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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    The Cleveland Indians and sabermetrics

    I posted this article a few months back
    Keith Woolner and Sky Andrecheck, crunch numbers as the two key members of the Indians’ behind-the-scenes analytic department — another way they seek to find a competitive edge to help translate into more wins.

    Whether the Indians are evaluating their players, looking to perfect their game-by-game strategy, or pursuing possible trades, Woolner, 45, and Andrecheck, 32, are involved. And with technology playing an ever increasing role in baseball, their statistical manipulation is used in many ways.

    [Woolner's] role with the Tribe is far-reaching. His work — anywhere from developing logarithms that produce software that analyzes player performance to developing a new set of criteria that can be utilized in scouting potential draft candidates — makes him essential to a majority of the decisions the Indians’ front office personnel make.

    “A lot of the techniques we’re using were developed in other industries,” Woolner said. “The novelty is applying what’s worked in the pharmaceutical, insurance, energy or manufacturing worlds and applying it to sports.”

    Appeal of sabermetrics
    “I found an online baseball discussion community at that had a number of people who were kind of pushing the game’s [statistical analytic] envelope a little bit,” Woolner said. “It included a guy named Bill James, who I’d never read before, but who began to open my eyes to a different way of thinking about the game of baseball.”

    Woolner’s claim to fame before joining the Indians was developing the runs-based statistic VORP (an acronym that stands for Value Over Replacement Player), which is widely recognized by the sabermetrics community as a key component in the analysis of a baseball player’s performance and market value. Woolner’s VORP is a cousin to the current en vogue sabermetric term WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

    “They’ve extended VORP in some ways,” Woolner said. “They have some different ideas about certain aspects, but in the end, we’re all trying to get to the same place: not measuring versus an average player. Because an average player is a very valuable commodity in baseball. If you have an average player at every position, you have an 81-win team and there’s a lot of teams that look up at 81 wins every season.”

    Another couple of articles have come out discussing the Indians' reliance on statistical analysis.
    One of the best-kept secrets in Cleveland sports is not who the Cavs will take with the first pick in the NBA draft, or who the Browns’ starting quarterback will be come fall. Rather, it is a computer program you've probably never heard of. But for years, the Indians have used a proprietary statistical analysis program called DiamondView. This program aids decision-making for the Cleveland Indians' front office, and it is a reason for numerous highly publicized endings to players' careers with the Tribe, including those of Jim Thome, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, to name a few.

    Before Moneyball, there was DiamondView. As analytics have been adopted across Major League Baseball, DiamondView has stayed exclusive and evolved within the confines of Progressive Field, allowing the Indians to stay competitive as a small-market team during an era of extreme salary inflation.

    And an interview with minor league coach, Dave Wallace
    It’s no secret that, as a small-market ballclub, Cleveland has one of the most sabermetrically-inclined front offices in baseball alongside organizations like Oakland, Tampa Bay and Houston.

    On DiamondView and the Indians’ stance with regards to sabermetrics:
    “I’m not familiar with specifically DiamondView. I know I am familiar with how much we value analytics and how proactive we are in trying to find the best way to value a player. But also, that’s just a piece of the puzzle. What I see still goes into play, like how a guy takes to coaching and his character. But the numbers, the analytics, the DiamondView and all that is a very important piece of the puzzle.”

    On his stance with regards to sabermetrics:
    “I like them. There’s not one stat that I just hang my hat on necessarily. But in my development as a manager, the first thing I did was get the Bill James book and those type of things. I knew that this is where baseball is going and where it already is. It’s there.

    Getting away from being just a batting average evaluator to OPS to WAR to all that, that was the very beginning of my process. Since then, I’ve become a regular reader of FanGraphs and that type of thing.”
    Last edited by filihok; 06-10-2014 at 05:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    The Indians earned a reputation for investing heavily in analytics in the years following "Moneyball" under Mark Shapiro's leadership, and they have shown no signs of deviating from that course. Shapiro is now the team president, and his protégé, current GM Chris Antonetti, commands a staff with a diverse and deep set of skills.

    The Indians grabbed one of the best in the business when they made Keith Woolner their director of baseball analytics in 2007. Woolner has technical degrees from MIT and Stanford, and his prior experience includes time with both a database company (Oracle) and a statistical software company (SAS) in addition to his work as an influential author at Baseball Prospectus.

    Unlike some clubs, wherein statistical analysts give something akin to expert witness testimony, the Indians have integrated analytics into everything they do, so that both technical and non-technical staff members are up to speed on the metrics the team uses.

    The Indians have dedicated IT support for their mature baseball information system, which frees their analysts to focus on long-term statistical modeling projects. Assisting Woolner with this work are Sky Andrecheck and Max Marchi, both of whom have graduate degrees in statistics. Marchi literally wrote the book on analyzing baseball data in the increasingly popular programming language called R.

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