640 BF: HBP rate
        670 BF: Single rate
        1450 BF: XBH rate
        1320 BF: HR rate

        630 BF: AVG
        540 BF: OBP
        550 AB: SLG
        630 AB: ISO

        70 BIP: GB rate
        70 BIP: FB rate
        650 BIP: LD rate
        400 FB: HR per FB
        2000 BIP: BABIP

        Long answer(s):

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17659

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20516

  6. vegastypo

    Hurdle: “The game is changing. Sometimes you to need to change with the game or it will pass you by (BDB, p.103).”

    —————-

    I wonder if this was on Doug Melvin’s mind when he stepped down as Brewers GM.

  7. George Mirones

    I-71_Exile says:”when do they become predictive?”.

    IMO the use of information, is what gives it value.
    If all teams have access to the information and if they choose not to use it, that is an organizational issue certainly not a reflection on the value of the data. When it becomes predictive then the unemployment rates among baseball writers, scouts, and announcer’s will rise as one would only need to look at the data and place their bets. The defensive shifts employed are based on actual results and in a sense are predictive because of the inability or unwillingness of some batters to accept change. This site has talked about “in game adjustments” made/ or not by certain players who have a knack for getting hits/ walks or striking out. If the batters and pitchers don’t change their actions they become predictive under a certain set of circumstances. I guess a real world example is Votto being pitched around or intentionally walked to face whoever is next. I would imagine that the data says the probability of Votto hurting you diminishes by taking the bat out of his hands. Many would say that is just common sense, everybody knows that, well where did they get that “knowledge” , data.
    Just a random thought.

  8. Greg Gajus

    I enjoyed the book, and my main takeaway was the enormity of the challenge for the Reds to “catch up”. The increased use of analytics by the Pirates worked only because Hurdle bought in and enforced their usage. The Reds need both a GM more receptive to analytics, and a manager that will mandate that the knowledge gets on the field. I don’t think either are in the organization now.

  9. Nick Doran

    The book was a very informative read. I am returning it to the library today if anyone wants to check it out. LOL

    The Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs are among the most forward-thinking teams in baseball. All are intensive users of advanced statistical analysis. I fear the Reds are going to be in for an extended period of losing until they pull their heads out of the sand and join the modern age of baseball.

    • peter ponds

      Just 2 questions. Did The Reds win 2 of the last 5 seasons Division Titles over those forward-thinking Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs, right?. What’s the Cubs record since Epstein got there and how long took him to PROBABLY make the post-season?

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Pirates didn’t switch to full-on analytics until the 2013 season. Despite them spending much less than the Reds on payroll, have you noticed how 2013, 2014 and 2015 have gone? The Reds might have beat the Cardinals for the division twice, but they’ve had much better records overall. Yes it took Epstein a while to get the Cubs going in the right direction. Care to venture a guess now that he has how the two teams will compare the next five years.

      • peter ponds

        Yes, I’ve noticed how they’ve done. After drafting in the top 10 for 12 years and not counting compensation picks, etc.. No Division Title yet – as the Reds did twice- or been in the WS. Their window is closing as it did for the Reds.

        As for the looonng time losing Cubbies, well, ditto. That’s how they got Bryant, Schwarber, Soler and that pretty nice core guys. Losing. Props on the Russel trade, though. He definitely reaped Mr. Beane, didn’t he?

        I give them praise for stats on defensive shifts among other things. But Polanco ain’t Ted Williams or Josh Harrison is Mike Schmidt. They paid dearly for Kang,
        They have a pretty good Pitching Coach that fixed Volquez, Liriano and Burnett. The Reds do too.

        As for your kind invitation, I’ll put my two cents on the old Redlegs. If the young core of pitchers develops as expected, the health jinx stops or is average at least and players like Winker, Blandino And Suarez join the veterans. Big Ifs, I know.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I still wouldn’t say that full-on analytics did the trick with them back then. For, like with Travis Snyder, they let him go after he had his best season in 2014 since 2010, and he was still fairly cheap. But, they still let him go after 2014. And, I would think Alvarez would be gone by now despite his offensive game, which I’m still not impressed with, because of his horrible defensive game.

        As for Epstein, it wasn’t just numbers. He got rid of the poor contracts like Soriano. He got rid of the poor players like Mormal or whatever his name was. Epstein really didn’t go after anyone big until this season. In short, he did it the Astros way, had the team sucking for several seasons while he re-did the entire roster. And, still, they can still end up having payroll problems. For, when people like Bryant, Castro, Rizzo (Castro and Rizzo are due some big bucks in a couple of seasons), and Arrieta are due their big money, not to mention the pickups like Lester and Montano getting their bucks, and losing Fowler after this season, not to mention their team payroll (they are spending $6 million more than us this year), they could be looking at some payroll problems themselves. (One condition, I am not sure how their TV contract stands. I am writing this not considering that aspect)

        Which if you are into that method, that’s fine. I still believe it doesn’t have to be that way nor the Yankees way, as in buy your team. I still believe it can be a mixture.

