Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jurgen Klinsmann looking to baseball for help with Bayern Munich

Soon-to-be Bayern manager Jurgen Klinsmann was in Phoenix yesterday to watch baseball's Oakland A's train. His goal, pick team manager Billy Beane's brain on how to find quality talent.

Beane, who has a very low budget by Major League Baseball standards, is incredibly good at finding unknown talent by using a large set of statistics (called sabermetrics) to evaluate them. Klinsmann and other soccer managers are very interested in finding a way to creating a similar system for soccer.

Of course the biggest problem for soccer in trying to replicate this model is the lack of statistics, but Beane wants to change all that.
Beane is interested in finding statistical models that can help soccer teams evaluate talent, much the way the A's have used stats to target players to draft and sign. Beane has talked to several Premier League officials, among other soccer bigwigs, about combining resources to find inequities in the market that might be exploited. Because the A's ownership group also controls Major League Soccer's San Jose franchise (an enterprise that will involve Beane somewhat), any findings would benefit the Earthquakes.
If a stat system is every discovered for rating players, it would probably be a boom for the game, especially in developing markets like the USA where team's don't have a huge scouting budget. Not only would it give the team's a way on paper to compare players, but it would also give fans and sports writers endless numbers to throw around, which is one of the best things baseball has going for it.

That said, there is something really nice about not being able to reduce a player to a set of stats. I say that, but I don't have to run a team.

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Blogger Steve said...

Doesn't the EPL have a set of statistics? Actim or whatever?

2:05 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

I don't think they have anything official. I'm no expert, but I think they and many other top clubs are trying to figure out how to measure things that soccer players do.

The first person to come up with a solid model will probably be the Billy Beane of the soccer world.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Bob said...

The best I've seen so far is given in THE FOOTBALL REVIEW 2007. Its a book I got hold of last month detailing analysis about the EPL.

Very informative!

4:43 AM  
Anonymous Stevie D said...

I've looked at their site recently and they are really upping the bar in soccer stats.

Think I'll go buy the book too.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Mirha said...

Ehhm, baseball and soccer, what the he...l?

5:34 AM  
Blogger H.U. said...

Good piece!
Soccer insiders and journalists tend to be quite traditional with respect to statistics. They have not adapted to to multi-faceted statistical techniques that can certainly help the modern sports franchise.
Check out the blog for more information on EPL and European soccer statistics.
We had a piece last week on Klinsmann and Billie Beane.

8:45 AM  

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