BOSTON -- Four Red Sox decision-makers, two of them on the field and two of them behind the scenes, will be ready for questions at a weekend seminar in Boston, from Aug. 4-5.
Manager Bobby Valentine, bench coach Tim Bogar, pro scouting director Jared Porter and information services director Tom Tippett are all scheduled to participate in the second year of "Sabermetrics, Scouting and the Science of Baseball." The conference was born out of an eight-week seminar of the same name at MIT, and all proceeds benefit the Jimmy Fund.
The event raised $11,000 last year, and the goal this year is $17,000.
"We think this weekend seminar will offer something to both the casual and the more hardcore baseball fan," said Chuck Korb, who came up with the MIT course and is one of three organizers these days. "We are making every effort to keep the sessions interactive so that folks can get the chance to ask questions and learn at their own pace.
"The educational goal for [the] weekend is to nurture a love of baseball, and to show the attendees that both the statistical side of the game, the science inherent in the game and the play on the field are important when making assessments or decisions, and that none of the above, by itself, can tell the whole story."
It's not about just stats and scouting, either, it's about science, as well. Fewer than 200 tickets are being sold, and that relatively small setting helps the panels remain interactive.
Dan Brooks of BrooksBaseball.net and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus and ESPN will be there. Other names might not be well known by most fans, but all participants are accomplished in their own fields -- fields that the seminar will show can push everyone's understanding of baseball forward. Physicist Alan Nathan, for example, will be on hand.
A postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience at Brown University, Brooks founded his site in 2008 with the purpose of analyzing the PitchFX data compiled from MLB.com. As interest around baseball in objective, data-based discussions has spread to not only front offices, but fans, the site, too, has grown.
"It's been great to see more and more knowledgeable fans dig down into PitchFX data and analyze pitching performances," said Brooks, another organizer. "I think we're at a time where fans have more information than ever, and to help them use it to learn more about the game they love has been really exciting."
David Somers, a professor at Boston University, is also an organizer. The charitable nature of the weekend means that all the participants are donating their time.
That the seminar should be developed and held in Boston is fitting: the Red Sox as a franchise were an early adopter of the now widely accepted advanced analyses, and there may be no area with more innovative citizenship than the one that's home to institutions like Harvard, MIT, Boston University, et al.
"All of our speakers are capable of explaining things in simple terms with examples, but can also easily discuss the more complex topics in stats, scouting, and science," Korb said. "We think this will be a great event for the observational-based fan who eschews statistics, the quantitative guys who love the numbers, and the science [physics and neuroscience] people who are starting to change the game with things like [PitchFX] and HitFX; all are necessary to any successful team."
Two-day passes cost $125, or $65 for full-time students. Registration and information are available at saberseminar.com. The seminar will be held at Boston University's Metcalf Science Center.