Women In Baseball: Emilee Fragapane Helps Dodgers Players, Coaches Think Big
When looking to keep things simple, Emilee Fragapane likens her role with the Dodgers to something out of “Moneyball.”
Of course, as a senior data analyst, she’s become accustomed to finding the easiest way to describe to others what she does and how things work, in a way they can understand. Those kinds of translations also tidily sum up one piece of her vast role of duties with the team.
With a background in econometrics and statistics, and experience in all areas of the game, Fragapane is currently in her ninth season with the Dodgers. Over that time, she has transitioned into more of a coach- and player-facing role than ever before, translating and communicating the applications of big data to answer baseball questions for the people who need to use it on the field.
“Ten years ago, when I first started in baseball, analytics was the next big thing,” Fragapane said. “It was a competitive advantage teams were just starting to look into, and at this point it’s required in a lot of ways. So the prevalence and amount of resources the team puts into analytics-type, “Moneyball”-type resources and different pathways, and using it for a competitive advantage, has increased a lot.”
As the industry has evolved its understanding and necessity for analytics, Fragapane’s learning curve veered in the opposite direction.
“I came in with an analytics background and almost feel that I’ve spent 10 years becoming a student of the game,” the Northern California native said. “Obviously I was a pretty big baseball fan going in, but learning the ins and outs and understanding the realities on the field, what coaches have to think about, what players have to think about, that’s made me better in an analyst-type role. It’s almost the reverse learning process, how to apply analytics to what’s going on in the real world that coaches and players have to think about.”
Knowing firsthand the evolution that the industry has experienced over the last decade, Fragapane also has a unique insight into just how much the future might hold.
“The point we’re at, the types of resources and data that we’re starting to collect, the possibilities are endless,” Fragapane said. “We are entering an era where we are dealing with truly big data, so coming up with ways to handle that is going to be a challenge that a lot of teams are going to face. But where we’re at has an extremely high ceiling in terms of where analytics can be applied and a lot of the holes and what we can understand using the analytical tools, versus baseball and coaching and scouting tools.”
Fragapane’s work is seemingly endless, and almost every answer sparks new questions. But after getting glimpses of how the work can come to fruition on the field in a positive way, last year’s championship became the culmination of just what an entire team effort can do.
“It was incredible,” Fragapane said. “I was lucky enough to be there at the World Series, despite everything, which I’m really grateful for. That was my ninth season and we’ve won the division every season I’ve been here, and we obviously hadn’t made it all the way, so every employee felt how special it was. After nine years, my entire career, it was really special to finally go and make it all the way.
“Just seeing it all finally happen, to feel like you were a part of something so big, even the small part I personally played, to feel like you were a part of that is an unbeatable feeling.” n