"He was different from the typical computer person," Box said. "Most computer people are strong on one side of the brain but not on both sides. He had the ability to communicate. ... For a lot of very smart computer people, the ability to articulate, to put complex thoughts into words is not a strength. It is for him."
Box suggested Fox begin blogging.
"I started this blog, and I wrote two posts about software development," Fox said. "Then I wrote an entry on baseball. I thought, 'This is really a lot more fun.' "
Fox continued to write on baseball as a hobby, and in 2003, The Hardball Times, a baseball website, offered Dan an unpaid writing position.
Fox continued to write as he moved his family to
"Since they paid, I said 'OK,' " Fox said.
Fox published nearly 100 articles for Baseball Prospectus, an analytical site frequented by influential people in baseball. Fox's work on baserunning still is employed by Baseball Prospectus.
Fox's first Baseball Prospectus column ran on March, 30, 2006. Its opening lines:
" 'Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.'-vNiels Bohr, Danish physicist (1885 -- 1962). That sentiment, while especially problematic in Bohr's world of quantum physics, is also more than a bit perplexing in the Newtonian world of
He inherited an organization without an analytics department or proprietary computer system. The Pirates were far behind the baseball industry in accepting and adopting 21st century information.
"We were looking for a computer programmer to be the architect behind our internal, comprehensive computer system," Huntington said. "We also wanted to go out and get a terrific analyst.
The Pirates hired Fox in 2008. His first task was creating the club's computer database, MITT, an acronym for Managing, Information, Tools and Talent. With the click of a computer mouse, the player-information system unified scouting reports, medical and contract information. There are nearly 200,000 professional and amateur players in the database. After MITT was operational in 2009, Fox turned his focus to creating proprietary analytics and offering data-driven analysis, his foremost interests.
Fox's influence as an analyst has reached a peak this season to include:
--Being consulted on nearly every player acquisition decision.
--Supplying the data behind defensive shifts.
--Playing a role in recommending a focus on increasing groundball rates.
--Conducting research on the draft and preventative health practices for pitchers.
The Pirates now have five full-time staffers working under Fox dedicated to data architecture and quantitative analysis.
That the Pirates have accepted Fox's analysis is not a surprise to
"He had the ability to talk to nontechnical people about technical things," Ducat said. "He was a tremendous bridge. You don't find a lot of tech people who have that ability."
Fox does not fit the classic IT stereotype. He is visible. He's often in the clubhouse. He watched video with players during spring training, asking questions. He meets with manager
"One of the things I've always said is, 'I don't have all the answers,' " Hurdle said. "It was time for me to challenge myself."
Fox is different, and perhaps that is why he is one of the game's most influential analysts, a voice Huntington trusts.
"There are lot of baseball people that are closed-minded to analytics, and there's a lot of analysts that are closed-minded to baseball," Huntington said. "We have some people who are open to both sides."
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