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Analytics played a key part in helping the Houston Astros to win the 2017 World Series over the LA Dodgers
How data helped the Houston Astros to win the World Series
02-11-2017
 
The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series
The Houston Astros won the 2017 World SeriesGetty

The Houston Astros became world champions after beating the LA Dodgers in the 7th game of one of the most exciting World Series in history. This achievement, however, is not a product of chance, but of years of strategic work, which included a 6-year plan based on taking advantage of every piece of data available of current players and prospects.


In 2011, Jeff Luhnow and Sig Medal arrived to the Astros with the intent of making of the then worst-ranked teams in Major League Baseball, the champions by 2017. Now, they have done it.


Their strategy consisted in looking for a way to merge hard data, such as how fast can a player run between bases, with soft data, such as his personality or how prone he is to injuries.  Their goal was to have a single value that would guide each player's progression.


With this in mind they created an evaluation system that gathers all the information and data available for each player, even to the point of being able to compare them to past players, whose statistics started to be digitally recorded since 1997. The result is a single numerical value which tells them how many runs a player could produce compared to what the team will pay for him. Decisions to hire a player or even how to hit the ball, are taken largely based on this number.


Luhnow, Medal and their team, were partly inspired by Michael Lewis's 'Moneyball', but now they have taken it to a new level, by having to decide between hard and soft parameters, but instead combining them to produce a single numerical projection.


Since then, the Astros have taken decisions on players, drafting new prospects or helping current players to improve their performance, with the help of this powerful tool. The beginning of the road was rocky, but the positive results started pouring in, now this effort has been crowned with the title of the MLB.


Source: SI

 
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