Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of the 20-Year Losing Streak

Travis Sawchik. Flatiron, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-06350-2
The Pittsburgh Pirates are among a handful of Major League Baseball teams to wholly embrace emerging big-data analytics in order to build rosters and win games. This enlightening book by Sawchik, the Pirates beat writer for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, explains how the team helped redefine the game by hiring information technologists to track and interpret millions of data points on everything from pitch speed to batted balls during the 2013–14 season. Data-tracking systems such as PITCHf/x and TrackMan—tools that measure the entire flight of a baseball—allowed the Pirates’ staff of young analysts (most of whom had no professional baseball experience) to become integral to the team’s first winning season in two decades. Old-school manager Clinto Hurdle and his aging coaching staff learned to trust the data more than their guts, and convinced skeptical players to employ an unconventional infield shift—something few teams did on a regular basis despite vast analytical evidence supporting it. Taking cues from Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and Jonah Keri’s The Extra 2% (books that explore how other small-market, low-payroll MLB teams use metrics), Sawchik wonderfully dissects statistics and the game itself in a style that will score with a broad range of readers. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/13/2015
Release date: 05/19/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-250-06351-9
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-250-09425-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4272-6551-7
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