In this article, authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik, give a preview of their own book which describes the transformation of this baseball team from Houston from being one of the worst teams in the league to one the best. The book called “The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players” tells “the behind-the-scenes story of the players, coaches, and teams that are driving baseball’s current revolution in player development, which is transforming the sport from the Moneyball model of finding preexisting talent to one in which teams are competing to create talent…Houston Astros, who have used new techniques and technology to maximize players’ potential.”
So what exactly have the Astros done which is so revolutionary? There seem to be at least 3 ingredients to the Astros’ success: (a) Using analytics to tell players which of their balls to throw and which not to throw; (b) Using analytics to select the right kind of players i.e. those who throw certain types of ball which historical data crunching shows work more often that not; (c) Encouraging players to change their game in favour of doing things which analytics show have a high probability of success. In short, “the Astros implemented a model for finding and developing players that would be self-sustaining”.
In consonance with this model, the Astros’ junior teams dominate the minor leagues as well (where, presumably, their matches produce more data for their number crunchers to sift through).
As you would expect from a team with such an unusual operating model “the Astros aren’t led by lifelong baseball men. Luhnow was a McKinsey consultant before Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt Jr. hired him as a scouting executive to help the Cards catch up to the sabermetric movement. Sig Mejdal, a Moneyball disciple Luhnow hired to head up the team’s newly formed analytics department in 2005, was a former part-time blackjack dealer who went on to collect a long list of degrees and work as an engineer for Lockheed Martin and NASA. Mejdal’s amateur-player projections, which were based on painstakingly assembled college stats…The Astros’ string of spectacular successes in data-driven player development started in earnest in 2013, propelled in part by the 2012 hiring of Mike Fast as a front-office analyst. Fast, a tech engineer with a physics degree, started producing baseball analysis on his personal blog in 2007, then climbed the hierarchy of sabermetric sites. His pioneering PITCHf/x analyses soon drew the attention of teams, and the Astros spirited him out of the public sphere not long after Baseball Prospectus published his most influential article, a September 2011 piece that conclusively demonstrated the impact of pitch-framing.”
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Note: the above material is neither investment research, nor financial advice. Marcellus does not seek payment for or business from this publication in any shape or form. Marcellus Investment Managers is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India as a provider of Portfolio Management Services. Marcellus Investment Managers is also regulated in the United States as an Investment Advisor.
Copyright © 2022 Marcellus Investment Managers Pvt Ltd, All rights reserved.
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