Why This All Matters
To say that baseball has come a long way in technological advancements within the last two decades would almost be an understatement. The interpretation of big data, social media promotion strategies, and sabermetric statistics have all contributed to creating higher quality play throughout the league for fans to enjoy. Fans are closer to their beloved players than ever with the help of social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, inducting a younger audience into stadiums nationwide. Advanced analytics and statistical evaluations have enabled GMs, managers, and scouts to all make more informed decisions about player acquisition and evaluation. The game is more advanced now that it has ever been at any previous point in its history. The real question is, what’s next?
The Next Step
What was cutting edge and competitive advantage a decade ago is now commonplace among teams, and the next step for baseball analytics is to find the next wave of information for the next advantage. Answers on the next steps will varied by each person asked, likely a representation of the diverse backgrounds currently in baseball front offices, yet one thing will remain clear: There is a great deal that the baseball world still doesn’t know. Studies into things such as player nutrition, injury prevention and visual tracking data like Pitchf/x will continue to be explored. The most enticing of these is baseball’s exploration into medical analysis and injury prevention (what I believe is the next big step). According to the 2014 SABR Analytics Conference, the new frontier of baseball data is not just about scouting players, but keeping players healthy and injury-free. The new area of research, just in in its infancy, is marrying baseball statistics with medical injury research.
Baseball will always be a sport that is starving for statistics. I think that the next major front in baseball-related data analysis will be in the video mechanics/analysis area. This practice has already been popularized at the high school, instructional, and collegiate levels and continues to grow with each passing year. Player tracking is also on the rise. The MLB is already doing a lot more tracking of player movements utilizing software like MLBAM and Trackman along with studies at MIT.
A League of Innovation
Finally, teams themselves will start becoming innovative organizations. The San Francisco Giants actually have the word “innovation” built into their mission statement. In 2004, the Giants were the first MLB team to offer Wi-Fi throughout their stadium. Today, the MLB averages 35% of fans engaging in online activity at games. The Giants’ stadium allows fans to easily upload content via the Giants app or social channels like Faceboook, Twitter, and Instagram, furthering along the fan engagement initiative. In 2009, the Giants introduced dynamic ticket pricing (DTP). This notion allows the price of game tickets to rise, or fall, depending on popularity and availability. Other teams now use DTP, and the idea has spread into other business climates for settings like restaurants, movie theaters, and the performing arts.
“The San Francisco Giants are dedicated to enriching our community through innovation and excellence on and off the field.”
It can only be assumed that other teams will follow suite on what the Giants are doing; creating a league wide push for continued innovation. Sounds a lot like today’s business climate, right? There is no better time to be a fan of the MLB than the present, and I personally can’t wait to see how high the ceiling really is for both social media and analytics in America’s beauitful game.
Drive Home Safely,
Bryan White, MBA