NBA Moneyball

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Term Definition
MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

In 2004, MIT Sloan and Daryl Morey initiated one of the first MBA programs with a sports analytics business class.

This began a focus in sports business that was extended when Daryl Morey and Jessica Gelman founded the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in the winter of 2006.

The inaugural conference in 2007 was highlighted by keynote speakers JP Ricciardi and Jamie McCourt. Panel topics included baseball analytics featuring Bill James, sponsorship across all leagues, league management/expansion, and careers in sports.

The 2008 conference doubled in attendance as Wyc Grousbeck was the keynote speaker. Featured panels included Defending the Title, which included General Managers or Decision-makers from the then reigning champions of the four major sports leagues; Bill Polian (President, Indianapolis Colts), RC Buford (GM, San Antonio Spurs), Brian Burke (then-GM, Anaheim Ducks), and Jed Hoyer (Assistant GM, Boston Red Sox).

Building on continued success and growth, the 2009 conference transitioned to a featured panel format and again doubled in attendance. The first featured panel was Evolution of the Fan Experience, which was moderated by Bill Simmons and included Jeff Van Gundy and Brian Burke looking at how new technology, stadium design, game innovations, and customer initiatives are taking the fan experience to the next level. The second featured panel, Value of Icon Players, included Carla Christofferson and all-star guard Ray Allen discussing how to quantify the value icon players bring to a team or city. Other featured speakers included Adam Silver talking about the evolving value of new media and sports, Jonathan Kraft speaking on the globalization of sports, and Mark Cuban debating basketball analytics with some of the leagues top analytics users.

The 2010 conference was again a tremendous success, attracting over 1,000 attendees with another 400 on the waitlist. It also marked the first time the conference was held away from the MIT campus, moving to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The feature panel was What Geeks Donít Get: The Limits of Moneyball, and included Mark Cuban, Jonathan Kraft, Daryl Morey, Bill Polian, and Bill Simmons, and was moderated by Michael Lewis. The panel explored the decision making processes general managers and owners go through beyond the numbers. Beyond panel discussions, 2010 also saw the introduction of the research paper track, an extremely popular addition.

Watch the panels presented at MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

 
Moneyball Approach

A research-driven approach that relies heavily on empirical analysis of player performance.

Oakland Athletics' general manager Billy Beane built successful baseball teams year after year, rather than relying on the gut instincts of old-time scouts, as was standard practice for decades. Writer Micheal Lewis realized another investment game was being played out in baseball, notably by the A's. He gained inside access to A's general manager Billy Beane and got a look at how Beane's value players differently than other teams. In 2003, he wrote a book called Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

The Oakland organization assesses offensive production differently than others, stressing on-base percentage and power, de-emphasizing stolen bases and putting the ball in play. It has engendered an approach to acquiring talent based as much on statistical achievement as on traditional tools, an approach that has gripped some franchises and galled many traditionalists.

 


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