Evan Stackpole ’14, Justin Wolin ’15, Travis Guzzardo ’16, and Jeremy Reiskind ’17, all majoring in Sport Management at Rice University, competed in the third annual Diamond Dollars Case Competition, a national event held in conjunction with the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Analytics Conference. The competition and conference took place in Phoenix, Ariz., from March 13-15.
Sparking their interest in baseball statistics, all four men had taken the Department of Sport Management’s sport analytics course. In addition, Stackpole conducted baseball statistics research with Rice University’s Statistics Department during the summer of 2012. Wolin and Guzzardo both completed marketing analytics internships with the Astros, and Wolin also obtained an internship with Major League Baseball (MLB) in ticketing analytics.
“My next goal is to get an internship in baseball operations,” Guzzardo said. “I think this case competition made me realize what I should be focusing on to make myself a better candidate for possibly going into that field.”
To participate in the case competition, collegiate teams from around the country prepare an analysis and presentation of a decision for a real baseball operations issue. This year, the teams were asked to determine the three most valuable pitching assets in current professional baseball. Given the prompt five days before their presentation, the Rice team came up with their three pitchers: Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, and Yu Darvish.
“It was a lot of work, but it was very rewarding because we presented in front of people who work in front offices for MLB teams,” Wolin said.
After they presented, the men were free to attend the SABR Analytics Conference. They listened in on various presentations by people in the professional baseball industry, including a talk given by Ben Jedlovec ’10, Vice President of Baseball Info Solutions.
“The four of us love baseball, so it was really a chance to just ‘geek out’ for a couple of days. It was really fun,” Wolin explained.
The competition was divided into three divisions. One division contained twelve teams of graduate students and the other two consisted of six undergraduate teams each. Although Rice’s team did not place as a finalist in its division, the men still considered the competition a valuable experience.
“I think that, since this was our first year doing this and we plan on doing this in the future again, it was really just a great learning experience,” Guzzardo said. “Now that we have an idea of what creates success in a competition like this, we have a really good basis for what we can do next year or in the future. It should be a lot of fun to see how much better we can get.”
Molly Mohr, a junior from San Antonio, is double majoring in Sport Management and English and minoring in Business.