Can Six Sigma Affect the Outcome of a World Series?
- October 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm #55853
A couple months ago, as the MLB season was underway, I read an article on a sports stat blog that tried to show that the correlation in increased homerun rate was due to small changes in the baseball itslef. See link below:
Along with small changes in the ball features, there is also a smaller standard deviation between each baseball. Allowing for the effect (homeruns) to be more consistent and pronounced (i.e. last nights 7-homerun game between the Dodgers and the Astros).
It then donned on me that perhaps a smart process engineer at Rawlings (the manufacturer) has been improving the baseball manufacturing processes, and reducing the variation. This may also coincide with a drift in the process that has allowed the seams to be less proud, the diameter to have shrunk, and the surface to be slightly less rough, all of which would reduce the drag of the baseball.
It’s a bit far-fetched to link a six-sigma improvement with the outcome of the world series, but I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences with any similar situations.October 31, 2017 at 12:47 am #201924
I believe Penske used LSS to their advantage in the Indycar Series when measuring tolerances on crankshafts some years ago. Given the principles of “Moneyball” and the use of statistics in baseball it’s entirely believable if not yet proven that LSS is part of the Rawlings Manufacturing Process.October 31, 2017 at 1:36 pm #201926
@andy-parr Thanks, that’s a great example. I have not heard about that effort in Indycar racing so I’ll be interested in reading more about it.
I think I was more so surprised that perhaps through internal process improvement, Rawlings unknowingly caused a large shift in the output of their customer (MLB).
From the article, it appears the specs for the baseballs are pretty loose and large deviations in size, seam height, etc. are allowed. However, and I’m taking this as a personal note, it is possible to work within customer given specifications, and still cause and adverse effect for the customer. A thorough Customer Requirements –> CTQ analysis should be performed in advance of any process improvements to properly gauge the effect of those improvements internally and with the customer.November 1, 2017 at 1:04 am #201929
@alsandoval5 In the UK there is a discussion in Cricket about the make of ball used worldwide for International fixtures. Whilst the specifications are the same the two makes “Kookaburra” and “Juke” perform differently. Perhaps this is an interesting place to look and see what makes these differences and then move on to the performance of individual balls from the same manufacturer.
I appreciate Cricket isn’t baseball but it is interesting that small differences might make large changes in performance and then to understand whether those differences are intentional or not. Certainly, I would be interested to understand whether whether the manufacturers started with the intention of simply reducing variation or some other reason e.g. attaining more home runs.
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