Inside Pitch Magazine, July/August 2018

The Hot Corner: Synergy Sports Technology

From Roundball to the Pearl

By Scott Patrick

Synergy Sports Technology is an analytics and video company that began in the college and professional basketball market. Mark Silver, its President, manages product planning, sales/account management teams, and customer service organization. He left the Philadelphia 76ers staff after the 2007-2008 season to join the Synergy, who has recently focused on implementing its analytics in baseball:

Inside Pitch Who came up with the concept?

Mark Silver: Our founder and CEO Garrick Barr was a Video Coordinator and Assistant Coach in the NBA for many years. He recognized that no single team staff could ever do all the work needed to provide coaching level data and video for all the different ways organizations need it. The front office and scouts need this type of content to scout draft prospects, to sign and resign players, and to evaluate trades. College coaches use our grass roots content for recruiting purposes. Coaches and players need it for player development, advanced scouting upcoming opponents, and to analyze and improve their own team. Given all these areas that coaches have traditionally struggled to address, Garrick decided to centralize video tagging and to leverage the internet to make the resulting analytics tied to video available to all of its client teams.  A key aspect of the value Synergy provides comes from the coaching level data Synergy generates for all basketball games.

Synergy currently counts as its clients every NBA, WNBA, G-League and Division I and II Men’s and Women’s teams.  Additionally, the majority of Division III and NAIA teams, more than 250 top International club teams, and many of the top National teams all use our service. Given its success in the elite basketball space, Synergy felt ready to apply its concept to a second sport; after all, the need for the Synergy concept was not limited to just basketball.

Although there are nuances from sport to sport, the fundamental need for complete data and video resources for not just your league, but for other leagues where you scout players is crucial to every day workflow. Our current Director of Baseball, Matt Lawrence, was with the Los Angeles Dodgers when we were deciding which sport to get into next. Matt really opened our eyes to the need MLB and college teams had for a baseball version of Synergy’s services. After a couple years of intense design and development work, we launched our baseball product in 2017, and in only our second year, we have about half the MLB teams and 70 Division I baseball teams as clients.  This is actually faster adoption than we saw for basketball!

IP: What kind of manpower do you use with your operations?

MS: It’s quite an intensive operation. We broke down over 7,500 baseball games this year alone. The process starts with our Operations department, where we capture the video at our three datacenter locations, encode it, and then add roster and other game level data to make the content ready for logging. From there, our proprietary logging platform progresses the game through each step of our logging process. Every game is available to clients within 24 hours of when Synergy encodes the games, and each game is touched by no less than three people in our logging department before it appears in the Synergy app.

We are logging more than just your standard box score data; this is where Matt’s MLB experience was key.  He identified coaching level data that we needed to track and the teams have been very receptive to the results. The truly special part about Synergy is that every data visualization, data point, and data report in our app has a corresponding video playlist that is accessible with a single click of your mouse. Coaches, scouts and players review our analytics views and, when they see something intriguing, they can instantly watch matching video to study the action on the field to uncover the full story. It’s this real-time access to a combination of data and video that meets the needs of baseball professionals in a revolutionary way. To make sure that this is all done within our tight timeframe and up to our quality standards, we have over 230 baseball loggers (and counting), a quality assurance staff of about 20 people, and 15 baseball operations staff. When you factor in basketball and non-baseball specific parts of the organization, Synergy is a fairly large operation.

IP: What makes up the Synergy service and how do teams use it?

MS: The first piece, Synergy’s Video Express, is a desktop application that facilitates the uploading of game video from teams to Synergy. In 2017, Synergy had over 2400 Division I games in our cloud-leveraged video database. In 2018 we logged over 4,000 Division I games; the majority of which were received from clients who send them to Synergy using the Video Express app. All games were broken down by Synergy in coaching/scouting event-level detail.

The second component in the Synergy platform is the company’s various video databases (e.g. AAA, college, NPB, etc.) which are accessed by the team using the Synergy desktop application for Windows. The Synergy Baseball Application consists of Single Game Views and Multi-Game Visualizations and Data Reports. Teams can pull up last night’s game and see data and video for any (or every) pitch, filtered by team, inning, player, and many other options in the Single Game View.

Using the Multi Game Reports, teams split data and video in countless ways such as pitcher(s) vs batter(s) matchups, pitch type, velocities, BIP Results, Swing Types, and much more, including proprietary data that only Synergy tracks. All data is available via pitch charts, spray charts, and data grid reports.

The final piece of the platform has two parts that work in concert – the Synergy NET Editor and the Synergy Mobile Player App.  As teams scout using the Synergy Baseball Application, they discover intriguing data trends that cause them to want to watch corresponding video. They can send these video playlists to the Synergy NET Editor which allows various staff at the team to collaborate from any location to distill these automated playlists down to custom playlists targeted for multiple use cases. This work product can then be shared with anyone at their team including sending custom playlists to their players. Further, everyone can view the resulting video on their iPad with Synergy’s Mobile Player App.

Teams combine all these tools and workflows for a multitude of applications. College teams use Synergy to prepare for their upcoming opponents and to assist with development of their own players. When scouting an opponent, clients have a plethora of data and video on each team they face. The Synergy platform also helps coaches identify their own tendencies which allows them to be more unpredictable, keeping opponents off guard.

Finally, MLB teams use Synergy as a large piece of their amateur and international scouting process. Without having to break down any film themselves, situational reports and video playlists are available to teams with the click of a mouse using the Synergy Baseball App. Next, the NET Editor and the iPad Mobile Player App ensures everyone at their team gets the exact video and analytics they require.

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.