SABR 42: Poster presentations

From 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, SABR 42 attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and talk with presenters of the 10 poster presentations in the Window Terrace area on the 6th floor of the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The posters will be available for viewing all week in the Window Terrace area on the 6th floor. The top poster presentation, as selected by on-site judging, will win the USA Sports Weekly Award. Check out a list of past winners here.

Here are the poster presentation abstracts and presenter bios:

P1: Same Place, Some Other Year: The Heretofore Untold Saga (with Good Reason) of Ballplayers who hit Home Runs in the same ballparks as Minor Leaguers and as Major Leaguers
Alan Cohen

It is, shall we say, a rather obscure feat on the baseball diamond. Still, Alan Cohen's project will interest followers of ballpark history (quick, name the fields that hosted both minor and major league franchises!) and stir the memories of SABRen young and old. Cohen has identified five Hall of Famers among those who have turned this particular trick, names the first man to achieve it, and shares stories about the players — famous or obscure, slugger or banjo hitter — on the list. Hey, did you know that there's one guy who did it in three different ballparks?

Alan Cohen <> was an insurance underwriter, handling financial risk assessment primarily on group health insurance, for 40 years. Recently retired and a fairly new SABR member, he has written two essays for a BioProject volume on the 1960 Pirates. Since this is his first SABR convention, it's no surprise that he's making his first convention presentation. Father of four and grandfather of six, he resides in West Hartford, Connecticut.

P2: Release Point and Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries
James Tetler and Andy Andres

The arrival and dissemination of the Pitch F/X tracking database has opened up many new avenues for baseball researchers. In this poster, Tetler and Andres hypothesize that it might be possible to recognize the development of a potentially serious arm injury by examining patterns and trends in a pitcher's release point. If there is something to this hypothesis, it might be possible to treat UCL injuries earlier and with less surgical trauma, preserving careers and saving valuable medical dollars. Modeling release point from the horizontal and vertical coordinates in Pitch F/X with pitchers known to have suffered UCL damage, they evaluate the evidence for and against their biomechanical hypothesis.

Andy Andres <> is on the faculty at Boston University's College of General Studies in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, where he teaches biology and physics. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Nutritional Sciences and Physiology from Tufts University. He also teaches one of the first-ever college courses in Sabermetrics, offered at Tufts University. In addition, Andy teaches science and coaches baseball in the MIT Science of Baseball Program during the summer. A former tutor in Biology at Harvard College, he taught a seminar in exercise physiology and ergogenic aids for athletic performance there for 17 years. As a Datacaster/Stringer for MLBAM, he scores games at Fenway Park for various Internet applications. A diehard Red Sox fan, Andy lives in Cambridge, MA, with his wife Kate and their three children, Maddie, Aubree, and Griffin.

P3: The 1961 Adirondack Valley League
Eric Thompson

Alternative history is a well-known technique of studying historical events. In Thompson's world, the 1961 American League expansion (as well as the expansions in 1962, 1969, 1977, 1993, and 1998) didn't happen. Based on that premise, and with rules defining how to adjust the league's stats and player mix to the smaller number of clubs (and of games played), he offers his estimates for the most famous stats of that season – the number of homers by Maris, by the M&M boys, and the Yankees as a club. The presentation also displays Thompson's thoughts on the effect of his AVL concept on a variety of career marks, by the likes of Aaron and Rose.

Eric Thompson <> is a retired high school math teacher at Solon High School in Solon, Ohio. He is the author of Baseball's LOST Tradition: Two Eight-Team Leagues and Thompson's Calculus Notes: AP Calculus BC. The lifelong fan of the Cleveland Indians has been interested in baseball statistics since 1950. He currently enjoys his time with his wife Colleen, three grown children, and three grandchildren.

