Twins Make Their Mark At SportCon
The wide-reaching conference, which featured an exhaustive array of executives, experts and entrepreneurs from every corner of sports and tech, offered plenty for baseball fans to like.
During a panel on Sports Analytics in the Media and Pro Sports Organizations, Goin sat alongside ESPN VP of Stats & Research Jeff Bennett, Inside Edge cofounder Jay Donchetz and Milwaukee Bucks Director of Basketball Analytics Michael Clutterbuck.
Goin, of course, is Director of Baseball Research for the Twins, and has spearheaded the team’s growing analytics department for years. (And as John notes today, he'll also be a Q&A guest at Winter Meltdown later this month.)
He and Clutterbuck both spoke about the challenge of filtering and prioritizing an endless stream of emerging data and measurements. They talked about the nuances of communicating information without overwhelming, and the recognition that different players and coaches will be receptive to differing levels of input.
The most interesting portion of this session, in my view, came toward the end, when panelists were asked what they saw as the biggest area for a potential breakthrough in their respective fields. Goin indicated that he'd like to see some advancements in the use of data to better manage injuries. Losing key players for indefinite stretches, and trying to make disabled list decisions based on limited information, are among the most significant pain points (pun intended) for major-league teams.
Perhaps in the coming years, integrating analytics can help make the inexact science of sports medicine a little less... inexact.
"If anyone's got any ideas on that, come see me after," Goin joked. (Though, given the setting, maybe it wasn't such a hopeless inquiry – a few local start-ups in that vein such as Prevent Biometrics and Player's Health had presented earlier in the day.)
It's nice to see Goin taking on a more visible role with the organization. Perhaps that comes with the territory of a "Director" title, which he received a year ago, but it also seems related to the franchise's distinctly more outward analytical leanings under Falvey, who stepped in as Chief Baseball Officer in November.
Falvey participated in a later panel titled "The Use of Data and Analytics in Baseball Coaching and Advance Scouting." This, for me and probably every other seamhead in attendance, was the highlight of the day. During the Q&A, WCCO's Mike Max discussed a variety of topics with the Falvey and former Minnesota third baseman Corey Koskie, as well as Pat Casey and Ty McDevitt, who serve as hitting and pitching coach for the Gophers baseball team.
We shot a couple videos, which you can check out below.
In this clip, Falvey discusses his background and analytics and his focus on actionable insights:
In this snippet, Koskie amusingly talks about how he developed a lifelong aversion to statistics after a bad gambler's fallacy experience at the roulette table, until one memorable moment of redemption.
In addition to all the panels, speakers and presentations, the SportCon event also included a tasty lunch, a midday mascot rampage (including good old TC Bear), and plenty of networking opportunities. It was really well put together and serves to further illuminate and elevate the burgeoning world of sports tech. Kudos to MinneAnalytics for knocking this one out of the park, and to the Twins for stepping up to the plate.
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