Baseball Teams Try New Tool to Help Decide Who'll Play
Major League Baseball's teams spend millions of dollars investing in player talent. To try to make the most of the upcoming season, 18 of the 30 major league franchises will be using a new analytics system to keep track of their players in real time and make more-informed game-day decisions.
Customizable technology powered by Bloomberg Sports will provide those teams with such data as how players perform during night games, and with video playback that can be used to see how, for instance, a home run was just hit.
MLB Advanced Media and Bloomberg Sports said the teams that will be using the system for the regular season, which opens March 31, preferred not to be named.
Bloomberg is taking MLB's data and packaging it using its own proprietary algorithms and interface to predict the upcoming value of players. The analytics look at past games and seasons but go beyond common statistics like batting average to determine a player's ability to produce runs.
Various team employees – general managers, scouts, coaches – will be testing out the software this season. The software can be used in the clubhouse but not in the dugout, where no electronic devices are allowed, said Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports. Team employees in the front office can access the data by computer.
Similar technologies have been used by professional teams in the past to monitor data, news, video, scouting and analysis from around the league, but Bloomberg has consolidated the information in one tool.
"It will be used by teams on game days to prepare for opponents and conduct matchup analysis, including preparing for different scenarios," Squadron said. "From weather and ballpark conditions to time of day the game is played, any aspect of professional baseball analytics can be factored into a decision process."
To reality from fantasy
MLB Advanced Media and Bloomberg Sports recently released a fan application called Front Office 2011 for fantasy baseball league players that utilizes much of the same information as the professional software. The tool, to be used in conjunction with existing fantasy leagues, directly syncs up with the major fantasy providers, including ESPN, CBS and Yahoo! Sports. It provides fantasy team owners with recommendations for trades and free agent pickups, which players to put in the lineup each day, and other tips based on league stats.
"When fantasy players look at sites for draft or research suggestions, everything is canned," said Rob Bischoff, engagement director at Roundarch, which designed the Web and mobile application for Front Office 2011. "This tool instead specifically caters to what your team needs and gives deep insight and analysis."
In addition, it provides real-time stats, local market news, and player analysis and comparisons from around the major leagues.
Squadron said Front Office 2011 is available for download at BloombergSports.com for $19.95 for the season and will be accessible via the Apple App Store for the iPhone ($1.99) and iPad ($4.99) starting in the next few days.