Pepperdine MBA Analysis of Baseball’s Mike Trout Wins Research Competition

Pepperdine SABR teamPepperdine MBAs Michael Alexander and Ramu Raju and School of Law students Joseph Franzi, David Meals and Daniel Paret won the graduate division Diamond Dollars Case Competition at the 2013 SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Hosted by the Society for American Baseball Research, the competition tasked students to advise Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim GM and featured speaker Jerry Dipoto on his strategy for maximizing the value of the Angels’ prized asset Mike Trout.

“The crux of our analysis was based directly on [Graziadio School] Professors Kenneth Ko, Paul Gift, and Samuel Seaman’s courses,” said team member Michael Alexander, an MBA candidate ’13 in the full-time program at the Graziadio School of Business and Management. “We used IBM SPSS’s logistic regression capabilities to assess year-to-year risk probabilities, RiskSolver’s Monte Carlo simulation to come up with expected performance values, and surplus/deficit analysis to predict which seasons Mike Trout will outperform or underperform his contract.”

Team member Ramu Raju expressed deep gratitude to Professor Kenneth Ko for the decision science course he taught, as well. “I applied the knowledge learned from his class in formulating our regression analysis as well as running simulations to assess risk,” he said. “His class has been one of the most useful for me in my everyday life.”

Professor John Buckingham’s E2B, marketing and G3 (Going Global with Graziadio) courses, as well as the entrepreneurship regiment of course “were all crucial in helping develop the overall strategy and especially presentation skills,” Raju added. “In every [entrepreneurship] class, we had to get up and present our business idea to the entire class multiple times and the practice was invaluable. For the case competition, we put together a solid deck of slides and were able to present our ideas and data analysis in a way that everyone understood what we were talking about and backed it all up with great research.”

The students delivered the top presentation, going head-to-head with their counterparts from George Washington University, Elon University, Indiana University, Columbia University and Chicago University.

In the Diamond Dollars Case Competition, undergraduate, graduate and professional school students from colleges and universities across the country compete against each other by preparing an analysis and presentation of a baseball operations decision — the type of decision a team’s GM and his staff are faced with over the course of a season. The cases are developed by SABR President Vince Gennaro, author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and consultant to MLB teams.

The Diamond Dollars Case Competition is the first national competition to be based solely on baseball operations issues. This year’s judges included Christopher Correa (St. Louis Cardinals), Matt Obernauer (Colorado Rockies), and Dave Studenmund (The Hardball Times).

“It was such a blessing simply to attend the conference but it was made all the more wonderful since we won the competition. I look forward to seeing some more Graziadio School students attend next year to defend the title,” said Alexander.

Raju concurred, “I hope the Pepperdine Sports Business Association continues to grow and send teams of students to attend conferences such as SABR and the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC), which I attended a week before SABR.”

Pepperdine SABR team presentation

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