Playing by the Numbers: Baseball and BI
It's gone from being the most cursed team in sports to being proclaimed the premier team of the new millennium by the New York Times.
With its World Series Win against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, the Boston Red Sox became the first team to win multiple championships since 2000. The series sweep was credited to great pitching and timely hitting by the Red Sox's deep bench. But just as important were the decisions made over the last season off the field.
When the Red Sox put an end to the 86—year "Curse of the Bambino" in 2004—a reference to owner Harry Frazee's infamous decision to trade Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920—much of the foundation for the historic win was laid quietly in the background by team management. Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner hired some of the best analytical minds in the business to put an end to the drought once and for all.
With young general manager Theo Epstein leading the charge, the Red Sox put in place sophisticated scouting software and business intelligence tools to mine endless stacks of baseball statistics. The goal was to use those tools to identify the best talent available, sign players before rivals discovered their hidden value, and determine exactly how long to keep that talent before cost outweighed benefits.
If executed correctly, the formula not only provides a team with a strong shot at getting to the series, but also ensures it will continue to be able to field strong teams for years to come.
In a 2004 cover story Baseline discussed the business intelligence systems the Red Sox put in place behind the scenes to help the team on the field. The feature also explored ways companies can put the same lessons to work to build their own winning franchises.