I recently watched a documentary about the founder of 5 Hour Energy, Manoj Bhargave, called a “Billions in Change”. An inspiring movie about how, Manoj Bhargave, used his instant wealth to begin projects specifically aimed to help those less fortunate. His motivation is to end poverty on a global scale. In the documentary he gives a speech describing how he started his business and how he is advancing other projects. He spoke about how companies will often bring in “experts” to act as consultants for bettering their business. He brought up an interesting point; why am I bringing in someone who has expertise on what was, or what has happened? He needed someone who is an expert on how to move forward or advance the progress his business, an innovator.
This explanation peaked my interest because I have been hired to do “expert” analysis on TV for the Houston Astros. Yes, I have a pretty good idea of how the game of baseball is played. The reason for this is because, I played. My experience in the MLB is the reason I can offer detailed opinions on why things happen on the baseball field. That being said, the game is advancing at a rapid pace, both on the field and off the field. Therefore, it is my responsibility to use my past experience and adapt to the ever changing landscape of professional baseball.
When I played, the clubhouse was completely separate from the front office. Yes, they had to make personal decisions in concert but the analytical side was nonexistent. Coaches and staff had to look at hours of tape and record each pitch themselves in an effort to help players adjust daily. Nowadays, there are entire divisions of front offices dedicated to analyzing every pitch, swing and defensive position on the field. I’m getting a little sidetracked but you get the point. It’s a massive group effort to enhance each team’s probability for winning. In my job as an analyst or “expert”, I can’t sit in the dark ages of my career and say, “when I played” and expect to be taken seriously.
My job now is to do the best I can to use the “when I played” stuff and adapt it to the modern game of baseball. This is tough to do because I’m a little jaded myself. I didn’t fit into most data crunchers formulas. I was the character guy on the bench/in the clubhouse that could ambush a pitcher every once in a while during a key moment in the game. I agree with data analysis but a large part of me believes that character matters and can’t be quantified. Take the 2015 Astros for instance..The Astros team combined their hyper analytics with talent to create a highly competitive team. The “X” factor for the 2015 team was the chemistry! These guys loved playing the game of baseball together. This was never more obvious in the playoffs. They literally looked as if they were having the time of their lives. I loved it! I also enjoyed the fact that modern analysis melded with good old fashioned talent and enthusiasm. It won’t happen every year, so enjoy it when it does. I appreciate the fact that analytics has identified talent. I also appreciate organizations that develop winners, not just talent. The Astros are reaping the benefits of teaching their minor leaguers to win.
Therefore, my job entails; along with translating the game live, looking deeper than what is on the field at any given moment. My job now deals with knowing why a player is on the team, what his role is and identifying what statistics detail why each player is an asset to the team. Oh yeah, you better believe that I think “chemistry” is more than just noise filtered out of a calculator. Noise is what happens in the clubhouse, the dugout and between the lines. Noise can push a team to win above numerical expectations.