'Moneyball': Canadian mathematician coaching Tampa Bay Rays
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman
Published Sunday, August 11, 2019 10:00PM EDT
A Toronto man who never made it past T-ball is now working as a coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s his number-crunching skills that got him into the majors.
When he was 13, Jonathan Erlichman read the book “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis. The book tells the story of how Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane turned an understanding of statistics into major league success.
“That sort of got me into it from an analytical side first,” Erlichman told BNN’s Jon Erlichman, who is of no relation. “I was interested in analyzing baseball before I became a fan of baseball.”
Erlichman went on to study math at Princeton University and parlayed that into his current job, which is to help the MLB’s poorest team win games against the odds.
“I’m in uniform pre-game, out on the field during (batting practice), out with the pitchers during stretch,” he said.
George Brown College marketing professor Peter Widdis says hiring mathematicians as coaches could represent a turning point for the league.
“It’s like you’ve got a math coach now on the bench, and a math coach that can provide you directly with information instantly about a player’s performance,” he said.
Erlichman seems to be succeeding at helping players improve, but he admits that statistics aren’t everything.
“Unless you’re really in it, you don’t fully appreciate everything that everyone’s going through over the course of the day,” he said.