The Astros’ “nerd-cave” is a thing of legend. Images of mad scientists roaming around mumbling about spin rates and the shift. After the World Series victory in 2017, the Washington Post called it “the moment the analytics movement conquered the game for good”. Everyone is familiar with some of our fearless leaders such as Jeff Luhnow, AJ Hinch, and Brent Strom - but I figured it’d be interesting to take a step even further to get to know the men and women running our very own Astros.
So who is Brandon Taubman?
Starting with the personal side, Taubman was recently married to his beautiful wife Leah, and both reside in Houston. The link is a cool story which shows a more personal side of their love story and pictures of the wedding. He recently announced in an interview with EY that his wife is pregnant, and when asked when it was due he said “In November - hopefully after we win our next World Series. That’s the dream!”
Before his time with the Astros, Taubman was a graduate of Cornell University earning a Bachelors in Science for Applied Economics and Management. From there, he excelled through his work at Ernst & Young and Barclay’s Investment bank as an expert of derivative valuation.
Taubman grew up playing baseball, but it was actually his side gig while working for EY / Barclays that turned him on to the Astros. He built a custom projection modeling program for Fantasy baseball, dedicating a large amount of time studying the works of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Then he read about who Luhnow was. An ex-Business Consultant with a similar background to his own, and he immediately applied to be an analyst.
The Astros Assistant General Manager has had a 6+ year tenure with the Astros rapidly moving through the organization, starting as an Analyst of Baseball Operations in 2013, being promoted to Manager of Baseball Operations in 2014, Director of Baseball Operations in 2015, Sr. Director of Baseball Operations & Analytics in 2017, and finally to the Assistant General Manager last September.
As for what his current role encompasses, MLB.com’s description says: “ In his new role, Brandon continues to oversee the baseball analytics and pro player scouting departments, as well as the teams Major League administrative functions.” And also states: “ Brandon has been heavily involved in virtually every aspect of the Baseball Operations department, including international, domestic and pro scouting, contract valuation and negotiation, economic modeling and most recently, as of his appointment to Senior Director in 2017, Research and Development. Through his work across areas, he has been an essential figure in helping the Astros become perennial contenders at the Major League level, while maintaining a top-ranked farm system.”
BusinessInsider has a good article which goes into a lot of detail of his backstory but highlights some of his best “wins” which included advocating for the Astros to sign Charlie Morton, Justin Verlander, and relaying Charlie Gonzalez (Astros Sr. Scouting Advisor)’s plea to get Alvarez from the Dodgers.
Cornell’s alumni magazine also profiled Taubman in the “Houston, we solved a problem” article, which gives some unique insights into Taubman’s stories, including the large pay cut he took when he accepted the position. It also has some direct quotes, where Taubman talks about the Astros analytics and the synergistic approach they take between the analytics and the traditional scouts.
“The old way of looking at a season’s worth of performance data and using that to predict the future is kind of obsolete,” he says. “We get tens of thousands of rows of data—about every swing, every pitch, every fielder movement—and we need to decide what to do with that information.”
He notes that much of this data is the same that scouts have attempted to capture subjectively for years.
““We’re all speaking the same language now, and R&D’s job is to bring additional insights to the end users—the players and coaches,” he says. “The more we’re able to share information with these guys so they can proactively get better, the more success we’re going to have as an organization.”
As a young rising star of the Astros, it will be interesting to see if Taubman’s meteoric rise pays off. All I know is from everything I’ve read, I’m happy he’s on the front lines of leading this team.