      • Chuck Schick

        Yes, the Reds have won 2 of the last 5 division titles. They’ve also lost 35 of the past 45 division titles.
        The Cardinals are the best organization in baseball and the Cubs have smart people and are developing incredible financial resources. The Reds need every advantage they can find.

      • peter ponds

        And they’ve won 3 WS titles (look how many teams can say that) and been to another in those 45 seasons and put together arguably the best team ever. I think it’s the Cubs who need those smart people start earning that paycheck.

        As for the best organization in baseball, please don’t buy into cliches. They’ll also tell you they have the classiest fans. And if you look before the 2000’s you will find them nowhere until 1987.

  10. peter ponds

    Of course, losing for so long and drafting so high for 20 years the likes of McCutch, Cole and the rest has nothing to do. Same with the Cubs or the early 2000’s A’s for that matter. Come on, now.

    Listen, almost everybody -some more than others- buy the “modern trend of analytics”. But please, stop diminishing the value of scouting and developing players, teaching fundamentals or just trusting baseball experienced guys. For as much as some people constantly bash the Reds’ Front Office, the truth is very few organizations have developed as much homegrown talent than the Reds in the last 10 years. Just look at their actual roster or the players dealt (Latos trade).

    • Steve Mancuso

      It’s all important. Scouting, development, fundamentals and using all available data as best possible. It’s not either-or and *no one* is saying that analytics is enough itself. That’s a phony argument you’ve created to make it easy to knock down.

      Are you saying you don’t care if the Reds keep up with other teams in analyzing data that’s out there? Are you saying you don’t care if the Reds don’t try to come up with new ideas for how to get better?

      The recipe you imply may have worked for 100 years, but the changes in baseball the past five years – not Moneyball, but data analysis – are fundamentally changing the understanding of the game. I’d rather have my team putting their heads together to keep up with that instead of putting their heads in the sand and blindly continue to think the solutions of last decade will continue to work.

      • peter ponds

        Of course I care for taking advantage of the best possible scenarios and information. That’s nothing new not only in baseball but in business, politics, economics, etc since, well, forever. These new data is only a way to look at things NOW and I’m sure in a few years new ways will be “invented”. For instance, I’m not sold on defensive metrics at all.

        But to say the Reds do not care at all about this kind of information is in my opinion, your phony argument to bash WJ. I know, you’ll bring the players signed (Byrd for instance) but he’s the same guy who gave Votto one of the largest contract extensions in history.

        Like I always repeat, he has flaws – missing on “the window” being the worst- and done some of the best trades/signing in Reds history and watch over very successful drafts.

      • Chuck Schick

        Of the 24 teams that existed in 1970, 6 have won at least 3 WS since then….impressive, but 25% of the league has achieved what the Reds have done.

        Yes, the Reds were awesome 40 years ago…. Maybe the best ever…since then, they have won 3 playoff series in 39 years. The same number the SF Giants won last year alone.

        The University of Chicago was once a great football power… The Spanish Armada once ruled the oceans…Burt Reynolds was the biggest star in the world….things change.

        The Cardinals have no advantages over the Reds….similar markets, stadiums, fan bases……the Cardinals have just been smarter for the better part of 20 years. They aren’t sitting around yearning for Lou Brock, Willie McGee or Tommy Herr to show up. The Big Red Machine ended almost 40 years ago!!!!!!. They were great….but that means nothing as far as the current state of the team.

      • peter ponds

        Which means 75% haven’t done it. Heck, The Cubs run over a century and the great Red Sox took how long?. And if you add those 6 other teams that means only 20% in 45 years!!.

        You talk about the non -analytical Giants, right? Because you should know Sabean is not into it that much.

        Yes, many things have change, but Beane’s A’s or the Cubs or the Pirates for that matter, have not won a single title in more than 30 years years. Neither was Burt Reynolds the biggest star in the world.

        And again with the Cards. Before this successful run in the 2000’s (in which WJ had a big chunk of credit building that team), they were nowhere to be found in the 90’s or in the 70’s. While the Reds won a title wire to wire in 1990 (25 years ago, not 40). Every team has ups and downs and the Reds were coming from a very dark era with Mrs. Schott and Bowden. The current state of the team is 3 years removed from a division title in a very tough NLC. Perhaps you should ask the heavy-analytical Boston after finishing dead last 2 seasons in a row with a payroll almost twice the Reds’.

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    “that statistics often lied”

    Statistics never lie. They just never tell the entire story. They can’t. They can’t tell strategies and what to do in certain situations. Like with the Hamilton on 2nd and Votto at bat scenario, numbers can’t tell you to walk Votto. That’s a managerial decision.

    “Hurdle became a true believer and fierce advocate for incorporating advanced data into the decision making of the baseball team he manages”

    I entirely agree. A manager should incorporate data into their decision-making. But, that is entirely different than using solely the data to base a decision on. For, what many don’t remember, very rarely is the data correlated 100%. And, the data doesn’t always provide situational data. For instance, with Hamilton on 2nd and Votto at bat, strategy most likely calls to intentionally walk Votto. Good for us, we get another man on base. Good for Votto, his OBP increases. But, also, bad for us, we now have a force set up at every base as well as the double play ball. The manager would use Votto’s numbers to decide to walk him with Hamilton on 2nd. But, no numbers would tell him to do that.

