The Game’s Future: Why SM & Analytics Matter

On the Line

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


A Guide to Baseball Sabermetrics


Baseball is truly the sport of the ‘stat junkie’. Many of these stats can be attributed to the system of sabermetrics,  which were first initiated into the sport in the 1980s, and grew exponentially in the 1990s. Sabermetrics really gained traction in the early 2000s, as many of baseball’s front-office decision makers became major advocates of some of these statistics as an alternate way of evaluating players. Sabermetrics derives from the acronym SABR, which stands for the Society for American Baseball Research. The phrase was coined by acclaimed baseball author and researcher Bill James. James and others created new statistics to measure player productivity other than the traditional batting averages and ERA.

In this blog installment, I will outline some of the more widely used stats that have come about as a result of sabermetrics, and how they are calculated. (All are defined from the American Baseball Sabermetrics Glossary)

BABIP: Batting average on balls in Play

The frequency of which a batter reaches a base after putting the ball in the field of play. For pitchers (a measure of the hitters they face), it’s a good measure of luck. So pitchers with high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances adjust to the mean.

Def Eff: Defensive Efficiency

The rate at which balls put into play are converted into outs by a team’s defense. Can be calculated with (1 – BABIP).

EqA: Equivalent Average

A stat used to measure hitters independent of ballpark and league effects. It’s a complex formula that takes into account hits, total bases, walks, hit by pitch, stolen bases, sacrifice hits, sacrifice flies, at-bats and caught stealing. It’s then normalized for league difficulty.

ERA+: Adjusted ERA

Earned run average (for pitchers) adjusted for the ballpark and the league average.

Fielding Runs Above Replacement

The difference between an average player and a replacement player is determined by the number of plays that position is called on to make.

IR: Inherited Runs

The number of runners inherited by a relief pitcher that scored while the reliever was in the game.

ISO: Isolated Power

A measure of a hitter’s raw power – extra bases per at-bat.

LIPS: Late-inning Pressure Situation

Any at-bat in the seventh inning or later, with the batter’s team trailing by three runs or less (or four runs if the bases were loaded).

Runs created

A term to measure how many runs a player creates. Its basic formula is hits plus walks times total bases, divided by at-bats plus walks.


One of the holy grails of sabermetrics. On-base plus slugging. Measures a batter’s ability to get on base and hit for power. It’s simply the on-base percentage plus the slugging percentage.

WAR or WARP: Wins Above Replacement Player

A statistic that combines win shares and VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). It represents the number of wins this player contributed, above what a replacement level hitter, fielder, and pitcher would have done.

WHIP: Walks & Hits Per Inning Pitched

The average number of walks and hits allowed by the pitcher per inning. (BB + H divided by IP).

All of these statistics are used to evaluate current players, prospective draft picks, and potential free agent targets over the course of the 162 game grind that is an MLB season. By utilizing these statistics, major league teams are able to break through the big data wall and find valuable ‘markers’ that indicate on-field talent. Through the utilization of sabermetrics, baseball teams are becoming smarter in both contract negotiations and lineup selections; providing for a better on-field product to be viewed by the fans.

Drive Home Safely,

Bryan White, MBA


MLBAM – Batting 1.000 Against Big Data

In 2014, the MLB’s Advanced Media department introduced a new method of measuring every single play that occurs over the course of a game in the form of an advanced tracking system. The tracking system observes plays and sends coordinate data to computer systems at MLBAM (Major League Baseball Advanced Media), which uses algorithms developed by New York University computer science professors Claudio Silva and Carlos Dietrich to compute game metrics. The system had its debut last year at three MLB parks (Miller Park- Milwaukee Brewers, Target Field- Minnesota Twins, and Citi Field- New York Mets), and takes into account statistical factors like error mapping and confidence scoring.

The video below showcases some of the analytical data points made available by MLBAM tracking system. Watch as former Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward makes a game-ending, diving catch in the 9th:

The goal of this project is to revolutionize the way baseball is evaluated; by presenting tools that connect all actions that happen on the field and determining how they work together. This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole spectrum of a baseball game (batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning) and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans. It can be confidently said that this is the largest league-wide embrace of advanced analytics, regarding big data, to date.

