Sabermetrics 101 at Tufts

Since the beginning of September, Professor Andy Andres has been teaching the 2009 version of Sabermetrics 101 at Tufts University. The class, which is available through Tufts’ Experimental College (which specializes in offering classes in somewhat esoteric areas) is described as follows:

This course will teach the fundamentals of the emerging science of Sabermetrics, the objective analysis of baseball. We will discuss baseball, not through conventional wisdom and consensus, but by searching for real knowledge concerning the game of baseball. Hitting, pitching, fielding performance, along with other areas of sabermetrics, will be analyzed and better understood with the current and historical baseball data. Students will design and implement their own sabermetric research study , learning the important concepts in statistics and statistical analysis needed to perform this research.

Being a student at Tufts, I’ve been privileged enough to take the class, and thus far it has been a blast. Some notes that readers may find interesting:

-The syllabus consists of reading such essentials as Moneyball and Baseball Between the Numbers, but we have also branched out into reading less mainstream works, such as Understanding Sabermetrics and readings from FC Lane.

-There are almost weekly written assignments, including students choosing and defending their choices for MVP, Cy Young, and a Gold Glove (I went Mauer, Greinke, and Brendan Ryan, respectively).

-Class discussions are great. I sometimes find myself stereotypically attacking traditional views and defending more post-modern saber thought, but that’s definitely part of the fun.

-There’s one Yankees fan in the entire class. This is a rarity for any class at Tufts, albeit one centered around baseball.

-As of now, it looks like guest lecturers coming up will include Steve Moyer and Joe Sheehan.

-Final projects are offered as a binary: you can contribute to a group project in which many students put together a lengthy piece on historical and analytical aspects of sabermetrics, or you can conduct (and eventually present) your own research project. As of now, it looks like my partner and I will be focusing on and researching linear weights for batted ball data.

Overall the class has been wonderful, and I genuinely look forward to it each week (although what college student doesn’t look forward to class). I hope other colleges begin to explore opening up interesting classes such as these, and I want to thank Andy for a great job thus far.

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  1. Nick Steiner said...

    This sounds awesome Pat, but I have a couple of questions.

    Why isn’t The Book part of the syllabus, and is Pitch f/x going to be considered?  I think that the latter is key, as that is definitely the future of Sabermetrics.  I’m not sure how much pull you have with your professor Pat, but it seems like you should talk to him about those things.

    Also, why is VORP being used when there are other better and easier to understand metrics out there.

  2. Pat Andriola said...

    Hey Nick,

    The link I posted has an old syllabus. Andy has decided to discuss scouting in this class much more than ever, and Pitch f/x has already been discussed.

    We discuss and use VORP, but even Andy acknowledges that WAR is the best because it incorporates defense. Whenever we have a question in class as to how good someone is, we almost invariably go to Fangraphs to check it out and look at WAR and everything else.

    The Book is not part of the syllabus, but we were just on The Book website in class last week going over projections and other Tango/MGL stuff.

  3. Matt said...

    Andy is a friend of mine and you are blessed beyond measure to be part of that class. Beyond the treasure trove of information you’ll get, he’s a first class person.

  4. Soxrocker said...

    Sounds great! I graduated A91. I remember taking a Baseball Literature course at the EC back in the day, that was one of my faves.

  5. Jeremy Greenhouse said...

    Yankees fans shouldn’t be allowed to take that class at all. I hope you make that one Yankees fan feel little and ignorant.

    I wish I could sit in on some of those inane arguments. They’ve been lacking from my life the last month or two. Who’s your partner? And what’s going to be different from your research and what Studes does? Have you checked his batted ball reports yet? Let me know if I can help. And let me know when Steve Moyer and Joe Sheehan come.

  6. jinaz said...

    Thanks for the info, and especially the syllabus.  I’m going to be teaching my own baseball science class as part of my university’s general education curriculum next semester, so seeing what other folks are doing is a great help.

  7. Alex Pedicini said...

    Interesting stuff Pat. I have heard of this class before but I wasn’t aware you were taking it. I really wish I had the opportunity to take some classes like this

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