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Thursday, March 18, 2010


It has been nearly two weeks since the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference so this blog post is late. I did tweet from the conference and you can read a particularly good recap over at baseball musings.

The Baseball Analytics panel consisted of John Abadoned of the Cardinals, John Dewan of plus/minus defensive metric fame, Dan Duquette, Shiraz Reham from Arizona, and Tom Tippett of the Red Sox. Abandoned seemed to be the most forth coming among the trio representing teams. He broke news that MLB will have a league wide injury/health electronic medical record system.

In terms of player evaluation, Abandoned still thinks that the margin for error when projecting player performance is still large and can be refined. But it seemed like he was also more concerned than Tippett or Reham about the future enhanced pitch fx system that can identify a fielder’s positioning. Abandoned thought it would make it too easy for other teams to measure defense; hence the Cards would have less of an advantage.

Abandoned wants to measure or do a better job at evaluating “makeup” (work ethic, desire, probability of giving into temptation, etc.) The question was not asked but I would think potential acquisitions, certainly amateurs, would be given personality tests or psychology evaluations before being drafted or signed. The Red Sox may have a leg up on the Cards in this area as they have a Sports Psychologist in Bob Tewksbury.

Tippett pretty much stuck with the Yawkey Way talking points on this winter. The Red Sox did not have a change in philosophy that was now emphasizing defense. Based on their player evaluations, including defensive metrics, the market was undervaluing players whose best skills were with the glove. Plus, the Olde Towne Team was able to sign the position player free agents to relatively short contracts (a.k.a. low financial and production risk) making the transactions easy decisions. John Dewan commented that the Red Sox 2010 run differential will be 60-80 runs better than last season.

Other Baseball Analytics Notes:

* Dewan states defensive metrics can tell you about 60% of a players glove ability.

* Teams wrestle with changing a pitcher's mechanics to give them a better shot at staying healthy when it could make them less effective. It was not mentioned but all I could think was Max Scherzer getting dealt to the Tigers from the D-Backs.

* Dan Duquette’s bio says “In addition to being recognized as the primary architect of the 2004 World Championship team…”

* Duquette wants to know how to consistently develop “20 game winners.”

* Tippett defended the Red Sox so called “babying of pitchers” stating that they project playing in October where starters could be asked to make four to six intense playoff starts, which would give them a mid-30’s GS total.

Other Observations and Notes:

* Bill Polian says the “Patriots are the team of the decade.”

* Polian knew the Pats were going on 4-and-2. It was “100% the right call.”

* Mark Cuban pays for clutch and an example is Jason Kidd; Daryl Morey of the Rockets does not.

* Cuban states that NBA teams try to hide and protect their morons on the floor. Without a doubt, it was the funniest line of the conference.

* The NBA has a long way to go to catch up with MLB metrics as data collection is more difficult.


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