In this episode, Richard Lummis and I consider how the Houston Astros went from literally the worst team ever in baseball to World Series Champions, as been chronicled by Sports Illustrated writer Ben Reiter in his book “Astroball: The New Way to Win It All”. The book tells the story of how two persons had a vision of using data analytics to literally change the game of baseball. The two men were Jeff Luhnow, the former Director of Scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals, and former NASA rocket scientist Sig Mejdal, who became Luhnow’s assistant at the Astros. Team owner Jim Crane had the foresight to buy into Luhnow’s vision and the wherewithal to put up with people like me who were unpitying in their criticism of the Astros and their plan. It turns out they did have a plan and, more importantly, they executed it.

Key highlights are:

  1. The use of data analytics in player selection.
  2. The use of data analytics in player development.
  3. How data analytics supplement but do not replace scouting.
  4. What are the leadership lessons to be garnered from the Astros experience with data analytics.