Davidoff: Now you can major in Moneyball

From Ken Davidoff at the New York Post on June 28, 2016, with mention of SABR member Rodney Paul:

First it was a strategy. Then a book. Then a movie. Now “Moneyball,” Michael Lewis’ tale of how the payroll-challenged Oakland A’s used data to take on the big-spending Yankees, is a college major.

Syracuse University has become the first school to award a bachelor’s degree in sports analytics. It will welcome freshmen to the discipline this fall, with the first graduates set to hit the job market in the spring of 2020.

“I think it’s a great idea,” says Billy Beane, the former A’s general manager for whom the term was coined. “I smile to myself, especially thinking about the reactions when the book came out.”


Rodney Paul, a sports economist in the Falk School, takes a group of students each year to the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Analytics Conference in Arizona. He oversaw a group of students who put together an acclaimed study, “The Effects of Atmospheric Conditions on Pitchers,” which investigated the impact of air density on pitch selection and pitcher performance. The conclusions were that the higher the air density, the less effective breaking pitches are. The result of that is pitchers choose to throw more fastballs and fewer breaking pitches in high-air-density settings (the most obvious example being Coors Field in Denver).

Referencing baseball’s five tools — hitting, hitting for power, fielding, throwing and speed — Paul said, “Our five tools are math, econ, communications, foreign language and computers.” Students will take a sports analytics course each semester, Veley said, and the school will tap into Falk’s immense network to import guest speakers to campus who can speak firsthand about how analytics has transformed the worldwide landscape.

Read the full article here: http://nypost.com/2016/06/28/you-can-now-major-in-moneyball/

Originally published: June 29, 2016. Last Updated: June 29, 2016.