A number of people attended the SABR Analytics meeting who are interested in working for a baseball team in analytics. A natural question is — what skills or experience are needed to get into this field? Here are some observations based on hearing the talks at the meeting. These comments reflect opinions expressed by people working for baseball teams.
It seems that people working in baseball analytics have a wide variety of backgrounds including sports management, computer science, statistics, and many others. The specific degree does not seem to be important. It does seem that most of the people have at least bachelor degrees.
But it seems that particular skills are required such as knowledge of SQL (working with databases), some programming experience (knowledge of R or python seems important), and knowledge of machine learning algorithms. We have a new data science major at Bowling Green State University and much that you learn in this degree is relevant for an analytics position in sports.
Insight with Working with Baseball Problems
Based on what I heard from people in the industry, it seems that they want people who are able to pose good questions and follow an analysis from beginning to end. If you are able to write up an analysis or make up a blog post showing your ability, that would be helpful.
It was stressed that one’s ability to communicate analytic results is very important. Suppose the manager is interested in your work — are you able to communicate the results in some reasonable way without using any stats or sabermetrics jargon? This is similar to the skills of a consulting statistics — you have to express statistical results in the context of the application — otherwise, you are not very helpful.
Get Your Foot in the Door
A great way to get an audition for a team is through an internship. Baseball teams generally offer internships and several people I talked with at the meeting had this experience. These opportunities lead to full-time positions.
Go for It!
Many students have asked me about getting a job in sports analytics. The opportunities in baseball and other sports are increasing. I believe a highly motivated person with the skills and interest can get a position in the industry.
There is a recent article talking about the opportunities in sports analytics.