Friday, February 2, 2018
The Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy: Baseball’s First Systematic Attempt to Analyze, Discover, and Train Unknown Players
After being awarded an expansion team in 1969, Kansas City pharmaceutical mogul Ewing Kauffman brashly stated that he wanted to win the pennant in five years. Kauffman immediately began to search out new ways to find, evaluate, and train major league quality baseball players. Thirty years before Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, Kauffman believed that statistical analysis could provide a competitive advantage. Kauffman also had ideas on how the team should find talent. He would create a Baseball Academy, operating separately from the traditional farm system, where great athletes with little baseball background could learn the game.
Kauffman planned to apply a scientific approach: figure out and measure which raw skills best translated into baseball success and then how to best develop and hone those skills to create ballplayers. While most baseball men thought the Baseball Academy a waste of money and coaching resources, Kauffman purchased a 121-acre site in Sarasota, Florida and hired experts in physiology and psychology. This presentation is the story of Kauffman’s fascinating attempt to find a new source of ballplayers, and the lessons for today’s challenge of evaluating, finding, and training talent in any industry.