Sports Illustrated Writer Picks Astros To Repeat As World Series Champs
As the Astros set their sights on another postseason run, our Sean Coffey traveled to Austin to speak with the man who first predicted their 2017 championship season over three years ago. That’s right, I’m here at Book People in Austin, where on Monday Sports Illustrated senior writer Ben Reiter met with fans and readers alike to discuss baseball, analytics, and his new book “Astroball”. Every sports fan knows the importance of statistics for a front office trying to build a contender, but according to Ben Reiter, the key is going beyond the numbers. “I thought they were really on to something new. Baseball had become very analytics heavy, I thought the fact that they were reincorporating human beings and human inputs into their decision might represent a quantum leap.” Such is the focus of Ben’s new book, “Astroball: The New Way To Win It All”, which chronicles the Astros’ meteoric rise from cellar dwellers to World Series champions. As the author points out, it’s a formula now imitated by teams throughout the sport. “Right, well I think that the data landscape has kind of flattened. It used to be if you had an advanced data department, you could get an advantage on teams that didn’t very easily. Now every front office has a ‘nerd cave’ like the Astros have. Where you can differentiate yourself is through the human factor, is through things like team chemistry, and developing the players you already have to be the best that they can be.” Ultimately, Reiter believes the goal shouldn’t necessarily be to abandon old schools of thought, but to streamline them with the benefits afforded by advanced data. “They asked them to do the same things they always had, make the same observations they always have, use their instincts just like they know how. Then they took those observations and processed them differently, they stripped out human biases, the bad information from the good.” Fans of the Astros are sure to like Ben’s book, but they’ll like his latest prediction as well, as he sees the Astros wiunning it all again in 2018.