May 6, 2014

Sabermetric KPI's

One day I came across an interesting article in the Dutch online newspaper DeCorrespondent. It describes a way to distinguish between football players (soccer that is) using a different type of KPI's than the ones that are usually used to compare players. The KPI's in the article are inspired by those the Oakland Atlantics baseball coach Billy Beane used to put together his record setting team in 2002. The movie Moneyball is a wonderfull way to learn about his story.

Chad Bradford

Baseball - as soccer - is a sport where the beauty and elegance of a player determines how his quality is perceived. By looking at the players stats in another way, Beane turned around the way baseball teams are built ever since. One of the men in his team was Chad Bradford, know as the submarine pitcher. Looking at the picture you can imagine how he came by this nickname. His unique and somewhat weirdlooking way of throwing made that he was perceived to be less accurate than he really was. This had as a consequence that his transfer price was lower than it should be based on his stats. Having to put together a team on a limited budget compared to the other teams in the Baseball league, Beane picked up more players like this using the numbers instead of the players looks - eventually setting the record of 20 consecutive winning games in 2002.

This way of thinking out of the box to select metrics that make the difference, is something we should also try as business intelligence professionals. An addition difficulty doing this in businesses is, that while baseball teams are all playing by the same rules, sometimes we need to make up the rules to optimize operations. This means every organisation has to make up their own set of unique KPI's, that are tailored to their specific systems and processes, what makes it even more challenging!