Metrics Utilized

 (Taken from an article on the tracking system)


For batting, real-time metrics will be exit velocity, launch angle, projected home run with distance, hang time, and fly-ball distance.

Base Running

Real-time base-running metrics are lead distance, acceleration, max speed, and home-run trot. “First step, route efficiency, stealing first step, and secondary lead distance will be available with a 12-second delay.” (


Fielding metrics available live will be acceleration, max speed, and shift positioning; “12-second–delay metrics will include total distance on caught balls, first step, arm strength (catcher and fielders), exchange (catcher and fielders), pivot, and catcher ‘pop time’ (time to throw down to second base)”. (

Needless to say, it’s pretty cool stuff. With the 2015 season well underway, I’m excited to see what the inagural year-end reviews are on this innovative approach to sabermetrics.

Drive Home Safely,

Bryan White, MBA


MLB Analytics : Benefiting Businesses

MLB Data

This post marks the beginning of the second topic I will discuss in my blog postings; the use of advanced analytics in the MLB to gain insight into both gameplay and actual player value. Previously, I had discussed how the MLB’s model for social media could be applied (and would be beneficial) to almost all firms in today’s business climate. In a similar fashion, I will discuss how it would be prudent for businesses to adopt 3 particular mindsets/ analytical practices that the MLB is using to decipher big data. Many of the best practices now embraced by GMs and team managers throughout the sport can, and should, be used by executives in all lines of business.

1.) Value the Data

For the majority of its vast history, baseball managers have made decisions almost entirely off experience and ‘gut feeling’. This gut feeling was a justifiable explanation for just about any decision, ranging from the starting lineup to a pinch hitter or which relief pitcher to bring in from the bullpen. Now, with the understanding of big data through advanced analytics, nearly every in-game decision is driven by longstanding data records showing players’ statistics and tendencies. If a manager makes a critical in-game decision in baseball’s modern era, he’d better have data-supported reasoning.

The business takeaway of this is simple, be more data driven in decision making. Not saying that past experience isn’t important or applicable, but a willingness to take advantage of data you have at your disposal must be present.

2.) Be Open-Minded to New Metrics & Methods

Traditionally the hitting aspect of the game was solely evaluated on home runs, RBIs and batting average. For pitchers, wins and ERA dominated the scene. Nowadays, new metrics have been introduced that have changed how we have traditionally labeled a player as “effective”, and this has sparked quite the debate. It started slowly, with a handful of teams valuing on-base percentage (the prevalent statistic in the innovative book Moneyball) over the longstanding batting average. This has placed enormous value on players like Mike Trout, who thrive on the basepaths.

A similar approach needs to be embraced in the corporate realm. Traditional data does have its place, but the analysis of new forms of data such as text, social media, etc… are available that give an even more accurate picture of the climate of an industry.

3.) Prediction

Baseball teams have historically scouted, evaluated, and compensated players based on their production in previous seasons. The better a player played in the past, the greater his salary in the present and future, when contracts began to lengthen in years and ‘guaranteed money’ became a thing. By the end of a lengthy contract, teams were often overpaying for players whose best days on the diamond were well behind them (think Carlos Zambrano for all you Cubs fans out there). However, the increased use of analytics has enabled teams to become better at evaluating a players’ future performance (and when they might plateau), and structuring their contracts in accordance.

Likewise, businesses should combine traditional business intellect with predictive analytics. With so much big data now available to be interpreted, companies can make informed decisions not based on what has occurred, but what’s most likely to occur based on the trends data can illuminate.

Each of these embraces of modern analytics can be as beneficial to the corporate sector as they have been to America’s past time. All it takes is an inquisitive mindset, and a little deviation from the status quo, to gain lasting competitive advantages and industry insights.

Drive Home Safely,

Bryan White, MBA


The MLB and Snapchat

MLB Snapchat

Of the MLB’s numerous social media platforms, Twitter has served as the most extensive and best at building brand awareness (right now). The graph below (obtained via shows the Twitter “pull” for each team compared to the industry average, and I found it interesting enough to include in this installment of my blog. A link is provided at the end of this post that redirects to the full report.

