Using Analytics To Predict Sports Outcomes

Less than a month ago John Henry stated that the Red Sox relied too much on analytics in the their organization and that they will be balancing it out in different areas.  After the success of the Oakland Athletics and the 2003 book “Moneyball” written by Michael Lewis, it seemed as if every sports team started an analytics division.  It didn’t matter the sport…baseball, basketball or even soccer.  Whether it was 1 person or 10, their was a general consensus that in the sport of baseball, numbers rule.

Maybe it’s because every team is now focused so hard at it, that the little edge that existed has disappeared now.  However if sports bettors are making predictions (and lots of money) based on numbers, especially in baseball, wouldn’t it behoove general managers to use the same approach?

SportzPredict makes basketball and football picks every season with some decent accuracy and although they haven’t made much Baseball picks publicly, they do send it out to their members in daily emails.  It is estimated that during the NBA/NFL season they hit roughly around 59-62% against the spread.  In the MLB, since your just picking winners and you don’t have to beat a point spread, they hit a higher percentage, that number isn’t released, but expected to be in the 65-70% range.  When making picks they do use all the same analytics that Moneyball discussed,but they are just more focused on daily results, rather than a season long outcome.  So how does this apply to a general manager?  I think its quite obvious, if every day your able to predict whether you will win or lose accurately, then you should be able to fix these issues through out the season, and ultimately right before trade deadline.  Roster moves and trades can all be made due to those factors and predict the 2nd half of the season for example.

It’s not an exact science I know, but the fact that John Henry has decided to move away from this approach, or at least cut a pie out of it, this could lead to the Red Sox falling behind again.  In the NBA, they have made these analytic stats available and even MIT has its own annual analytics conference regarding its place in sports as well as gambling.  So why is it we are once again going in the opposite direction.  To me its like a library saying they refuse to invest in 100 computers, but would rather invest a few and put the rest into something else.  It just doesn’t make sense.

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