With one click of his laptop mouse, Bill Squadron, the head of Bloomberg Sports, shows every pitch thrown to Orioles center fielder Adam Jones this season. It shows a strike zone full more than 1,000 marks of different colors and shapes – much like abstract art, Squadron jokes.
One click later, the graphic shows the 600-some fastballs thrown to Jones. Another click and it’s down to 200 pitches that show pitches with one out. Then, Squadron filters the data to show just home runs and it’s down to three dots.
Bloomberg, which made its name on analytical business data, is now in the sports field. Its fantasy baseball application plays assistant GM for you, taking all league teams and categories into play and suggesting the best trades for you.
But its professional product – which is used by 25 of the 30 major league clubs, including the Orioles – is helping any club have any information it needs about any player in any situation at its fingertips.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Squadron said. “It’s meant to be a consolidated system that allows a baseball front office to do anything and everything it needs to do in terms of player evaluation, draft preparation, contract negotiation, series matchup preparation, anything you want.”
The Bloomburg product, which also uses data from PitchFX, includes all major league data going back to before 1,900, all minor league data, college data, international data and pitch-by-pitch data going back to 2006, and even allows teams to create a custom statistics, Squadron said.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said the program has replaced the job of advance scouts, who used to gather data on opposing teams to feed their organizations.
“Over the last couple of years, the Orioles have been transitioning to take the data we have from Bloomberg and PitchFX and leverage that in a way the helps us position our players better and make better pitches at the right time and effectively win games,” Duquette said.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Angels, the Orioles and Bloomberg offered fans an inside look at the new-wave analytics that is now an everyday part of the game.
“I think it’s made a big difference in winning the close games,” Duquette said. “There are two or three or four plays every game that determine the outcome of every game. And if you can leverage the technology in a partnership with Bloomberg to win the game, it makes it a lot more fun for everybody.”
Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson, who used analytical data in Oakland’s “Moneyball” days and brought his American Sports Medicine Institute biomechanical pitching lab to spring training to analyze every major league pitcher’s delivery this spring, showed how he used data to help pitchers.
Peterson, formerly the Brewers’ pitching coach, showed how biomechanical data helped Milwaukee closer John Axford. By analyzing Axford’s point of delivery pitching from the third-base side of the rubber, which prevented Axford from executing pitches down and away, the data showed a move to the first-base side (where the plane of his delivery lined up through the middle the batter’s box) would help him.
“We’re now able to validate the adjustment we made to see how that actually affects the reliever point,” Peterson said.
The Bloomberg product’s next step is to include defensive data, which would “change the whole way we evaluate fielding,” Squadron said, able to determine fielding range relative to ball movement at is comes off the bat.