They are the new breed of front-office executives: fresh, Ivy
League-educated faces of Generation Google, men who often have
less impressive baseball credentials than Garth Brooks. For a
stat-head to break into the big leagues was, not long ago, almost
unheard of. Now believers of the importance of statistical
evaluation are infiltrating management and infusing teams with a
Wall Street-style sensibility for beating the market.
This is an article from the April 5, 2004 issue
In Boston 30-year-old general manager and Yale grad Theo Epstein
has a cadre of young, statistically savvy assistants. So, too, do
G.M.'s Billy Beane of the Athletics, J.P. Ricciardi of the Blue
Jays and Mark Shapiro of the Indians, who all place great value
on exhaustive quantitative analysis. Other front offices that are
less statcentric are catching the wave. In January the Mets hired
Ben Baumer, 25, who has a master's degree in applied mathematics,
as a full-time statistical analyst.
The work of the resident stat gurus is about more than number
crunching and playing with arcane statistics such as isolated
power or secondary average. "It's about running a team by an
efficient business model and looking at things closer," says
Indians assistant G.M. Chris Antonetti, 29, who has a business
degree from Georgetown. "We don't just say, 'That guy can hit' or
'That guy can pitch.' We analyze. We go a step further."
Antonetti helped develop a computer application, DiamondView,
that every morning at 6:45 uploads the stats from the previous
day's games and updated transaction information for more than
6,000 major and minor league players, information that can be
broken down into any number of statistical studies. Indians
manager Eric Wedge's laptop is linked to DiamondView.
"It used to be that 80 percent of what we did was collecting
data, and 20 percent was analyzing it," says Antonetti. "Now five
percent is collecting it and 95 percent is reading into it."
In addition to Antonetti, these stat gurus are making a name for
themselves in major league front offices.
33, assistant G.M., RED SOX
BASEBALL EXPERIENCE Four years Haverford College
RESUME B.A. in English. Has worked in major league front offices
for 10 years; at 27, with the Indians, was one of the youngest
scouting directors in baseball history. With Boston since
December 2002, his main responsibility is to oversee pro and
27, assistant G.M., ATHLETICS
BASEBALL EXPERIENCE Four years Harvard, two seasons independent
RESUME B.A. in sociology. After graduating, wrote to big league
teams looking for a job. The A's hired him as a baseball
operations assistant, then promoted him to coordinator of pro
scouting. Now he's Billy Beane's number-crunching right-hand man.
27, director of baseball operations, PADRES
BASEBALL EXPERIENCE Six years Little League
RESUME Economics degree from Dickinson. A protege of Theo
Epstein's (the Red Sox' G.M. hired him in San Diego three years
ago), he once designed fantasy sports games for an Internet site.
Has his hand in Padres' arbitration cases, payroll decisions and
minor league scouting.
30, assistant G.M., BLUE JAYS
BASEBALL EXPERIENCE One year Little League
RESUME B.A. from Harvard, M.B.A. from Carnegie Mellon. Former
computer programmer wrote for stat-packed Baseball Prospectus.
Thrives on finding undervalued talent: recommended acquiring Greg
Myers based on his plate discipline and OBP; Myers had a career
year (.307 BA, 15 homers) in 2003.
37, V.P., baseball development, CARDINALS
BASEBALL EXPERIENCE Two years American High School in Mexico City
RESUME Engineering degree from Penn, economics degree from
Wharton, M.B.A. from Kellogg. Left a successful tech company to
work in baseball. Hired last fall by St. Louis to assist in
player evaluations and scouting at all levels. --Albert Chen