Feeds

Hacking Baseball

Sport still boring but making money via analytics is cool

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Baseball is perhaps the most boring thing in the world to watch. The leisurely rate of play, the lack of constant action, and the pauses players take for impromptu meetings, spitting, and crotch-grabbing are torture for my ADD-riddled brain.

Reading about baseball is every bit as bad, and reading about baseball-stats geeks who painstakingly ‘score’ every move on the field makes me want to beat myself with a bat. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of money, and innovative ways to make more of it.

I found a very interesting article in my ever-growing pile of Businessweek magazines about how automation and deep analytics are playing an increasingly large role in the game.

The Baseball: Running the New Numbers story outlines, in highly readable form, how Major League Baseball, individual teams, and savvy techies are building out systems that log pretty much everything that happens on a baseball field.

Hacker baseball cap

I am a baseball hacker

The goal is to rate players on what they bring to the table. A guy who can move quickly in the right direction and make a difficult play is much more valuable than a slackjaw who happens to be standing in the right place at the right time. Traditional stats don’t pick up the difference between those guys, but the new systems will.

Firms and teams use humans to review each and every play and capture more of this differential data, but it’s much more subjective, and there are limits to how much detail they provide.

Feats of clay?

This is where new technology enters the picture. Get enough cameras looking at the field and you can log the speed and angle of every hit ball, and the position of the fielder in relation to it. That way you can judge whether a fielder is a gifted athlete or just lucky.

A typical game will generate around 2.5 million results or records, totaling 2TB – which seems a bit large until you factor in all the standing around, spitting, scratching, etc. The amount of data that teams will be interested in is probably closer to 750GB or so per game.

Businessweek also raises some interesting points about the use of this data. Right now, a lot of it is provided freely to teams and the general public. The league is mostly in favor of this, because it gets fans more involved with the sport.

But some teams aren’t so wild about this openness - they see this data as the raw material they use to build their competitive advantage. Still others figure that the data will get out there anyway, so why not make it available to all?

There are many more details that I’m glossing over – it’s baseball, for God’s sake, so I can’t be expected to pore over every word – so it’s definitely worth your time to read the article if you’re interested in how these systems work. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD
... and possibly bring us even more HAMR time. Yay!
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.