Information obtained via

However, my post today discusses a new partnership between the MLB and the Snapchat app; a partnership that has become extremely popular on the “My Story” portion of the app, and could be highly beneficial for both parties involved. For those of you unfamiliar with Snapchat, the app is essentially a social image sharing platform that allows individuals to send self-taken photos to one another with a minimal amount of text included. The MLB is utilizing this app to feature fan generated content. The content content will appear on Snapchat’s ‘Our Stories’, a feature that pieces together users videos and photos at a specific location. These photo/video collages will be displayed on either Wednesdays or Thursdays of each week. While there wasn’t a monetary exchange in this agreement, a high amount of upside is present.

For Major League Baseball this partnership is simple, it allows extensive access to an overwhelmingly young audience. Much like the MLB Fan Cave (as discussed in my previous post), the league is continually aiming to capture youthful attention. In a recent comScore report it was indicated that around 71% of U.S. Snapchat users are between the ages 17-34 (view here: ) . When this is compared to the average viewing age of 54 (view here: ), capturing the younger market is vital for the livelihood of the league. For Snapchat, it is the first sports market niche that the company has obtained. This gives Snapchat access to previously untapped revenue and advertising for the live-streaming industry. These MLB stories could become an ideal environment for feature ads in the foreseeable future, which would have quite the monetary benefit.

All-in-all, I see this deal struck by the MLB to be an advantageous one. Once again, they are capitalizing on a social trend and using it on a mass scale to generate brand awareness. This innovative approach should be a great way for the MLB to appeal to younger audiences, generate social media buzz on sites like Twitter, and form partnerships that will continue to further its digital agenda.

MLB Snapchat Screenshots
MLB Snapchat Screenshots

Drive Home Safely,

Bryan White, MBA


*Link to’s outstanding article on MLB Twitter influence:

The MLB Fan Cave: Was it a failed social experiment?

MLB Fan Cave

Upon its inception, the MLB Fan Cave was considered the innovative invention in baseball that would allow fans to interact with players like never before. Initially launched in 2011, the ‘cave’ (located on 4th Street and Broadway in New York) was an attempt to bring the social media realm and avid baseball fans together under one roof. The inhabitants, affectionately referred to as ‘cave dwellers’, recorded their experiences through social media, blogs, and videos, as well as hosting concerts, fan events, and celebrity guests. In its initial phases, MLB Exec. Tim Brosnan describe ‘The Cave’ as follows:

“The MLB Fan Cave grew out of our desire to address three specific areas in which we saw opportunity for growth: engaging with fans via social media, both at the league level and through players; reaching younger fans and converting casual baseball fans into more avid followers; and raising the profile of our players by showcasing their off-field personalities.”  —Tim Brosnan, MLB Executive Vice President of Business

While the Fan Cave enjoyed 4 solid years to successful social interaction, it was announced that it would be shut down in February 2015. Statements released stated that ceasing the program was part of the MLB’s attempt to consolidate all social media activities under the MLB Advanced Media and MLB Network umbrellas. This leaves individuals with one lingering question: Was the endeavor a failure?

In my personal opinion, it was anything but. The MLB Fan Cave gave fans the chance to see baseball heaven personified. The images still burn bright in my memory of iconic players like David Ortiz, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, and many others taking time out of their busy schedules to stop by and talk baseball with their beloved constituents. If anything, the MLB Fan Cave was a tremendous tool in the sense that it linked baseball fans to the human element of the brand. I followed their Facebook page religiously; always awaiting the next awesome experience that would take place within its confines. The MLB Fan Cave used Facebook to target a younger demographic (and succeeded), elevated the status of baseball’s star players, and positioned the game as once again relevant to pop culture. Statistics heavily support my claims. At its end, the Fan Cave had around 1,008,000 Facebook fans and 200,000+ Twitter followers. There was also a great deal of sports journalism buzz, being featured in prints like The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. The project may have cave-d in, but the success was both innovative and measurable. While baseball has conglomerated all of its social media operations into a much more simplified entity, I sure wish they’d revisit the days like these.

Drive Home Safely,

Bryan White, MBA


NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Aroldis Chapman and Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds perform for a skit at the MLB Fan Cave Monday, June 16, 2012, at Broadway and 4th Street in New York City. (Photo by Jason Yeadon/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Aroldis Chapman;Bronson Arroyo
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 16: Aroldis Chapman and Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds perform for a skit at the MLB Fan Cave Monday, June 16, 2012, at Broadway and 4th Street in New York City. (Photo by Jason Yeadon/MLB Photos via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Aroldis Chapman;Bronson Arroyo

MLB Social Media: A Learning Tool for the Corporate Realm?


