Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball

Bobby Valentine gives the Saber Seminar a thumbs up, and he hopes to see you there.

If you want to experience that kid in a candy store feeling of spending two days with intimate access to some of the brightest minds in baseball, then mark your calendar for August 4 and 5, because it's finally happening.

Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball, a weekend seminar that benefits The Jimmy Fund, puts you up close with some of baseball's top coaches, statisticians, scouts, scientists, and media. The seminar will take place August 4 and 5, 2012 at Boston University's Metcalf Science Center. Space is extremely limited, so you'll want to reserve your ticket immediately.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the seminar's creator, Chuck Korb, to get more details about the seminar that so many are buzzing about. After last year's successful seminar, Korb and Dan Brooks of Brooksbaseball.net, have been working hard to construct the perfect seminar experience for the attendees and for a good cause, too.

When asked about baseball, Korb's excitement is obvious and infectious.

I love baseball, and have been playing, coaching, and watching games for years. Baseball is a perfectly constructed game, from the beauty of the swing, to the way a short stop fields a ball in the hole and his throw just gets the runner at first - the geometry is impeccable. One of my favorite things to do at a game is to watch the fielders on a play like a double into the right-center field gap with men on first and second. The choreographed ballet of the players getting into position to take the cut-off throws, cover bases, and back up errant relays is, in my opinion, beautiful.

Being a skilled mathematician and a passionate baseball fan, it was easy for Korb to transition into sabermetrics. His passion for both the sport and the math have grown through ability to teach young people the numerical aspects of the game.

I began teaching sabermetrics classes about six or seven years ago, and had some fun times giving seminars at MIT's Splash program with David Gassko and Sal Baxamusa, both authors at The Hardball Times. It was awesome passing my love of the game on to the younger generation. I got the idea to expand this teaching to include more on field information during those MIT classes, as stats cannot be fully understood, or tell the whole story, without some actual game on the field knowledge. I formed an 8-week seminar at MIT in the summer of 2008 with the same name, Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball. From there, this seminar was born.

In honor of Korb's relatives and friends that he has lost to cancer, it only made sense for him to create a seminar that could raise money for the Jimmy Fund, a cause dedicated to fighting cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since all of the presenters are donating their time, and the facilities (sponsored by Boston University's Department of Physics), website, and even snacks have been graciously donated, 100% of the proceeds will go to the Jimmy Fund.

This unique seminar is a Who's Who of baseball brilliance, or as Korb describes it, "the Woodstock of Baseball."

Presenters include:

  • Bobby Valentine, Boston Red Sox Manager
  • Tim Bogar, Boston Red Sox Bench Coach
  • Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus
  • Jared Porter, Red Sox Director of Professional Scouting
  • Dr. Daniel Brooks, Brooksbaseball.net
  • Dr. Alan Nathan, baseball physicist
  • Many, many more including renowned neurologists,physicians, sabermetricians, professors, and writers. A full list of presenters can be found here.
According to Korb, the format for this year's seminar will be broken into 50 minute sessions, many of them including panel discussions and Q&A. He also mentioned the possibility for demonstrations outdoors. The seminar has also been accepting student abstracts and this cutting-edge research will also be presented at the seminar.

"I fully expect this event to sell out," Korb says. "If anyone is interested in attending, and what's better than talking baseball while you help cure cancer, I would strongly recommend getting tickets as soon as possible." Tickets are on sale now, and if you cannot attend the event, but would like to donate, the PayPal address for the seminar is donations@saberseminar.com.

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