For baseball fans, that magical month is almost afoot. October: The time in which we look on, annoyed, as our favorite team heads to Florida to play golf, or stumbles, gets injured, and whimpers quietly out of the playoffs. It’s a testy time for most, but still one most of us would never miss.
Another thing baseball fans have likely noticed: Moneyball — a book written about the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane and his use of sabermetrics and other newfangled ways of keeping tabs on which players are undervalued, etc. — has been made into a film and is being shown in theaters nationwide. For those unfamiliar with any of the above, the reason this is of interest to baseball fans? Moneyball highlighted a then ongoing re-conception of what metrics and methods teams and organizations use to evaluate players. Thanks to Moneyball and the ascendancy of Bill James and his sabermetrics, geeks were finally able to secure a place in the clubhouse.
I haven’t yet seen Moneyball, but it’s on my towering list of things to do this week, to be sure. So, in the spirit of a close wild card race, the encroaching playoffs, and the release of Moneyball, here’s a cool new app for iOS called Baseball Mobile that is, simply put, a fast and easy way to get baseball stats on your iOS devices. Now, stats geeks can go mobile. With authority.
The reason I’m excited about this app? It was created with the casual fan and the advanced stats geek in mind, which means that it includes both traditional stats (hits, RBIs, batting average, etc.) as well as sabermetric stats (OPS, FIP, wOPS+) for every player and team going back to the 1870s. It’s also updated daily for 2011 season and will be updated for this year’s playoffs as well.
Sure, there are tons of sites out there on the web that offer a wealth of baseball stats, but they can be hard to find for the casual baseball fan, and many of those sites aren’t optimized for mobile. Plus, who wants to own another ESPN app? It’s nice to be using something made by an independent developer that has no affiliation with the Disney-owned death star of sports media.
The app is a great way for average fans, fantasy buffs, stats geeks, and players themselves to easily swipe through current and historical stats — and it’s a great way to win a bar bet with Tony, who thinks that he knows everything about Carl Yastrzemski’s statistics in the ’67 season.
And, hey, even Manny Acta, the Cleveland Indians’ manager, seems to like the app:
Bill James’ Daily Matchups is another app out there that has some similar use cases, but Baseball Mobile wins because it will present stats in your favorite format, do so on a team-by-team or player-by-player basis, and the app doesn’t have friction when you choose a new team’s stats because all the info is right there in the app. Users can also switch between regular stats and sabermetric stats by simply swiping the player’s profile without having to return to the main page. Pretty cool.
As to who’s responsible for this app? Mike Gilberg is a first-time iOS developer, so users may notice that the design isn’t exactly perfect. There’s plenty of room left for improvement, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t app isn’t an awesome primer for baseball fans heading into the playoffs.
It also happens that Gilberg has both served as a ballboy for the New York Metropolitans and worked in the organization’s operations department, building and applying advanced stats — some of which have made it into this very Baseball Mobile app. Thus, what Gilberg may lack in app development experience, he makes up for in familiarity with the geeky world of baseball statistics. And if there’s any sport that is stat-centric, baseball is it.
So check it out and let us know what you think, baseball fans. Oh, and Android is on its way.