SPM Sabermetrics Club competes in case competition in NYC

Syracuse University Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club members Jeremy Losak, Brandon Lane, Willie Kniesner, Olivia Lavelle, and Evan Weiss participated in a SABR Diamond Dollars Competition at Columbia University in New York City in early November.

This team of students, along with eight other schools, was tasked with ranking the top 10 pitchers in the 2015-16 free agent market. This year’s crop of free agents is the deepest it has been in over a decade, with multiple ace-level pitchers available. Through the ranking process, they needed to project each pitchers’ future performance, evaluate what the player would make on the open market, estimate the effect of receiving a qualifying offer, determine the risk associated with signing each pitcher, and break down the overall impact on salary of having such a deep free agent market.

The students had six days to conduct their research and create a presentation that would be judged by executives from the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, and Baseball Info Solutions. The SU team created a model to analyze the overall value a player would provide, and combined that with a PITCHf/x analysis of each pitcher examining pitch selection, velocity, and movement as an indicator for future success.

Following the morning presentations, teams heard from the panel of judges as to how actual teams approach these real-life cases. Following the panel, former Boston Red Sox executive vice president and general manager Ben Cherington spoke on the intricacies of a Major League front office and the role analytics play in the decision-making process.

Although the team did not win, they learned a lot from the judges, Cherington, and SABR President Vince Gennaro, who hosted the event. The students are looking forward to the opportunity to take what they learned in this competition and apply it to future personal and professional endeavors.

The Sabermetrics club has been advised by Sport Management professor Dr. Rodney Paul since its inception in 2013.

“The students worked hard on this project and the department is proud of their efforts at this national competition,” Paul said. “We look forward to their ongoing research and future work.”