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Ohio University Wins Top Prize at SABR Analytics Conference

Tuesday, March 22 2016 12:00am

Four members of the Ohio Sports Analytics Team won first place at the annual baseball analytics case competition in Phoenix, AZ.

For most students trying to break into the sports industry, getting your foot in the door is the toughest part. For four members of the Ohio University Sports Analytics Team, they are hoping their big win at the Diamond Dollars Baseball Analytics Case Competition helped them get more than just a foot through. The competition was held in conjunction with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference from March 10-12, 2016 in Phoenix, AZ.Image1

For the four team members, Brian Baker, Sam Smith, Harris Kaserman, and Nick Crawford, competing in the competition was a thrill. “It’s probably one of the biggest case competitions in terms of sports analytics,” said Kaserman, the presidents of the Sports Analytics Team. “All the judges were from Major League Baseball front offices.”

The case assignment was to build a Major League Baseball pitching bullpen with a list of constraints. The focus was on each team’s methodology of selection and how they were able to use data to support their decisions.

The competition included undergraduate schools from NYU and Syracuse, among others. “We went in with the ambitious goal of winning the undergraduate division,” said Sam Smith, team captain and the organization’s vice president. “But when they announced that we were doing an encore presentation as the overall winner we were blown away.” They had not only beaten the other undergraduate teams but they were selected to present over graduate schools, including Carnegie Mellon, University of Alabama, and Columbia.

Despite their big victory, the students were quick to credit the school. “We really feel the way the College of Business prepared us for this propelled us to victory," said Kaserman. “Between the cluster, our analytics courses, and the work we’ve done as a club, we felt very prepared for this competition. A few people complimented us on our presentation skills and how well prepared we were. A lot of that credit goes directly to the College of Business.”

The Sports Analytics Team was started two years ago and has over 30 dues-paying members. They meet regularly to discuss the industry and listen to speakers that are involved in sports analytics. The team’s advisers are Dr. Norm O’Reilly and Dr. Vic Matta.