Los Angeles Dodgers Shift to Analytics and Hit a Grand Slam

After adding analytics and compute power into its lineup, the Los Angeles Dodgers took home baseball’s biggest prize. The team wants a repeat performance in 2021, and IT is perfecting its skills in real-time decision making, video analytics, and fan experience. Having advanced analytics powered by Cisco and Intel® technology helps the front office, operations, players, and fans experience all the highs of a winning season.

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Image credit: Los Angeles Dodgers, Intel, and Cisco webinar

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a storied baseball history going back more than 100 years and giving fans happy memories of 24 pennants wins and seven World Series championships. Even in the chaotic year that was 2020, the team overcame every distraction and beat the Tampa Bay Rays to earn the World Series title.

With a hat tip to all the players wielding bats and gloves, the Dodgers had spent years stacking its technology lineup with loads of talent. Just like it takes time to build a winning roster, it takes time and resources to build a data center packed with innovative technologies. The Dodgers’ tech lineup began taking shape in 2013 when the team gained fresh ownership. The new executives came with a surge of capital and resources, and IT earmarked a portion for advanced analytics to transition the franchise from being reactive to a data-driven, organization that could make quicker and better decisions.

 

13X Improvement in Analytics Processing

When Ralph Esquibel, vice president of IT at the Los Angeles Dodgers, imagined the potential of analytics, he envisioned a winning franchise where analytics improved financial decisions, player performance, and fan experience. Esquibel and his staff had an analytics data stack in the early days, but it required lots of orchestration to manage the batch processing. To move to real-time processing, they needed more compute power and performance in the data center.

Esquibel explained the organization’s challenges to his account executive at Cisco, and he was both surprised and wary of Cisco’s suggestion. The recommendation was to rebuild with Cisco Hyperflex Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and Intel® Optane™ technology. What made Esquibel leery was that the new network design reduced his compute nodes by more than 80 percent. He would drop to 6 nodes from 38—while gaining 13x faster processing speeds. Usually, giving up nodes does not lead to more processing power.

With Cisco and Intel providing more power in the data center, he wouldn’t have to coordinate different data sets, or juggle the needs of finance with baseball ops. He gave the Intel and Cisco technologies a chance and they completely changed the playing field. With the updated infrastructure, the IT team gained a steady set of new—and still growing—options in its analytics arsenal.

Dodger Stadium sign

Image credit: Los Angeles Dodgers, Intel, and Cisco webinar

Queries Dropped from Needing Hours to Minutes

Players and coaches learned performance tips from video analytics, and the front office had access to financial analytics and business insights. For IT and business development, analytics and real-time data set off a hot streak of innovative projects to improve the fan experience.  

The goal is for fans to love everything about going to the ballpark—starting with entering the venue. In the past, ticket holders entered one of the 11 entry points based on seat location. Now, they can enter whichever point is most convenient for them, and the staff can track which points are most crowded. If they see one area getting 45 percent of the traffic, they can add more support to reduce fan wait times.

Another analytics plan in the works is around sharing real-time stats and probabilities with fans. As a hitter enters the batter’s box, for example, hitting stats appear on digital signage plus the probabilities of whether the player will hit a homerun or double. The stats update immediately after every hit in near real time—to the great satisfaction of number-crunching baseball fans.

Take Me Out (Safely) to the Ballpark

Other plans under consideration for the upcoming season are contactless entry, digital visualization, and real-time promotions. Speaking for all baseball fans, we’re ready to experience these enhancements firsthand. Spring training is officially underway and after a year of watching from our personal home stands, we all want to return to the ballparks.

Here’s hoping Dodger fans and all the rest of us can go into stadiums on April 1, Opening Day, and enjoy  the improvements that the staff have been working on during these difficult months away. 

  • For more details on the Dodgers analytics program, read this Intel customer spotlight.
  • You can hear life-long Dodger fan Ralph Esquibel, VP of Info Tech at the Los Angeles Dodgers speak about how technology from Cisco and Intel® support his team in this free webinar.

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