Tag: baseball

Our annual visit to Florida’s baseball mecca began inauspiciously. I deferred, as usual, to Elaine’s preference for checking bags on airlines, but nonetheless reiterated the standard arguments against doing so. Southwest proceeded to confirm my “fast thinking” by misplacing Elaine’s luggage. (Mine was delivered without incident.) The loss of Elaine’s bag meant that she had to sleep in my “well-aged” undershirt, but dormant passions were not aroused. No harm, no foul: the bag arrived the following morning and Elaine switched back to her own threads.

UnknownThe second day we went to breakfast at a favorite deli, TooJays, and pigged out on carbs, oblivious and delirious. After blinnies, potato pancakes, both with sour cream, cherry preserves on the former and applesauce on the latter, we belched our way to the new Ball Park of the Palm Beaches, a pretentious name for a quotidian ambiance. This is the new spring home shared by the Houston Astros and the Washington Nats (lovingly, the Nits).

Deploying my most authentic Janet Yellen accent, I was able to “schnorr” two (almost) free tickets from a generous bystander. For the $10 cost of parking his car he gave us two $32 face value tickets behind home plate. I was wearing my L. A. Dodgers windbreaker and newsboy cap so he probably knew I was a displaced crypto fan of the Mets who suffered an ignominious defeat.

Gio Gonzalez and friends managed to pitch a one-hitter. The Mets were so flat I became dispirited and totally unprepared for the 16-2 walloping they administered to the Cardinals at the Mets’ home park in Port St. Lucie the following day. Indeed, Wainwright and Weaver of the Cardinals managed to gift the Mets 14 runs in the first three innings. The hitting star of the game was Wilmer Flores, no longer tearful, with a double, a grand salami, and six RBIs. Less than suspenseful, this game was good for laughs and it exposed the managerial limitations of both the Mets and Cardinals field managers, an enduring condition I fail to understand.

Unknown-1The only adventure came with obtaining tickets for this game. We have lovely friends at the Cardinals who comp us when the Mets play the Cards, home or away. However, this was the second time the efficient Mets administration could not find the tickets set aside for the Greenbaums. We were rebuffed at the VIP window maybe five times and were ready to throw in the towel and pay for proletarian seats in the far off outfield when an apparently delusional woman circulated among the crowd of fans screaming “Greenbaum, Greenbaum, Greenbaum”. I fearlessly confessed and she seemed mightily relieved, explaining that they somehow had found our tickets. No harm, no foul: the Mets-Cards spread of 14 more than doubled that of the University of KY over Northern KY in the March Madness tourney. The previous year the people at Port St. Lucie similarly could not find our tickets and Travis D’Arnaud’s dad happened to be standing nearby to generously offer us two from his bulging envelope.

The third game we observed again pitted the Mets against the Cards, but the venue was the Cards’ home field at Jupiter. We were thrilled at having seats #1 & 2 immediately behind the Cardinals’ dugout. No sooner had we settled in than another frantic lady approached us imploring that we exchange our tickets for seats #7 & 8 in the same row behind the dugout. It seemed the DeWitts, the managing owners of the Cardinals, were claiming their regular seats. Being appreciative “Schnorrers,” Elaine and I obligingly moved over. Noblesse oblige!

Greenbaum at spring training
This game again offered a striking contrast to its predecessor. The Mets led 4-1 going into the last of the eighth when the Cards managed to score three runs and all in attendance at Roger Dean Stadium seemed to expect the Mets to cave. Surprise, the Mets, thanks to Carpio and Carillo, minor leaguers both, stroked back-to-back doubles producing the leading run. Then Corey Taylor, an A-ball closer, closed out the Cards for a 5-4 Mets victory. Thus, we had ridden the rollercoaster of baseball emotions and exited elated.

Our our fourth and last day in Florida took us to the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach for a taste of over-the-top opulence. I found this supercilious and invidious consumption off- putting, a persuasive argument for progressive taxation. We further celebrated over pastrami at TooJays on our way to the airport at Orlando, a long and tiring schlepp.

