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Beyond making it easier to analyze the existing information, Abbamondi tries to build competitive advantage by adopting ideas from unlikely places. “You have to look outside our industry to think about how we can continually improve,” he says, citing a chapter from surgeon and New Yorker medical writer Atul Gawande’s book Better that explores the dramatic improvement in battlefield survival rates in the past decade. “It wasn’t an advance in medical technology but, rather, process improvement in battlefield triage treatment,” he says. “They are changing the supply chain in medical care, and we think about how that could translate to baseball. Should we wait for better MRI technology to predict pitcher injuries, or can we do it by improving processes or how we are organized?”

In a sense, baseball is a sport of numbers, but Abbamondi never forgets that those statistics are produced by humans. “Our business is different in that our units of productions are people with real-world problems, and [it’s important to go] above and beyond baseball analysis to deal with those issues,” he says. “We have a player, Khalil Greene, dealing with social-anxiety disorder. Knowing what he’s going through and how it’s affecting him and the team is the sort of thing you can’t learn from a spreadsheet. You have to be around the clubhouse and get to know the players as people, and do what you can to put them in a place to succeed.”

Because of baseball’s human element, fans forge emotional connections that can last lifetimes and cross generations. Sitting in the dugout of Dodger Stadium last year, Abbamondi flashed back to his first baseball game, which he’d watched with his father at that very stadium. “I’m fortunate to work in a game where I can still touch on the memories from my childhood, and sometimes that comes home in a deep way,” he says. “I still get a real sense of wonder getting to watch players like Pujols take batting practice every day, and I hope that never wears off.”

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Credit: David Torrence

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