What can sports teams learn from the manufacturing industry? Plenty

Mar 13, 2013

What can sports teams learn from the manufacturing industry? Plenty, according to Timothy Chan of the University of Toronto (U of T) and Douglas Fearing of the Harvard Business School.

Using statistics from the 2012 season, Chan and Fearing found that positional flexibility – the ability of a player to play multiple positions – is valuable, responsible for up to 15 per cent of the team's runs, as was the case with the Chicago Cubs. Other teams like the Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays were less robust to injuries.

"Flexibility is important because it provides a team with options and allows a team to field a good line-up even if some players are injured," said Chan, an engineering professor at U of T.

They compared this flexibility with that of automotive manufacturing networks that help companies continue to operate efficiently even when changes occur in supply and demand. Similarly, they say, a baseball team wants to keep winning games if players are injured.

Chan and Fearing presented their insights at the 2013 MIT Sloan Analytics Conference, where their paper, "The value of flexibility in baseball roster construction," took first place.

Chan's primary focus is operations research in health care. However, he is enthusiastic about using the tools from that research to study sports.

"The I develop to solve healthcare engineering problems have broad application in other domains. It is exciting to be able to combine my interest in sports with my methodological research."

For example, at the 2012 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, he and U of T colleague David Novati proposed a new methodology for quantifying the value of a hockey player.

They are developing a novel classification system for junior using advanced mathematical methods, in order to find patterns in performance data that may be otherwise hard to detect. The proposed project represents the first effort to analyze junior hockey players, using similar mathematical models that he developed for the NHL.

"Eventually, we may be able to relate performance at the junior level to the professional level," said Chan. "Such research may inform strategies for drafting or targeted recruitment of high-potential ."

Explore further: Oceanographer Ballard elected to American Academy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How numbers can reveals hidden truths about sports

Mar 01, 2013

When a field-goal kicker lines up for an attempt in a football game, television viewers will typically be presented with the kicker's record from that distance—on all attempts from 40 to 49 yards, for instance. ...

Making sports statistics more scientific

Mar 08, 2012

Whether it is the sprinter who finished first or the team that scored more points, it's usually easy to determine who won a sporting event. But finding the statistics that explain why an athlete or team wins ...

Recommended for you

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

1 hour ago

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

Residents of 'boom time' suburbs face unsustainable commutes

3 hours ago

People living in the 'boom time' suburbs of Dublin are more likely to endure unsustainable commutes to work than those living in older accommodation. Research shows that people living in newly constructed housing in the Greater ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Male-biased tweeting

Today women take an active part in public life. Without a doubt, they also converse with other women. In fact, they even talk to each other about other things besides men. As banal as it sounds, this is far ...

New breast cancer imaging method promising

The new PAMmography method for imaging breast cancer developed by the University of Twente's MIRA research institute and the Medisch Spectrum Twente hospital appears to be a promising new method that could ...

Research proves nanobubbles are superstable

The intense research interest in surface nanobubbles arises from their potential applications in microfluidics and the scientific challenge for controlling their fundamental physical properties. One of the ...

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. ...