Bring the Heat: Illinois Tech Teams with White Sox to Host Sabermetrics Event on Campus
The best of the big leagues are coming to Illinois Institute of Technology.
Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox are teaming up with Illinois Tech to host the 10th edition of the Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball seminar on August 12–13, 2023, at Hermann Hall. Since 2011, Saberseminar, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has raised more than $250,000 for the Alliance to Cure Cavernous Malformation, the Jimmy Fund, and for scholarships.
While Brad Pitt and the 2011 blockbuster film Moneyball (based off Michael Lewis’s 2003 book with the same title) may have introduced many people to the concept of sabermetrics, conference organizer Dan Brooks stresses that the relationship between statistical nerds and baseball has endured for much longer than that.
“Many of the people that come to Saberseminar predate the movie,” says Brooks. “At the time that book was written and the movie was made, I think there was more of an antagonistic relationship between the stats/nerds people and the old-timey baseball scouts. I think that one of the things that has come out over the last however many years is that the two groups are much more complimentary than was recognized initially.”
For those who are unfamiliar, sabermetrics is a quantitative approach to baseball that aims to more accurately evaluate player performance and predict their future contributions to a team. Statistics like on-base percentage plus slugging percent (OPS) and wins above replacement (WAR) were created by sabermetricians as a more accurate determination of a player’s impact than traditional statistics such as batting average or a pitcher’s win/loss record.
This year’s two-day event will be attended by more than 20 MLB franchises and will feature speakers from the White Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee Brewers, in addition to experts in baseball analytics and sports science from around the country. Primary White Sox television play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti will serve as the master of ceremonies.
Students and researchers looking to break into baseball analysis will also be presenting their research at the conference—and scholarships will be awarded.
“One of the things that really excited us about this was that fact that this is a platform that can help people break into the field,” says Illinois Tech Professor of Physics Zack Sullivan. “Eventually going to work either in Major League Baseball itself or in a company that’s associated with the technology side of Major League Baseball.”
Interviews and resume drops have been common at past Saberseminars, and organizers expect the same this year. Above all, Saberseminar serves as a venue to talk about the tech side of baseball with likeminded people involved in various aspects of America’s national pastime.
“I think that for me personally, I like getting to see old friends, getting to meet new ones, and giving new people, new students, new folks that never spoken at Saberseminar the opportunity to get out in front of the crowd and make a little bit of a name for themselves,” Brooks says, adding: “Everybody at Saberseminar is approachable and fun. The vast majority are also just baseball fans like they are.”