Podcast provides interesting insight into Nationals analytics department

On his “Sports Info Solutions Baseball” podcast last week, Mark Simon (Twitter: @MarkASimonSays) talked about analytics and how the Nationals use data in several aspects of their baseball seasons.

Simon visited with Nationals assistant general manager for baseball research and development Samuel Mondry-Cohen.

Mondry-Cohen referred to his department as the “R&D department” within the Nationals organization. He said the development side of the club’s analytics study is devoted to software development.

“People that are building proprietary websites that house tools for our scouts, our minor league coaches, general manager Mike Rizzo being one of our biggest users,” Mondry-Cohen told Simon. “This is where they can get video or projections on any player in the baseball universe.”

Mondry-Cohen said starter Max Scherzer is one of the Nationals’ “power users” of analytical data. He said Scherzer is so sophisticated in his use of their research and development that the ace projects their gathered analytics for his future use.

Scherzer-Talking-With-Suzuki-Gray-Sidebar.jpg“(Scherzer’s) often thinking a year or more down the line,” Mondry-Cohen said. “He may ask us for some sort of tool and it’s apparent that he is not going to try put this into action now but he’s already thinking about the next season and what he may be able to do in the offseason.”

Mondry-Cohen also made note of the interaction with manager Davey Martinez in analytics use day-to-day.

“We hear from Davey quite frequently,” Mondry-Cohen said, “whether that’s a discussion about a pitch mix that they are talking about for a pitcher or something that is being bandied about downstairs that he would ask for our opinion on.”

Mondry-Cohen said that general manager Mike Rizzo values his group’s work immensely and is constantly in communication with them regarding their findings.

“I think the culture is really dictated by your general manager,” he said. “I think Mike has certainly made (our research) available and provides this robust department to all the users, whether that’s a player or coach or scout. But then the responsibility on using that (is) on the end users.”

Simon asked about how analytics might have provided insight that went into Rizzo’s decision to pursue reliever Daniel Hudson.

“One of the things (Rizzo) certainly looks at is: What is our projection of a player’s future performance? These models that we are always kind of tweaking and building,” Mondry-Cohen said. “That’s something that he can get out of our software.”

The podcast provides fascinating insight into how the Nationals implement baseball analytics into their day-to-day operations as well as their projections for seasons to come, and Simon asked great questions.

Here is the link to the podcast in its entirety.

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