Baumer: In ‘Moneyball’ world, a number of teams remain slow to buy in to sabermetrics

From SABR member Ben Baumer at on February 23, 2015:

Cleveland Indians

The Indians earned a reputation for investing heavily in analytics in the years following “Moneyball” under Mark Shapiro’s leadership, and they have shown no signs of deviating from that course. Shapiro is now the team president, and his protégé, current GM Chris Antonetti, commands a staff with a diverse and deep set of skills.

The Indians grabbed one of the best in the business when they made Keith Woolner their director of baseball analytics in 2007. Woolner has technical degrees from MIT and Stanford, and his prior experience includes time with both a database company (Oracle) and a statistical software company (SAS) in addition to his work as an influential author at Baseball Prospectus.

Unlike some clubs, wherein statistical analysts give something akin to expert witness testimony, the Indians have integrated analytics into everything they do, so that both technical and non-technical staff members are up to speed on the metrics the team uses.

The Indians have dedicated IT support for their mature baseball information system, which frees their analysts to focus on long-term statistical modeling projects. Assisting Woolner with this work are Sky Andrecheck and Max Marchi, both of whom have graduate degrees in statistics. Marchi literally wrote the book on analyzing baseball data in the increasingly popular programming language called R.


St. Louis Cardinals

Shortly after “Moneyball” was published in 2003, the Cardinals became early adopters of analytics, with new executive Jeff Luhnow assembling a team of consultants. Initial success was mixed — manager Tony La Russa reportedly did not appreciate some of the analysts’ suggestions — but the sabermetic efforts solidified when NASA engineer Sig Mejdal was hired in 2005.

Mejdal and Dan Kantrovitz helped the Cardinals restock their big league club through the draft, and the team has a slew of playoff appearances and the 2011 World Series championship trophy to show for it. But Luhnow and Mejdal left for Houston in 2012, and Kantrovitz is now in Oakland.

GM John Mozeliak and assistant GM Mike Girsch have replenished their analytics department with Chris Correa, who left a Ph.D. program in psychology at Michigan to join the Cardinals full time in 2009. Correa works with analysts Dane Sorensen and Matt Bayer and a developer to further the Cards’ sabermetric efforts.

The Cardinals were cited often by our sources as being especially adept at blending data and traditional sources of baseball info. One industry insider told, “Everyone in the Cardinals’ organization is analytical,” and another marveled at their proactive use of analytics in player development.

Read the full article here:!mlb

Originally published: February 25, 2015. Last Updated: February 25, 2015.