Baseball, more so than other sports, is known for its massive data collection, complex statistics and informed managerial decisions. So it should be no surprise that, just as corporate enterprises are going through a big data revolution, so will baseball. While the technology that enables big data is quite technical and designed to operate behind the scenes, the direct impact of big data on the average consumer will be quite visible over time. Hadoop, with its ability to manage massive data sets, is about to change the game of baseball.
...So why would a baseball organization need a Hadoop cluster? Because unstructured data may unlock insights that are not apparent from the structured event data that is available to every team. Baseball managers, like CEOs, believe that the past is a great predictor of the future. By having his data scientist run a Hadoop job before every game, Bruce Bochy can not only make an informed decision about where to locate a 3-1 Matt Cain pitch to Prince Fielder, but he can also predict how and where the ball might be hit, how much ground his infielders and outfielders can cover on such a hit, and thus determine where to shift his defense.
Taken one step further, it’s not hard to imagine a day where managers like Bochy have their locker room data scientist run real-time, in-game analytics using technologies like Cassandra, Hbase, Drill, and Impala.
Will Big Data Ruin Baseball?
This raises the question, will big data ruin baseball? Will tracking and analyzing this mountain of data take the enjoyment out of the game? I don’t think so. Our national pastime has survived the Black Sox scandal, the designated hitter, pull over uniforms, free agency, night games, multiple players’ strikes, the dead ball era, the live ball era, and of course steroids. Big Data is not nearly as threatening.
In fact, big data might be the great neutralizer between large market and small market teams. Teams with the most advanced predictive algorithms would have an advantage. Bay Area teams should have an even larger advantage since it is the epicenter of big data. If you are an avid Giants fan and a data scientist, your dream job may soon be available. But move quickly, because the team across the Bay may already have a head start – they do, after all, have a Hadoop-like elephant for a mascot.
Posted: November 17, 2012 at 07:17 AM | 1 comment(s)
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