SBD/March 11, 2014/Franchises

Astros Build Custom Database To House All Proprietary Team Data

The Astros have "centralized most every piece of useful baseball information" -- including contract information, scouting reports, statistics common and proprietary --  at "one password-protected web address," according to Evan Drellich of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. When the Astros hired GM Jeff Luhnow in December '11, he had "a 25-page plan he presented" to Owner Jim Crane. In it were "details for this website -- a complex, built-from-scratch database -- that would be fully tailored to every one of the club's needs." The Astros call the project "Ground Control." Since Senior Technical Architect Ryan Hallahan was hired in February '12, the database has "become just about the most useful baseball tool available." Some features, like "a trade analyzer, seem ripped straight from a video game." It is one of the "coolest toys the public will never play with." The project itself is "permanently in a formative state." There are "constantly new features and abilities to add, and what makes Ground Control so powerful is its customizability." By early '13, Ground Control "had reached a fully functional state." It has "an extraordinarily clean interface," and there is "nothing intimidating about it for any experienced computer user." Video of players can be downloaded "on the spot, and most anything the baseball operations folks do goes through it -- from looking up the history of a player in a foreign country to preparing scouting reports of the Yankees for this season's opening day." Hallahan said, "We had literally nothing and created this database from scratch, and we created our interface from scratch." Drellich noted "not everyone can see everything" in Ground Control. Scouts "see only what they need, and so on and so forth." Luhnow said that his "openness even for this story was a risk" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/8).
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