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Beane, the Rays were the first MLB team to go all-in on analytics and reach the promised land.Since 2008, when it appeared in the World Series, Tampa Bay has been No.1 in defensive efficiency and has produced six winning seasons.And it's all thanks to a staff of eight R&D specialists who find numerical advantages not only in every defensive shift but in every roster move -- just four Rays have made million or more in a single season since 2008.
With five staffers devoted to picking apart the CBA, mining player health and minting theories on roster construction, Hinkie has topped his former boss, Rockets GM Daryl Morey, as the NBA's most ardent analytic master.
But don't overlook a stable front office -- GM Brian Cashman since 1998, manager Joe Girardi since 2008 and director of quantitative analysis Michael Fishman since 2005 -- and a reliance on metrics.
Girardi consults with Fishman on tendencies before each series, and Cashman talks constantly with a 15-deep analytics staff, saying he used "hit velos" (ball speed off the bat) to justify last year's deal for third baseman Chase Headley.
Still, even after Oakland's brain drain -- Mets VP Paul De Podesta ("Peter Brand" in the movie) and Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi -- Beane continues to thrive with buy-in from manager Bob Melvin, whose teams have averaged 93 wins a season since '12 and ranked No. Now the Hawks, with two Stanley Cups in that span, are seen as pioneers in Corsi and Fenwick ratings, which value players by possessions, not points.
Bowman says next-level metrics have given Chicago a sharp edge on a league that, like the NFL, is slow to adapt: "I use them a lot, but I don't talk about it a lot-it's not about me, it's about how it helps us." The Lakers infamously had the only NBA front office without a rep at the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and their old-school approach hasn't progressed much.