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Friday, May 30, 2014

Passan: The baseball employment revolution: Why thousands have signed up for a free online course

Over the past month, since registration opened for the free online course Sabermetrics 101, a 13,464-person army of the curious, the dreamers, the scholarly and all other kinds signed up and turned a clever idea into a rousing success. The course launched Thursday morning. Nerdery went massively mainstream. The world did not end.

Actually, it got better, much better, and not simply because the brains behind the course, Boston-based professor Andy Andres, has put together a curriculum that explains the importance of baseball analytics, their history and even offers a tool through which students themselves can code projects. SABR101x, as it’s called, is the latest signpost of the ongoing employment revolution in baseball, one that stretches from analytics to scouting and will continue to upend the makeup of front offices across the sport.

It’s well underway already, with students parlaying math talents into internships and low-level baseball-operations positions while writers for mainstream sites Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs land higher-up gigs with striking frequency. The combination of their contributions and a far more qualified pool of applicants only encourages teams to look beyond the typical hire of the past – former ballplayer – and consider those like Andres’ students from the in-person sabermetrics seminar he has taught at Tufts University since 2004.

“When I started, there were less jobs in baseball ops,” Andres said. “Now there’s more. That’s just one factor. The other factor is when there were jobs, the only candidates really were ballplayers. If you look at the roster of people who are GMs or assistant GMs today, most of them come from D-I, D-II, D-III programs. That’s how you did it. If you played baseball, you could get the job. They would take the ballplayer over that guy.

“That’s what’s shifted. Now you can be a nerd-type who’s willing to plug away, and you can get that job.”

Thanks to Los.

Repoz Posted: May 30, 2014 at 07:06 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 30, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4715982)
Sign up Dayton!
   2. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 30, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4716003)
Passan focuses on people who are trying to get jobs in baseball, but I wonder what percentage of the registrants (and even of the ~10% who will finish the class) have that as a goal. Small sample size, but I know I registered because I love baseball and numbers and want to get a better understanding of both, and have no intention of seeking any sort of baseball-related work. I'm guessing that I'm far from unique in this.
   3. boteman Posted: May 30, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4716020)
Too many people chasing too few jobs. Yeah, I have to believe there are far more hobbyists enrolling to edumacate themselves than there are job seekers.

Most teams don't employ a hell of a lot of people anyway, although a buddy sent me the Dodgers 2014 yearbook and it's mostly a celebration of Vin Scully, rightly so. But in the back they have page after page with photos of what must be every employee in the Dodger system and they are legion! I was surprised; must be nice to be filthy rich.

I remember when the Nationals first hit D.C. under the "stewardship" of Major League Baseball somebody said they had something like 13 employees working out of a couple trailers in the parking lot of RFK. I sure hope they've expanded on that since then!

Still, I think it's wishful thinking to expect a job from a MLB club without substantial evidence that you can help them, a la 538 and others.
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: May 30, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4716028)
I'm in it to learn SQL and R better for my line of work using a data set more fun than telecom network system logs. I have no designs or even interest in working for a major league club. But yeah, I'd listen if one called.
   5. Moeball Posted: May 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4716034)
Wish they had something like this 30+ years ago when I was a student.

As it was, I got my hopes up one time when John Thorn was looking for an assistant.

Submitted my application and some research articles I'd written; alas, just got a "Thanks, don't call us, we'll call you!" letter in reply. But at least for a short period of time I thought I'd found the perfect calling.
   6. Topher Posted: May 30, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4716110)
I'm in it to learn SQL and R better for my line of work


That describes me.
   7. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: May 30, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4716170)
Yeah, I'm just trying to get reacquainted with SQL.
   8. dr. scott Posted: May 30, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4716183)
Thanks for posting this. I just signed up to make myself get acquainted with R (know matlab quite well) and do more with SQL.

Should be interesting. I'm trying to get my wife to join as well.... Ill let you know how that turns out.
   9. RTSquared is not on the Rangers' DL...yet... Posted: May 30, 2014 at 03:55 PM (#4716214)
I joined up to learn R. There's also the bit about learning data science, which might be interesting depending on how deep into that we get.
   10. winnipegwhip Posted: May 30, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4716225)

I remember when the Nationals first hit D.C. under the "stewardship" of Major League Baseball somebody said they had something like 13 employees working out of a couple trailers in the parking lot of RFK. I sure hope they've expanded on that since then!


They did. I think they have a couple double-wides in the Nationals parking lot now.

The city is paying the Nationals to allow them to park the trailers in the lot I believe.

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