On whether analytics are useful to players

There have been some interesting (let’s be honest, ridiculously annoying) quotes recently on the acceptance of analytics amongst coaches and players. “Of course coaches should use it,” the popular refrain goes, “but I don’t think players themselves can take much use from it directly. Well this interview between FanGraphs and Oakland A’s outfielder Brandon Moss suggests otherwise. Give it a skim and take note of how Moss’ awareness of in what situations and under what conditions he has success influences choices he makes with regards to his technique and strategy. Sure, it’s easy to say that coaches should look at the numbers and then relay general concepts to the players, but with that approach you’re opening yourself up to the same problems in acceptance as you are bringing general concepts to GMs without numbers to back them up.

Of course, not every player will have any interest in looking at numbers, and they don’t all have to. There will soon enough be companies – like there are in basketball – hiring themselves out to players, rather than teams, for individual analysis. Which side am I better at driving the zone towards? Do I shoot better glove high or stick low? Do I allow too big of a gap against charging forwards?

This is all info that players who learn about analytics can derive instantaneously, and cutting out the middle man – while in some cases irritating coaching staffs – can lead to big payoffs.

So yes, analytics are useful to players. And soon enough, many will be using them directly.

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2 thoughts on “On whether analytics are useful to players

  1. Don’t you think this could potentially create a situation where coaches and players are at loggerheads (or exacerbate that issue if it already exists)? Not sure what the team gains would be if players defy coaching based on their reading of analytics data. It may be that coaches are (mostly) dinosaurs and the received wisdom on which they base their philosophies can use some serious shaking up, but it seems to me that this would have to be initiated from above (as we are starting to see, I think) and not from player defiance.

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  2. Pingback: On Zach Parise, Players Using Analytics, and Healthy Skepticism | AP Hockey

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