Cray’s Mystery MLB Team Revealed?

ESPN Analytics Blog

Last week, ESPN published an interesting article exploring the use, or lack thereof, of analytics in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League. In the article, titled “The Great Analytics Rankings,” the researchers at ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com assessed, rated and ranked each team on its overall usage of analytics. Based on their findings and assessments, teams were classified as either all-in, believers, one-foot in, skeptics or nonbelievers.

Needless to say, the article caught our attention.

Many devoted followers of Cray know, and now the readers of this ESPN article are quickly finding out, a Major League Baseball team is one of our customers. Yes, an MLB team has a Cray supercomputer. We haven’t been shy in talking about this, but we have been extremely close-lipped on identifying who the mystery team is.

As the PR manager for Cray, trust me, this is incredibly frustrating. I am sitting on PR gold here, and am doing pretty much nothing about it.

A number of our customers limit what we can say about them. We have a number of large, well-known companies using our supercomputers to create a competitive advantage in their industries, and they don’t want their competitors knowing what they’re up to. I can respect that. But as a PR guy, I would love to tell you about the cool things that our finance, manufacturing and energy customers are doing with our systems.

When word of our mystery MLB customer started to spread, a number of reporters approached us wanting to know which team is applying the advanced analytics capabilities of our Urika-GD™ graph discovery appliance to its baseball operations. I can’t blame them — it’s a cool story!

After the disappointment of us not being able to identify the team sets in, some reporters understand our position and move on to their next story. Other reporters remain intrigued by the concept of a Cray supercomputer in the front office of a baseball team, and The Economist, HPCwire and others have posted interesting articles examining the why and how, but not the who.

So, what was so intriguing to us about this ESPN piece? Well, the writers took an educated guess and surmised that the mystery MLB team with a Cray is the Houston Astros. While I’m not going tell you here who the team is, I can tell you that it’s not the Astros.

We think it’s great the Astros are “all-in” on analytics according to ESPN, but unfortunately they are not all in with Cray. At least, not yet

I will say this — we applaud the Astros for their adoption of analytics, but the team with a Cray won more games last year. No slight against the Astros. I am a Mariners fan, so I understand not always having a winning record.

Keep checking our blog, as our analytics experts will continue to weigh in on this topic. In the coming days, our own Tim White, who covers the sports analytics segment for Cray, will explore the ESPN piece in more depth and will take a closer, more technical look at the rankings.

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