Up at Bat: Tom Tippett, Senior Analyst for the Boston Red Sox
September 8, 2016
Careers in sports analytics are evolving faster than athletes can run bases or make tackles. We recently sat down with Tom Tippett, senior analyst for the Boston Red Sox, and he shared how he helps the team make crucial decisions about players and games. For Tom, baseball analytics was always the dream job. Baseball is complex, and has a long history of data collection, so the sport makes a natural pair with statistics.
Practice Makes Perfect
When we asked Tom what a “typical” day at work was like, he laughed and said, “What’s typical is that it’s not typical!” The rise and fall of the baseball season largely drives the job. Understanding player performance is a key part of Tom’s role on the Red Sox. The data Tom studies on each player’s batting, running, fielding and pitching all help the coaches better understand past player performance as well as predict future performance. “It’s hard but there is a really big pay-off,” said Tom of the process. He and the analytics team are also heavily involved in determining acquisition decisions, tracking and analyzing player performance long before the Red Sox even express an interest in a new team member.
A Field of Rising Stars
When Tom was starting his career, however, you would be hard pressed to find sports teams with full-fledged analytics departments. He initially came on with the Red Sox as a consultant, and at that time he only knew of a few others in sports analytics as a whole. Today, it’s a completely different playing field, pun intended, with possibilities spanning virtually every professional sport known to man.
In part, the rise in Big Data has sparked the growth of sports analysis, just like the growth we’re seeing in statistics careers everywhere. Tom believes new sources of data in the medical and training arenas will support advanced research into performance improvement and injury prevention.
Sports analysis crosses passion for statistics, strategy and sport. For Tom Tippett baseball is the best fit, but the field of sports analytics is growing rapidly, and opportunity exists in virtually every kind of playing field. Read more about Tom Tippett from our friends at the Boston Globe.
Interested in learning more about what sport statisticians do and how the field of sports analytics could be the right career choice for you? Join us as two sports statisticians tell us what the data is like behind the scenes, and the many ways their work informs decisions of professional teams on a daily basis. Learn more about our upcoming webinar here.
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Irineo Cabreros is an AAAS Mass Media Fellow with the sponsorship of the American Statistical Association. He spent 10 weeks this summer training as a science journalist with Slate in its New York City offices. This summer I had the opportunity to write for the science desk at Slate magazine as an AAAS Mass Media Fellow sponsored…