The proliferation of advanced analytical tools in the past decade has enhanced the enjoyment level of baseball for many fans. Yet one overlooked aspect of the data explosion is the benefit derived by major league clubs, particularly in the fields of player development, advance scouting and performance forecasting.
Research presentations and panel discussions at last week's SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix fully illustrated, in particular, the harmonious relationship between data collection and analysis, traditional scouting and player development. All endeavors strive to predict players' future value by weighing many inputs and assessing the probability of various outcomes.
Baseball America reported from the Analytics Conference, focusing on presentations and discussions with obvious currency in the field of scouting and player development, and this blog post collects all the links in case you missed them the first time.
• Research Confirms Hard-Throwers' Advantage. Analysis of a batter's point of contact, as measured by Hit f/x, tells us a lot about his expected power output.
• Observations From Day One Of The SABR Analytics Conference. Pitchers Javier Lopez and Brandon McCarthy discuss the role of detailed analytical information in major league clubhouses. [...] Continue Reading »
PHOENIX—The first event of Day Two of the SABR Analytics Conference gathered three of the game’s youngest general managers for a panel discussion with moderator Brian Kenny. Jon Daniels of the Rangers, Jed Hoyer of the Cubs and the recently-promoted Rick Hahn of the White Sox discussed everything from the place of analytics in the game to the importance of scouting to future areas for competitive advantage.
Hahn said the White Sox employ five full-time data analysts, Hoyer said the Cubs plan to hire six, and Daniels, GM of the two-time American League champions, said Texas has no one dedicated solely to the job of analyst.
"We’ve talked about adding a full-time data analyst," Daniels said, "but for now we’re pretty organic in the way our front office functions. We want people to think outside the box and be fluent in different areas.
"We don’t have one guy locked in a back room building a database."
Daniels said all Rangers acquisitions must be vetted by scouts, from minor league free agents and waiver claims to $100 million decisions like Yu Darvish in 2012.
"We had 40 in-person looks at Darvish in Japan," Daniels said. "We watched every start on video and had 12 different guys see him." [...] Continue Reading »
PHOENIX—Two pitchers from National League West clubs took part in a player panel on Thursday, focusing on areas of baseball where reality and analytics intersect.
Diamondbacks righthander Brandon McCarthy and Giants lefty reliever Javier Lopez discussed their first-hand exposure to modern baseball performance metrics, both saying they make use of such data to at least a small degree.
Lopez said that his first exposure to the game’s rapidly-flowing data stream occurred in 2006 when he joined the Red Sox in a June trade. He said the presentation of analytical data was both impressive and overwhelming at first, but that he absorbed what he could while being mindful of avoiding so-called paralysis by analysis.
"I’m most interested in the simple stuff," Lopez said, "first-pitch swing tendency, hot and cold zones, a batter’s performance over the past two weeks and how lefthanded batters fare against other lefthanded pitchers.
"I prefer to keep the game as simple as possible. With everything in baseball becoming more specialized, I feel like the information gives me a competitive advantage and helps keep me around."
McCarthy talked about how he altered his pitching mindset and mechanics to emphasize lower walk and higher groundball rates. He recognized that his flyball tendencies and proneness to home runs were holding him back. After all, he allowed 1.3 homers per nine innings through 2009 but nearly halved that to 0.7 per nine the past two seasons with Oakland. [...] Continue Reading »
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