The sports data boom fundamentally altered how fans talk about their teams, becoming such a cultural phenomenon that Brad Pitt went on and made the movie Moneyball. Still, years after sabermetrics blew up and the stats renaissance started creating new cliches on top of the old pablum, it remains hard to keep up with new calculations and analyze data on the fly. The journey from numbers to predictions is fraught and frequently requires a guide. That’s where podcasts can help.
Where talking heads on television often lean into media narratives, more podcasters go the FiveThirtyEight route, telling data-driven stories that make analytical variations into coachable moments. If you’re already a data junkie, or looking to immerse yourself better into the world of sports analytics, podcasts are an effective way to get there. Here are the six best sports podcasts for data junkies to listen to.
Anyone who has seen Moneyball probably knows that baseball was the first major sports to take analytics seriously. Sabermetrics was a natural fit for baseball — the effectiveness of a player was easily quantifiable based on how well he batted and how good he was on defense. The numbers don’t lie.
In Effectively Wild, Ben Lindbergh (current staffer at The Ringer) and blogger Jeff Sullivan take this analytical approach of baseball to the podcasting world, and serve up a nice mix of numbers and sports talk that toes a fine line between serious and weird.
Mathematical Moments is not a sports podcast per se. But it does do a superb job dig deeply into the math that explains many sports, from basketball to snowboarding to even the minutiae that goes into scheduling games. If what you’re really after is learning more about how data and numbers can explain how a sport works, this is the podcast for you.
This podcast is all about one thing: how data and numbers can help you make better wagers on bets. This isn’t just about predicting the outcomes of games — it also explores the odds in MVP races, player signings by different clubs, and much more.
The Bill Barnwell Show
Any avid readers of Grantland (RIP) know Barnwell’s name. The man was already a great writer who could make football stats easily digestible for almost anyone. His podcast is quite similar — although it takes a cue from his old boss, Bill Simmons, and veers into pop culture from time to time.
The Lowe Post
What Barnwell is to football, that’s what Zach Lowe is to basketball. In fact, Lowe is arguably more of a data-driven authority in his sport than almost any other basketball expert. The Lowe Post takes the numbers from his columns into a more lively discussion that helps dissect the industry and culture of the NBA in a larger lens.
This is FiveThirtyEight’s premier sports podcast. There is little need to explain why you should listen. If you like sports and you like data, just listen to it.