Moneyball – IPL 2014 edition


The world of sports throws open two questions to statisticians:
1) Given a budget constraint, how competitive can a team be?
2) If a certain level of competency is needed in a team, then what is the minimum budget?


The original ‘Moneyball’

Moneyball, a Hollywood movie starring Brad Pitt, tried to address these questions (especially the first). It reflected the methods used by Oakland Athletics baseball team in 2002. It transformed the world of baseball by discarding the popular belief that scouts’ experience and intuition are the only tools for valuing players. The movie introduced various performance measures for players. Notable among them was the on-base percentage (OBP), which was used by the team to value players. This method was very successful; Oakland Athletics finished first in the American League West with a record of 103-59. The team also enjoyed a record 20 game winning streak in the American League.


Analytics in cricket

Sachin 241*

This wagon wheel shows Sachin’s 241* at the SCG in 2003-04. Tendulkar was in bad form before this innings, with scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44. He was dismissed several times driving at wide balls outside his off stump. In this innings he managed to score most of his boundaries in the leg side. It is considered as one of the most disciplined innings by a batsman.

Batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, etc. try to learn from their mistakes. Modern batsmen practice against bowling machines by setting appropriate line and length. Andrew Strauss’s innings against Shane Warne in the Ashes Test Series 2005 is one such example. However, these applications are not possible unless the target (self or opponent) is carefully studied. Such studies involve the use of analytics.


Analytics in IPL 2014

“With SAP’s solutions, we gained a multi-dimensional analysis of every player and were able to devise a playing 11 that had the maximum chances of winning the tournament. During the game too, SAP’s solutions helped us strategize better and provide a great experience to our fans”

– Venky Mysore, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kolkata Knight Riders

“The business of sports and entertainment is at an inflection point with new technologies driving significant changes to the business and creating vast amounts of qualitative and quantitative data. SAP solutions help sporting organizations turn data into action to gain a competitive edge by increased player availability, reliability, readiness, and performance. KKR’s victory in the seventh edition of the IPL is the perfect confluence of team strategy, player performance, and the use of insights from SAP to drive immediate action towards the team’s victory”

– Anirban Dey, Managing Director, SAP Labs India

Recently, Kolkata Knight Riders, in an effort to gain competitive advantage over its opponents, used analytics to produce a winning combination. They used SAP Auction Analytics to objectivize their selection. This tool used design thinking and predictive analytics capability of SAP HANA through live dashboard, which helped KKR to derive intelligence on players. SAP Auction Analytics, SAP Game Analytics and SAP Lumira enabled them to value players, derive post-game analytics after each game and derive fan engagement. SAP Lumira provided statistics to fans on how KKR performed over the course of the tournament. SAP Game Analytics pointed out strengths and weaknesses of each player in the tournament and helped in building strategies to conquer their opponents.