While many individuals look at professional sport simply as a form of entertainment, there are several business practices conducted within daily operations that can set a strong precedent for the corporate business setting. In this installment of my blog, I will discuss three methods the MLB uses in social media that would be beneficial for a company to imitate.

A simplified way to view all social media channels

One beautiful thing that the MLB does, and does very well, is how easily accessible it makes each of its social media channels. To access any MLB social channel, all one has to do is simply go to the Social Media Clubhouse on From this page, the MLB’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr channels are all available for access. This would be a beneficial for a company to adopt because it makes it a great deal easier for consumers to gain large quantities of information about a respective brand.

Off-season or “slow season” opportunities

During the off-season, spanning November to late February, the MLB utilizes Twitter to give fans several opportunities to win player/team merchandise and tickets for next season. This sweepstakes approach is very useful for generating brand buzz in periods of consumer idleness, a strategy that could be effectively implemented in seasonal type industries like retail and outdoor entertainment (golf courses came to mind almost immediately).

Adding the human element to a digital entity

One of my favorite things that the MLB does with social media is allow players to take over team and league Twitter feeds for a certain period of time. Sports fans crave personal access to their beloved players, and this method gives the consumer exactly what they desire. Individual teams are also taking action on this front, posting in-game pictures and fun snapshots of a typical player’s day at the ballpark. I strongly believe in this method because corporations need to make sure there is a human presence in the social realm that current and potential consumers can associate a brand with. This creates ease in online interaction by making the consumer feel that they are engaging with another human on an intimate level.

I feel that all of the aforementioned would be advantageous for companies looking to enhance their brand image and build sustainable competitive advantages. Each of these methods conducted by the MLB help consumers feel more welcomed and invited to participate in the social side of baseball.

Drive home safely,

Bryan White, MBA

Below is a link for’s Social Media Clubhouse. Check it out!

For the Love of the Game…

Prince Fielder celebrates a walk-off HR during his playing years with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Prince Fielder celebrates a walk-off HR during his playing years with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Hello all,

There are few things in society today that captivate individuals like competitive sport. We become so fixated at the results of sports competitions that we allow it to consume our afternoons, weekends, Monday morning office conversations, and social media feeds. With the NFL deep in its post-draft offseason and the NBA playoffs winding down, baseball fever will shortly be in full swing. Soon, ballparks all across the continental United States will be flooded with families and high school/college students looking to get the most out of their summers. Naturally, spectacles such as this are both highly lucrative and highly marketable.

When Bill James and Michael Lewis began pioneering the ‘Moneyball’ movement, they knew they were on to something. However, they couldn’t have possibly fathomed how universal it would become. As more and more teams place emphasis on stats like WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning pitched) and OBPS (On-Base Percentage plus Slugging), the need for advanced analytics continues to skyrocket. “Big Data” has deeply embedded itself into baseball, and with exemplary players like Mike Trout cashing in, the importance to unlocking its secrets has become essential. 

At the same time, the social media realm has become one with the professional sports world. With shows like ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, the art of the clever sports tweet has reach a new high. Combining this with how active sports figures are on social sites like Twitter, fans are starving for a greater social presence from their beloved organizations.

My name is Bryan White and I am an MBA candidate at Radford University. Baseball has always been a passion of mine, having played since the age of 4 until my collegiate career concluded at Milligan College. My playing years have taken me to various college campuses and cities all across the U.S., and I bleed ‘Cincy Red’ March through October. Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing how major league baseball organizations are using advanced marketing analytics and social media interaction to enhance both fan experience at the ballpark and improve on-field quality. Topics that I hope to cover will include team Twitter feeds, corresponding promotional events, advanced data analysis, and how sabermetrics like OBP and player efficiency rating have affected prospect scouting and contract negotiation.

To add to the social media experience, each day I create a post I will be inserting the ‘ baseball stat of the day’ via @MLBStatoftheDay. Thank you for viewing and I hope you enjoy the content that I am able to bring your way!

Drive home safely,

Bryan White, MBA