Baseball is known as America’s national pastime and for over a hundred years it has been shifting along with society. One of the newest trends baseball organizations are using to improve their competitiveness is using data to field their teams, set their lineups, and even set their fielding assignments. Today, we’ll take a look at how baseball uses all this data to improve their product and how you can learn a lot for your own business.
The best way to describe what has happened over the past decade or so in baseball is that more technologies were available to let organizations get more information about every aspect of the game. At first, it was mostly brought on by new ways of looking at statistics, with what are now called SABRmetrics (named after the Society of Baseball Research). These stats were used to measure player performance in new and more revealing ways to help field the best ball club possible. If you have heard of the book (or movie) Moneyball, that was effectively about the beginnings of using advanced SABRmetrics to build a ball club.
Once this trend started, the floodgates opened pretty quickly. Soon after, teams started using batted ball statistics to set their infield and outfield defense. This had been practiced for many years as a part of scouting, but now each batter is defended in specific ways based on their batted ball trajectories. Speaking of trajectories, batters started realizing that teams were paying more money to players who hit home runs. To maximize their value, many started changing their training regimen to get more loft on the ball. This led to more home runs hit, but also led to record strikeout numbers; changing the way teams played the game completely.
Finally, over the past few seasons more impressive technology has been used to measure the revolutions of the baseball out of a pitcher's hand, the speed batters hit the ball, and even the ability of fielders to get to a certain spot on the field and their success rate at making plays. The days of pitcher wins, batting averages, and fielding percentage have been replaced with stats like fielding independent pitching, weighted runs created plus, and zone rating.
The biggest change from all these advanced analytics is how players are paid. If you were an elite batter in the free agency era (after 1976), you would get a contract that would pay a player into their late 30s. Today, teams are much more shrewd about giving contracts to aging players because by-in-large, players struggle as they get closer to 40. Therefore, the players may get paid more for their prime years, but they aren’t paid for as long, unless they choose to forgo their chance at free agency, which is typically when players sign their biggest contracts. This has led to younger players playing in the major leagues and older players retiring well before they used to.
Data can help you start changing your business from an organization that you think runs effectively to one that you’re sure runs effectively. That’s the core thesis when considering the use of business analytics platforms. Major League Baseball organizations and players all use all the data they have to try to get better. Your business can too; and for all the good it can do, it really isn’t that expensive to do.
For example, say you have a way that works for measuring employee performance that you have been using for years. Some of your metrics may favorably view variables that have nothing to do with revenue building. Over time, this could actually become a problem. Say that the employee is a nice guy/gal and people like to have them around the office. In your head, you can’t justify reassigning that employee to more procedural tasks or replacing them altogether because in your head it will cost the business more to find candidates and go forward with a replacement. The “gut feeling” may be right, but it may be the thing that is holding your business back from substantial growth. With performance analytics, you will be able to quantify the return that employee is bringing in and make more informed business decisions.
Business owners and managers like to look at favorable numbers when it supports the plans they came up with, and often like to shrug off underperformance—whether it be a project team, a single employee, or their whole staff—as long as it fits the narrative they are telling themselves. By utilizing your data to tell the real story about your business’ performance, you can make some real, targeted changes to help it grow and prosper.
If you are interested in setting up an analytics platform that can help you make more informed decisions, see exactly how your business, your employees, and your customers relate to your operational viability, give BNMC a call at 978-482-2020. We can do quite a bit to help your business get smarter.
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