No report of this kind would be satisfying without a few dark horse picks and prognostications. Watch for Phillip Evans and Corey Taylor, the former a third basemen who played in double-A last year and the latter a closer in advanced single-A. You heard it here, both seem ready for the show, even if management is probably too conservative for that to happen. I also believe the Mets may face frustrations with their vaunted rotation. Matt Harvey is currently 0-4 with an embarrassing ERA and Zack Wheeler is being mollycoddled two seasons past Tommy John. On the other hand, I like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, the latter starting for Puerto Rico in the WBC finals, and Rafael Montero is having a surprisingly good spring. Fitting together the rest of their one-way players into a smooth functioning team is likely a managerial feat that exceeds available managerial talent in the dugout.

Oh well, this trip was great fun, even if too brief. I do hope Elaine and I have the will, wealth, and wigor to return next year.

Guest Blogger: Stuart I. Greenbaum, edited by Margaret Elaine Greenbaum

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference brings together the top minds in the baseball analytics community to discuss, debate and share insightful ways to analyze and examine the game of baseball. The Washington University Sports Analytics Club made it a priority this year to attend the conference. Now is in its third year of existence, the club wanted to allow members to learn from professionals in the field and increase networking opportunities at the SABR Analytics Conference.

Events-Analytics-2016-new-borderNot only did we – Tyler Brandt, Kenny Dorian, Brent Katlan, Ben Rosenkranz, and Brody Roush – attend the conference, but we also competed in the Diamond Dollars Case Competition that invites students from across the country to analyze and present a real baseball operations decision. We ended up winning our undergraduate division, and learned a lot from our own experience presenting, watching other teams present, and listening to expert panels talk about analytics in baseball.

The case itself was on pitch tunneling. We were handed a data set that was just recently unveiled by Baseball Prospectus, and asked to use that data to “develop insights into how this information can enable a MLB team to gain a competitive advantage on the field.” Our specific case looked at the ball in play effects of pitch tunneling. If you want to know more about how pitch tunneling affects groundball rates, pull rates, or the value of certain fielders, come find one of us. What follows here is a recap of some of what we learned.

Lessons from the Case Competition

SABR competition

The WashU Sports Analytics Club team included: Tyler Brandt, Brent Katlan, Kenneth Dorian, Brody Roush, and Ben Rosenkranz, pictured with Vince Gennaro, developer of the case and author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and consultant to MLB teams.

In reality, the simple things helped us the most. We knew that MLB analysts were going to be the judges, and knowing our audience helped a lot. The judges were well aware of what pitch tunneling was, but the teams were split about 50/50 on which ones defined terms regarding pitch tunneling and which ones did not. Our decision not to define terms like the tunnel differential (see the link above) gave us an extra 7-8 minutes to get into our process and results. That extra time gave the judges a much clearer idea of how we came to our evaluation of how pitch tunneling can help a Major League Baseball team.

Additionally, just attaching values to our insights played a major role in our presentation. In baseball, each value must somehow be connected to the number of wins a team can get. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in a situation where you just can’t get to a number that can be translated into wins. One common denominator among the winning teams at the competition was that they found a way to value their projects in terms of the one thing that baseball teams really care about: wins.

Lessons From the Conference

Players Don’t See the Same Things that the Front Office Does
One of the common refrains that we kept hearing was that using the insights gained from analytical work can be very difficult, because of the disconnect between players and analysts. Analysts try to break things down in terms of data and numbers, while players are trying to think through an actual game and see how that would affect the individual players. Many people brought up the idea that the front office and the players are “speaking two different languages.” What became clear to us is that the team that can communicate the results of new studies to its players better will have a sizeable advantage on the field, at least until others catch on.

New Developments in Baseball Analytics
There were a couple of interesting new developments that are worth sharing. The one that will affect fans the most is Statcast’s new catch probability. For fly balls, they can now tell how likely a ball is to be caught by the average fielder given flight time and distance from the nearest fielder. When you watch games this year, you might see those numbers on your TV screen, in addition to a rating that tells you the difficulty of each catch. Some other highlights include: the Mariners employ mental experts at all levels of the minors to help their prospects develop the toughness needed to succeed in the majors, Bill James implored us to think on a more macro level about where we need more insights in baseball, and Tom Tango* revealed himself!

*Tom Tango is the Senior Data Architect, Stats at MLB Advanced Media and is the co-author of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. He also developed the Tangotiger.com website, where fans and analysts will find a large number of research pieces devoted to sabermetrics. Tom has previously worked as a consultant for major-league teams in baseball and hockey.