P4: Baseball History and the Civil War Sesquicentennial: An Educational Opportunity
James Tootle

We are currently living in the Sesquicentennial celebration of the Civil War. This concentration on that era has fostered interest in another important activity of the 1860s – the burgeoning and spread of baseball throughout the land. Tootle, an avid participant in vintage base ball as well as a scholar of 19th-century history, shows how the concurrence of these themes can serve to engage popular interest in learning about either (and both) of them, as well as promoting interest in serious study of their social and societal milieu. He offers examples of public events and activities that could take advantage of this joint opportunity.

An active member of the Hank Gowdy SABR chapter in Columbus, Ohio, James Tootle <> is in his 22nd season as a member of the Ohio Village Muffins vintage base ball club, an educational program of the Ohio Historical Society. Jim has played more than 500 games using the equipment, uniforms, rules and customs of the Civil War era. He and his teammates have traveled from New York to California and from Minnesota to Florida, connecting the public to 19th-century American political, military, and social history through the lens of the early history of baseball. He currently serves on the Board of the Columbus Historical Society. He earned a Ph.D. in American history from the Ohio State University, where he served for sixteen years as Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of Baseball in Columbus (Arcadia, 2003) and Vintage Base Ball: Recapturing the National Pastime (McFarland, 2011).

P5: Using Standard Scores to Evaluate Baseball Performance
Jed Dukett

Baseball analysts are not the only people who have become increasingly aware of adjusted or normalized stats as a way to examine performance on an equal footing. For example, proponents of "education reform" strongly emphasize standardized tests as a measure of educational achievement. In baseball, the typical approach is to assign the "average" level of accomplishment at a chosen time/place the arbitrary value of 100, with better or worse performance denoted as over or under 100, respectively. In this study, Dukett argues for generalized application of such methodologies, including summing weighted scores into empirical composite values.

James (Jed) Dukett <> is 40 years old and lives in Tupper Lake, NY, with his wife, Juli, and children, Elli and Luka. For more than 19 years, he has worked as a Chemist and since 2004 as the Program Manager for the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation. He monitors changes to natural ecosystems of the Adirondack Mountain ecological zone with a focus on water quality, atmospheric deposition, fish surveys and other biological and chemical studies for the benefit of regulatory agencies and the general public. His analysis of cloud water chemistry collected from the summit of Whiteface Mountain has been published in the scientific literature. He was a co-founder and played more than 10 years of baseball for the Adirondack Timberjaxx before retiring in 2009. He also previously coached high school hockey for more than 10 years. He enjoys time with family, attending church, playing softball and analyzing baseball data and concepts.

P6: How Large Is The Advantage Of Batting Last?
Mark Pankin

It seems obvious that the opportunity to bat last is one of the home team's advantages. But is that really true? If it's true, has it been equally true over the years? How large an advantage is conferred by batting last? Is the edge the same in low-offense and high-offense contexts? Is it the same in both leagues? (If not, is that due to the DH?) How have changes in the structure of pitching staffs affected the degree of last-bats advantage? In the early years, when the same baseball would be used for many innings, teams often chose to bat first, perhaps because they wanted to hit a clean, hard ball. Was that a correct strategy? These are just a few of the questions examined in Pankin's poster presentation.

Mark Pankin <> has a Ph.D. in Math earned at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, where he is a registered investment advisor. During his last two summers in graduate school, his apartment was five blocks from Wrigley Field, long before there were lights, and he often joined the “bleacher bums” for one dollar a ticket in those days. Wrigley was the fourth or fifth park in which he saw a major league game, and the count has now reached 49. Although he is a dedicated Tigers fan, one of his proudest possessions is his “NO DH” license plate.

P7: Predicting MLB Player Performance Using Social Network Analysis
Paul Beckman

Social networking?? Is this a poster about Facebook or Twitter? In a word, no. The social network studied in this research is a measure of a player's connectivity to teammates. The hypothesis is that observing and interacting with lots of teammates (with a variety of approaches to the game) may help the player to build performance-improvement techniques that work well for him. Once a player's social network is defined, the associations between his connectivity and his baseball performance can be studied. Beckman is a leading researcher in the field of social networks, so his results may produce valuable insights into baseball success and how to foster it.

