• October 29, 2020
  • 4:30 PM - 5:30 CST
  • via Zoom
  • Dr. Tran,
  • Not open to the public.
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    Speaker: Gregory Matthews

    Title: Bang the Can Slowly: An Investigation into the 2017 Houston Astros

    Abstract: This manuscript is a statistical investigation into the 2017 Major League Baseball scandal involving the Houston Astros, the World Series championship winner that same year. The Astros were alleged to have stolen their opponents' pitching signs in order to provide their batters with a potentially unfair advantage. This work finds compelling evidence that the Astros on-field performance was significantly affected by their sign-stealing ploy and quantifies the effects. The three main findings in the manuscript are: 1) the Astros' odds of swinging at a pitch were reduced by approximately 27% (OR: 0.725, 95% CI: (0.618, 0.850)) when the sign was stolen, 2) when an Astros player swung, the odds of making contact with the ball increased roughly 80% (OR: 1.805, 95% CI: (1.342, 2.675)) on non-fastball pitches, and 3) when the Astros made contact with a ball on a pitch in which the sign was known, the ball's exit velocity (launch speed) increased on average by 2.386 (95% CI: (0.334, 4.451)) miles per hour.

    About the Speaker: Dr. Matthews earned a Ph.D. in statistics in 2011 from the University of Connecticut. Prior to this he spent two years in the *real world* in a direct marketing department building predictive models after receiving his B.S. in actuarial science and M.S. in applied statistics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 2004 and 2005, respectively. His research interests include statistical disclosure control, missing data methods, statistical genetics, and statistics in sports.