Saturday, July 1, 2017

Quote of the Day (George F. Will, on Baseball’s Metrics ‘Quants’ in the Moneyball Era)

“As a game of distinct episodes—pitch by pitch, out by out, inning by inning—[baseball] generates an ever-richer sediment of data as new technologies yield ever-more refined measurements: spin rates of pitches, ‘tilts’ (angles of break) of sliders, launch angles of swings, exit velocities of balls coming off bats, and so on. These measurements are massaged by a new generation of mostly young and well-educated front-office ‘quants.’ All 30 teams have analytics departments; the Astros have a ‘director of decision sciences.’ Many of these savants’ baseball-playing careers peaked in Little League. They work, not always harmoniously, with their teams’ managers, who are expected to use the data when putting together lineups and making in-game decisions.”— George F. Will, “The Game You Knew Is Gone” (review of Keith Law’s Smart Baseball), The Wall Street Journal, June 17-18, 2017

The image accompanying this post comes from the 2011 film Moneyball, with Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as assistant GM Peter Brand—a composite character largely based on Paul DePodesta, who was reluctant to be named on film.  Brand is the epitome of the “quant” discussed by Will.

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