Guest Blogger: Tyler Brandt, A&S ’19

Photos from SABR Flickr page.

WashU athletes second baseman Ben Browdy (BSBA’17), outfielder Max Golembo (BSBA’16), and pitcher Brad Margolin (A&S’17), have been named to the 2016 Jewish Sports Review Baseball All-America First Team, as announced by the publication.

Browdy who is majoring in finance, is a D3baseball.com Third-Team All-America selection, started all 51 games and batted .352 with 18 doubles, three triples, five homeruns, and was second in NCAA Division III with 79 RBIs. Browdy also led the UAA in home runs, doubles, RBIs and total bases (114). He earned D3baseball.com and ABCA/Rawlings Second-Team all-Central Region selection, and was named the 2016 University Athletic Association (UAA) Co-Player of the Year. Browdy drove in a run in 33 of 51 games, including 25 games with two or more RBIs. He ended the season on a 19-game hitting streak, and is a two-time UAA Hitter of the Week selection.

Golembo, majoring in finance and entrepreneurship, is a second-team all-UAA and all-Central Region honoree, batted .358 with eight doubles and 28 RBIs in 50 starts in centerfield. He tied the WashU single-season record and ranked eighth in NCAA Division III with 41 walks. Golembo ranked in the top five in the UAA in seven offensive categories: first in on-base percentage (.488) and walks, second in runs scored (56), third in hits (69), fifth in stolen bases (20), eighth in RBIs (28) and ninth in total bases (77). He was named to the UAA Championship All-Tournament Team in March, and reached base in 47 of 50 games played. Golembo ranks second in school history in runs scored (172), fourth in stolen bases (67) and fifth in games played (162) and hits (208).

Margolin, majoring in psychology, is the D3baseball.com Central Region Pitcher of the Year, posted an 8-1 record with a 2.74 earned run average in 13 starts for the Bears. He was also a D3baseball.com First-Team and ABCA/Rawlings Second-Team all-Central Region selection. Margolin led the UAA in shutouts (two), complete games (five) and strikeouts (73), and was second in wins and fifth in ERA. He ranked in the top 15 in NCAA Division III in walks allowed per nine innings (seventh, 0.89) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (12th, 7.30). Margolin was a three-time UAA Pitcher of the Week honoree, and earned Central Regional All-Tournament Team honors.

WashU finished the 2016 season with a 33-18 overall record, one win shy of the single-season school record, and were the 2016 UAA champions. The Bears also made their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and won two postseason games for the first time in school history.

News Release courtesy of WUSTL Bear Sports

Washington University in St. Louis senior catcher Kyle Kozak was named to the 2016 American Baseball Coaches’ Association (ABCA)/Rawlings Gold Glove Team, as announced Thursday as part of the opening ceremonies of the 2016 NCAA Division III College World Series in Appleton, Wis. Kozak graduated this month with a BSBA from Olin where he was a finance major.

KozakGoldGolveKozak is the first Bear to be named to the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III Gold Glove team, which was first recognized in 2007.

“Kyle had an outstanding season behind the plate for us this year. Every baseball person knows that you must be strong at the catching position if you want to have a quality ball club, and Kyle performed at a high level defensively from the beginning to the end,” said first-year head coach Pat Bloom. “He handled all of our pitchers and their variety of repertoires, he blocked everything in front of him, and he was outstanding at controlling the running game. Most importantly, he exhibited the competitive toughness and consistency of focus that the position requires day in and day out.”

Kozak started 46 of 50 games played behind the plate for the Bears, recording a .993 fielding percentage.He committed just two errors and two passed balls in 298 chances. Kozak added 47 assists and seven pickoffs, and threw out 23 of 49 (46.9 percent) runners trying to steal. At the plate, he hit .290 with seven doubles and 21 RBIs.

WashU finished the 2016 season with a 33-18 overall record, one-win shy of the single-season school record, and won the 2016 University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship. The Bears also made their second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and won two postseason games for the first time in school history.

From Bearsports

The Washington University in St. Louis baseball team honored its three seniors Sunday, May 1, prior to its doubleheader against DePauw University – Julian Clarke majoring in economics with a minor in marketing; Max Golembo majoring in finance and entrepreneurship; and Kyle Kozak majoring in finance.

