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Monday, April 04, 2005

Baseball Analytics

Here's a nice piece on sabermetrics published in May of 2004 and how it can apply to business via the quantification of employee contributions through a profile of the Red Sox. One of the most interesting is this description of E Scout, the scouting software used by the Red Sox.

"One of the first moves Epstein made when he joined the Sox was to bring in a software package called ScoutAdvisor from E Solutions, a little-known Tampa, Fla., company. Epstein had used the software, which keeps track of player talent from the minors to the pros, while with the San Diego Padres, where he was director of player development. E Solutions now counts nine Major League Baseball teams on its client list. IBM has a similar package called PROS, in use by a similar number of teams. Both are based on the Lotus Domino platform.

Michael Morizio, co-owner of E Solutions, says the software was originally developed five years ago as a custom project for the New York Yankees. The team had begun building its own software to store and analyze scouting reports, but the project bogged down. It was simply too much of an undertaking for the team's small technology staff.

Through Yankee owner George Steinbrenner's Tampa contacts (his primary residence is in the area), E Solutions was called in to finish the job. After completing the software, the company saw the potential to build and expand the offering. Rather than just focus on scouting, Morizio saw the potential to build a complete player management system that could track player development as well as provide a team's front office with a window into the rest of the league.

E Solutions has since gone full circle with the Yankees, announcing plans in March to replace the team's custom system with ScoutAdvisor. The software is licensed for about $50,000 to $75,000 per year depending on the options.

The heart of the system is housed in a 15,000-square-foot data center in downtown Tampa. There, computers store raw data on baseball players, such as high school and college records, family backgrounds, psychological profiles and medical histories, culled from a wide range of sources.

E Solutions pulls in the feeds daily from a range of data sources, including the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, SportsTicker Enterprises and STATS Inc. The Major League Scouting Bureau has administered an Athletic Success Profile test to prospects every year since 1974, asking 110 questions designed to uncover their psychological profile. The questions measure 11 attributes including drive, endurance, leadership, self-confidence, emotional control, mental toughness, coachability and trust....

The ScoutAdvisor software package also is designed to help teams gather original data on players. ScoutAdvisor features a variety of modules tailored for amateur scouting, pro scouting, international scouting, medical injury tracking and major league player transaction reporting, among others.

The amateur scouting module allows scouts to file such stats as hitting power or fielding ability and commentary such as "exhibits a lot of hustle," from the field using laptops or personal digital assistants and an Internet connection."

Very cool stuff. I remember years ago the Seattle Mariners had a scouting tool based on Pocket PCs that Microsoft had developed for them. At one time the consulting company I was with in Kansas City made a small attempt to pitch something like it to the Royals to no avail.

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