As I mentioned in a previous post, I popped over to the States to visit Datakey a few weeks ago, and in a little bit of downtime, we headed out to watch a bit of baseball.
(Or “the ball game” as the locals called it.)
Now, I watch my fair share of sports (I’m a big Liverpool fan), and I’ve had the privilege of watching a number of different sporting events live and in the flesh.
And as sport has become more professional and commercial, the level of analysis and statistics that sports rely on has grown and grown.
But nothing could prepare me for the level of stats on display at the baseball – the so-called “sabermetrics”.
It was baseball enthusiast Bill James who first reasoned that team performance and recruitment could be improved by using in-depth stats, beyond the obvious ‘home runs’ and ‘strikes’.
Most people thought his theory was ludicrous until the Oakland As general manager Billy Beane put it to the test and had fantastic success, with Beane’s story eventually being made into the film Moneyball.
And, as they say, the rest is history, with the concept of in-depth statistical analysis becoming the bedrock of most professional sports teams, Liverpool FC included.
The principle is simple, and extends beyond sports – if you’re looking to improve things, measurement and analysis of that measurement is key.
Otherwise you’re making decisions based on subjective opinion (just like the way sports teams used to pick teams and decide on strategies).
So next time you’re developing a system, it could well be worth think about your own sabermetrics – what can you be measuring to ensure that you build an improved system?