<
>
Get ESPN+

Dodgers, Brewers show how analytics is changing baseball

There has been a bit of everything in this NLCS, as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Brewers manager Craig Counsell have employed both old-school and new-school tactics to get an advantage in the series. Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- You want to know which teams are at the forefront of analytics? Just look around at the teams still playing.

Once upon a time, there was the Oakland Athletics and a sacred tome called "Moneyball." It was about baseball teams winning with statistics. Only it wasn't about that at all. It was about market inefficiency. Then John Henry bought the Boston Red Sox, hired Bill James, made Theo Epstein his general manager, and Moneyball spread to a big market.

We're several iterations past all of that. Things move fast in technology, so fast it can even carry a tradition-based industry like baseball into the digital age. These days, every team is playing Moneyball. All of them, as in 30 for 30.

"At this point, I think everyone assumes that their counterpart is smart," Brewers general manager David Stearns said. "And everyone is doing what they can do to unearth competitive advantages." To call it Moneyball is not right, either. Michael Lewis is still turning out ground-breaking work, but to fully capture what is happening in big league front offices, circa 2018, the next inside look at analytics and baseball would need to be authored by someone like the late Stephen Hawking. It's hard to say what you'd call it. "The Singularity" has already been taken.

Which teams have had the best year in analytics? It's the Red Sox, Astros, Brewers and Dodgers. The top two will meet in the World Series next week. And so on.

The Brewers and Dodgers are analytical mirrors in some ways, at least when you look at statistical traits and how they relate to what James used to call percentage baseball. They are different in some ways as well, because there is nothing cookie cutter about any of this.