This group has helped lead the Bears to a 115-61 overall record, good for a 65.3 winning percentage, and four with 25 or more wins. During this time the Bears won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 UAA Championship, and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. The Bears also tied the single-season school record with 34 wins a year ago.



The Class of 2016 sat down with Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Chris Mitchell to discuss the past four years at WashU.

What made you choose to come to WashU?
JULIAN CLARKE: WashU was a special place for me even before I became a student here. My mom went to WashU for both undergrad and graduate school, so some of our closest family friends and some of the most important people in my life are WashU grads. After hearing how great of a place this was for them, along with the combination of an opportunity to play competitive baseball and take part in stellar academic programs, it was a no brainer.

MAX GOLEMBO: I wanted to be able to play baseball and be challenged academically. WashU provided the best of both worlds.

KYLE KOZAK: I chose to come to WashU because I thought it was a good fit for me both academically and baseball-wise. WashU is a well-known, nationally recognized school, and I had an opportunity to get significant playing time on the baseball team right away.

How do you balance your schedule between baseball and school?
JC: I knew from the beginning of freshman year that I wanted to be as involved on campus as I could, so sticking to a consistent schedule has been important for me. It’s meant a lot of early mornings and late nights, but it’s allowed me to stay a part of all the things I wanted to prioritize.

MG: Time management is a crucial aspect of being a student athlete at WashU. The best way to avoid any sort of conflict is getting as much work done as you can in any free time you have. Procrastinating, especially in season, is not a smart thing to do and I’ve learned that the hard way.

KK: This is something I struggled with quite a bit when I first got to school. Once I learned the expectations for baseball as far as practice and games go, I was able to organize my schedule better. I often plan out study periods at the beginning of each week based on my baseball schedule.

What have you learned from playing under head coach Pat Bloom?
JC: Too much to adequately describe in this space. I’ve developed more in this past year than any period of time in my athletic life and I owe that all to Coach Bloom.

MG: Having the opportunity to play under coach Bloom has been an absolute honor. He is such an incredible leader and baseball mind. I learn something from him every day on and off the field. I think the most important thing I’ve learned from him and something I can carry on into my professional life is that no matter what carry yourself with class and be a high character individual, no matter the situation you are faced with. I could go on into more baseball specific things because there’s so much to learn from him but it would take up another 30 minutes.

KK: Probably the most important thing that I have learned under coach Bloom is how to adjust to large organizational changes. When the new coaching staff came in, expectations changed immensely and veteran players had to change some of our habits that we had developed the past couple years.  As far as baseball goes, I have learned to stay in the game every single pitch. There were times in the past where passed balls would happen and I would shake it off as, “That kind of thing happens every once in a while.” In reality, there’s no reason for mistakes like that to ever happen and I have really learned to stay locked in at all times, and that is now the expectation. I demand more from myself on the field than I have in the past, and I think I have improved immensely, especially defensively, because of it.

What is your favorite baseball memory at WashU?
JC: Winning UAA’s outright this year was pretty awesome, but more than the title, beating Emory on a walk off home run in extra innings after pitching 9 1/3 innings and thinking I’d lost the game is something I will never forget. It’s incredible when your teammates can pick you up like that.

MG: My favorite baseball memory has to be this year’s game against Emory. After squandering a bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the 9th and Emory coming back and pushing across a run in the top of the 10th to go up 2-1. I singled with two outs and Santos hit the two-strike walk-off homer. That was something I will never forget. Rounding the bases knowing that I get to leave the field beating Emory in my final game against them was special.

KK: My favorite baseball memory has to be finding out that we made a regional last year. It was the first time that a WashU team made a regional since I have been here and there was a lot of positive energy going into the playoffs. We were all together as a team when we found out so that was cool to go around congratulating each other. I’m sure that will be a regular occurrence for this team going forward.

What are your future plans upon graduation from WashU?
JC: I’ll be working as an Analyst at Medallia, a Sequoia Capital-backed software company in Palo Alto, Calif.

MG: I am going to work for Lincoln International investment bank in Chicago. I will be working as a mergers and acquisitions analyst.

KK: I am going home to scribe in a hospital while I apply for medical school.

By Chris Mitchell
Assistant Athletic Director for Communications