Paul Beckman <> is Professor of Information Systems at San Francisco State University. He has been doing SNA (social network analysis) research since the late 1990s and promotes the use of SNA in evaluating human performance.

P8: The .400 Hitters
Ron Selter

Although batting average has fallen before more comprehensive measures of offensive prowess, the idea of the .400 hitter still captures every fan's attention. In the spirit of the well-known observation that (in context) Terry's .401 in 1930 was little better than Yaz's .301 in 1968, Selter examines and contextualizes all 13 of the .400 seasons compiled since 1900. Going beyond adjustment for league BA, among the factors he considers are batter handedness along with park effects derived from his meticulous prior work on the effects of ballpark architecture. Selter thus constructs a powerful method for comparing those 13 notable seasons produced by those 7 notable hitters.

Ron Selter <> is the author of the award-winning 2008 book Ballparks of the Deadball Era. He is one of the top SABR 20th century ballpark experts, serving as the text editor for Green Cathedrals (2006 edition) and a contributor to 2007's Forbes Field (2007 by McFarland). His article "Early Wrigley Field" appeared in the 2007 edition of the Baseball Research Journal. Selter is a retired economist formerly with the Air Force Space Program. A SABR member since 1989 and member of the Ballparks, Minor League, Statistical and Deadball Committees, he has made presentations at both SABR regional meetings and at several national conventions, focusing on ballparks and the relationship between ballparks and batting.

P9: Is David Ortiz the Greatest Designated Hitter Ever?
Steven Glassman

The designated hitter is in the midst of its 40th year. Although it has now been with us for two generations or more, the position still appears to suffer from the stigma of its one-sidedness. Only one member of the Hall of Fame — Paul Molitor — appeared in more games as the DH than at any particular fielding position. That said, the designated hitter has been with us long enough that we can start arguing over how to rank-order its practitioners. Glassman's poster centers on today's pre-eminent DH, Boston's (and formerly Minnesota's) David Ortiz. Pitting Papi against the 25 other players who have played at least 500 games at DH, he performs a comprehensive analysis, including the application of empirical sabermetric tests, examination of their black and gray ink, and assessment of their postseason honors. Glassman isn't asking which of them belongs in the Hall, nor is he joining the still-present argument over the position's very existence. Given that the DH exists, and given that we have four decades-worth of performance, the issue is simply this … who does it best?

Steven Glassman <> has been a SABR member since 1994 and regularly makes presentations for the Connie Mack Chapter. He is attending his seventh convention and presenting his third research poster. His oral presentation at SABR 42 is his first. The Temple University graduate in Sport and Recreation Management has worked in the Sports Information field for Temple, West Chester University, Albright College, and Rutgers University-Newark. He currently works as a full-time scoreboard operator for The Sports Network in Hatboro, PA. Steven is also a part-time volunteer Director of Sports Information for Manor College in Jenkintown, PA. He has been attending Philadelphia Phillies games since the 1970s and has been a partial season-ticket holder since 2003. Steven also serves as a part-time right fielder/first base coach/scorekeeper for his summer league softball team. Born in Philadelphia, he currently resides in Warminster, PA.

P10: Baseball Graves
Stew Thornley

When one thinks of the burial of the greats enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, one thinks of Stew Thornley. Macabre as that may seem, Thornley's dogged and tireless research (combined with his enthusiasm for precise localization of his targets) results in an enlightening presentation. All of the HOFers were remarkably talented men, at the very top rung of their profession, yet their resting places are extremely diverse. Some have memorials befitting their exalted positions in the game, while others are now in much more modest and humble circumstances. Or worse.

Stew Thornley <> is the local committee chair for SABR 42. An active member of the Halsey Hall Chapter, he currently edits the The Holy Cow!, the Chapter's monthly newsletter. He served as the Vice President of SABR in 2002-2004. When not working as a health educator for the Minnesota Department of Health, he is an official scorer for both the Twins and the Timberwolves. He and his wife, fellow SABR member Brenda Himrich, live in Roseville, MN.

For more information about SABR 42, including a full schedule, list of speakers and registration, visit