It’s a Home Run! iSchool Students and Faculty Partner with University Baseball Team on New Sports Analytics Club
The newly launched Sports Analytics Club represents an incredibly exciting and innovative partnership between the San José State University School of Information and the university’s baseball team. The club, which met for the first time in November 2022, is led by Master of Library and Information Science degree program students and club co-presidents Cori Garfias and Michelle Miyoshi. Its 25 members include both undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate with Assistant Baseball Coach Mat Keplinger and are mentored and assisted by iSchool Director Anthony Chow and faculty members Jason Kaltenbacher, Souvick Ghosh, Pramod Gupta, and José Aguiñaga.
Keplinger previously served as interim head coach at University of San Francisco, where they had a student-run group focused on baseball analytics. Upon arriving at SJSU, he made it a priority to connect with Chow and other faculty members interested in pursuing such an opportunity. Chow and Ghosh were immediately taken by the idea, and they have since worked alongside faculty members and students to build out the framework.
The expansive partnership is poised to benefit both the baseball team and students. Through data aggregation and analysis of different players and opposing line-ups, the club will aim to increase the Spartans’ competitiveness. They’ll identify player strengths and weaknesses and use tracking and technologies to help with pitch design, usage, and potential lineup configuration.
As the club scales its efforts, the students will assist with scouting to yield a strong roster and increase the baseball team’s probability of victory. Keplinger is eager to get things going, noting that, “Once the season begins, it is an extremely fast-paced operation. We typically play 4 to 5 games a week with rapid turnover. If the Sports Analytics Club can stay a leg up on opponent stats, trends, etc., and get that to our coaching staff, it could serve as a tremendous competitive advantage.”
Students may be able to parlay the skills they hone applying data analytics to optimize performance and yield real-world impacts. In his experience, Keplinger has seen many students use such involvement as a resume builder and platform to access career opportunities with Major League Baseball organizations, particularly as the professional sports industry shifts to an analytics-driven landscape.
The club also provides a rare chance for the members to interact with their peers and instructors beyond course work, which appeals to Garfias. “Taking part in the development of a club that involves students, faculty, coaches, and others is proving to be an incomparable opportunity that came when I least expected it. This role is also unique in that we have the privilege of working closely with faculty in ways that are different outside of the classroom setting,” she shared.
Student leader Miyoshi expressed her enthusiasm for the sport and for this unique opportunity: “On one level, I absolutely love baseball (as a spectator, ha!) and am very excited to investigate information related to the sport more closely.” Miyoshi added that the ability to distill large amounts of data into usable insights is an increasingly important skill in the field of information science and the real world.
“It is an exciting opportunity to support our baseball team while providing hands-on opportunities for our students,” said Chow, adding, “We believe the baseball team is just the start, and we want to extend to other sports once we have gotten things off the ground.” Keplinger shared Chow’s optimism and enthusiasm. He remarked, “I hope I can serve as a resource to the Sports Analytics Club and provide a platform for creativity and freedom to bring us fresh information and ideas to help our players and program.”
The club welcomes new members. Interested students can reach out to Miyoshi at firstname.lastname@example.org or Garfias at email@example.com.