The 4 MLB Teams That Used Analytics The Most All Sucked In 2014
Over the past few years, the increasing use of analytics has subtly become one of the more polarizing topics in sports.
To some, the heavy use of analytics by a team is the mark of a smart franchise. To others, like Charles Barkley, a reliance on analytics is the mark of nerds who know nothing of what it's like to actually play the game.
Regardless of where your opinion on the subject falls, the use of analytics is a hot topic in sports and like most hot topics, ESPN went all in with this one.
The "worldwide leader in sports" produced a ranking of teams in the United States' four major sports leagues based on which teams best put analytics to use.
And one of the more interesting things to note is of the four MLB teams ranked the highest, pretty much all of them sucked last season.
Those four were:
The Houston Astros ranked second in ESPN's top 10 of major professional teams. The Astros finished with MLB's fourth-worst record during the 2014 season at 70-92, and overall gained the fewest wins over the past 10 seasons, as noted by ESPN.
The Tampa Bay Rays ranked fourth. At 77-85, the Rays finished eight games under .500 during the 2014 season and 11 games out of a Wild Card spot.
The New York Yankees ranked sixth. The Yanks finished 84-78 during Derek Jeter's farewell season and four games out of a Wild Card spot, despite having MLB's second-highest payroll, according to Deadspin.
The Boston Red Sox ranked eighth. Even with the league's fourth-highest payroll, Boston finished dead last in the AL East at 71-91, the fifth-worst record in Major League Baseball during 2014.
The results are a bit ironic, too. You could make a strong argument that among the four sports considered, baseball is a sport that requires the least amount of teamwork.
The bottom line? You'd expect the most data-driven teams to be successful in a sport where intangibles, like team chemistry, aren't, in theory, as important.
Proponents of baseball analytics, though, might point out this certain statistic isn't all that significant, as it might be better to judge franchises relying on sabermetrics over time.
After all, the Rays' run to the 2008 World Series and emergence as a consistent contender in the AL East coincided with a decision to go bigger on analytics.
The same goes for the Red Sox and their run of four titles since 2004.
Meanwhile, the Oakland A's, the fifth-most analytic-y team in MLB, have been seen as baseball's smartest team for some time now. They have a reputation for constantly acquiring good assets at low costs.
On the other hand, the idea of baseball teams failing despite putting analytics to work is likely to be a juicy one to those strongly believing heavy reliance on statistics foolishly ignores the intangibles of the game, which can never be quantified in numbers.
That in itself makes the lack of success in 2014 by Major League Baseball teams using analytics worthy of note.