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After twenty consecutive losing seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates, team morale was low, the club's payroll ranked near the bottom of the sport, game attendance was down, and the city was becoming increasingly disenchanted with its team. Big Data Baseball is the story of how the 2013 Pirates, mired in the longest losing streak in North American pro-sports history, adopted drastic big-data strategies to end the drought, make the playoffs, and turn around the franchise's fortunes.
Award-winning journalist Travis Sawchik takes you behind the scenes to expertly weave together the stories of the key figures who changed the way the small-market Pirates played the game; from manager Clint Hurdle shedding his old-school ways to work closely with Neal Huntington, the data-driven GM and his team of analysts; to the pitchers changing what kinds of pitches they threw; to Russell Martin, the undervalued catcher, whose expert use of the nearly invisible skill of pitch framing helped the team's pitchers turn more balls into strikes; and to Clint Barmes, a solid shortstop and one of the early adopters of the unconventional on-field shift that realigned the entire infield into positions they never stood in before.
Big Data Baseball is an entertaining and enlightening underdog story that uses the 2013 Pirates season as the perfect lens to examine the sport's burgeoning big-data movement.