PGCBL Assistant to the President attends SABR Analytics Conference

Last weekend, I attended the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This was the fourth year the Society of American Baseball Research has hosted an analytics conference, which is aimed at highlighting the year in advanced baseball statistics. The people I met and the speakers I heard were truly amazing and revolutionary. I connected with the likes of Tony La Russa and John Thorn, among others. The research presented and the lessons learned will benefit the PGCBL in a number of ways.

I was at the conference for a few reasons. The first of which was to compete in the Diamond Dollars Competition. In a Diamond Dollars Case Competition, students from colleges and universities across the U.S. compete against each other by preparing an analysis and presentation of a baseball operations decision. Our team was comprised of four other Syracuse University students. The question asked was: What is the perfect Cole Hamels trade? Our team came up with a few new statistics, including one we called the “Trade Benefit Factor” that put a dollar value on each player involved in a trade and put a dollar value on the overall cost/benefit for the teams involved. While our team didn’t win the competition, what did we got good reviews from representatives of the St. Louis Cardinals and Baseball Info Solutions.

The other reason I was there was to present research. Over the past few months, I’ve been working with a professor and another SU student on research relating to the effect of pace of play on Major League Baseball attendance demand. The research essentially showed that pace of play doesn’t affect attendance demand, but Major League Baseball might be taking measures to speed up the game to attract a new audience. Our SU Baseball Statistics and Sabermetrics Club also presented research on why teams outperform their run differential.

Outside of our presentations, there were panels discussing analytics on the field, in the broadcast booth, the origin of baseball analytics and just about everything in between. All but four MLB teams were represented at the conference.

So how does this translate to the PGCBL?

1.     Advanced statistics

Following the conclusion of the 2014 PGCBL season, I decided that I wanted to incorporate further advanced statistics for the league. Last year through our Automated Scorebook program we were able to add lefty/righty splits and other more advanced analytics to our statistics page. But there was still a long way to go. This year there will be an Advanced Statistics Roundup every day.  I will be deriving these advanced statistics myself and posting them on the league website. These statistics include Fielding Independent Pitching and Linear Weighted Power, along with about 10 others. At the conference I connected with some people who suggested a few additional things for this rundown and hopefully that will help make it more consumable.

2.     Pitch f/x

About half of the presentations involved pitch f/x in some way or another. Pitch f/x should explain the premise is still evolving and there’s lots of work to be done. But through our new partnership with Pointstreak, we should be able to see pitch-by-pitch statistics. We expect to develop a system or a model to be able to track pitch location and how each individual hitter does in each pitch location. I made it a point to talk to the presenters of this research about how they developed their systems and it will be a lot of work, but I’m hoping it can be done.

3.     Individual Play Worth

One of the research presentations involved college baseball statistics. Of course this got my attention and the presentation focused on each individual play, assigning it a number and placing a value on each play. The value involves how likely a run is to be scored as a result of the play, etc. The researchers were from the University of Nebraska and I have been in contact with them about the research and have thought about how I might be able to do this for the PGCBL. 

There were lots of other presentations and panels, but these three things are what I find most applicable to the PGCBL. If you have any questions about the conference, my research or the implementation of these things to the PGCBL, please reach out.

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