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Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak

Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak

Written by Travis Sawchik

Narrated by Peter Larkin


Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak

Written by Travis Sawchik

Narrated by Peter Larkin

ratings:
4.5/5 (19 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 19, 2015
ISBN:
9781427265517
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Gut instinct vs. big data…

Does incorporating data analysis take away from the art of sports, or does it sweeten the taste of victory? This “Moneyball”-esque tale about the MLB Pirates puts in the hard work & examines the raw data to find out.

Description

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was old school and stubborn. But after 20 straight losing seasons and his job on the line, he was ready to try anything. So when he met with GM Neal Huntington in October 2012, they decided to discard everything they knew about the game and instead take on drastic "big data" strategies.

Going well beyond the number-crunching of Moneyball, which used statistics found on the back of baseball cards to identify market inefficiencies, the data the Pirates employed was not easily observable. They collected millions of data points on pitches and balls in play, creating a tome of reports that revealed key insights for how to win more games without spending a dime. They discovered that most batters struggled to hit two-seam fastballs, that an aggressive defensive shift on the field could turn more batted balls into outs, and that a catcher's most valuable skill was hidden. Hurdle and Huntington got to work trying to convince the entire Pirates organization and disgruntled fans to embrace these unconventional yet groundbreaking methods. All this led to the end of the longest consecutive run of losing seasons in North American pro sports history.

The Pirates' 2013 season is the perfect lens for examining baseball's burgeoning big-data movement. Using flawless reporting, award-winning journalist Travis Sawchik takes you behind the scenes to reveal a game-changing audio-book of miracles and math.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
May 19, 2015
ISBN:
9781427265517
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

TRAVIS SAWCHIK covers the Pirates and Major League Baseball for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Sawchik has won national Associated Press Sports Editor awards for enterprise writing and numerous state-level awards. Sawchik’s work been featured or referenced on ESPN, Grantland.com, and MLB Network.

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What people think about Big Data Baseball

4.5
19 ratings / 5 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    If you enjoy baseball and have an interest in data science then check this out. It definitely introduced me to baseball concepts, such as, pitch framing, that I had never considered before.
  • (5/5)
    Terrific account of the increasing influence that sabermetric data is having on major league baseball. while mostly about defensive shifting, as a former catcher I particularly liked the huge amount written about pitch selection and pitch framing. Most of that data is still new and growing.
  • (4/5)
    If you finished reading Astroball and Moneyball, and still haven't gotten your baseball fix, check this book out.
  • (5/5)
    Does a masterful job of expalining what the new analytics of baseball are and how they are used in real game situations. I highly recommend this book.
  • (4/5)
    Breezy read about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their turnaround in 2013 (with a glimpse here and there into 2014). Decent mix of what happened on the field with what was being studied/analyzed off the field. I liked the introduction of new concepts (to me) like pitch framing and the impact of the two-seam fastball. It was surprising to me to learn how much deep resistance there has been in professional baseball to ideas like shifting - but that it's finally starting to change. Enjoyed reading the book, but as a data scientist myself, would have liked some more insights into the ways that the numbers were crunched. On the plus side, I appreciated the author's coverage of the importance of communication between team leadership (starting with manager Clint Hurdle, on to GM Neal Huntington, and to the other coaches and front office people) and the data scientists and the players themselves.