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Twins Make Their Mark At SportCon

The worlds of analytics and sport are increasingly merging, a fact celebrated by MinneAnalytics on Tuesday with its inaugural SportCon event at the University of St. Thomas.

Two members of the Minnesota Twins front office who perhaps best embody this dynamic – Derek Falvey and Jack Goin – were fittingly on hand as panelists.
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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9 Comments

I was there, good stuff today. I'd definitely do it again next year. 

    • Nick Nelson, nicksaviking, shs_59 and 4 others like this
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Eduardo Nunez's Helmet
Jan 10 2017 11:58 PM

I was there today too. Really impressed by the event and by the Twins' presence there. Will be going again next year for sure.

    • nicksaviking likes this
Thanks to all who came out and said hello. Nick & Bonnes were there and said hello. Unfortunately I wasn't able to spend more time there yesterday to learn and talk with more people.
    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Nick Nelson, Seth Stohs and 11 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 11 2017 10:15 AM

I must not have been paying attention, I hadn't heard about this event. Not that I would have been able to go, but I would have been able to feel sorry for myself that I couldn't.

 

If someone starts a thread about the event here on TD if it occurs again, I'd bet there'd be some pretty strong TD attendance.

 

Not sure if that's a good thing though, you guys are pretty rowdy.

    • snepp and d-mac like this

 

Thanks to all who came out and said hello. Nick & Bonnes were there and said hello. Unfortunately I wasn't able to spend more time there yesterday to learn and talk with more people.

Hopefully Falvey will have seen the benefits from this years event and give you more time next year...

    • d-mac likes this
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Parker Hageman
Jan 11 2017 12:53 PM

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    • ChiTownTwinsFan, nicksaviking, snepp and 4 others like this

 

I must not have been paying attention, I hadn't heard about this event. Not that I would have been able to go, but I would have been able to feel sorry for myself that I couldn't.

 

If someone starts a thread about the event here on TD if it occurs again, I'd bet there'd be some pretty strong TD attendance.

 

Not sure if that's a good thing though, you guys are pretty rowdy.

 

Ditto. I wouldn't have thought twice about going. But alas, I had not heard about this. 

    • nicksaviking likes this
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luckycharmguy
Jan 12 2017 06:19 PM

Having helped put on a few conferences myself, they did a great job for their first year! There was a good mix of technical, marketing, and startup talks. It was a much more diverse crowd than most of the tech, or as Parker might call 'super nerd conferences' I tend to attend and was good to see. Kudos to all that ran things and those that braved the weather. 

I attended as well and thought it was a great conference - some fun baseball talk during the winter. I only found out about it by accident, maybe if they do it next year it will be advertised better. (Not that it needs to be, it was very crowded but I think part of that was because it was free.) St Thomas seemed like a logical place to hold it since they are now offering a degree in business analytics. Maybe that's how other attendees found out about it? 

    • Eduardo Nunez's Helmet likes this

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