“Deee-Fense”… Baseball’s Big Shift


Great article on how analytics in baseball is making a big difference. Stats made meaningful through action and measured by performance…

Coming off a blessed opening day in the Fens where PJ and I saw the third flag raised in both of our lifetimes, baseball has been on my mind. Having been exposed to the “inner circle” of MLB ownership through working with the Yankee organization on their insurance platform, baseball is one of the last institutions you would expect to break from tradition and use data and analytics to make decisions that were normally made with “the gut”.

The article speaks to the defensive shifting that has become all the rage in baseball. Used over time for hitters such as Ted Williams and more recently Barry Bonds, shifting the defense based on a player’s tendencies to hit the ball has become all the rage. The Red Sox 199 times in 2012 and 478 in 2013. These defensive movements accounted for 15 additional outs over the course of the season. How consequential were these towards their 8’th world series win last year? Was it that 15’th out that got them a key win in September?

“It’s baseball. You have to play the percentages”

The “moneyball” trend towards data and fact and away from “instinct and intuition” to “not get out” at all costs is the future. Insurance is the biggest laggard in using analytics and time of information to make “shifts” in underwriting and pricing business. The scouts of insurance are the underwriters who don’t always want to follow the GM’s plan (Actuaries). Technology is and will change this by making the ability to follow actuarial science easy. In our world, not getting out is reduced to red, yellow green v latin mathematical formulas.

Will this be the time where technology and understanding how it can be applied to institutions as traditional as baseball (or insurance underwriting)? I’m betting on it!

“War is ninety percent information.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

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