As a little kid I too had the dream of hitting a home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series. I played baseball, sometimes year-round, for much of my childhood. The scents of freshly mowed grass and glove leather and infield dirt take me back to those days. I was never going to actually go pro, unfortunately, and some bad experiences turned me off of baseball for a few years.
After a few years of not thinking too much about baseball I decided to start a blog about the Orioles while in grad school, so I could apply my soft skills to the game I grew up playing. I progressively moved from one site to the next, first my own blog to a bigger site focusing on all Baltimore sports. Then Beyond the Box Score asked me to join the team, and I did. After 18 months or so, my interest was waning, and I contemplated quitting baseball writing altogether. A week or two later, Sam Miller reached out to me–mistakenly, I still believe–asking if I’d like to join Baseball Prospectus.
I spent much of my time writing weekly at BP trying to justify Sam’s confidence in me. Eventually, I started suffering from the same feelings I had at Beyond the Box Score, and writing a weekly column felt more like a job than a passion. I poked and prodded at Harry Pavlidis to let me join the BP stats team, which I felt would let me explore topics in more depth than a weekly deadline would allow. Harry graciously (begrudgingly?) brought me into the fold and the rest is history.
I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish as a group the past few years: two years of pitch tunnels, the launch and updates to Deserved Run Average, updates to catcher framing models, two interactive tools, Saber Seminar presentations, and much more. I’ve been lucky to be a part of the stats team, where I could learn from others and grow myself.
I’ve had some opportunities to talk to teams about front-office roles during the past few years, but they never worked out for myriad reasons. That has recently changed. I’ve taken on a consulting role with a team that’ll last throughout the entire 2018 season and precludes me from furthering my research and writing in the public space. I’ve often turned down or not pursued positions because I was staunch in my preference for certain things that made a front-office role untenable. The team I’ll be working with has put in a lot of work and effort to find a role that worked for both of us—the amount of effort they put into making it work was a huge part of the reason I decided to take the role on.
I have two things I’d like to do, just in case this is the last thing I ever write at BP.
First, I want to thank the people who’ve helped me get here. Chris Stoner first took a chance on me when I was just running a blogspot blog. Tucker Blair, Kevin Ebert, Lance Rinker, and Jon Shepherd were great colleagues back then and I have enjoyed watching them grow in the years since. Bryan Grosnick took a chance on me at Beyond the Box Score. I made some great friends at Beyond the Box Score, including Bryan Cole, Neil Weinberg, Lewie Pollis, and John Choiniere.
Sam Miller brought me to BP and was patient as I traversed a steep writing learning curve. Jason Wojciechowski did the same for my work on the BP Annual and as an interim editor-in-chief after Sam left, while Aaron Gleeman has picked up that torch more recently. I made some great friends at BP as well, including R.J. Anderson, whom I can’t thank enough for his wisdom, plus Craig Goldstein and Bret Sayre, among others. Then there are the individuals who work in some sort of professional capacity around the game who’ve been invaluable to me. That group includes: Dillon Lawson, Graham Johnson, Rick McCarty, Desi Druschel, Dr. Peter Fadde, Dr. Rob Gray, Dan Turkenkopf, and John Choiniere/Bryan Cole (who both graduated to full-time roles with teams).
Finally, the stats team. Every one of you has played an immense role in my life and I am happy to call each of you a friend. Thank you to Matt Dennewitz, Justen Fox, Rob Arthur, Russell A. Carleton, Greg Matthews, Amy Pircher, Dan Brooks, Anthony Rescan, Jen Mac Ramos, Ethan Spalding, Kendall Guillemette, Martin Alonso, Sean O’Rourke, Rob McQuown, Kate Morrison, Jonathan Judge, and especially Harry Pavlidis. I’d have been done with baseball for a long time if it wasn’t for each and every one of you.
Finally, a few quick pieces of advice for those who will continue pushing the public baseball analysis sphere forward, something that was near and dear to my heart. I hope that you continue honing your skills by analyzing this game that we all love. Don’t let getting clean answers get in the way of pursuing answers to interesting questions. If you can, explore opportunities to build on ideas and tools that will help others advance their knowledge, too. Start your research by exploring to see if and how others have tackled similar problems in the past. Build on the knowledge others have graciously shared and push toward unexplored territory.
Most importantly, never confuse having an answer for having the answer. Find an interesting, challenging, and important problem to solve. Then set out to find an answer for it. Then set out to find a better answer. Just because this isn’t rocket science doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking moonshots.
Thank you for reading
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