Information and statistics are woven into the fabric of both market research and baseball. Both disciplines rely on this intelligence heavily to assess, forecast and make decisions. Recently, ESPN Baseball analysts completed a “Who are baseball’s franchise players“ fantasy–like draft. The basic premise is, if money wasn’t an issue, who should be drafted to help in the construction of a franchise? The first pick? Denver’s own, Troy Tulowitzki (Tulo).
As Karl Ravech, baseball guru for ESPN put it, “the first overall selection really is a no-brainer. It’s pretty simple, considering Tulowitzki is 26, averages 28 home runs a year and 98 RBIs…”
Of course these are just stats for the layman. Other analysts follow with OBP, WAR, OPS, BABIP, and every other amalgamation of letters one can create. Now I’m a big proponent of measuring and analyzing data, but I ask myself – are these numbers really who Tulo is? Is it those 98 RBIs that make him the #1 franchise player? What about his situation, his character and the chemistry he has with teammates? Shouldn’t those “immeasurable” aspects play into his story? For Karl Ravech, they did…
“…the guy plays in a hitter-friendly ballpark. He has a contract already signed, sealed and delivered, so he’s not going to be one of those guys who will get distracted by the contract conversations. And he plays on a team with another great player in Carlos Gonzalez and for an organization that is committed to winning, things that make Tulo even better.” Karl Ravech
As a baseball fan and fantasy baseball enthusiast, I pour over box scores looking at the stats created during the turn of the century (by a guy who simply altered the cricket scoring method). But what I truly enjoy is eschewing the box score for the game summaries. The summaries give nuance, color and the story of the game. They tell me how a hit in the box score was actually a game winning blooper just out of the reach of a diving 2nd baseman.
In our experience, market research clients want the box score but they love the game summary too. Therefore, researchers need to be wary of just relying on the statistics when there is opportunity for a story to be told. As we’ve said many times, there is a reason why hybrid research is all the rage. The addition of qualitative in tandem with quant (not as isolated pieces) gives us the best of both worlds. If choosing a hybrid research approach can turn a line item in a box score or a player’s stat line into a lasting, identifiable image or a comprehensive persona, isn’t it worth it?