Aug
10

How Technology Is Assisting Baseball Players & Agents

There is no American sport as statistically driven as baseball.  In fact, there was a book published called Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game written by Michael Lewis (and soon to be a movie on it starring Brad Pitt), which highlights the Oakland A’s focus on new age statistics to create a strong, economical baseball team.  The approach has worked well for the A’s…in some years.

MLB team front office executives are not the only people using statistics and data to help them generate revenue for the entities they represent; many baseball agents are taking advantage of old and new forms of data to position their clients as being more valuable than perhaps originally perceived, and players are using new technologies to take the data available and use it to better themselves on the field.  Outside of the negotiation of better contracts, players have used technological advances to learn more about their performance and what to expect from the competition.  It seems as though almost every big leaguer carries an iPad around with him these days.

Jerry Milani of Baseball Digest recently spoke with Mike Dillon of Reynolds Sports Management, which is one of the agencies that is putting in work to help its players benefit from the usage technology.  Here are a couple of the question and answer exchanges (BBD = Baseball Digest, MR = Mike Dillon).

BBD:  When talking to teams, is the use of technology by players on their own seen as a help or a hindrance in what the coaches are doing? 

MR:  I think it is seen as a help. I don’t think teams frown upon players looking at video on their own.  We encourage an open line of communication between the team and players and this new technology can be integrated into what the team is doing. Just looking at video doesn’t ensure success at the plate — you still have to put the work in on the field and it’s that combination that we encourage.

BBD:  Are there any drawbacks to using the products now available?

MR:  I don’t see any drawbacks necessarily to using new technologies.  Like I said earlier, as technology evolves the way players prepare for games will evolve. Players, agents and teams have to keep up with technology in order to compete these days.  And there is no substitute for hard work and just looking at video doesn’t assure success.  Who knows what knew advancement we will be talking about in a year.

I’m not sure what new advancement we will be talking about a year from now, but I have no doubt that the early adopter Logan Morrison will be using it (Logan Morrison is an Octagon Baseball client and I absolutely love his activity on Twitter).

 

  • Rupertcf2

    I think you’ll see this start to make its way in all sports.  No longer do players need to cram in the little video room to look at at-bats.  You could easily see this in college football with game film loaded on an iPad or other digital device that players can watch outside of practice.  I know here at Penn State football players can access a server that allows them to watch their game film from any computer located on campus.  Technology is excellent especially for the tight schedules put on athletes. 

  • Rupertcf2

    I think you’ll see this start to make its way in all sports.  No longer do players need to cram in the little video room to look at at-bats.  You could easily see this in college football with game film loaded on an iPad or other digital device that players can watch outside of practice.  I know here at Penn State football players can access a server that allows them to watch their game film from any computer located on campus.  Technology is excellent especially for the tight schedules put on athletes. 

  • Rupertcf2

    I think you’ll see this start to make its way in all sports.  No longer do players need to cram in the little video room to look at at-bats.  You could easily see this in college football with game film loaded on an iPad or other digital device that players can watch outside of practice.  I know here at Penn State football players can access a server that allows them to watch their game film from any computer located on campus.  Technology is excellent especially for the tight schedules put on athletes. 

  • Kirk

    This was bound to happen. I believe one could make the argument that will both teams and player/agents using analytics to measure a players value there is now a level playing field and maybe a speedier path in contract negotiations. However, there are some potential issues here which are sure to raise their ugly heads. The first is players optimizing their performance to maximize their market value as opposed to taking actions that might improve their teams record, but lower their personal value. We have already seen this in other fields like the interest where SEMs improve the performance of their sites in web search not because they site is truly more relevant, but because they are optimized for the google algorithm. The same thing is starting to happen on twitter with things like twittergrader and Klout. The second is that MLB is a limited market that is some times an illiquid market and other times flooded. So a players calculated value in general will rarely reflect his actual value in a given year. I know of no algorithms that do a good job of addressing this issue. FOr example if three teams really need a catcher and there is only one catcher free agent his value will be much higher, but to what extent is hard to determine. The reverse goes for the situation if there are the free agent catchers and only one team looking to fill that position. I have always been a little surprised that agents do not structure their player contract to expire in such a fashion to minimize the number of players available in a given year. This is a simple way to maximize their profits.

    • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

      I appreciate the in-depth comment. However, 1) I believe that with more information, it will only draw out contract negotiations. One side wants to use the statistics that proves their side while the other entity wants to use different statistics (or frame the same statistics in a different light) to help establish its determined value. 2) It is almost impossible for agents to structure a client’s contract to expire in a year when the # of players available will be limited. Contracts are not static. They are often re-negotiated or renewed within the term of an existing deal. This changes the landscape. Further, there is no established pool of players. New entrants come onto the scene every year through the draft, call-ups, or just via better performance. 3 years ago who predicted Joey Bats to perform the way that he is today?

    • http://www.darrenheitner.com Darren Heitner

      I appreciate the in-depth comment. However, 1) I believe that with more information, it will only draw out contract negotiations. One side wants to use the statistics that proves their side while the other entity wants to use different statistics (or frame the same statistics in a different light) to help establish its determined value. 2) It is almost impossible for agents to structure a client’s contract to expire in a year when the # of players available will be limited. Contracts are not static. They are often re-negotiated or renewed within the term of an existing deal. This changes the landscape. Further, there is no established pool of players. New entrants come onto the scene every year through the draft, call-ups, or just via better performance. 3 years ago who predicted Joey Bats to perform the way that he is today?

  • Kirk

    This was bound to happen. I believe one could make the argument that will both teams and player/agents using analytics to measure a players value there is now a level playing field and maybe a speedier path in contract negotiations. However, there are some potential issues here which are sure to raise their ugly heads. The first is players optimizing their performance to maximize their market value as opposed to taking actions that might improve their teams record, but lower their personal value. We have already seen this in other fields like the interest where SEMs improve the performance of their sites in web search not because they site is truly more relevant, but because they are optimized for the google algorithm. The same thing is starting to happen on twitter with things like twittergrader and Klout. The second is that MLB is a limited market that is some times an illiquid market and other times flooded. So a players calculated value in general will rarely reflect his actual value in a given year. I know of no algorithms that do a good job of addressing this issue. FOr example if three teams really need a catcher and there is only one catcher free agent his value will be much higher, but to what extent is hard to determine. The reverse goes for the situation if there are the free agent catchers and only one team looking to fill that position. I have always been a little surprised that agents do not structure their player contract to expire in such a fashion to minimize the number of players available in a given year. This is a simple way to maximize their profits.

  • Remco Tevreden

    At the top, there is a lot of technology available to analyze the games and players. I find it strange though, that by now it has not really been adopted on the lower levels.

  • Remco Tevreden

    At the top, there is a lot of technology available to analyze the games and players. I find it strange though, that by now it has not really been adopted on the lower levels.

  • Remco Tevreden

    At the top, there is a lot of technology available to analyze the games and players. I find it strange though, that by now it has not really been adopted on the lower levels.