The Big Red Machine is the greatest team in Reds history (thanks, Captain Obvious) and nearly every key contributor from that era has been honored with induction into the Reds Hall of Fame.  With the induction of Pete Rose last year, the entire Great 8 is in.  The manager is in.  The general manager is […]

I have been following baseball all my life, and 1967 was the first season that I have clear memories of the games, statistics, and players (Vada Pinson and Jim Maloney were my favorites then).  That era is as far in the past today as the 1919 Reds were when I as 12, and the Big […]

Bill James was in Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, speaking at Xavier for the Williams College of Business Distinguished Speaker Series. The semi-autobiographical talk, titled “Never Meant for that to Happen: How My Career Accidentally Disrupted a Market” focused on the humble beginnings of his career and the sabermetric movement. I was fortunate to hear about the […]

Greg Rhodes is currently the Reds Historian, and was the founding director of the Reds Museum and Hall of Fame. The author of seven books on the Reds, he was hired by the Reds in 2003 and guided the construction of the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum at GABP.  He retired as Director in […]

Rawly Eastwick was drafted by the Reds in 1969, and pitched for them from 1974 – 1977.  He led the league in saves in 1975 and 1976 (the only Red to lead the league in consecutive years), and was named the Sporting News NL Fireman of the Year in 1976.  He was credited with two […]

Win Probability Added (WPA) is a fun stat that captures the context of a player’s performance. Much of Sabermetric analysis focuses on neutralizing the context of a performance, whether it is for the run environment, ballpark or opportunities. WPA is the ultimate context dependent statistic, where a home run in the 9th inning of a […]

Murray Cook was hired by the Reds as their GM in October 1987, and served as the GM during the 1988 and tumultuous 1989 season. Several of his trades landed key contributors to the 1990 World Champions. Born in Canada in 1940, he began his baseball career as an infielder in the Pirates farm system […]

On November 28, 1966 the Reds acquired an itinerant 33 year old relief pitcher from the Braves in the Rule 5 draft. Ted Abernathy had already pitched for four teams with varying success at a time when the role of relief pitchers was rapidly changing. Little did the Reds know that they had just acquired […]

What happened The AL adopted the DH rule in 1973, in response to low offense, declining attendance, and the prodding of Charlie Finley. That one league adopted it and one did not is a relic of an era when the leagues were much more independent then they are now. I expect that the DH will […]

I attended the 4th annual SABR Analytics Conference recently in Phoenix, and it was an interesting combination of fan convention and job fair/trade show for MLB analytics departments. The convention agenda bordered on overwhelming with over thirty interviews, panels, presentations, and awards crammed into two and a half days, and 450 (!) attended. You can visit the SABR website for highlights, commentary and links here.  Here’s a few of the things I learned from my immersion into the world of analytics during the conference.

The acceptance of analytics within MLB has grown substantially the last two years. This was the theme of Brian Kenney’s keynote address. He saw the success of the Pirates as the tipping point “one could explain away the A’s and Rays as long as they didn’t win a World Series, but when the Pirates started winning that was different.” In addition, conference attendees from a couple years ago were now employed by major league teams. Despite the opinion of certain announcers, the trend toward more analytic usage will continue – it was pointed out at the baseball operations panel that today’s players are generally comfortable with computers and data, and they will soon be coaches and managers.

Teams are very focused on granular analytics that help prepare for the game that night. Video scouting, hitter/pitcher tendencies, and defensive shifting are the major focus in the constant search for an edge over the opposition. B Sports (formerly Bloomberg Sports) demonstrated an intuitive iPad system that would automatically load video and data for every pitch for every matchup for an upcoming series, which could be filtered by pitch type, outcome, or count. It included email functionality that would allow a coach to email selected pitches to individual hitters to help inform their approach. While use of this type of tactical information is growing it is certainly not universal – there were several comments to the effect of “some players are stubborn/not that smart/don’t make adjustments easily.” Despite increasing usage, many teams don’t like to talk about their usage of analytics, at least in part to empower their players. It was noted that any proprietary advantage a team might have tends to disappear fast. Baseball teams copy what works, and front office personnel tend to move around from team to team; new knowledge and approaches spreads quickly. Continue reading