It’s a ‘numbers game’

BGSU economics student presents to major league personnel at sabermetrics seminar

Baseball

By Donna Greenwald

In sports, October means Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series. Once this season's champion is crowned, it won't be long until baseball teams look at their draft options for next year. 

Drafting strategies were the focus of an August seminar in which a Bowling Green State University business senior presented his optimal drafting strategies project. 

Seventeen MLB teams, along with hundreds of other baseball scouts, officials, statisticians and scientists attended Sabermetrics Seminar, a conference on the statistics, scouting and physics of baseball. The attendees had the opportunity to hear from BGSU business student Grant Jones, whose research project “Are teams under-gaming the draft?” was selected to present at the sold-out SaberSeminar. 

The BGSU senior, who is specializing in applied economics, described his research. 

“My project looks heavily into teams’ strategies when it comes to the draft, where every U.S. and Canadian-born player is eligible out of high school, as well as certain college players,” Jones said. 

“With the recent Collective Bargaining Agreement there are soft caps, and it offers interesting possibilities. All teams have stayed within the soft caps — but my project takes a look at what a team’s draft would look like if they broke the soft cap and accepted all penalties associated with that. As an applied economics specialization, my background helped me immensely with this project.”

It was an exciting experiential learning opportunity for Jones. 

“Having the opportunity to present in front of hundreds of people gave me a unique experience that a classroom could not provide," he said. "With academics, fans and front office members in the audience, I had to prepare vigorously in the weeks that preceded the event.

“After presenting, I felt very confident about my presentation. In the aftermath of this event, I have talked to several teams about my project, something I am hoping to parlay into a full-season internship or position in baseball operations.” 

SaberSeminar included headline speakers Boston Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and Arizona Diamondbacks Assistant General Manager Bryan Minniti. The conference benefited The Jimmy Fund and the Angioma Alliance.  

Jones is currently a minor league contributor at Baseball Prospectus and has had internships with the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets. He will graduate from BGSU in December, and hopes his economics background lands him a position with one of the 30 major league teams.