From Deadball to Techball: The Evolution of Baseball Innovation
Moneyball highlighted a new way to think about building a baseball team. But trying to gain an edge has been going on since baseball began, and it didn’t stop with the publication of Michael Lewis’s book. For example, in the 1930s, the smartest front offices created farm systems, and the teams that did so first established a lasting advantage. In the 1980s, Toronto was at the forefront of creating an identifiable presence in the Dominican Republic, leading to a decade of contention and two championships.
Today we’ve moved beyond Moneyball. Big Data is now on the cusp of an even bigger transformation of our understanding of baseball. Just before the 2015 season Major League Baseball rolled out Statcast, a system of multiple cameras in each ballpark that includes Trackman, a synergistic technology using the Doppler radar effect, that is revolutionizing how on-field activity can be quantified. The San Francisco Giants were at the forefront of this revolution, and in the aftermath of their 2012 World Series victory USA Today dubbed their approach “Techball”. Like baseball teams looking for an edge, the most successful businesses continually innovate to gain a strategic advantage.