The visual analytical tools of Bloomberg Sports

Open Thread: Higashioka gets the call
Fan Confidence Poll: February 1st, 2010

On a blustery, cold January day amidst a dry sports weekend, I spent my afternoon on the seventh floor of the Bloomberg News offices in midtown. With many familiar bloggers — the guys from Fack Youk, Jason from It’s All About the Money, numerous others — we were dazzled by the latest offering from the financial information giant. It is, as The Times reported a few months ago, a foray into the world of fantasy sports and baseball numbers.

The nitty-gritty is pretty straight forward. For $19.95, fantasy players can buy access to a pre-draft tool, and for $24.95, fans can access the in-season toolkit. For $31.95, a consumer gets both products, and all three options come with access to Bloomberg’s exclusive content headed by Jonah Keri and a team of writers to be announced later. But what are these tools?

For the most part, the subscription gives a fantasy baseball player access to a wealth of stats and rankings and a supposed leg up. The Bloomberg suits who spoke to us said they want this to become the “most compelling sports analysis tool around.”

The basic selling point is league integration along with statistical visualization. Take, for example, the image on the right. This chart takes Bloomberg’s typical demand vs. scarcity presentation and graphs it onto a chart showing MLB Tier vs. average draft position. For pre-draft analysis, information such as this is very helpful.

Beyond that, what we saw doesn’t offer up much original material right now. Bloomberg is using a proprietary B-Rank tool to establish player rankings, and it’s not yet clear how much this differs from anything Yahoo! Sports or ESPN put forward. The visuals look great, and the information — such as it appears this spider chart — is great for fantasy sports but lacking for other analytical abilities.

Where the product really excels, however, is in the pro version. David Appelman has photos from the presentation, and the spray charts, strike zone info and Pitch F/X analysis are where this tool emerges as something drool-worthy. On Fangraphs, take a look at the third photo of a pie chart. It’s Bloomberg’s traditional market returns chart grafted onto pitchers. The inner band features Chris Carpenter’s first pitch, and the outer bands show the progression of pitches. It enables us to see, for example, the odds of a slider after a first-pitch fastball.

Unfortunately, this pro tool — great for bloggers — is only available for teams. It’s part of the relationship between MLB.com and Bloomberg, and right now, Bloomberg is selling it so that only the 30 clubs can buy it. Authentication requires a Bloomberg terminal with the ability to read a biometric scanner. Maybe one day, the rest of us will have access to the parts that promise to be a gold mine of information.

In a few weeks, Joe and I will get our complimentary subscription to the fantasy tools, and we’ll have a more in-depth look at the offerings. For now, Bloomberg has developed a flashy — and Flash-based application — that can help fantasy owners in their drafts. If it can move beyond that initial offering to become the game-changer Dan Doctoroff and others told us about today, the financial giant stands to become a major player in the world of sports analysis. And, oh yeah, they give out sweet t-shirts.

For more images from the product, check out this gallery. I’m happy to answer any other questions about the screenshots anyone may have.

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Open Thread: Higashioka gets the call
Fan Confidence Poll: February 1st, 2010
  • Tom Zig

    holy schnikes batman!

  • http://i.cdn.turner.com/si/multimedia/photo_gallery/0902/mlb.alex.rodriguez.through.the.years/images/1993.alex-rodriguez.jpg Drew

    At first I thought Bloomberg was just getting in on the cash cow, the relatively untapped market that is fantasy sports, but then you said they were giving their input to all MLB franchises.

    I wonder if that is just a sexy foray into the fantasy market? You know, it will make hardcore fantasy players think, “I have to buy this, they’re so good that they give this info to pro teams.” Sure they have it in fancy flash-apps.. But is this really info that Cash and Co(and those alike) haven’t already been working with?

    • Salty Buggah

      Yea, I’m pretty sure teams already have most of that data. But if it’s cheap enough, I guess teams might buy because it looks so good and is less work for teams (though I’m guessing they have guys whose sole job is to create graphs/visuals like those)

      • A.D.

        Will presumably be somewhat of a uphill battle for them, but the Bloomberg terminal, especially when it began, was essentially a giant aggregater and that worked out for the company.

  • Salty Buggah

    I wonder type of defensive evaluations they offer, if any, in the pro version

  • http://www.baseballbrewery.blogspot.com HolyGhostClaw

    *Drool*

  • JackISBACK

    Maybe we can get the Wilpons to leak the pro version for a small fee. They could probably use the money, right? right?

  • Rose

    The nitty-gritty is pretty straight forward. For $19.95, fantasy players can buy access to a pre-draft tool, and for $24.95, fans can access the in-season toolkit. For $31.95, a consumer gets both products along, and all three options come with access to Bloomberg’s exclusive content headed by Jonah Keri and a team of writers to be announced later.

    Yeah, but how much is this going to cost us after the RAB discount coupon code is entered in?

  • Brian

    that is a pretty drool-worthy offering however…boo flash! flash is not secure and unreliable (and doesn’t work 100% with linux). They should have used HTML5

    • Rose

      Is HTML5 just as non-work-user-friendly as flash is (for some people)?

  • A.D.

    I don’t see a lot of advanced metrics on the screen shots, are they including things like OPS, wRC, or WAR?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      It has OPS, but I wouldn’t lump OPS — an additive stat — in with the others. Remember, though, that the consumer product is geared toward helping fantasy players win their leagues. I don’t know too many fantasy players resorting to WAR or wRC. Do you?

      • A.D.

        Very true

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

    well, it may one fday be available but a b loomberg professional account is anywhere from $1500-2000 a month and the keyboards are a rental so if you break it/dont return it there’s another grand. im sure if this is ever opened up to the publixc it won’t be so expensive but it will prob also be watered down since it prob will be that expensive to the 30 mlb teams.

    but hey, what od i know. that biometric fingerprint reader is pretty damn cool as is the portable one

    • A.D.

      In the future potentially every nerd has a Bloomberg terminal in their basement.

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Templeton_Peck Templeton “Brendog” Peck

        garden apartment

  • Jose

    http://riveraveblues.com/image...../cons7.jpg

    The counting stats seem correct in that picture, but it looks like there is a bug in the team rate stats.

    • Tom Zig

      you mean the 4.211 SLG, 2.981 OBP, 2.397 AVG?

      Yeah seems that way

  • Mister Delaware

    Am I the only one bothered by SF being listed ahead of HBP on the t-shirt? Probably?

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