Synthesizing Math And Baseball

Baseball and math junkies, if you’re looking for a creative, new way to enhance your passion in 2014, then you’re in luck.

This spring, Boston University is leading the way in engineering a new method of learning.

Starting on May 8, baseball analytics professor Andy Andres will teach Sabermetrics 101: An Introduction to Baseball Statistics. BU will host the class through the online learning platform EdX, according to BostInno.

What’s remarkable about this online platform is that it is pioneering the way we change our education system. Rather than host a small lecture with a limited number of students, this course will be available to a massive online audience and it is free of charge.

Growing up in Minnesota, I was always passionate about baseball. Ever since I could pick up a bat and glove, I fell in love with the sport. Whenever I wasn’t out on the baseball diamond constantly working to improve my game, I was watching my favorite players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau on the television-imitating their batting stances in hopes of one day filling their shoes. My passion continued throughout high school, and to this day I still love taking in a Twins or Red Sox game in the summer.

I myself have dabbled in the analytical side of baseball. As if constantly practicing and thinking about the game wasn’t enough, I felt it necessary to meticulously study the stats of each player in order to better understand the game. In my geeky middle school days, there were times where I would calculate Derek Jeter’s batting average or David Ortiz’s slugging percentage in order to decide if they were worthy of my fantasy baseball team.

My point here is that I-like many other enthusiastic kids and baseball junkies-find value in both the practical and analytical sides of baseball.

Recently, the ideas of sabermetrics and statistics in professional sports have become increasingly important.

Part of this is the whole Moneyball idea-explored by Michael Lewis in his book and in the 2011 film starring Brad Pitt-that you can find places where there’s value that the rest of the marketplace doesn”t recognize. Technology and analytics are constantly improving, and knowledge is gained throughout the sport with placing values on players based on their numbers.

Teams in all sports are going to try and find value where other teams don’t see it, and hopefully improve their performances. This is the whole idea that Lewis outlines in his novel, and has been taken up by major league teams across the country-including the Red Sox and Yankees, who are both using their financial resources to fund an analytics department within their clubs.

Over the past  years, hundreds of people have been asking Andres to take his class. Andres is a datacaster for Major League Baseball and the lead instructor and head coach of the MIT Science of Baseball Program. With a new demand for these sabermetric skills, it is no mystery that so many people have contacted the reputable professor about his course.

Besides the baseball aspect of the course, Andres intends to teach statistics through the SQL or R programming language as an introduction to mathematical work.

“The real purpose of this class is an introduction to data science,” Andres told BostInno. “Big data is a buzzword now. Data science is becoming a common course of study in universities everywhere, and this is an introduction to it.”

Through the online software EdX, the Boston-based course will be open to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. It is no surprise that the course has already seen immense popularity, and is expected to have thousands of viewers.

Looking back, my younger days of practicing and studying the game of baseball were very entertaining, but they also served another key purpose-making sure to know how to analyze complex information and statistics.

This skill is crucial in the game of baseball and in our daily lives.


About Bennet Johnson 96 Articles
Bennet Johnson was the Metro Editor for The Heights in 2015 and Business Manager in 2016. You can probably still find him wandering around Boston, wearing his 'Minnesota Nice' T-shirt. Follow him on Twitter @bennet_15.