    With the Pirates, I wouldn’t say it was just about the data, either. If it was, I would think Alvarez would have been gone years ago, with his absolutely horrible defense. But, he’s still around. As well as, Travis Snyder wouldn’t have ever been brought in; he had terrible numbers prior to joining the Pirates. And, then, why get rid of him after he had an awesome season with awesome numbers in 2014, while he was still cheap? So, why bring him in? Possibly for intangibles that everyone agrees are still important for a winning team but no numbers would show, like for team leadership or for the lockerroom jokester (to ease tension in the lockerroom). That was one reason why Boston brought in Gomes. And, his first season there, he was a key contributor for their WS title.

    • peter ponds

      “With the Pirates, I wouldn’t say it was just about the data, either. If it was, I would think Alvarez would have been gone years ago, with his absolutely horrible defense”.

      Absolutely nailed it. Not to mention his absurdly high drafting bonus. Another example? how about that Jon Lester contract by the forward-thinking Cubs? How’ll it look at the end of it?,

      • Walks Will Haunt (@scheffbd)

        Alvarez has been poor defensively his whole career, but he didn’t hurt the Pirates until he moved to first last year and his power dropped off at the plate. Pirates know this and have been looking for an upgrade. They might be a bidder on Jung-Ho Kang’s former teammate, Byung-ho Park, if he’s posted this winter.

        Speaking of Kang, Pirates didn’t pay dearly for him as you say above. They paid $5 million to the Nexen Heroes for him and signed him to a 4-year, $11 million contract (with a $5.5M option for a fifth year). He’s already a 3+ WAR player, so it looks like a bargain signing to me.

        Also in reply to your comments above, the book (chapter 8) discusses how the Pirates “fixed” underperforming pitchers, including Burnett. Ray Searage and the Pirates coaching staff does deserve credit — in part because they worked closely with their analytics department to test theories (Pitchf/x data) and figure out how to induce more ground balls (throwing more 2-seam fastballs, pitching inside).

      • Straight Outta Compton

        How many playoff series have Pirates won?

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Oh, it was before his move to first. The Pirates moved him to first because he was as bad as EE was at third base in terms of throwing the ball.

    • Straight Outta Compton

      I agree Alvarez is horrible defensively and Kang is overpaid.

      • Straight Outta Compton

        I don’t want Reds to start signing players like Kang would rather spend elsewhere.

      • lwblogger2

        Why wouldn’t you want a guy like Kang? He plays pretty much everywhere, he can hit, he isn’t old, he tore up the Korean professional league, he didn’t cost a ton for the posting fee or for his contract. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want the Reds signing a guy like that. Who would you rather spend that money on, or where else would you like to see the Reds spend it?

  12. Doug Gray

    I think that the Reds are probably a little bit more data friendly than they are given credit for. Are they one of the top 10 data friendly teams in baseball? No, I don’t think so. But I believe it was ESPN that had them ranked 27th in baseball when it comes to that as well, and I don’t buy into them being so low.

    • User1022

      What indications have you seen that they shouldn’t be so low?

      Also, any idea who the three teams are who were ranked below?

      • Doug Gray

        They’ve got employees on their team that I know of who are very data friendly and always curious about new technologies and how they could help the Reds. While it is possible that the team could just randomly employees those guys because they are good at other parts of their jobs, I doubt they aren’t having those conversations with others inside of the organization as well.

        The Marlins and Phillies were the two that I remember.

  13. lwblogger2

    I’m looking forward to picking up this book, either from the library or Half-Price Books, or even Amazon. Seem like it should be a good read. Now, to find time to actually read it.

  14. lwblogger2

    Looks like the Pirates are kicking the tires on Travis Snyder again. They’ll probably get him and he’ll be good. Too bad he didn’t work out so well for the O’s.

  15. Eric the Red

    Great article. One question: there is a mention of the Pirates having installed Pitch Fx and TrackMan in all of their minor league parks. Anybody know if the Reds have done that? If not, I’d sure like somebody to ask why.

    I know the point is more about organizational philosophy than any one thing, but that is the kind of “no brainer” any organization should do. I wonder if the Reds have.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Doug Gray tells me the Reds installed TrackMan in Pensacola and Louisville this year, but not Dayton or Daytona. TrackMan is redundant with and superior to PITCHf/x.

    • Steve Mancuso

      The impatience of the Red Sox ownership doesn’t undo the three World Series championships they had in Analytics Land. Don’t forget the Cardinals have been in Analytics Land since they ditched their GM back in 2007 and won a WS in 2011.

      To clarify, do you care if the team you cheer for uses the data that’s available to them?

      • peter ponds

        Impatience of the Red Sox ownership? They are doing worst than the Reds with twice their payroll two seasons in row. Yes, the Cards won one WS after 2007. The same they won with the GM ditched before 2007 (in fact the year before, talk about impatient ownership) our very own WALT JOCKETTY.

        Your question was already answered and even you replied to my respond in another thread.