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Download Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak, by Travis Sawchik Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Travis Sawchik Narrator: Pete Larkin, Peter Larkin Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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. Pittsburghers joked their town was the city of champions … and the Pirates. 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. For manager Clint Hurdle and the front office staff to save their jobs, they could not rely on a free agent spending spree, and instead they had to improve the sum of their parts and find hidden value. They had to change. From Hurdle shedding his old-school ways to work closely with Neal Huntington, the forward-thinking data-driven GM and his team of talented analysts; to pitchers like A. J. Burnett and Gerrit Cole changing what and where 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; to Clint Barmes, a solid shortstop and one of the early adopters of the unconventional on-field shift, which forced the entire infield to realign into positions they never stood in before. Under Hurdle’s leadership, a culture of collaboration and creativity flourished as he successfully blended whiz kid analysts with graybeard coaches—a kind of symbiotic teamwork which was unique to the sport.

Big Data Baseball is Moneyball on steroids. It 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. With the help of data-tracking systems like PitchF/X and TrackMan, the Pirates collected millions of data points on every pitch and ball in play to create a tome of color-coded reports that revealed groundbreaking insights for how to win more games without spending a dime. In the process, they discovered that most batters struggled to hit two-seam fastballs, that an aggressive defensive shift on the field could turn more batted balls into outs, and that a catcher’s most valuable skill was hidden. All these data points, which aren’t immediately visible to players and spectators, are the bit of magic that led the Pirates to spin straw into gold, finish the 2013 season in second place, and end a twenty-year losing streak.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “I read and loved Big Data Baseball…Highly recommended if you dig baseball stats and anecdotes!”

    Seth Meyers, American comedian, actor, and television host

  • “The book is a love letter to sabermetrics…It is not just a book for Pittsburgh Pirates fans…and it will likely serve as great fodder in strategy sessions for baseball’s twenty-nine other teams and for baseball analysts everywhere…Sawchik makes sense of it all from both high-level and nuts-and-bolts views.”

    Hardball Times

  • Travis Sawchik is able to take some relatively complicated concepts and provide a soft, inviting touch for less data obsessed readers.”

    Camden Depot

  • “How this motley collection of men—from data geeks to throwback coaches to reluctant players—worked the numbers together to mold a winner makes Sawchik’s tale as compelling as Michael Lewis’ Moneyball. Which is saying a lot.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “This enlightening book by Sawchik explains how the team helped redefine the game…Sawchik wonderfully dissects statistics and the game itself in a style that will score with a broad range of readers.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Both a comprehensive and a focused look at how computer-recorded data are fundamentally altering America’s pastime.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Any baseball fan knows of the ongoing struggle over decision making between managers, who like to go with gut feelings, and non-playing analysts, who scrutinize statistics. Pete Larkin’s narration of this discussion isn’t flashy, but he does the job steadily, much like the book’s subjects do theirs. The account humanizes the people who pore over minutiae, giving personality to the number-crunchers who analyze data for the sake of helping a team…Larkin doesn’t try to imitate the people quoted…but he keeps the listener’s interest with his emotional inflection. It’s an interesting listen for fans who want to understand what causes defensive shifts and the like.”


  • A New York Times Bestseller
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