Sports Analytics

Sports Analytics: A Guide for Coaches, Managers, and Other Decision Makers

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Sports Analytics
    Book Description:

    Benjamin C. Alamar founded the first journal dedicated to sports statistics, the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. He developed and teaches a class on sports analytics for managers at the University of San Francisco and has published numerous cutting-edge studies on strategy and player evaluation. Today, he cochairs the sports statistics section of the International Statistics Institute and consults with several professional teams and businesses in sports analytics.

    There isn't a better representative of this emerging field to show diverse organizations how to implement analytics into their decision-making strategies, especially as analytic tools grow increasingly complex. Alamar provides a clear, easily digestible survey of the practice and a detailed understanding of analytics' vast possibilities. He explains how to evaluate different programs and put them to use. Using concrete examples from professional sports teams and case studies demonstrating the use and value of analytics in the field, Alamar designs a roadmap for managers, general managers, and other professionals as they build their own programs and teach their approach to others.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53525-0
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Dean Oliver

    Sports analytics experts understand that The Game is still human. It is why they got into the field in the first place. It is what all the formulas, numbers, and analyses are about—measuring, managing, and making the most of the people who get to play The Game.

    That may not be explicit in Ben Alamar’s book, but it is implicit. He was a sports fan who was analytically inclined. I was, too. We rooted for teams and players. A lot of people like us wanted to play sports at the highest level but ran out of physical gifts somewhere...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-23)

    Analytics is a relatively new and rapidly evolving set of tools in the business world, and these tools are being adapted more and more to the world of sports. Analytics includes advanced statistics, data management, data visualization, and several other fields. Because this list is ever changing, implementing an analytics program to gain a competitive advantage is not a straightforward process. Every sports organization faces its own set of challenges in introducing and developing analytics as part of the decision-making process, but understanding the components of an analytics program will help managers maximize the competitive advantage they can gain from...

    (pp. 24-34)

    A general manager for an MLB team was analyzing the pitching staff of the Tampa Bay Rays to identify pitchers of interest to include in a trade. The GM’s decision-making process involved collecting data from a variety of sources within the organization to construct a complete picture of each pitcher. The GM requested data on these pitchers from the salary manager, the top scout, and an analyst (among others) and received alphabetized lists of the available data in each area, part of which is recreated in table 2.1.

    As table 2.1 shows, each group provided the data in an organized...

    (pp. 35-43)

    As a high school wrestler preparing for a championship match in a two-day-long tournament, I was approached by a coach from another school. His school was a major rival of my opponent’s school, and my opponent had beaten his wrestler in my weight class in the semifinals. He offered me some advice about my opponent. It seemed that every time this coach had seen him starting from a standing position during the tournament, my opponent took two steps to his left as the whistle blew to start action.

    Was this useful information? At the time I believed it to be...

    (pp. 44-64)

    The United States Olympic Committee faces a very specific task: win as many medals as possible in each and every Olympics. This task is made particularly difficult by the limited financial resources that the USOC can use to support the American Olympic athletes. Therefore, the USOC must make sure that it invests only in athletes with a realistic opportunity to win medals. The decision makers at the USOC must regularly ask whether spending the next $1,000 on athlete A is more likely to yield a medal than spending it on Athlete B, even if those two athletes compete in different...

    (pp. 65-78)

    There has been significant attention paid over the last ten years, both in sports and in business, to the creation of new metrics. Decision makers have been using new metrics to gauge everything from team ability to brand image. As data become more accessible, decision makers have found clearer insight into their organizations and the nature of the decisions they face through the use of metrics that did not exist even a few years ago. One of the key roles of the analyst is to create these new and meaningful metrics.

    New metrics provide decision makers with new kinds of...

    (pp. 79-90)

    There are two main goals of an analytics program: provide new, actionable information and save time for decision makers. Neither of these is attainable in an ongoing way without a high-quality information system. The information system is the tool that allows decision makers to access the information and analyses that will help them gain a competitive advantage. As discussed previously, teams have mountains of data. Analysts can produce high-quality, useful analysis from those data, but that investment in time and money will be wasted if a decision maker cannot access the information efficiently. Thoughtful design of these systems is vital...

  11. 7 ANALYTICS IN THE ORGANIZATION: Innovation and Implementation
    (pp. 91-103)

    Part of the value of analytics is its ability to save time for the top decision makers. But they often do not have the time to focus on and understand new metrics and the projects presented by analytics personnel, the value of which often needs more than a five-minute presentation at a meeting to be made clear to top decision makers. When building an analytics program, decision makers need to be aware of the challenge that analysts face in this regard and, in their hiring process, seek out analysts that have the ability to effectively introduce new projects into the...

    (pp. 104-116)

    All teams have the same goal: win games and championships. But the resources available and the philosophy of the decision makers dictate that every team will have a different strategy to attain that goal. In this context, a team’s strategy refers to the three-to-five-year plan that decision makers think will provide the team with the best opportunity to achieve its goal. Decisions regarding the allocation of resources, personnel, and in-game tactics, to name a few, are all derived from the long-term strategy of the team. The result is that while most teams have similar general structures (all teams have training...

    (pp. 117-124)

    Once the blueprint for building and using analytics is set for a team, the final consideration is how new analytic personnel will be hired, evaluated, and fit into the organization. Hiring and evaluating analytic personnel is not a straightforward exercise, and careful thought must be put into these processes. Additionally, the structure of the organization can affect the potential success of the analytic investment, so fitting analytic personnel into the organizational structure also requires planning. The skill sets needed for analytic personnel are often not precisely defined or obvious to nonanalytic decision makers. Identifying the most important skill sets, recruiting...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 125-126)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 127-132)