As early as the 20th century, professional sports teams have started to employ data analysis in formulating strategy. However, as to how the term Sports Statistics become popular, one has to mention the reality-based film, Moneyball. Let’s see how statistical analysis helps the Oakland Athletics to leverage resources and win the ultimate triumph.

The film starts with the general manager (Brad Pitt) of the Oakland Athletics baseball team being upset by the team’s loss in the postseason game and faced with the departure of their best players to bigger clubs. One day, he met a Yale economics graduate who helped him build a statistical model to evaluate players. By finding undervalued players in the market and identifying the best position for them on the field, he managed to assemble a team of “unwanted” players that ultimately succeed in setting a new major league record for 20 consecutive wins. Intertwined with baseball, statistical analysis and operations management, Moneyball received a number of nominations for Golden Globe and Oscar awards, while shinning a spotlight on sports statistics.

Besides baseball, statistical analysis is also used in other sports, like basketball, to improve a team’s winning chances. Some basketball courts have 3-D video recording system to track all the activities in a game, including player movement, ball movement and referee movement, which are then used for statistical analysis. Some years ago, a New York Times article featured on Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets who found ways to strengthen the defense of his own team by sifting through statistical data of the opposing team, e.g. if the opposing player preferred going to his right, Battier would force him to go to his left, or if the opposing player was more likely to dribble right and pull up for a jump shot, Battier would keep him from dribbling right.
Got it! Go to the formula.