How Analytics Changed The Face Of Baseball

Analytics Changed The Face Of Baseball

Published on January 30th, 2023

Baseball may be an American favorite, but there are some figures in the industry who managed to make an impact far exceeding the sport itself.

One such figure is Billy Beane, a former New York Mets player who would ultimately go on to be known as a cornerstone figure in the baseball community and the man who changed the business of baseball forever.

Read on for more on this legend of the sporting community and how he changed the way teams drafted players.

Not Every Player Was Meant To Be A Star

Beane may have started as a player, but it would ultimately be his off-field antics that won him the respect he sought for so long. Beane began his baseball career playing for the New York Mets in 1980, but after years of struggle, he was traded over to the Minnesota Twins, where he never quite lived up to the expectations of his coach.

Ten years after his debut, Beane took his leave from the field, instead focusing his talents on finding new players for teams as a scout. In this role, he met and worked for Sandy Alderson, one of the pioneers of analytics, who piqued his interest in the practice of using data to predict the performance of players.

What Are Baseball Analytics?

Baseball analytics, also called sabermetrics, is the science of using empirical data to predict how a player or players will perform in a team.

It can be used to forecast results based on the previous performances of players, analyze on-field performances, and help managers and captains make decisions by offering insight into their performance in specific matchups and against certain playstyles.

This can help managers save on the budget, while also improving their team’s overall performance. For example, while New York Yankees star Thurman Munson may have ranked higher than other players, drafting such a high-caliber player is expensive, especially for a smaller team looking to improve its rankings.

However, with the use of analytics, managers could find less-known players with similar statistics that fit into their budgets.

Using Data To Win Games

While Beane wasn’t the pioneer of sabermetrics, he is arguably one of the most notable figures to make the best use of the science to build a winning roster on a limited budget.

In his time as General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, Beane put his knowledge of analytics where his mouth was and drafted a team with a budget three times smaller than the New York Yankees which would go on to win four more games than the big-name team in the 2000 season.

This was a major achievement and one which would cement Beane’s place in the sporting annuls. The practice made him so famous that his story is still being told today on the silver screen, in the movie Moneyball, which is an adaptation of the book, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

While big data and analytics are almost commonplace in the age of technology, analytics have been used for decades in the sporting industry.

While Beane may have brought the usefulness of data to the forefront, he was far from the first (and will certainly not be the last) person to use technology to influence real-world results on the field.

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