Next Wave of MoneyBall: Sparta Science
By: Patrick Eggen
Jan. 26, 2017 (PALO ALTO, CA) Over the past decade, the sports industry has become infatuated with statistics and analytics. Much of these efforts focused on fielding the best collective team. A notable employer of these methods is Theo Epstein, the brilliant architect behind the Chicago Cubs’ recent World Series victory. This type of roster-level optimization culminated in the Cubs ending the historic 108-year-old “curse” and making my father, the most die-hard Cubs fan I know, a happy man. A critical component of Epstein’s success was using analytical gauges of player performance to field a well-balanced and superior team.
How far can this be extended? Can we use analytics to push each player toward their maximum potential? Think of it as optimization at the individual player level with constraining factors like injury prevention kept in mind. On the surface, there’s nothing novel to the approach — individualized training is commonplace among elite athletes. However, many times athletes embrace flawed techniques and regimens that are actually detrimental to their overall development. Technology and the tools it can bring can be an incredible blessing as long as they are harnessed in the right way.