With three top players taking the exit route from Oakland Athletics’ squad, there was not much of hope left for the California-based baseball team. Reeling under a financial crunch, the team did not have enough funds to buy top players for the upcoming Major League Baseball. However, Billy Beane – the team’s General Manager did not have plans to take this crisis lying down. He devised a strategy that was unprecedented in the history of sports and surprised everyone with its massive success.
He resorted to sabermetrics to find crucial insights on underrated players and their past performances and leveraged it to pick the best players within the paltry budget. This was the first known use of analytics in sports and what glorifies it is the success it brought to the Oakland Athletics in the tournament.
Fast forward to the present, the use of analytics in sports has become a practice. Every moment is recorded with high definition cameras, and data scientists delve in to the captured details to find insights on the strengths and weaknesses of their players and opponents. Gone are the days, when experts followed their hunch to choose players and select teams. Cost effective and granular data helps in decision-making nowadays.
Cricket is another sport that has changed a lot over the years and analytics played a crucial role in popularising it. The transformation from ‘Test’-only to ‘One-day’s’ and now to ‘T-20’s’ has been a result of the changing times which were prompted by analytics. The amount of data that is available today on any particular player and the nitty-gritties of his playing techniques was not something to be found even five years back. This has empowered coaches and team managers to train their players better against specific opposition and select a team based on the conditions, opposition and venue history.
Working as hard as the players, are a team of data scientists who keep an eye on every detail and every action that unfolds on and off the field. The chunk of data that’s collected is then sorted analysed before handing over the respective stakeholders. The use of sports analytics has helped in enhancing player performances, reducing injuries owing to bad techniques, selecting the best squad and creating a stronger appeal among the fans.
Gaurav has been in the sports analytics domain for six years and has been associated with ESPN as a Senior Stat Analyst and also with the Indian cricket team and IPL franchisees. He has presented a paper at MIT Sloan sports analytics conference at Boston and is a visiting faculty at Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies. Join the Webinar