All Star Game

Pittsburgh technology startup OnlyBoth is batting up for the Major League Baseball All-Star game tonight with the release of a fun and free baseball database.

Founded in May 2014 by veteran entrepreneurs Raul Valdes-Perez and Andre Lessa, the startup first rolled out a platform with insights for 3,122 U.S. colleges and universities across the country.

Keeping his promise to expand quickly into other areas, Valdes-Perez opted to play ball with the wealth of open source baseball statistics. The site analyzes nearly 57,000 baseball player seasons and delivers more than 200,000 insights.

As Forbes magazine noted recently, it has “All-Star potential” in its ability to give fans and the media the tools to better evaluate a player’s career achievements.

Just enter a batter and season (from any time in history up to 2013) and little known facts about that player instantly materialize. (Pitchers are not included because they don’t begin to compare to great hitters. “It’s like comparing apples to oranges,” says Valdes-Perez.)

Here’s an example from the Pirate lineup. In 2013, Andrew McCutchen had the 5th-highest on-base percentage (.404) of the 696 hitters in that year. And more on Cutch: His salary ($4.71 million), at bats (583), home runs (21), runs scored (97), walks (78) and sacrifice hits (0).

Valdes-Perez hopes the timing with tonight’s All-Star game will pique the interest of fans who want to wow their friends. His personal favorite insights are outputs that are in conflict.

An example: Of the 3,251 hitters who made the All-Star team, Don Johnson of the 1944 Chicago Cubs made the second most errors (47) and made the most errors from 1941 until today. Arky Vaughan of the 1940 Pittsburgh Pirates was first with 52.

“That’s a lot of errors,” he says, “like one every three games.”

OnlyBoth’s artificial intelligence technology was developed at Carnegie Mellon University in the 1990s through a National Science Foundation grant. At the time, the researchers developed platforms for colleges, baseball, members of Congress and genetics.

“Of those, baseball has the widest appeal,” says Valdes-Perez. “The fact we had already done the prototype made it the logical next step. It very cheaply and inexpensively provides insights that aren’t available anywhere else.”

Deb is an award-winning journalist who loves ancient places and cool technologies. A former daily newspaper reporter and Time-Life Books editor, she writes mostly about Pittsburgh. Her stories have appeared in Fast Company, Ozy and Pittsburgh Magazine.